Tuesday, 1 November 2016

"Beauty & The Beast" by Northern Ballet
Nottingham Theatre Royal.
Beautiful and magical. It's difficult to tear your eyes away from the stage when the Northern Ballet are on stage. The classic story of Beauty & The Beast has had several modern touches introduced which has injected humour into the piece.
We see the vain and egotistical Prince Orian who shows bad manners by ignoring La Fee Magnifique, who is in disguise. She casts a spell on him and turns him into a wild beast. Her sister La Fee Luminiere enters and tells the Beast that if he can find someone to love him as a Beast that the spell will be broken.
In another part of the kingdom, a rich man who has three daughters, the youngest, Beauty, and the two elder ones are interested in nothing more that spending money at all the top fashion shops of the day. Beauty though has no interest in this lifestyle and loves the simple, natural things in life.
The two socialites throw a party but on the day of the party, the father gets more visitors in the shape of the debt collectors who take everything they have away, including the sisters' clothes from their backs, in a big lorry, leaving them with nothing an nowhere to go.
The family come across a broken down tour bus and clothes and set up home in the much less glamorous surroundings. The father then goes into the forest to look for food and comes across the Beast who gives the man a key so that he can send his daughter to him, aiming for her to fall in love with the beast and therefore breaking the spell.
Well, we all know that there's a happy ending, as with most fairy tales, and this is no different. Not only is the ending happy but so are the audience after this show.
The dancing is exquisite, choreographed and directed by David Nixon OBE, and so are the costumes which are also designed by Mr Dixon and assisted by Julie Anderson, who also produced the costumes. There's a local link with Julie as she trained at Loughborough College of Art and Design.
The set design (Duncan Hayler) has a slight gothic touch but also has a lot of silvery 1920's glamour feel about it. The lighting, designed by Tim Mitchell, gives the ballet a very modern feel about it and splashes colour in every direction possible, adding to the visual delight of the already entrancing spectacle.
The music for the ballet is like a greatest hits of classical masterpieces starting with the magical yet gothic "Danse Macabre" by Saint Saens. You'll also recognise Debussy's section from "La Mer" and "Clair De Lune". The gorgeous tenderness and sublime "The Snow Is Dancing", also by Debussy, and with more Saint Saens to come in Act Two, you're guaranteed some beautiful orchestral pieces, arranged by John Longstaff and conducted by John Pryce-Jones.
The dancers are the best of the best, but don't expect to see too many tutus or tights for either male or female dancers. Guiliana Contadini (Prince Orian), Dreda Blow (Beauty), Ashley Dixon (The Beast), Mlindi Kulashe (Beauty's father), Rachael Gillespie and Dominique Larose (Beauty's sisters), Hannah bateman (La Fee Luminaire) and Victoria Sibson (La Fee Magnifique) were the lead dancers but everyone in the ensemble were just as hypnotic to watch.
It's always impressive to watch how graceful and easy the dancers practically float on the stage without ever looking out of breath or breaking into a sweat. Their core strength and stamina equivalent of that of any athlete, you just can't help but admire what they do.
They have great dramaturgy, easily telling the story for anyone from five to one hundred and five to understand through their dance expression.
I've urged many people I know to go and see at least one ballet, especially if they love the theatre, as I do, because this is an art form that everyone should experience, because I believe that once you've seen one ballet, you, like me will be hooked and you will thirst for more.
"Beauty & The Beast" is on at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 5 November 2016.

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