Show: Beauty and the Beast
Venue: Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Date: 14th March 2019
Company: Birmingham Royal Ballet
Choreography: David Bintley
Music: Composed by Glenn Buhr, performed by Royal Ballet Sinfonia
Principal dancers: Maureya Lebowitz (Belle), Yasuo Atsuji (The Beast), & Beatrice Parma (Wild Girl)
Based on the classic story we all know and love, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s take on Beauty and the Beast made for a rich and visually captivating performance. The show really is a feast for the eyes, its greatest strength being the sumptuous costume design, ornate set pieces, and moody lighting; all of which come together to create an atmosphere that feels entirely in-keeping with the story’s fairy tale origins.
Sonically, the show is also a hit. Buhr’s specially composed score is seamlessly performed by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia. Intricate and textured, the music has a timeless, whimsical quality, honouring the extensive history of the narrative. As for injecting something new into proceedings, that’s where the choreography comes in. Though it is playful and original, the heavy leaning towards storytelling over conventional dance means there are a few moments in which the pace drags. When the show hits its stride, however, it’s an arresting experience, the second Act in particular really showing off the quality of the production across all departments.
Each member of the company did a good job with what they were given, and a couple of the big group routines were excellent. The standout individual performer was undoubtedly Beatrice Parma as the vixen-turned-woman. Her movement fused classical ballet with a strange vulpine quality. Her entire presence on stage was enigmatic and compelling.
Having seen a fair few ballets in my time, I can’t say this one ranks amongst the best, but it’s well worth catching during its UK tour if you have the chance. The recognisable story and approachable presentation make it accessible for enthusiasts and newcomers alike.