IF you’re not sure whether ballet is for you, Northern Ballet’s beautiful production of Beauty And The Beast at Milton Keynes Theatre may just help you make your mind up.
This is dance at its most accessible and its most expressive, using music and the human body to conjure every mood from delight to despair, vanity to simplicity, anger to playfulness.
The fairy story is simple – a vain and arrogant young prince is punished by being transformed into a hideous beast who must live alone in his castle until the spell is broken by the redeeming power of true love.
Beauty is the simple and good-hearted girl who agrees to go and live in the Beast’s castle, to save her father’s life.
In her presence, the Beast gradually discovers in himself more humanity than he had when he was a man, culminating in his willingness to sacrifice his life for Beauty when she begs to be allowed home to visit her sick father.
When Beauty returns and declares her love to him, the spell is broken and he is transformed back into a handsome prince.
The set invokes an enchanting world of colour, inhabited by fairies, goblins and sprites, with an elaborate mirrored set from Duncan Hayler and gorgeous haute couture-style costumes designed by David Nixon.
The dancing is accompanied by an infectious score from Saint-Säens, Bizet, Debussy and Glazunov, played live by the Northern Ballet Sinfonia.
The stunning Martha Leebolt danced Beauty with artless, natural grace, while Ashley Dixon was a lovely Beast – moving from rage and despair to tenderness and love as the character matures.
Special mention too should be made of Beauty’s two silly sisters, played by Georgina May and Pippa Moore. Their performance is lots of fun, as the fashion-mad pair party with their friends and acquire vast quantities of expensive goodies, only to end up stripped to their designer underwear by the bailiffs.
Northern Ballet Artistic Director David Nixon OBE said: “I wanted to create a family show which would be equally popular with both children and adults alike. Beauty And the Beast is a classic fairytale of good versus evil, exploring the concept of beauty on the inside and the outside.”
Beauty And The Beast is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday, April 21.
For tickets, call 0844 871 7652 or visit www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes