Birmingham Royal Ballet: The Sleeping Beauty at the Mayflower Theatre Review

31 January to 3 February 2018

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Reviewed by Jane Warwick

We thoroughly enjoyed this production of The Sleeping Beauty. The fairy tale on which the ballet is based is well known and is basically a story of good triumphing over evil. The wicked fairy, Carabosse casts a spell over the heroine Princess Aurora whereby she will die if she pricks her finger. Fortunately, the good Lilac Fairy changes the spell so that she will not die but only fall asleep until woken by a kiss. One hundred years after the Princess falls asleep, the handsome Prince Florimund awakens her with a kiss, they fall in love, get married and live happily ever after!

Unlike many modern interpretations of ballet, this production by the Birmingham Royal Ballet is the epitome of classical ballet and mainly follows the original 1918 choreography by Marius Petipa. It is lavishly staged, and the costumes and sets are magnificent. It is a long show at almost 3 hours and it is a testament to how entertaining it was that the time just flew by.

The cast were all excellent, and Momoko Hirata and Mathias Dingman excelled as the lead roles of Princess Aurora and Prince Florimund. The former is considered the most technically demanding of all classical ballerina roles and the grace, elegance and technical ability with which Ms Hirata played the role was most impressive. During the final act these two lead characters performed a superb pas de deux which was richly applauded by the audience.  Nao Sakuma and Jenna Roberts excelled at contrasting the evil of the Fairy Carabosse and the good of the Lilac Fairy using, in part, the role of mime to complement their dancing.

The final Act (the wedding of Princess Aurora and Prince Florimund) enables the involvement of other fairy tale characters including Puss in Boots, and the Bluebirds. These added touches of humour and involved more impressive costumes although we couldn’t understand why Little Red Riding Hood’s hood wasn’t red!

The much-loved score by Tchaikovsky underpinned the entire performance and this was excellently performed by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia ably conducted by Koen Kessels. Sound and lighting were of a very high standard and the spectacle of viewing the entire cast through golden glitter during the finale was quite magical. If I was younger, I might even be tempted to take up ballet such was the beauty of the moves.

We were very pleased we obtained the extremely informative programme/brochure. Not only did this contain the normal details of the cast but also included fascinating insights into the history of the production, introduced the concept of mime in classical ballet and explained the amazing logistics involved in staging such a lavish and complex production.

We saw the production at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton which is a firm favourite with us. It is a Grade II listed, old fashioned theatre which has been renovated and redecorated to a very high standard. The staff are always very friendly, and we have never been disappointed with the many performances we have seen there.

There are a number of car parks within easy walking distance and also a rail way station which is again within walking distance.

In summary, this excellent, classical production of The Sleeping Beauty was beautifully executed and is strongly recommended.

Rating: 4.5/5

Tickets cost from £12 to £49.50 (booking fees may apply).

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty is at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton from 31 January to 3 February 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.mayflower.org.uk or call the box office on 02380 711811.

Mayflower Theatre, Commercial Road, Southampton, SO15 1GE | 02380 711811

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