Theatre Review: Northern Ballet's Beauty & The Beast at Theatre Royal

Words: Catherine Symes
Friday 06 October 2023
reading time: min, words

The familiar fairy tale, told through music and dance, brings magic and beauty to the Theatre Royal

Northern Ballet Dancers In Beauty & The Beast. Photo Emma Kauldhar (5)
Northern Ballet are back at the Nottingham Theatre Royal with Beauty and The Beast, and it is a delight to behold. Choreographed by David Nixon, its former Artistic Director, this ballet was created in 2011 and last ran in 2016. Its return is more than welcome. 
A classic fairy tale, of love conquers all, where a self-obsessed prince, is turned into a beast, under a spell that can only be broken if he can learn to love and be loved in return. We have the gentle and learned youngest daughter called Beauty, living with her two consumerist sisters, along with her kindly father, a wealthy man who falls down on his luck. In search of food a rose is plucked and Beauty, along with her good nature, goes to live with the Beast – where his tenderness unfolds. There is, as you may have guessed, a happy ending. 
A fairy tale familiar from the big screen, may from its title entice families to come, yet to confuse this production with the Disney film, would be to seriously underestimate the exquisite artistry of this production.  
Dreda Blow As Beauty In Beauty & The Beast. Photo Emma Kauldhar (2) (1)
As someone who has never been to ballet before, I am now a complete convert. It was only when I sat down that I really considered the challenge of telling a story through dance and music alone. The music, composition, costumes, set and dancers work together to beautifully communicate a complex tale filled with humour despair and tenderness, which had me entranced from the beginning. Taking us from moments of anguish to a stage filled with goblins and sprites, delivering the familiar tropes of love, a prince and fairies, scenery that gave the illusion of the different worlds, a beautiful rose bed, intricate costumes, amazing choreography and dancing that mesmerised. All of which was accompanied by a full orchestra, featuring music by Bizet and Debussy. Creating an expansiveness of experience, enhanced by the intimacy inherent in the Theatre Royal. Full credit must go to Kevin Poeung as The Beast whose physicality of performance was breath taking. 
The Theatre Royal on a Wednesday night was filled to the rafters with an audience of differing ages and we were greeted in the lobby by members of the Northern Ballet Sinfonia, leafletting us about the risk they face of being replaced by recorded music in the face of underfunding to Northern ballet. The privilege of the experience I had on Wednesday night will stay with me and for cities like Nottingham to lose access to any element of this artistry seems like a travesty. As it does for these professional musicians to lose work. To support them click here.
Northern Ballet Dancers In Beauty & The Beast. Photo Emma Kauldhar (2)

The delight found in this production was the coming together of all its elements, who delivered an experience that was not only entertaining but truly magnificent. The opening dance of the second act, involving the Beast, Beauty and the prince was delivered with such poignancy, that it was as if I was alone in the theatre witnessing the love sadness and longing unfold. The final wedding scene filled the senses as if there were a hundred not fourteen dancers on the stage, and there was of course, glitter. As my friend Lou said – ‘It was more than fab.’   

Northern Ballet's Beauty & the Beast runs at Theatre Royal until Saturday 7 October 2023.

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