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Thursday 22nd
posted by Morning Star in Arts

Beauty and the Beast
Leeds Grand Theatre

IT’S become something of a tradition for Northern Ballet to stage a production at The Grand over the Christmas period and, while there may be nothing intrinsically festive about Beauty And The Beast, choreographer David Nixon’s adaptation has plenty of fun with the fairytale’s moral about material goods not bringing happiness.

Beauty’s two sisters — socialites who flounce around in costumes that frequently resemble gaudy sweet wrappers — could have stepped right out of Clueless, while the bailiffs quite literally take the clothes off their backs in a ballet-theatre scene that shows the company at its comic best.

The posturing and preening Prince Orian, meanwhile, undergoes a beastly transformation after finding himself caught in a magical revolving mirror after angering evil fairy La Fee Magnifique (Victoria Sibson) with his bad manners.

For all that these opposites — good vs evil, financial vs moral wealth — lack subtlety, the roles are played with winningly large hearts.

Dreda Blow’s Beauty is sweetly self-abasing while Ashley Dixon’s Beast brings a physicality to the role that transcends his simple face paint and furry trousers.

When, in a dream sequence, he demurely rearranges the arrogant pose of a mannequin-like Prince (Giuliano Contadini) or when he drinks tea from a saucer while Beauty imbibes from the cup, there’s a genuine emotional charge.

The final scene, in a palace seemingly built out of silver foil, outstays its welcome but no-one can begrudge the dancers’ investment in the happy ending of this family-friendly show.

Runs until January 7, box office:

By Susan Darlington