Sleeping Beauty on Ice Playhouse

The Imperial Ice Stars have become famous for marrying classical music scores with the kind of spectacular, breathtaking skating manoeuvers and gymnastics that creates a spectacle that can be appreciated by both old and young. And by those who, like me, don’t know a double axel from a Bielmann. They tell me it takes 14 tonnes of ice to cover the Playhouse stage, but even this provides an arena that is so intimate that it leaves not the slightest margin for error. How the performers land with such perfection, not to mention grace, from the aerial swoops and spins verges on the unbelievable.

The story keeps to the more simplistic, child-friendly version of the tale, although there is a thrillingly malevolent performance from Iuliia Odintcova as a punk Carabosse, the Black Fairy who curses the baby Princess Aurora (a graceful Olga Sharutenko, one of the stars of tv’s Dancing on Ice).

Stars of the show, however, were Yulia Ashcheulova as the Lilac Fairy, who is scarcely off the ice from the moment she appears in a role that is the most demanding of all, and who leaves you almost unable to take your eyes off her all night, for fear you might miss an even more magical moment, and Oleg Tazetdinov who partners her as the Lilac Prince.

The sets, fine though they are, are little more than minimalist backdrops, due to the lack of space around the ice. The spectacle comes from the abilities of the cast, the imaginative production – especially the amazing fire and ice sequence – and the wonderful costumes from Moscow’s Stanislavsky Theatre.

Maybe I’ve been missing something by not including Dancing on ice in my viewing schedule, but somehow I don’t think it could quite compare to this.

Jim Welsh