DISCLOSURE – TICKETS TO SEE THE SHOW WERE GIFTED TO THE REVIEWER AND GUEST FOR THE PURPOSES OF WRITING THE REVIEW
Reviewed by Jan Dixon
I had the pleasure of reviewing The Sleeping Beauty ballet, performed by the excellent Birmingham Royal Ballet at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton on the opening night of Thursday 8th February 2024. The performance runs on the evenings of Friday 9th February 2024 and Saturday 10th February 2024, with an additional matinee show on the latter date.
This production of the beloved and well-known children’s fairy tale was created by St Peter Wright and directed by Carlos Acosta CBE. The celebrated music of Tchaikovsky is performed by the acclaimed Royal Ballet Sinfonia with Koen Kessels as Musical Director. The support of Charles Stanley Wealth Managers for their sponsorship of this UK tour of The Sleeping Beauty ballet is also gratefully acknowledged.
A superb and amazing performance of a classic story which features not only one of the world’s great touring ballet companies, but also the well-beloved music of Tchaikovsky beautifully played with passion by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia – absolutely a must to see for everyone, young or old. A pure delight for the senses! Congratulations to Paul Murphy Principal Conductor and his stand-out orchestra.
In this performance Princess Aurora was performed by Yu Kurihara, whose delicate and sublime dancing captivated the audience from the very start. Lachlan Monaghan passionately played Prince Florimund, Princess Aurora’s suitor who awakened her with a kiss from her 100 year slumber. The pas de deux between the Princess and the Prince absolutely encapsulated the happiness and love the couple felt for each other; such a heart warming portrayal. Fairy Carabosse, whose vengeful act of cursing Princess Aurora to die from pricking her finger with a spindle hidden in flowers, was played with relishing menace by Daria Stanciulescu. Thankfully the Lilac Fairy played by Ellis Small minimised the curse by reducing it to sleep not death; her kind act of redemption beautifully portrayed. The fairies of beauty, honour, modesty, song, temperament and joy, along with their cavaliers danced their roles with amazing individuality, as did the lilac fairy attendants.
There were three Acts to the ballet and a Prologue. These were divided into The Christening, The Spell, The Vision and The Wedding. A static backdrop was used as the basis for the whole performance, which was enhanced with brilliant effect for the end of Act 2, when forest scenes were slowly brought down in layers to represent a deep forest. In Act 3 excellent lighting effects highlighted different areas in the forest, especially the form of Princess Aurora deeply asleep in her enforced slumber. Dry ice curling round the twelve dancers in this Act enhanced the ethereal portrayal of a sleeping court waiting for their awakening from the curse. Philip Prowse who designed the set and Mark Jonathan (adapted by Johnny Westall-Eyre) who engineered the lighting are to be congratulated for their excellent part in the production.
In the last Act fairy tale characters danced in pairs and individually in the wedding celebrations of the Prince Florimund and his love Princess Aurora. This was a chance to showcase their wonderful talents and they were received with enthusiasm and applause, especially the two dancers portraying comedic cats. The latter two endeared themselves to the audience with their timing and the carefully observed nuances of feline mannerisms. Congratulations to the Choreographers Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov and Peter Wright.
Running time is 2hrs 50 mins, including two intervals.
Ticket Prices from £12.00 to £49.50. Mayflower Theatre, Commercial Road, Southampton, Hampshire SO15 1GE. Box Office 02380 711811. www.mayflower.org.uk.
This is very much worth a 5 star rating and I would urge you to take advantage of the opportunity of seeing this absolutely superb performance of Sleeping Beauty at Mayflower Theatre whilst you have the opportunity! You will leave the theatre with feelings of awe and appreciation for the stunning performance you have just had the pleasure of witnessing. Well-deserved standing ovations.