Reviewed by Janine Rumble
WOW! WOW! WOW! What a truly spectacular, amazingly spellbinding, magical evening I had last night watching the Birmingham Royal Ballet perform The Sleeping Beauty at the Birmingham Hippodrome! There are not enough words in the English language to explain just how magnificent the ballet was. I sat on the edge of my seat, enthralled and spellbound at the beauty of the ballet performed in front of me. This truly is a traditional ballet and is how a novice ballet watcher, such as myself, believes a ballet should be like. From the moment of sitting down in the opulent theatre to the encore and cheers at the end, I was transfixed and in awe of the extremely talented dancers, the beautiful costumes, the elegant sets and the enchanting music. It made me wish that I could go back in time and take ballet lessons and dance as a little girl again in a tutu. It certainly was a sight for the eyes and ears.
The Sleeping Beauty is the traditional fairytale of the triumph of good over evil as Princess Aurora is cursed by the evil fairy Carabosse to prick her finger and sleep for one hundred years, only awakening when she is kissed by a handsome prince. This production is based on the original 1890 production of Sleeping Beauty and is beautifully choreographed by Peter Wright and Marius Petipa and is accompanied by music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky played by the amazingly talented members of the Royal Ballet Sinfonia and conducted by Koen Kessels.
The curtain rose revealing a stunning stage set up to resemble the opulent ballroom of a grand house. The set was simple but added to the feel of the tale and enhanced the ballet. The fairytale began with the King, danced by Wolfgang Stollwitzer and his Queen, danced by Daria Stanciulescu inviting all the fairies to the Christening of Princess Aurora. The stage was filled with dancers performing a dance of celebration. The costumes were exquisite in their detail and I was amazed at how the dancers were able to dance in such large dresses, but they did this with ease. The music then became dramatic and the lighting changed and in danced the attendants of Carabosse carrying Carabosse aloft on a throne. Carabosse, danced by Nao Sakuma was amazing in her evilness and threatening in the way she and her attendants tormented the guests at the Christening for not being invited to the Christening. She then proceeded to curse the baby Princess Aurora to prick her finger and die. Luckily, the Lilac Fairy, danced by Jenna Roberts, changed the spell so that she would fall asleep until awoken by a kiss from a handsome prince.
Act 1 begins with Princess Aurora’s 16th birthday where we first meet the amazingly talented ballet dancer Momoko Hirata. Sleeping Beauty is considered to be the most technically demanding of all the classical ballerina roles. I watched her in awe and admiration as she pirouetted and glided across the stage. I could have sat and watched her dance all night, she reminded me of the little ballerina that you find inside children’s jewellery boxes. Her dance with the four princes, danced by Yasuo Atsuji, Valentin Olovyannikov, Jonathan Payn and Tyrone Singleton was beautiful. She was then given a bunch of flowers, within which is hidden a spindle, on which she pricks her finger and slumps to the floor, the Lilac Fairy then casts a spell to send everyone to sleep and grows a tangled forest to hide the palace from view.
Act 2 sees a young prince, danced by Mathias Dingman, hunting in the forest. The Lilac fairy appears and shows him a vision of Sleeping Beauty. He immediately falls in love and sets off through the forest to find her. The way the forest scenery moves to reveal the prince’s progress through the disappearing forest is very cleverly done. When the Prince reaches Sleeping Beauty he wakes her with a kiss.
Act 3 sees them married and a variety of guests dance for the court. I will not give away who these were, but their dancing was beautiful. During this time the Prince and Princess danced a wonderful pas de deux, which was just incredible and so emotional.
If I could have stood and thrown flowers, shouting bravo at the end of the ballet as you see people do in the films I would have done. It was a truly amazing experience and one that I would urge everybody to go to, especially if you have never seen a ballet before. It truly is magical. I applauded all of the dancers for their amazing strength and their incredible performances. The costumes they wore were spectacular and how they danced in them is beyond me, especially when I read in the programme that some of the costumes can weigh as much as a stone in weight, the number of costumes and costume changes were incredible, no wonder they need an artic lorry to transport them.
The programme was very informative, I especially liked the added detail of a children’s explanation in comic strip form of what is happening in the tale. I also liked the information given regarding mime in the ballet and the history of ballet.
The ballet was performed at the Birmingham Hippodrome and will be there till the 24th of February 2018. Tickets are priced at £16+.
Having never been to the Hippodrome before and arriving via train, I was very impressed to find it was only an easy 5 minute walk to the theatre. The theatre looks very modern from the outside, but inside it is a very old theatre with chandeliers. I was sat in the stalls on the left and unfortunately could only see the middle and right side of the stage, but there was so much to see on the stage that I do not feel like I missed out on too much of the show. The staff at the theatre were polite and the facilities were good.
The Hippodrome is holding different events to enhance the watchers experience of the ballet, including a more relaxed performance for audience members with an Autism Spectrum Condition, sensory and communication disorders, or a learning disability on the 20th and a First Steps Sleeping Beauty for children aged 3+ on the 16th.
I would highly recommend that everyone should go and see this ballet and I give it 5 out of 5 stars.
Tickets cost from £16 (booking fees may apply).
The Sleeping Beauty is at the Birmingham Hippodrome from 13-24 February 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.birminghamhippodrome.com or call the box office on 0844 338 5000.
Birmingham Hippodrome, Hurst St, Southside, Birmingham, B5 4TB | 0844 338 5000