At the beginning of 2019 Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella embarked on its USA leg of its international tour, opening at Blumenthal Performing Arts in Charlotte, North Carolina on 6 January before spending a week at Washington DC’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts from 15 - 20 January.
Here’s what the company got up to written by Anjali Mehra, who plays Sybil (The Stepmother) & Vivien in Cinderella.
We arrived in Charlotte on 30 December just in time for New Year Eve! I went to Charlotte last time we were on tour with The Red Shoes. Charlotte is a lovely relaxed, yet growing city in North Carolina. The company arranged for us to spend our celebration into 2019 in an Irish Bar so we would feel a bit at home!
The first thing I did when I landed was visit the restaurant next door to our hotel and pretty much opposite the theatre called Merts. It’s wholesome southern cooking and I remembered how welcoming they were last time we were in Charlotte and how yummy the food was. As soon as we ate there I felt like I was definitely in America!
Danny Reubens had researched some Basketball games that were happening at Spectrum Sports Arena in Charlotte. On New Years Eve, Charlotte was playing Orlando so a big group of us went to watch the game - pre-party! This was so much fun… the Charlotte Hornets were playing brilliantly, the crowd were relaxed and having fun, there was great music and dancing from the cheerleaders in the breaks - at one point they were even en pointe! We really had fun and I even met some locals and invited them to come and watch Cinderella! We then all went and saw the New Year in at the Irish bar with lots of dancing.
On New Year’s Day, a few of us - Joe Walkling, Andy Monaghan, Daisy May Kemp and I hired a car in search of some nature! We decided to go to Lake Norman which was about an hour drive away and stopped off in a small town called Davidson for lunch. The first thing we had to was find our Zip car - this took a while! Then finally we were on the road. Surprisingly we listened to Joe’s choice of Britney Spears for most of the journey - ha ha.
Once we got to Davidson, it was a very sweet town with cute little restaurants and lovely coffee shops. It reminded me so much of the towns in American rom coms so much that Daisy and I created a plot of a movie based on the shops and places we saw in Davidson. We are pretty sure it will be a hit once we make it. Let’s just say there’s a bookshop, and a dog. We walked through the town before heading on to Lake Norman.
When we got to Lake Norman, we chose to lake hike! We were all definitely in the wrong clothes and shoes, which one walker kindly pointed out to us as soon as we started walking. As we passed more and more hikers with sticks, walking boots and shorts on, we realised our chinos and brogues would be somewhat ruined! However we persevered through the wet red mud and enjoyed the nature… mainly in the forest and then opening out to beautiful lake views. The red clay mud contrasting to the subdued, grey-green water and tall, skinny trees. A perfect way to start 2019.
For the next few days, we teched the show with the new American backstage team and all went smoothly. We always enjoy performing in this lovely relaxed theatre. Also, there is a surprisingly great array of wonderful places to eat from a covered market filled with different stands with Ahi Poke, Crepes, Pastas, Acai bowls, great coffee and wonderful southern cooking.
We then made our way to Washington! Unfortunately for us, the weather turned and there was a snow storm! Our plane ended up landing in Philadelphia instead of Washington and we were put up in a hotel for the night so we could all travel again the next morning. Second time lucky and we finally got to Washington in time for Matthew Bourne’s birthday drinks in the famous bar at The Watergate Hotel! What a stunning hotel with an interesting history. We really felt like we part of Washington DC, there was heavy snowfall making the scenery even more stunning with beautiful buildings towering over the river. What a city!
As soon as I arrived at our hotel, the bellman took me to the roof terrace - the bar is normally open up there and there’s an ice rink that circles it but it was completely submerged in snow, which was so beautiful. Jazz music blared and I was able to take some great pictures. After freezing my toes, I took a trip down to the basement for a swim, sauna and steam to warm me up! It really was a treat.
Being back at The Kennedy Centre brought back the same memories of awe and appreciation from the last time I was there with The Red Shoes. The theatre is a short walk from the hotel and the imposing walls and walk way really are quite an entrance.
The auditorium is plush red, adding drama and occasion, it is just a wonderful place to perform. We have a huge studio to do class in everyday, a canteen and they even have a snack table for us by our dressing rooms - with lots of peanut butter and crudités - perfect!
I also happened to have some people coming to watch me in Washington DC, a cousin that I hadn’t met before (well since I was a baby) and his family, a friend from Rudolf Steiner School who was also in Will Kemp’s class and some old friends from Hawaii so it was quite busy!
On the last day, there was a group of us who were waiting in the lobby for our bus to the airport and our friend and concierge Zak decided to give us a tour of the The Watergate Scandal Room 214! The room looks just like any of the other rooms in the hotel from the outside but on the inside it is like a museum. This was the Watergate Scandal that eventually took the Nixon administration down and also created the suffix ‘gate’ onto any big scandal!
‘As descriptions go, this is pretty apt. For it was in this very space that two undercover operatives - the former CIA agent Everette Hunt Jr and the lawyer George Liddy - coordinated the infamous burglary of the DNC base, in the adjacent Watergate Office Building. Hooked up to radios and microphones, Hunt Jr and Liddy were there to direct the light-fingered efforts of the five burglars just across the way, urging them to search carefully for campaign secrets of the opposition which might help President Nixon's re-election bid. The break-in was, of course, discovered, and the consequences would go to the top.’
Chris Leadbeater, The Telegraph
That was a very apt end to our Washington DC visit and I hope to be back soon! Next stop LA!