11 April 2015
Reviewed by Rachel Legg
Northern Ballet have specially created this production of the Elves and the Shoemaker with children in mind and therefore it only lasts approximately 40 minutes with no intermission. It is however a proper production with live musicians, superb costumes and excellent sets. The cast is small consisting of 6 dancers, who play the shoemaker and his wife, Tap and Stitch the two elves and a small variety of customers who come to the shoemakers shop. The story follows the traditional story I remember from a ladybird book back in my childhood and is very well portrayed by the cast.
My family and I went to the lunch time performance earlier today; my twin girls are 5 years old and though they go to ballet and tap lessons they have never been to a live ballet performance before. Initially one of my daughters was quite confused why no-one was telling the story however she soon got caught up in the performance, she particularly enjoyed the elves and was thoroughly taken up with the “magic” as the shoes were produced. I did have to keep her updated on the story as it progressed but at the end she refused to applaud because as she put it “I’m not clapping mummy because I want to watch more” which from a 5 year old is a fairly ringing endorsement. My other daughter liked it “when the elves jumped on their bed and when the ballerina (Princess Pearl) was dancing” and they are both asking when they can go see another ballet.
Though definitely geared towards children I don’t think this particular ballet is quite as suitable for very young children and I think 5 years up is probably the best age group as the story is slightly more complicated and slightly less well-known than the previous productions of The Three Little Pigs and The Ugly Duckling. I would however thoroughly recommend catching this production as it tours, it is lovely to see things specifically for children that adults can really enjoy and that have all the production values you would expect from such a well respected company as the Northern Ballet. We will definitely be looking out for the next thing from Northern Ballet whenever that may be.
Northern Ballet Elves & the Shoemaker is currently on tour, for more information and tour dates click here.
For shows at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield visit www.thelbt.org.
Lawrence Batley Theatre, Queen’s Square, Queen Street, Huddersfield, HD1 2SP