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Magical memory that will last a lifetime; REVIEWS.

The Sleeping Beauty, Birmingham Royal Ballet Birmingham Hippodrome ||||| GO to see this ballet at your peril, for you risk falling under the spell of the most beautiful production of The Sleeping Beauty ever conceived, an experience which may haunt you for the rest of your life and which nowadays has rightly passed into legend.

In my many years as a theatre reviewer, certain things have never left me.

One of them would have to be Simon Russell-Beale's Hamlet, another would the actor Michael Maloney reading the poetry of John Keats in a programme I wrote for him and there would always be a distant vision of Oliver's Othello. But in the world of dance this production of The Sleeping Beauty by Peter Wright for Birmingham Royal Ballet with sublime designs by Philip Prowse is a dream which has stayed foremost in my memory since the day I first reviewed it over twenty years ago.

The whole ballet is a dream of beauty which passes from one century into another with some of the most fabulous costumes and sets you are likely to see this side of paradise.

It has always inspired other choreographers, such as Kenneth MacMillan and Frederick Ashton, and clearly Sir Peter Wright intended to create the grand ballet. glittering and luxurious, that once graced the stage of the Maryinsky Theatre in St Petersburg in pre-Revolutionary Russia.

When the courtiers entered in Act One, the costumes were lavish and historically flawless. The women wore as a headpiece the towering fontanges of the 17th century encrusted with diamonds and the royal baby was presented to us with a flourish.

Suddenly thunder rolled, the lights flickered and Carabosse entered in a black chair carried by ghouls in skull masks.

Marion Tait as the slighted Carabosse in glistening sable lace with those piercing eyes in a pale, unsmiling face, was peerless, and comes from the dark side of this fairy tale.

Tait's mime as she curses the baby and vents her anger on the hapless royal couple was awesome and Tchaikovsky's music did the rest to make this one of the evening's highlights.

But good eventually conquers evil, Nao Sakuma's perfectly-danced Princess Aurora married her Prince (the superblymatched and very fine Chi Cao) the Lilac Fairy dispelled evil and the court wakes up after sleeping away a century.

This Sleeping Beauty is a complete masterwork and the dream ended in a sparkling shower of gold. See it and marvel and thus give yourself the treat of a lifetime.

Runs until Saturday.

Richard Edmonds


Nao Sakuma as Princess Aurora and Chi Cao as Prince Florimund in Peter Wright's The Sleeping Beauty
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 10, 2013
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