Cinderella on Ice
Playhouse, Edinburgh, Tue 20–Sat 24 Jan
Giving your all for an audience is part and parcel of being a performer. Prior to joining the Imperial Ice Stars, however, Russian skater Olga Sharutenko had to ignore her adoring fans and channel everything in one direction – the judges.
‘We had so many people in the arena watching us,’ recalls Sharutenko, ‘some of whom would follow us around the world. But in competition, you don’t perform for them, only the judges, which is such a shame. In the theatre it feels great because you know you’re performing for everyone and when you hear the audience’s reaction, it’s amazing.’
That reaction has been fairly unanimous since artistic director Tony Mercer formed the Moscow-based Imperial Ice Stars in 2004. Since then, the company’s jaw-dropping lifts, throws and spins coupled with strong storytelling and theatricality have taken ice dance to a whole new level. Following lead roles in Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake, Sharutenko is currently playing the title part in Mercer’s new version of Cinderella.
Aside from the novelty of setting his shows in a theatre, rather than a draughty ice arena, what is it about Mercer’s productions that sets them apart? ‘Most ice shows just take what competitive figure skating already has and put it in a different area,’ says Sharutenko. ‘But Tony has created something different. He tries to bring all our personalities onto the stage, so we’re not just figure skaters, we’re characters, which makes our work unique and different.’