The classic fairy tale becomes a truly spectacular ballet at the Royal Albert Hall with over 90 dancers, a live orchestra and magnificent sets and projections.
Enter an enchanting kingdom where forest creatures live alongside princes, a growing tree appears to dance in the wind, and Cinderella’s wit and generosity get her to the ball – with the help of a little bit of magic.
Christopher Wheeldon’s glittering choreography sees the arena floor flooded with exquisite dancers, while Prokofiev’s sublime score is performed by the English National Ballet Philharmonic.
Perfectly lovelyThe Guardian
Presented by Royal Albert Hall and English National Ballet
Main video: English National Ballet in Cinderella in-the-round.
Main image: Emma Hawes and Francesco Gabriele Frola. Photo © Jason Bell. Art Direction and Design: Charlotte Wilkinson Studio.
MEET THE PRINCIPAL CAST
Please note that casting is subject to change
Scene 1: Garden Estate
Young Cinderella is playing outside with her parents when her mother suddenly becomes ill and is taken from her. Four Fates are left to watch over Cinderella, who weeps over her mother’s grave. A tree sprouts from her tears.
Scene 2: Royal Palace
The young Prince Guillaume and his friend Benjamin (the valet’s son), pursued by Madame Mansard (the Prince’s dancing mistress), dash through the palace, causing havoc. King Albert and Queen Charlotte appear. The king is appalled at Guillaume’s lack of discipline, but the queen is more forgiving. The boys dash off again into the garden.
Scene 3: The Grave
Cinderella, now older, brings flowers to her mother’s grave. Two girls Clementine and Edwina, appear, followed by their mother Hortensia, on the arm of Cinderella’s father. Cinderella realises this is to be her new family. They present a bouquet to Cinderella who, horrified on behalf of her mother, discards it. Cinderella’s father will not tolerate this behaviour. Fuelled by pride, Cinderella assumes a subservient attitude towards the women, thus sealing her own fate.
Scene 4: Royal Palace Gallery
King Albert explains to his grown son the political connections to be gained by marrying a princess. Queen Charlotte writes invitations to an upcoming ball, where the Prince will meet these prospective brides. Guillaume is distracted by Benjamin, who imitates the princesses in portraits hanging on the walls. King Albert is enraged by his son’s lack of responsibility to his future kingdom, but Guillaume can’t believe he’d be forced into a loveless marriage. Albert insists the invitations be hand-delivered by the Prince. Guillaume and Benjamin hatch a plan to trade places.
Scene 5: Cinderella’s Kitchen
Cinderella stoically serves her family breakfast. The briefest sign of tenderness towards Cinderella from her father is frowned upon by Hortensia. Edwina goes along with her mother, gaining favours from her. Clementine, the sweeter stepsister, is bullied into following suit. A beggar arrives at the door. Taking pity, Cinderella brings him into the kitchen, but Hortensia casts him out again. “The Prince” (Benjamin) appears at the door. He has discovered the beggar and insists Hortensia provides food and warmth. Hortensia feigns concern and orders Cinderella to help. “The Prince” has come to deliver invitations to the ball. Left alone with Cinderella, the beggar (Prince Guillaume in disguise) sees true kindness in her. The two pretend to be at the ball, laughing and dancing.
Scene 6: The Night of the Ball
Cinderella is cleaning when the rest of her family appears, dressed for the ball. Hortensia throws Cinderella’s invitation into the fire, and they depart without her. The Fates, who have continued to watch over Cinderella, present her with an invitation and lead her to her mother’s grave.
Scene 7: The Grave
From the tree, spirits of Lightness, Fluidity, Generosity, and Mystery appear to teach Cinderella the steps she needs for the ball. Embraced by the branches, Cinderella is transformed, and the Fates send her to the ball, warning her to watch the clock.
Scene 1: The Palace Ballroom
The ball is underway when Cinderella’s family arrives. The king and queen witness the rather tipsy arrival of Prince Guillaume and Benjamin, neither in correct attire for such a formal occasion. Cinderella’s stepsisters still believe Benjamin to be the Prince, giving the young men another chance for deception. Guillaume is uninterested in any of the eligible women. A magical atmosphere fills the ballroom as a masked girl arrives. Guillaume is immediately drawn to her. Cinderella, recognizing him as the beggar, turns to flee, but is guided back by the Fates. The couple waltz together. Seeing the interest the Prince shows in the mysterious beauty, Hortensia takes to the bottle, humiliating herself. Benjamin dances with Clementine, whom he likes. Guillaume and Cinderella dance, falling deeper in love. When Hortensia rips off Cinderella’s mask, she must flee. In the chaos, Cinderella leaves behind one golden shoe. Guillaume vows to marry her.
Scene 1: In the Kingdom
Benjamin and Guillaume search for Cinderella, trying the shoe on every female foot they can find.
Scene 2: Cinderella’s Kitchen
Cinderella awakens, and with the help of the Fates, remembers her astonishing night. She hides the other shoe and resigns herself to her daily chores. Clementine tells Cinderella of the boy she met, and Edwina turns suspicious when she spies Cinderella dancing steps from the ball. Hortensia viciously attacks Cinderella – her father must step in. Benjamin and Guillaume arrive, exhausted from trying the shoe on many feet. When it does not fit either stepsister, Hortensia throws the shoe into the fire. Cinderella comes forward with the matching shoe: Prince Guillaume has found his Princess. They leave the family behind, but all is not lost for Clementine as Benjamin returns for her. A royal wedding is held.
“You'll have a ball at Christopher Wheeldon's show... Gets the spectacle right”