Director: David Nixon
Reviewer: Lu Greer
The recent resurgence of Disney in the form of a seemingly never-ending stream of live-action retellings could be very good news for the current Northern Ballet tour of Beauty and the Beast, or, it could bode very badly indeed. While stories such as this have become popular once more and have brought yet another generation into their fan base, portraying a classic such as this through the medium of ballet has the potential to be challenging as it tries to both maintain and generate fans.
The way Northern Ballet go about this challenge seems to follow a simple philosophy: ignore Disney, and make the audience fall in love with the original story. And it works. Perfectly.
The focus of the show is, naturally, on Dreda Blow as Beauty and Ashley Dixon as Beast, and the pair complement each other wonderfully. It is the Beast who utterly captivates the audience however, as he is pulled between grace and frustration, love and withdrawal, and has the audience desperately hoping he finds his happiness. Accompanying the Beast, eternally in the shadows and setting each scene he is in perfectly, is the manservant Alfred performed by Hironao Takahashi. The subtly of his performance means Takahashi almost conducts the scenes, moving the story along without every overshadowing the narrative.
The show as a whole is very well performed, and at times captivating, but there is one moment which will stay with the audience for a long time. The Pas De Trois between Beauty, Beast and his former self as Price Orian (Giuliano Contadini) is at times touching, at others haunting, and throughout utterly fascinating. The power of the orchestra is most evidence at this point when, conducted by John Pryce-Jones the music unites the audience with the beast’s anguish until not a person stirs in their seat.
while there will be some who attend this show thinking they will be treated to talking clocks and dancing candlesticks, there will almost certainly be none leaving disappointed that it wasn’t what they thought. This incarnation of Beauty and the Beast brings with it everything you would expect from Northern Ballet: charm, humour, darkness, and just a hint of magic.
Runs Until 29 October 2016 and tours | Image: Contributed