Dance Review: MATTHEW BOURNE’S CINDERELLA (International Tour at The Ahmanson in Los Angeles)

Post image for Dance Review: MATTHEW BOURNE’S CINDERELLA (International Tour at The Ahmanson in Los Angeles)

by Harvey Perr on February 11, 2019

in Dance,Theater-Los Angeles,Tours


The audacious, eccentric and flashily theatrical choreographer, Matthew Bourne, is a man full of interesting ideas, most of which, under close scrutiny, are fairly half-baked, but prove catnip to dance enthusiasts while driving serious balletomanes to distraction. There’s the famous all-male Swan Lake and a theatricalization of The Red Shoes, the latter of which which stayed close to the original but jettisoned the cinematic ballet for a stark post-modern stand-in that didn’t register on the same emotional level.

And Cinderella? Well, the “interesting” idea of this 22-year-old dance theater piece, which opened last weekend at the Ahmanson Theatre, is to have it take place in a new location for a wallow in nostalgia and for romantic excess — London during the Blitz.

There is no prince in the convoluted storytelling but rather a wounded RAF pilot and a bombing of the famed Café de Paris; there isn’t so much interest in the wicked stepsisters as in the addition of three (count them) silly stepbrothers; the Fairy Godmother has become a balletic male angel; and the stepmother carries on as if the war is great fun. Then there is Bourne’s winking nod at a gay couple who somehow find their way to dance in London in 1940 in public places, but, after all, Cinderella is a fairy tale.

There is some neat choreography — particularly in the second of three acts — the willowy Ashley Shaw is always a delight to watch as Cinderella, and Neil Austin’s fiery lighting is clearly influenced by the Technicolor palettes of such 40s directors as Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and Vincente Minnelli. But instead of swing music, which might have been appropriate if a bit of a tired cliché, it is all danced to the sometimes swirling, sometimes languorous waltzes of the original 1945 Prokofiev score, played by a prerecorded 60-piece orchestra. So, depending on where you stand, it all adds up to either art with a capital “A” or kitsch with a capital “K.” You get what you came for.

photos by Johan Persson

Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella
New Adventures
international tour
Music Center’s Ahmanson Theatre
135 N. Grand Ave.
ends on March 10, 2019
for tickets, call 213.972.4400 or visit CTG

Leave a Comment