BEAUTY and the Beast has become so synonymous with Disney, that it’s easy to forget the dark side to Villeneuve’s original fairytale.
David Nixon’s take on the popular story focuses on the Beast’s inner anguish as he wrestles with his vanity, and the riches-to-rags tale of Beauty and her family.
Which is not to say this new version by Northern Ballet is all doom and gloom – far from it. Nixon has introduced some well-placed moments of levity.
Staggering home from another hard day at the boutique, Beauty’s sisters arrive laden with bags and boxes. Only to be followed minutes later by three sunglass-wearing debt collectors who leave the shopaholic siblings stripped of their haute couture frocks. A callous yet witty moment, which also serves to illustrate just how stylish Nixon’s costume designs are – yes, even the underwear looks good.
Duncan Hayler’s adaptable set deserved a curtain call of its own, switching from opulence to poverty to the reptilian Beast’s atmospheric lair.
And as always with Northern Ballet, it was the fine blend of technical excellence and characterisation from the dancers that took us into the heart of this well-worn yet enduringly fresh tale.