On Sunday we held our final performance of this season of David Bintley’s outstanding production of Cinderella. What you might not know is that for our visually impaired patrons the performance was audio described and that pre-show a touch tour took place.
Firstly, the group, led by Jonathan Nash, from Sightlines, who provide audio descriptions for Birmingham Hippodrome performances, were treated to a tour of the stage by our brilliant Deputy Stage Manager, Eliska Robenn. The group were able to get their hands on props from the ballet including cakes from the ball, Cinderella’s pumpkin and the step-mother’s wig. On stage was part of the kitchen set with its assorted pots and pans, the coach and a huge pile of discarded shoes from the Prince’s would-be princesses. It was fantastic for everyone to get a real sense of the scale of the sets and also to feel the amazing detail in the props.
From the stage, Eliska took us to a dressing room to explore the costumes from the show. What always strikes people about Birmingham Royal Ballet’s costumes is the incredible amount of work that goes into each and every one. Everybody (including us Birmingham Royal Ballet staff!) were mightily impressed with the elaborate details, from the hand-stitched sequins on the Stars’ tutus to the intricate scales on the Lizard’s head. Various costumes were handed around whilst Jonathan and Eliska vividly explained the roles of the characters who wore each outfit. Needless to say, Cinderella’s tutu seemed to be the most popular!
We left Eliska to go about her preparations for the matinee performance and made our way to the foyer to meet three of our wonderful dancers, Ruth Brill, Brandon Lawrence and Alys Shee, who were all in full costume. This gave the group a chance to ask the dancers all sorts of questions about their roles in Cinderella, their costumes as well as more general questions about what it’s like being a dancer with Birmingham Royal Ballet.
There was only one way to finish the tour and that was of course with a mince pie and a cup of tea. It was great to see some new faces as well as some old friends on the tour, who all thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The audio described performance was also a great success, with the dramatic and colourful descriptions making the action really come alive for those listening in.
And finally, we’d like to wish you all a very happy Christmas and we’ll hopefully see you all in the new year for David Bintley’s Aladdin!