The Tower Season of Cinderella

Online, Global

17/04/2020 - 19/04/2020

ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland

05/09/2012 - 09/09/2012

Bruce Mason Centre, Auckland

01/09/2012 - 02/09/2012

Municipal Theatre, Napier

23/08/2012 - 25/08/2012

Regent Theatre, The Octagon, Dunedin

18/08/2012 - 19/08/2012

St James Theatre 2, Wellington

02/08/2012 - 11/08/2012

COVID-19 Lockdown Festival 2020

Production Details

“If you are looking for magic, you will find it here… a breathtaking Cinderella that will enchant audiences lucky enough to see it.” Ann Hunt, Sunday Star-Times.

Christopher Hampson’s Cinderella returns to our stage in August. Acclaimed New Zealand designer Tracy Grant Lord’s sumptuous costumes and lavish sets draw you into a glittering fantasy world.

In her grief, the young Cinderella plants a rose at her mother’s graveside. When her father remarries, the future seems bleaker than ever. Her wicked stepmother is intent on pushing kind and beautiful Cinderella aside in favour of her two nasty step-sisters. The course of true love never did run smooth, but in this best loved of all fairy tales, Cinderella meets her prince.

Dazzling against the light and dark of Prokofiev’s powerful score, this ravishing interpretation of the timeless rags to riches romance is everything you could wish for and more. 

CHOREOGRAPHY Christopher Hampson
MUSIC Sergei Prokofiev
DESIGN Tracy Grant Lord
LIGHTING Nick Schlieper 

Approximate running time: 2 hours, 20 minutes including 2 intervals


Dance ,

2hr 20 mins including intervals

Onwards to the Ball

Review by Greer Robertson 19th Apr 2020

Much excitement, I’m going to a Ball. What will I wear? My best, of course!

I have the invitation, the limo isn’t required, but make haste, my presence is summoned.

Swiftly into my living room I go, this evening sporting a very fetching coiffed up-do to compliment my floating finery, with my sensible heeled dancing shoes a definite must.

Tonight The Royal New Zealand Ballet live streams a dress rehearsal of Cinderella in three Acts from the St. James Theatre Wellington, August 2012, Artistic Director Ethan Steifel.

Commissioned British born choreographer Christopher Hampson definitely takes on a big production, stretches the age old story from rags to riches, embellishing some parts and totally eradicating others.

And old it is. Will you guess from what century?

Curtain up and it’s a dark dismal scene of Cinderella aged 10 years attending her Mother’s Funeral. Grief stricken, she plants a rose bush in her memory. Segway quite quickly to the interior of a modest home, with a screen and a sideboard displaying a picture of Cinderella’s Mother.  

I was surprised to not see Cinderella, warming herself by the fire, in forlorn sorrow for her down trodden life, tolerating her Father remarrying a not- so- nice person. My vivid recollection is that Cinderella is named thus by the Ugly Step Sisters when over worked and underfed she comforts and warms herself sheltering almost inside the fireplace of cinders.

No fireplace, no fire, no cinders yet same name? Oh well, I will have to do different. Breathe.

But I’m not there yet. In tonight’s production, instead of household chores of broom sweeping and an aggrieved emotion from her unhappy situation, a much older Cinderella has a basket with blooms picked from the memorial rose bush. Lucy Green in the title role arabesques her way about in a technically safe, clinical, non-emotional state, seemingly undeterred by life. No matter how large or small my viewing screen is, I see no emotion.

Ah, but the Prince is throwing a Ball. Invitations are received by all the family and with a huge blast of explosive energy the [not –so- wicked] Stepmother, Lucy Balfour and Stepsisters Clytie Campbell and Adriana Harper, demonstrate their delight with quirky, slapstick, comedic moves. A Couturier, Aides and a Dance Master make preoperational merriment and whoosh they are off to the Ball. Sadly, Cinderella is left to sew her own dress.

Act One Scene Two sees Cinderella taking solace in the rose garden where magically her Fairy Godmother, Abigail Boyle appears. No tiara or wand but wearing a larger than life hat more befitting the Royal Enclosure at Ascot, she encourages Cinderella to attend the Ball, heeding the warning for her spell to disappear at midnight. A corps de ballet of roses waltz and weave about her.

I adore the live Orchestra and Prokofiev’s score, it’s so alive!

The wait is worth it. We are finally at the Ball. Large ornate chandeliers dictate an opulence above hundreds of metres of cascading tulle curtains framing the dancefloor. Sleekly serene partygoers are choreographed in an orderly fashion and we all have a mix and mingle lovely time. Qui Huan as the Prince commands the scene with an aloofness of tolerance for the Stepsister’s advances. His elevation in execution of entrechat six is memorable. But wait, who is this? Cinderella arrives shrouded in an unusual luminous head to toe white ruffled cape and descends the stairs. This is one way of making an entrance.  Underneath she is wearing a beautiful white tutu and a pas de deux ensues with my much awaited big exciting lifts.

I also wait and long for stillness, their eyes to lock and their hearts to beat faster. But, no. Again it’s a technically delivered piece devoid of emotion.

He presents her with a diamond encrusted rose. The clock strikes 12 and Cinderella flees the Palace  leaving behind one of her satin slippers.

A distraught Prince commands a search of his Kingdom for this unknown beauty. Final result, the diamond encrusted rose, the other slipper as evidence, success! They wed in a very quiet, simple affair under the rose bush.

It was a long time getting there, an elaborate rework of the centuries old story with a fantastic live orchestra. I also reiterate that tonight’s live streaming viewing is of a dress rehearsal. As always the performers settle into and develop their roles ready for Opening Night and nationwide touring.


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Cinderella – A delight for all ages

Review by Nicole Wilkie 19th Apr 2020

For this week’s broadcast of our national ballet company’s repertoire of works, we are treated to an adaptation of the classic folk tale Cinderella. Filmed in 2012 at Wellington’s St James Theatre, this ballet is charming and poetic, drawing on symbology in its set and costume design to help the audience in its reading of the movement.

As the performance begins, with the orchestra playing a wistful tune over an elegant solo by Lucy Green as Cinderella, I am transported to my youth when I too danced in a production of Cinderella. As I watch at home and observe young dancers engaging with the ballet and asking RNZB company dancers questions via the Facebook chat during the broadcast, I remember being in the same position, a young aspiring dancer watching the professionals in absolute awe, yearning to follow in their footsteps. Seeing a high level of immersion from young dancers is encouraging, and gives me hope that once the current uncertainty in the world subsides somewhat, we will have a strong cohort of dancers ready to contribute to the arts sector and help the industry thrive again.

The set design and costumes adhere to a colour palette of pinks, whites, and nudes hinting at themes of femininity and beauty, while splashes of olive and earth tie into a connection with nature. A grand tree with vines traipsing down to the ground holds the centre-back of the space, symbolising Cinderella’s connection to her late mother, and is in itself a gorgeous feat of set design. Another favourite is the ballroom scene – fairy lights dazzle the space like the night sky, and it is the perfect backdrop to the chorus of dancers that take the space in formal dress, moving in harmony and threading through each other with machine-like accuracy.

Lucy Green is stunning as the lead role. She brings a soft, calm quality to the character, however, this in no way diminishes her strength as a dancer. She reaches her full range effortlessly and is enthralling to watch. Other standout performers include Abigail Boyle as the fairy godmother, a seasoned ballerina demonstrating elegance and power; and Medhi Angot as the dance master and grasshopper, whose athleticism appears infinite. The step-sisters are a delight to watch and offer some comic relief, the interactions they have with each other and the physical hilarity ensued by dancing ballet ‘badly’ is just so entertaining.

Although the solos and pas de deux in this performance are striking in themselves, the choreographic composition of the group sections shows the intelligent architecture of the space and the dancers in it. This is perhaps most clearly demonstrated in the ballroom scene – the dancers work together in couples, yet every individual on stage is synchronised, with duos moving through and around each other, creating mesmerising shapes in space.

This variation of Cinderella is a delight for audiences of all ages. With expert choreography, exquisite music, and stellar dancing, this is a performance that anyone can enjoy.


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Finesse and refinement

Review by Jenny Stevenson 02nd Sep 2012

Although The Royal New Zealand Ballet has presented several versions of the classic fairy-tale of Cinderella, this season’s production with choreography by Scottish Ballet’s Artistic Director, Christopher Hampson to Sergei Prokofiev’s music and design by New Zealander, Tracy Grant Lord, would have to rank as one of the finest.  First created on the Company in 2007, the work now glows with a patina that speaks of finessing and refining.

Hampson’s choreography sits most comfortably on the dancers of the Company and the corps-de-ballet makes the most of the beautiful ensemble work that he creates for them.  It is seamless and constantly moving, so that the dancers don’t merely frame the soloists – they become the context out of which the action evolves organically.  It is classical ballet choreography that is distilled to discard the extraneous frills – leaving an essential quality of pure line and pleasing balance.

Lucy Green continues her meteoric rise through the Company’s ranks to dance the central role of Cinderella.  She is neither down-trodden nor victimised in this interpretation – rather she is a young girl mourning the loss of her mother, prepared to make the best of the straightened circumstances in which she finds herself – even the bullying and spitefulness of her new family.

Green’s performance evolves throughout the evening as she reveals the depths of her technique – culminating in the fiendishly fast solo in Act II which she pulls off without loss of composure.  Her lovely arabesque becomes the default position – a young girl yearning and reaching out for something more.  Green’s romantic duets with the Prince, danced by Qi Huan, grow in assurance and connection throughout the evening, so that the final pas-de-deux with its swooning lifts shows a young woman who has let down her defences and surrendered to love. 

Huan as the Prince, must move from the throes of melancholy to the heights of fevered passion in several swift strokes, all the time maintaining his noble bearing.  This he achieves with surprising lightness of being.  His Prince is a strong presence and his dancing, particularly his partnering, is equally assured.

The rose is chosen as the central symbol of work with its connotations of soft beauty offset by spiky thorns.  In her design, Tracy Grant Lord moves through a predominating palette of muted greys and shades of pink, red and yellow offset by green.  The costumes are either awash with frills and furbelows, or elegantly understated.  The overarching rose bush that marks the grave-site of Cinderella’s mother is both ornate and resplendent, but shines with a blazing heart of light – generated by a projection at its centre.

Hampson creates a corps of dancing roses to surround the Fairy Godmother – here depicted as the spirit of the dead mother, watching out for her daughter.  Abigail Boyle is elegant yet fragile in the role of Godmother,  who conjures up an array of creatures: a grasshopper – splendidly danced by Medhi Angot – as well as spiders and silk-moths to aid her, in her transformation of Cinderella. 

Cinderella’s costume for the ball is starkly white, alive with sparkling crystals that create an aura of magic as they shimmer in the light – offset by the blocks of colour and black on the dancers in the ballroom sequence.  These dance sets are entrancing: with the Prince and Cinderella weaving themselves through a vivid tapestry of dancing couples.  Hampson uses long diagonals including a splendid “assemblé” line and couples turning and swirling with a particularly lovely arched-back, side-lift that is a recurring motif.

Nick Schlieper’s lighting design is largely responsible for the elements of enchantment that are essential to any fairy-tale.  He sets the mood for the gloomy funeral scene and the dark dungeons of the shoemakers’ quarters, yet creates an extraordinary moment of delight – by illuminating just the legs of a dancing chorus line of women all eager to try on the Prince’s shoe.  Schlieper designs a dream-like ambience for the lovers’ final scene, with the pair bathed in a rosy glow and illuminated by soft beams of light.

Hampson crafts many humorous theatrical moments for hilarity and contrast throughout the work.  Not the least of these is provided by the step sisters, here danced with glee and abandon by Clytie Campbell and Adriana Harper.  The preparations for the ball see the sisters learn to dance and be fitted for their dresses and shoes as they reveal themselves to be in turn, a bombastic bully (Campbell) and a bumbling neophyte (Harper).  Lucy Balfour as the overweening Stepmother who manipulates every situation in which she finds herself is wonderfully believable, while Paul Mathews subtly invests Cinderella’s Father with the pathos of a well-meaning drunk.

The season concludes a nationwide tour at Auckland’s ASB Theatre – until 9 September.  It is the perfect way to celebrate the beginning of Spring.

For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.


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Luxury, strength, beauty and escapism

Review by Hannah Molloy 19th Aug 2012

When I think of ‘the ballet’ I think of luxury, strength, beauty and escapism. The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Cinderella at the Regent Theatre had these components in spades.

The dancers were gorgeous to watch. They looked as though they loved every minute on stage – surely a measure of a successful performance. Whether the audience enjoyed it or not almost felt secondary, although the spontaneous applause and laughter suggested that it did, thoroughly. 

Qi Huan looked as though he wanted to burst out of his skin with the joy of his dancing and Lucy Green’s Cinderella was poignant and delightful. Their pas de deux were mesmerising to watch and I found myself immersed in them as I haven’t been in dance for some time. I would happily have watched them together for hours.

Cinderella’s poor drunk father didn’t stand a chance against the three wretched women ranged against him and his daughter, even when he appeared to be trying to have a moment of lucidity. Paul Matthews managed to dance this drunken, grieving man without him turning into pantomime. The stepsisters played their parts beautifully – in full blown pantomime – and the stepmother was everything you would wish for. The short stepsister was daffy and engaging and she charmed the audience with her honesty and foolishness. The tall stepsister was sulky and sultry and elicited maybe less sympathy but as many laughs as her sister.

The corps moved beautifully and with perfect timing – I’ve wondered sometimes if immaculate timing is less important than it used to be but was reassured to see arms and legs and bodies in perfect synchronicity.

The costumes were amazing – pure guilt-free luxury in satins, velvets, crystals and tulle, everything a ballet wardrobe should be. They flowed, they swirled, they evoked the decadence of the era and they were beautifully made. The panels in the spidery dressmaker’s coat and in those of the fairy godmother’s troupe were exquisite. I found myself briefly distracted from the dance trying to work out how they were constructed but decided that was a detail I didn’t really need.

The audience included a large proportion of people under 20, mostly girls (and lots of very small girls in charming tutus) but it was good to see quite a few young men present also, including my own guest aged nearly eight. I had been unsure how he would respond to ‘the ballet’ but he was engrossed, from the opening scene to the finale. With a ballet such as this, that lends itself to a younger audience, it would be brilliant to have a matinee so the little ones don’t have to struggle against a late night after a whole day filled with anticipation.

 My small guest asked me, while watching the dancing master with his cane, “What happens if they make a mistake?”

“They don’t,” I replied. “They work so hard to make it perfect for us.” He was satisfied with that and nodded in agreement. I love to see young men appreciating the ballet as, if the next generation doesn’t embrace it as the previous one did, what will happen to it?


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Bravo the ballet

Review by Deirdre Tarrant 10th Aug 2012

Cinderella is everyone’s fairy tale dream, sumptuous, magical and beautiful. Rags to riches, cruel in-family fighting, beauty conquers all and happy ever after are the timeless ingredients for fantasy, and this was a real evening of swirling escapism. 

Choreographer and visionary, Christopher Hampson has made this production his own. Lucy Green is pretty much the perfect Cinderella. She is assured and fragile, looks divine and sparkles both in her costuming and her dancing. Her Prince, Qi Huan, is clearly in love with her, and although he had a shaky start on opening night with a fall that amazed him as much as it did the audience, his control and partnering were assured as the story unfolded.

The Wicked Stepsisters, Adriana Harper and Clytie Campbell, were amusing in a pantomime style and the Stepmother,  danced by Lucy Balfour had a little more nuance and scope in her role and used it to the full.

I saw the first version of this production in 2007 and remembered details as they appeared. The rose motif and use of pink seemed stronger throughout this time but the heavy reliance on mime and not a lot of variety in the choreography still irritated me.

The dancers were strong and cohesive and the company feels more like a team with good lines and flow of movement. What they did they did very well with good lighting by Nick Schleiper and Tracy Grant- Lord’s design giving the required sparkle to every detail. The costumes moved with the bodies and Abigail Boyle as the Fairy Godmother and Medhi Angot as the Grasshopper were particularly at one with their costuming, their characterisations and their movement.

Movement motifs recurred in the sequences danced by Cinderella and her Prince and their two pas de deux closely referenced steps and repeated phrases. The evening belonged to the total experience and the Wellington Orchestra brought it all alive with Prokofiev’s score and outstanding playing under the baton of Marc Taddei – himself almost a dancer as he conducts!

The younger members of the audience asked why did she not flee from the ballroom in her beautiful tutu with the sparkling shoes and really drop the shoe? Maybe adjusting the part of the story that resonates so strongly as the witching hour of midnight strikes was pushing it unnecessarily. Bravo the ballet.


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Enchantment, inspiration, artistic brilliance on show

Review by Jennifer Shennan 05th Aug 2012

Suppose someone took a perfect rose and turned it into a splendid ballet. Someone did.

The visual imagery throughout this production is exquisitely inspired by art nouveau, Horta let’s say, in a rose garden, through to a sparkling starry night of  Swarowski jewels. Tracy Grant Lord has produced wondrous designs for sets that move to music – and linger in the mind long after curtain down. The costumes are equally inspired, enhancing both choreography and storyline.

Prokofiev’s music is the measure, and Christopher Hampson’s choreography seems as the dance notation of the score, so acute and focused is his reading of the composition.  His theme takes the young Cinderella from the grief of losing her mother to the joy of finding her spirit living on as a loving Godmother. This brings a familiar fairy tale much closer to home and is a triumph of what dance in the theatre can offer.

There are inventive ideas for a rose to turn into a clock, a pumpkin into a dance partner, a dozen dancers to time the countdown to midnight. Hampson is clearly a leading choreographic talent. Here’s hoping his new position as director at Scottish Ballet will lead to fruitful exchanges with our company that appreciates him enormously. His Romeo & Juliet would be one of the finest works in the repertoire.

The comic roles of Stepmother (Lucy Balfour) and two Stepsisters (Clytie Campbell and Adriana Harper) are played with lashings of gusto, brilliant timing and zero sense of decorum. The Designer / Spider (Jaered Glavin) is a high camp outrage; the Dancing Master / Grasshopper (Medhi Angot) is a wonder of French wit.

As Prince, Qi Huan dances as though he is in love. As Cinderella, Lucy Green fulfils all the promise offered from last season upon stepping into lead roles. Her natural gifts in the classical idiom are rare, graceful and beautifully proportioned. Abigail Boyle is a poem of a Godmother.

The company is in fine fettle and Ethan Stiefel at the helm is taking it from strength to strength. Under seasoned conductor Marc Taddei, the Vector Orchestra plays superbly. Just one thing is needed: leave the orchestra’s administration alone and increase its budget. 


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Sumptuous, satisfying and pleasing to the eye

Review by Lyne Pringle 03rd Aug 2012

I first saw this production in 2007,  and the design of the work is as startling as it was on first viewing. With a gorgeous palette of green, grey and pink it sumptuous, satisfying and pleasing to the eye. Garments swirl long after the body has stopped moving as if they have their own choreography – this designer, Tracy Grant Lord. knows the dancers body well.

My ears were more attuned to the music this time around – composed in 1944 by Prokofiev some of it is dissonant and arrhythmic making it tricky to choreograph to particularly in the first act. There are beautiful melodies but also an acerbic bite and wit which adds zest. The score was written during the darkest of World War II and though it is an often delicate and feminine fairy tale, there are dark undercurrents which are brought forth in Christopher Hampson’s interpretation.

The Vector Orchestra were splendid. It is such a treat to have live lush sounds emanating at close proximity. Prokofiev actually wrote seven ballets, continuing the rich legacy of narrative Russian ballet started by Tchaikovsky. Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella are the best known and significantly, both date from before the political clampdown in Russia on artistic freedom.

Lucy Green is a lovely Cinderella. There is a luminous innocence about her and a generosity of spirit that is perfectly suited to the role. Her dancing is clear and lyrical with an exquisite line in her arabesque.  I feel drawn to her character right from the beginning of the ballet and invested in a happy outcome for her.

Act I Scene One fails to hold my interest, the choreography seems stilted and the mime protracted and unconvincing. Aside from Lucy Green the performances forced and clichéd. Whilst the dancing is good from Clytie Campbell , Adriana Harper (Ugly step Sisters) , Lucy Balfour (Stepmother) I am not drawn into the drama of this dysfunctional family. However there is some assured partnering between Paul Matthews (Father) and Lucy Green.

Brendan Bradshaw and Jacob Chown bring a burst of energy into the household with the invitation to the Prince’s Ball. The humour stakes are lifted with the arrival of Medhi Angot (Dancing Master) and we see how hopeless the Ugly Sisters are at dancing – it takes great skill to be this good at being bad! Eventually the scene is rounded off with very camp dressmakers decking out the ugly gals and leaving poor Cinderella dejected and alone.

Scene Two presents the full scope of the design for the work in breath-taking fashion as Cinderella finds herself in the enchanted Rose Garden. Her Fairy Godmother, long limbed willowy Abigail Boyle, is serenely graceful. She dances exquisitely in a gown that matches her perfect beauty.

Medhi Angot shines as a nimble Grasshopper with quirky and skilful choreography danced assuredly. Cinderella dances a duet with her friend the Grasshopper whilst Jacob Chown and Kohei Iwamoto flit through as airborne Silk moths; Dressmakers morph into mischievous spiders and work becomes more satisfying choreographically with a chorus of Roses who dance delicately and precisely to conjure a world only possible in this kind of ballet. Magic!

Act II is gorgeously stylish with a well-tuned corps de ballet dancing intricate choreography that swirls in the space to evoke a royal ballroom. The performances of the ugly sisters lift off  with fabulous solos from them and they are hilarious as they pursue first the prince and then the prince’s friends who jête and prance with terrific elevation.

 Oi Huan brings a stylish elegance to the role of the Prince and in this Act I find I am fully engaged in the story as Cinderella arrives at the ball. This is in part due to the plausible chemistry between the two lovers. Green and Huan form a great partnership;  with tenderness and assuredness expressed in every gesture and with every line fulfilled. Huan offers magnificent stability and Green responds accordingly. I was also very drawn to the choreography in their pas de deux and the delivery of their solos – ballet at its best!

Jon Trimmer does a wonderful comic turn in between acts and there is some great choreography from the shoe makers before the Prince searches the land to eventually find his one true love.

Act III Scene Three finds the lovers in the rose garden, together at last as the choreography offers a reprise of their grand ballroom duet. The choreography and performances are lovely and there is a sense of satisfaction as they kiss under a shower of rose petals – a true fairy tale ending.

A show with a slow start but we get there in the end.



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