SHOW: THE IMPERIAL ICE STARS SWAN LAKE ON ICE
CAST: OLGA SHARUTENKO. BOGDAN BEREZENKO, MARIA MUKHORTOVA, YAHOR MAISTROU, ALEXANDR KAZAKOV, FIONA KIRK AND LARGE CAST
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR/CHOREOGRAPHER: TONY MERCER
VENUE: TEATRO AT MONTECASINO, UNTIL 10 JANUARY 2016
REVIEWER: PETER FELDMAN
The Imperial Ice stars are back in town and celebrating their 10th anniversary.
With ‘Swan Lake,’ they have transformed Tchaikovsky’s classic tale by introducing a new prologue and humanising the legend of the princess who was turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer.
Artistic director and choreographer Tony Mercer has stated that he intended creating a more realistic interpretation of the much-loved story by adding a more plausible ending – and he’s succeeded admirably.
Performed on the frozen stage at the Teatro, ‘Swan Lake’ is not only a sumptuous celebration of the art of skating, but also theatrical entertainment of the highest order.
The last time I sat mesmerised by these incredibly agile and talented artists was when the company produced ‘The Nutcracker on Ice’ at the same venue in 2011. This was a taste of great things to come and the company has not disappointed with their current offering, a magnificent staging of the classic Tchaikovsky tale with an array of opulent costumes, aerial gymnastics and visual magic.
Mercer’s choreography, such a vital aspect of the production, is elegantly rendered and there are moments that take the breath away as supreme skating power takes over and the skaters execute some of the boldest and thrilling manoeuvres I’ve yet seen on ice. These superstars have to be precise in their timing and skating prowess, because one false step could end up in disaster with somebody ploughing unceremoniously into the scenery.
What makes this experience so superb is that, though the magical music drives the performance, the various skaters are able to show emotional heft in their characterisations and there’s no need for the spoken word.
A visually dramatic aspect of ‘Swan Lake’ is the stupendous sets, magnificently crafted show pieces that conjured up the mood, embellished by atmospheric lighting and effects whether in the forest, the palace courtyard or the ballroom.
Renowned for their daring on the ice and unique style of storytelling, this team manage to convey the essence of the story through sheer skill and athleticism. During the course of the production the ensemble produce an exhilarating showcase of triple flips, double axels, death spirals, awe-inspiring aerial gymnastics and amazing lifts and lift sequences that have to be seen to be believed.
The stars of the show are the six leads; Olga Sharutenkp (as Odette), Bogdan Berezenko (as Prince Siegfried), Maria Mukhortova (as Odile), Yahor Maistrou (as the evil sorcerer Baron Von Rothbart), Alexandr Kazakov (as Benno, the Prince’s friend) and South African skater, Fiona Kirk, as the Queen.
There are many theatrical offerings this holiday season, but top of the list should be ‘Swan Lake,’ a production of such rare beauty and quality that to miss it will rob you of seeing one of the truly magical enterprises of 2015.
* Performances take place on Tuesdays to Fridays at 7.30pm; Saturdays at 2.30pm and 7.30pm; and Sundays at 2pm and 6pm.
Tickets priced between R100 and R400 can be booked at Computicket.
Facebook: Peter Selwyn David Feldman