If you head to Bristol Hippodrome this week expecting to see Lumière, Mrs Potts, Chip and the other characters that feature in the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast, you’ll be disappointed.
But what you will see is a dark, magical and visually stunning performance by the Birmingham Royal Ballet that more closely portrays the original 18th story.
We all know the tale; a cruel prince is transformed into a beast as punishment for hunting a fox and is forced to live in a castle with the animals he tried to kill.
The curse can only be lifted if a beautiful girl falls in love with him. His chance comes in the form of Belle, who is sent to the castle after her father is caught stealing a rose.
Their relationship grows but Belle turns down his marriage proposal and the beast dies of a broken heart after his love is dragged from the castle by her sisters.
Belle manages to return and reveals her true feelings which results in the beast being transformed into a handsome prince.
The set for this ballet is spectacular. We couldn’t take our eyes off the mesmerising gothic castle.
Moody lighting and atmospheric smoke are used to switch between scenes and the beast’s abode is gradually revealed culminating in a final lit up view when the last transformation takes place.
There are some surprise animatronic moments which we won’t spoil and for those missing the dancing Disney teapot, look out for a rather special throne.
Delia Mathews danced well as Belle and Tyrone Singleton, who impressed us last year in La Fille mal gardée, was great as the beast.
We were also taken with Yaoqian Shang as ‘the wild girl’ who is transformed from a fox. She moved so effortlessly on stage.
There are some comedy moments too, particularly in a glorious dinner party scene. Marion Tait is wonderful as the grumpy old grandmère tutting her way through a dance. She kept it going right to the end by looking disapprovingly as the orchestra bowed to the audience’s applause.
The appreciation for the orchestra, the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, was greatly deserved. They were brilliant. It was such a pleasure to be sat in the stalls so close to world-class musicians playing the soundtrack to world-class dancers.
Beauty and the Beast by Birmingham Royal Ballet is at Bristol Hippodrome until 4 May.