BY BILLY SUTER
A 24-STRONG cast of championship skaters comprising the cream of Russian skating talent will star in Cinderella on Ice, which Pieter Toerien is presenting over the festive season at the Teatro at Montecasino in Johannesburg.
The glittering spectacle, which runs at the venue from December 1 to January 7, follows the world-famous Imperial Ice Stars company’s previous hit shows, The Sleeping Beauty on Ice, The Nutcracker on Ice and Swan Lake on Ice.
A spokesman for the South African tour points out that the Imperial Ice Stars have performed at many of the world’s most prestigious venues, including Sadler’s Wells in London’s West End, the Esplanade Theatre in Singapore, Montreal’s Place des Arts and Moscow’s Red Square.
“This will be their seventh visit to South Africa, where they have built a huge following of fans over the years,” adds the spokesman, adding that Cinderella on Ice is a dramatic new interpretation of the classic fairytale.
The new show has been conceived and choreographed by award-winning ice director Tony Mercer and three of the world’s most respected ice coaches – Evgeny Platov, dual Olympic gold medallist and four-time world champion; and the 2006 and 2007 ice dancing world champions, Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski.
“Cinderella on Ice continues to break new ground in the genre of ice dancing. Stunning skating feats, some only seen in Olympic arenas and some never attempted before, are performed within the confines of a frozen theatre stage, including breathtaking, high-speed throws and incredible lifts and lift sequences.”
The majority of the skaters have been trained by Russia’s leading coaches, some from as young as three years of age, and between them they have won more than 300 competition medals.
Cinderella on Ice promises special effects including fire and rain, flying, magnificent projected scenery depicting a Siberian town square and a black and silver art deco theatre, as well as terrific costumes from Albina Gabueva, head designer at Moscow’s famed Stanislavsky Theatre.
In addition, the producers of the ice spectacle have engaged some of the best creative talents available.
The production features one of the most expensive sets ever created for a theatrical ice show, anywhere in the world, from one of Australia’s top scenic designers, Eamon D’Arcy.
“The show took 18 months of pre-production planning, with a new score specially composed for the ice dance medium, making the production a powerful contemporary musical genre.
“The score has been composed by Tim A Duncan and Edward Barnwell, both highly regarded contemporary composers, and recorded by the 72-piece Moscow State Cinematic Orchestra and 10 soloists from the Manchester Symphony Orchestra.”
In this new interpretation of a classic tale, The Imperial Ice Stars tell the story of a humble chorus dancer called Cinderella, who is thrust into the spotlight as a prima ballerina and captivates the handsome Lord Mayor’s son, the most eligible bachelor in town, with her graceful performance.
Despite rival attempts by her stepsisters to steal his heart, Cinderella’s father, the kindly Watchmaker, and the Gypsy Fortune Teller ensure that true love triumphs.
Artistic Director Tony Mercer says” “The Cinderella story has been told in many different cultures over many centuries. I wanted to give our version a new setting while retaining the ingredients and emotions of this timeless story.”
The Imperial Ice Stars are the only ice skating company to have won a theatrical award – they were awarded the Manchester Evening News ‘Best Special Entertainment Award’ for their production, Swan Lake on Ice, in 2007.
Some of the skating moves performed by The Imperial Ice Stars have never been attempted before, either in competition or on the stage (not even at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics), and are so complex they haven’t been named yet.
The performers rehearsed nine or more hours a day, six days a week, for sven weeks to pull the show together, and they rehearse for three hours each day before the show.
Interestingly, 14 tons of ice are created in the production – almost the weight as three elephants – while 2 500 litres of anti-freeze are used; enough to fill 100 car-cooling systems.
In a theatre, the ice rink takes over 140 man-hours to build but only 30 man-hours to dismantle.
Performances of Cinderella on Ice at the Teatro will be at 7.30pm every Tuesday to Friday, at 3pm and 7.30pm every Saturday, and at 2pm and 5.30pm on Sundays. Booking is at Computicket outlets.