Reviewed by Ann Durrell
Magical, memorising and beautiful are three words that come to mind describing the Birmingham Royal Ballet performance of Beauty and the Beast. The production has its roots set firmly in the original 18th Century fairy tale, a Gothic tale of morality. It serves a good lesson to the young and old in not judging people by looks alone.
We meet Belle, the youngest beautiful and kind-hearted daughter of a merchant. Belle lives with her two vain and snobbish sisters who are more concerned with their looks and success. The Beast is a prince who was cruelly hunting a defenceless vixen when a woodcutter came across him. Outraged by the Princes behaviour, the woodcutter enchanted the vixen, turning her into a flame-haired maiden, then cursed the Prince to live as a beast. Hiding away in disgusted at his looks, the beast leads a solitary life until he comes across the Merchant and in turn Belle who he falls in love with.
The set and lighting is perfect for laying the scene for the story. The forest turning into the Beast Castle where magic is afoot. A nice touch is when the armchair hugs the merchant in a nod to the Disney cartoon version.
The Beast, danced by Brandon Lawrence, is spellbinding, you can feel his angst trapped in a body which is not his own, wrestling with his feelings. His dances are strong and purposeful when needed and romantic and soft when he dances with Belle.
Belle is beautifully danced by Yvette Knight, you can feel her innocence and pureness through the lightness of her movements. When Belle and the Beast dance together it really is superb.
A stand out scene for me was the Raven – Tzu-Chao Chou and the company of birds flying Belle to the castle. Comedic value comes from Monsieur Cochon, danced by James Barton, who prances and hops across the stage wooing the sisters. Secondly Grandmere, danced by Laura Day, provides some hilarious slapstick in the final wedding scenes.
The Beauty and the Beast works so well as a ballet and the way BRB have arranged the production is perfect for all ages. I would recommend it to those who may not have been before as an excellent way to be introduced to dance. It is extremely watchable and very enjoyable.
Tickets cost from £10 (booking fees may apply).
Birmingham Royal Ballet: Beauty and the Beast is at The Lowry in Manchester from 20-23 March 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit www.thelowry.com or call the box office on 0843 208 6000.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ | 0843 208 6000