Review: Sleeping Beauty on Ice
By Alan Wooding
If you fancy spending an evening watching salcos, axels and toe-loops, then get yourself down to Milton Keynes Theatre either tonight or tomorrow as some of the world’s leading ice skating stars perform their final three shows.
With the Milton Keynes Theatre stage transformed into a huge ice rink and with TV’s Dancing On Ice star Olga Sharutenko in the role of Princess Aurora, this icy take on Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s ballet Sleeping Beauty is undoubtedly the hottest ticket in town.
It was easy to forget all about our hit and miss summer weather as Olga – she partnered comedian Keith Chegwin – along with 25 other members of the Russian dominated Imperial Ice Stars cast have totally mesmerised the Milton Keynes Theatre audiences.
When the talented group performed Swan Lake on Ice at the Royal Albert Hall just over 12 months ago, it completely sold out and, having witnessed this adrenaline-rich follow-up, the cast of Olympic, World, European and National Championship skaters were expected to do the same in MK.
But unfortunately with so many top quality shows coming one after another, the theatre has been far from full which must be a huge disappointment to the talented cast.
Putting that aside, the two hour show is packed with breathtaking skating, some sensational aerial acrobatics involving ‘Forest Bluebirds’ Danil and Olga Tataurova while artistic director Tony Mercer and Russian Olympic coach Tatiana Tarasova’s amazing choreography perfectly matches Tchaikovsky’s romantic musical score.
The classical, timeless fairytale love story unfolds in a truly sensational manner in a dark forest glade where the black fairy, Carabosse (Iuliia Odintcovaa) resides. However as her expected invite is missing from the King (Volodymr Khodakivskyy) and Queen’s (Fiona Kirk) invite to the christening of their new born daughter Princess Aurora, she is furious and plans to cast a spell.
With colourful fairy godmothers and fathers galore, the King blames Catalabutte (Artur Minchuk) and his comical assistant (Aleskei Vasilev) for the omission but the damage is done and the evil Carabosse arranges that when Aurora reaches the age of 20, she will prick her finger on a rose thorn and die.
Fortunately the Lilac Fairy (Yulia Ashcheulova) – and Lilac Prince (Oleg Tazetdinov) – change Carabosse’s death threat to a deep sleep and, with the help of Catalabutte, they set out to find dashing Prince Desire (Bogdan Berezenko) who finally raises her from her slumbers thanks to a tender kiss.
There is a beautiful second act sequence featuring the Lilac Fairy who changes her skate for ballet shoes to dance on point with Prince Desire while there is constant sense of danger as the speed of movement by the skaters has a beauty all of its own.
There are some wonderful duets and plenty of lifts and throws so it’s a miracle that the skaters actually managed to stay on the stage for at times it defies belief as there is such power in their performances.
Some of the acrobatics and use of props come straight out of Torvill and Dean’s Dancing On Ice cupboard and that’s obviously a big factor in today’s ice skating popularity.
While live music is replaced by a tape, courtesy of the Moscow State Cinematic Orchestra, it doesn’t detract from what’s going on on stage. My only surprise was that Olga Sharutenko as Princess Aurora spends most of Act One as a baby and most of Act Two asleep – so it’s the beautiful Yulia Ashcheulova as the Lilac Fairy who really steals the show!
With 14 tonnes of ice covering the Milton Keynes stage, Sleeping Beauty is a fusion of drama, awe-inspring acrobatics and gymnastics. There is really amazing skating courtesy of a world class cast together with some spectacular colourful sets featuring fire, lots of ice and plenty of truly dazzling costumes.
It plays at Milton Keynes tonight (Friday) at 7.30pm and tomorrow (Saturday) at both 2.30pm and 7.30pm with tickets available from £11.90 to £35.40 (booking transaction fees apply) from the box office on 0844 871 7652.