I am a huge Disney fan as I’m sure most 90s kids were, so this ballet quite easily caught my eye. Beauty and the Beast is an iconic animation not only because it was one of the first animated movies ever nominated for Best Picture, but also because of its memorable storyline. Beauty meets Beast and falls in love with the help of some friendly crockery, clocks and candlesticks. So I simply couldn’t miss Northern Ballets adaption at Leeds Grand Theatre to beat the January blues.
The Northern Ballet Twist
Northern Ballet have an excellent track record of adapting stories and this one was no different. The operative word being adapted. You will not see a raging Gaston or uppity Cogsworth in this production. This is ballet. This is class. I understood this before buying tickets so it wasn’t a shock, otherwise I might have been a teensy bit disappointed…
The story felt familiar but with a contemporary twist. The arrogant Prince had a beastly spell cast upon him. Belle’s father was literally stripped of house and home thanks to her sisters shopping habits. Near the family’s new Forest shack, their Father suffered an attack from the Beast, so Belle sacrificed herself to save him. And voila, the Beauty met the Beast and slow romance ensued.
This is what is fantastic about Northern Ballet. They nail the acting within a scene. You know exactly what is going on. Who needs words when expression and choreography can do it with much more beauty and drama. Pictures tell a thousand words remember.
And it did warm my heart to see little nods to the original story. For example, Belle was always reading a book, the Beast had no table manners and they kept the endearing moment the Beast sipped tea from a saucer.
And wow, Luke Francis who played the Beast was phenomenal. His physical presence screamed wild animal as his toned body paced and leaped around stage. He felt urban, animalistic and masculine. He commanded my focus. It was hot. However, my only disappointment was the transformation back into the Prince. It felt like a missed opportunity to understate this famous scene. I didn’t want pyrotechnics, but maybe more than just the Beast reappearing as a man from the shadows.
As a huge Disney fan, I was surprised to find I really enjoyed this refreshing take on Beauty and the Beast. Northern Ballet always deliver such beautiful productions that are full of life and character and open up the world of Ballet to a new maybe unfamiliar audience. It successfully swept me away to a far away place where my inner child lives. Where happy endings come true and true love isn’t so unbelievable after all.
It’s definitely got me splashing for joy in anticipation of their next Disney production, The Little Mermaid! Keep track of Northern Ballets work here https://northernballet.com
Check out my vlog to see what unexpected thing happened in the interval! https://goo.gl/8SxrX0