Interview

Cinderella prop designs

In addition to designing the sets and costumes, John Macfarlane has been providing sketches for even the smallest props in Cinderella, ensuring a consistent visual style for the production.

Here you can see his drawings for two items; a cup cake and a dress box. Diana Childs, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Senior Stage Manager explains:

‘During Act I, a wig-maker and dress-maker and dance teacher come round to get the sisters ready for the ball. They arrive with dress boxes containing unfinished versions of the outfits that they will wear later in the ballet, so that they can try them on.

Here is the design for the boxes.

Prop designs dressbox.
Prop designs cakes.

‘The second sketch is for a scene at the ball where a waiter is carrying a tray of cupcakes. So John has drawn a cupcake schematic so that the makers at the Royal opera House can make it exactly the way he wants it to look.’

Speaking to John later, the designer explains the importance of getting the look right.

The cakes have to catch the eye of one of the sisters, and be recognisable to the audience, and so it is neccessary that they are able to be stacked on the tray in an eye-catching pyramid. ‘We start with the overall visual that the audience will see and then work out from there the size of each individual cupcake,’ he says.

Once the props have been created the originals go back to John. ‘He’s a fine artist in his own right,’ explains Diana. ‘He exhibits all over the place, and original sketches like these would be worth a fortune, so we make copies for future reference and the drawings all go back safely to him!’