Norwich: From Cheggers to Sleeping Beauty on Ice

Olga Sharutenko as the Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty on Ice at Norwich Theatre Royal

Olga Sharutenko as the Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty on Ice at Norwich Theatre Royal - Credit: Archant

A favourite fairy story with generations of children the world over is being transformed into a lavish production featuring some of the globe’s top skaters.One of the stars of Sleeping Beauty On Ice, Olga Sharutenko tells John Bultitude about the show, her professional career and Dancing On Ice alongside Cheggers.

Although the skating and effects are amazing, the entire cast also work hard to make sure the charac

Although the skating and effects are amazing, the entire cast also work hard to make sure the characterisation is strong. - Credit: Archant

Some skills are honed by genetics, others by years of dedication and practice. Top figure-skater Olga Sharutenko is lucky enough to have a mix of both.

Following in her mother’s footsteps and dedicating her life to showing her skill and flair on the ice, she has carved out a hugely successful career competing and performing all over the world.

From wowing international judges in professional competitions to competing alongside celebrities and enduring the sometimes barbed comments of the panel on ITV1’s Dancing On Ice, she gets a buzz out of taking on different projects and her latest is no exception.

She is a member of the Imperial Ice Stars, who present the Sleeping Beauty On Ice at Norwich Theatre Royal on May 28-June 1.

A 26-strong cast of Olympic, World, European and National Championship skaters will bring the classic fairy tale to the stage, with the aid of Tchaikovsky’s score, breath-taking skating set-pieces and stunning effects.

“There is something very exciting about this show. We have taken a very well-known tale, brought it to the ice and put our own stamp on it. It is a very different style of performance and something very special,” she says.

Most Read

Although the skating and effects are amazing, the entire cast also work hard to make sure the characterisation is strong.

“It is very much about storytelling and bringing the tale of Sleeping Beauty to life.”

Her path to success began at a very young age.

“I have pretty much always been skating. It is always very frozen in the Soviet Union and that is why I started. My mother was a figure-skater and my grandmother took me outside from a very young age during the winter and I would just slide around.”

She also took up ballet, showing a strong flair for both disciplines; but ended up having to pick one or the other to pursue as a career.

“People thought I was also a very good ballet dancer. Unfortunately, because they are totally different, I had to give one of them up. If you dance, you need to use your body in a different way compared to ice-skating so I couldn’t keep going with both and I chose skating.”

Along with her skating partner, Olga joined the Russian National Junior team in 1995, becoming a Junior World Champion. From there, they were invited to join the Russian Senior National team; going on to win numerous competitions all over the world.

“This was a very special time in my life. You did not think of it as a job as such. You were representing your country and that made me feel very proud.”

She was selected to join the skating troupe the Russian Ice Stars in 1999, which saw her perform in the likes of Peter Pan On Ice, the Phantom Of The Opera On Ice, Barnum On Ice and she also played the lead role of Clara in the UK and Australian tour of The Nutcracker On Ice.

Five years later, she joined the Imperial Ice Stars, touring the world performing a number of roles including Odette in Swan Lake On Ice and the lead in Cinderella On Ice.

Now she is stacking up the road and air-miles again with the global tour of Sleeping Beauty On Ice.

Olga says: “I personally fell in love with the theatre stage and with performing there. It does not matter how many people are around you. You want to do your best. When you are in a competition, you are performing for the judges who are in front of you.

“With something like Sleeping Beauty On Ice, you are performing for many, many more people. Playing to a theatre audience is really enjoyable and you can really feel their reaction. It is something very, very special.”

In parallel, Olga has also recently enjoyed small-screen success in ITV1’s Sunday evening reality TV hit Dancing On Ice. She starred in the very first series, partnering TV and stage actor and performer John Barrowman. It was her partnership with the legendary Keith Chegwin that really brought her to mainstream attention.

“When we went to find out who we were paired with, I found out my partner was Keith Chegwin. Everyone was talking about him and of course, having been in Russia, I was saying ‘who is this Cheggers?’ I did not know who he was.

“I am so glad he was my partner though. He was such a special person, becoming my soul mate and friend. Keith was fantastic to work with and was such a hard worker.”

The focus is now firmly on Sleeping Beauty On Ice.

Olga says it will be the perfect way to forget the niggles of everyday life and escape into a spectacular fairy-tale.

“Providing a high quality of performance is very important to us. We want to excite people and make them forget their worries and troubles.”

Sleeping Beauty On Ice runs from May 28-June 1.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter