SB’s Cinders! surprise

Sep 28 2023 | By More

Male Cinderella for Scottish Ballet’s Xmas production

Scottish Ballet’s new show, Cinders!, which comes to the Festival Theatre in January 2024, is to feature gender-swapped roles for Cinderella and Charming – but only in half the performances.

The ballet, choreographed by Christopher Hampson, designed by Elin Steele and set to Prokofiev’s music, will see the principal dancers both playing the roles, turn and turn about.

However, while they will each take half the performances, the gender of Cinderella will remain unknown to the audience until the curtain rises. On some nights, Cinders will be a woman, swept off her feet by her Prince; on others, Cinders will be a man, swept off his feet by his Princess.

Christopher Hampson directs Bethany Kingsley-Garner and Jerome Anthony Barnes on the set of Scottish Ballet’s Cinders! campaign shoot. Pic: Mihaela Bodlovic

The company promise a brand-new, art-nouveau inspired set “with exquisite details, and sumptuous, sparkling costume designs” for the ballet in which Hampson riffs on the classic fairytale plot, setting at the turn of the 20th century in Cinders’ family-run drapers.

Life is sweet – until tragedy strikes leaving Cinders an orphan. Enter the new proprietor, Mrs. Thorne, an intimidating mother of three ghastly children who treat Cinders with contempt and turn the store into a garish version of its former self.

When the Royal Ball is announced, hilarity, excitement and chaos ensue as the Thorne family begin their frenzied preparations to attend. Cinders, however, takes refuge in an enchanted rose garden, where they are magically spun into a vision of sophistication and beauty, worthy of charming everyone at the ball…

fresh approach

Hampson says he is delighted to bring a fresh approach to the well-known fairytale, adding: “I have always believed Prokofiev essentially composed a love story, yet full of wit and humour, which underpins this new production.

“I’m enjoying the playfulness of searching for who guides the narrative and who drives the dream. Collaborating with Elin Steele and the ever-adventurous dancers; we are coming together to deliver a classic Cinders for today.”

Grace Paulley, Bethany Kingsley-Garner and Jerome Anthony Barnes in Scottish Ballet Cinders. Pic: Gavin Smart

While the choreography is essentially the same for both male and female Cinderellas, the company say some small sections will alter and that there will be interesting nuances in movement and delivery, which they are exploring in the lead up to opening at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, in December.

The male Cinderella will suitably togged up for the ball scene, but won’t be wearing the sumptuous dress worn his female counterpart. That will be left for the Princess who sweeps Cinders off his feet, so all audiences will get to see the same glittering outfits.

Guest principal dancer Jessica Fyfe says that it has been exhilarating working with Hampson on the new ballet. She echoes his notion, that changing the gender of the Cinders can alter perceptions of the protagonists.

She said: “To give this new fluidity to the leading roles means exploring ways in which the character Cinders, traditionally the ‘poor’ Cinderella, can be a person of grit, determination and strength, which ultimately leads to them creating their own happy ending.


“I hope the audience enjoys this new twist on a beautiful classic, which now highlights how anyone can have a hand at shaping their own future. It’s not just for fairytales.”

Scottish Ballet Principal Dancer Bruno Michiardi adds: “What I’ve found most interesting about swapping the roles of the Cinders leads is just how different and new it’s made the ballet feel.

“We all know and love the classic story of Cinderella, but this new version means we’re suddenly working in this amazing upside-down realm, where the male part (previously a more traditionally stoic character) is a complex mixture of vulnerability and resilience, and the female role (usually quite timid and downtrodden for most of the original ballet) is empowered and full of charisma…

“I’m excited at the prospect of exploring this further and sharing that with the audience!”

Cinders! opens in Glasgow on December 9 and plays Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre Fri 5 – Sat 20 January 2024, before touring to Aberdeen, Inverness and Newcastle.

Scottish Ballet website:

Listings and Links

Festival Theatre, 13/29 Nicolson Street EH8 9FT.
Fri 5 – Sat 20 Jan 2024.
Wed – Sat: 7.30pm; Fri 12, Sat, Sun mat: 2.30pm.
Tickets and details: Book here.

Cinders! on tour.

Glasgow Theatre Royal, 282 Hope Street, Glasgow G2 3QA
9 – 31 Dec 2023
Tickets and full details: Book here.

Festival Theatre, 13/29 Nicolson Street, Edinburgh EH8 9FT.
5 – 20 Jan 2024
Tickets and details: Book here.

His Majesty’s Theatre, Rosemount Viaduct, Aberdeen, AB25 1GL
24 – 27 Jan 2024.
Tickets and details: Book here.

Eden Court Theatre, Bishop’s Road, Inverness IV3 5SA
31 Jan – 3 Feb 2024
Tickets and details: Book here.

Newcastle Theatre Royal, 100 Grey Street, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 6BR
7 – 10 Feb 2024
Tickets and details: Book here.

Grace Paulley as Madame Thorne in Scottish Ballet Cinders! Pic:Gavin Smart


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