Backstage

The Pumpkin Coach in Cinderella

A production, a memory — By Éric Moreau and Cyril Pesenti

Cinderella is back on the stage at Opera Bastille. In the ballet choreographed by Rudolf Nureyev with music by Sergei Prokofiev, the heroine of Charles Perrault’s tale is whisked off to a Hollywood film studio. Éric Moreau, assistant head of the props department of Opera Bastille, remembers one of the emblematic elements of the set, the Pumpkin Cadillac from Cinderella.   


“After having been in charge of production, in 2006 I was appointed assistant head of the props department at Opera Bastille. The story behind this set is quite extraordinary. Between the 2011 revival of the production and this one, the container in which the car had been stored had unfortunately got damp. I undertook a little investigation in order to restore the item to its original state. To begin with, we had to redo the upholstery of the seats which had deteriorated as a result of the damp. Water had soaked right in as far as the remote controlled motors, so we had to change them as well. We were faced with a problem, however: this set had been constructed by an outside company. By chance, I found their contact details, which allowed us to restore the famous car from Cinderella.

Its mechanism is rather intriguing. The exterior of the pumpkin car which, at first sight, looks like the fabric of a blow-up balloon, was in reality made from thick canvas sewn together and painted, the same as that used in fairgrounds for the construction of carousels! To get the right effect, everything is calculated to the nearest millimetre. There is an extra in the pumpkin when it is driven onto the stage. Beforehand, he has already started the first motor to pump up the pumpkin. At the moment the transformation is supposed to take place, he unfastens a strap to release the controls and presses a button and a second motor pumps up the car in barely 23 seconds! Finally, Cinderella gets into the Cadillac and sets off for the legendary studios of Hollywood!”   

© Elena Bauer / OnP
© Elena Bauer / OnP

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