Aladdin Weaves A Magic Spell at the Birmingham Hippodrome

I think that even adults need the magic of fairy tales in their lives, and last night I was transported to the land of beautiful Princesses, handsome heroes and magic lamps when I attended the press preview of Aladdin by the Birmingham Royal Ballet at the Birmingham Hippodrome.

This production by David Bintley is an exquisite triumph, perfect entertainment for the whole family, with scenes that amuse, romantic sequences that charm, and an wholly engaging cast that keep you entertained throughout.

The story is kept thankfully familiar, Mathias Dingman is wonderful as Aladdin, playing the role as a likeable cheeky chappy who gets himself into troubles that almost cost him his head. He rescued by sinister Maghrib who sets him the task to find a magic lamp. This leads to a scene of sheer enchantment as Aladdin progresses through a truly beautiful cave, where the myriad of rubies, emeralds and sapphires are bought to life by a series of energetic dances, before Aladdin finally reaches the centre of the cave, and thus the lamp. The scenery in this particular section is stunning, I loved the stalagmites in a multitude of colours that echo the variety of gems in the cave.

The cave scene is a real favourite, bit there were many other sections to enjoy, not least of which was the wedding dance of the Chinese Dragon, resplendent in white and gold, and actually Aladdin’s friends (Kit Holder and Lachlan Monagham). And I loved the romance of the bathhouse scene, where Aladdin and the beautiful princess ( the always sublime Momoko Hirata) first meet properly and fall in love, their dancing is joyful and tender and is just lovely. In terms of the characterisations, The Maghrib (Iain Mackay)  is a suitably dark and devilish bad guy with plenty of swigger and presence, whilst the blue genie (Tzu-Chao Chou) is both magical and genial, and delights every time he appears. Aladdin’s mother, the legendary Marion Tait, brings forth the comic element, especially in the scene in the Chinese Laundry.

 

A mention must be made of the set, which is almost an extra character in this ballet. You really are transferred to a mysterious cave, a luxurious bathhouse, a magnificent palace and a house that doubles as a Chinese laundry, and set changes are quick and seamless.

This is just a perfect night out for the whole family, delighting the audience by old and young. A total feast for the eyes and for the ears, with the Carl Davis score illuminating each scene majestically, Aladdin shows that ballet can be funny, entertaining and touching in equal parts.

Aladdin

Birmingham Hippodrome

Wed 4 – Sat 7th October

 

 

 

 

 

Fashion-Mommy at the Ballet

Oliver Herford illustrated the fairy godmother...

Image via Wikipedia

Cinderella has always been my fairytale heroine, Sure Sleeping Beauty had got the beauty sleep thing sorted, Rapunzel had great hair, and Snow White was quite a hit with the men (albeit very small ones!), but Cinderella really was inspirational. She came from a broken family, losing her mother at a very young age, and then faced poverty and abuse at the hands of her stepmother and step sisters. Yet, through her beauty, ambition, and with the help of useful friends like her Fairy Godmother (sort of an Alan Sugarplum fairy if you like…) she was able to achieve her life’s ambitions, to wear Vivienne Westwood-esq dresses with glass Manolo’s, go to the ball, and bag the Prince (who I always imagine had a touch of the Jude Law about him.) What’s not to love?

This afternoon I got the chance to see my favourite fairy story in the form of a brand new ballet created by choreographer David Bintley. The Birmingham Royal Ballet are in the middle of their annual stint at the Birmingham Hippodrome, and in this, their 20th anniversary year, they had chosen Cinderella for their festive performances.

Mimoko Hirata was playing the part of our heroine, and she was truly stunning, a graceful and elegant dancer who bought charm tot he role of Cinderella, but,  she was almost upstaged by the hilarious antics of the Ugly Sisters. They performed the ballet with just a touch of slapstick, which led to comic moments such as when they tried to learn to dance for the ball.

The set was beautiful, the nighttime sky backdrop reminded me of the Peter Pilotto for Kipling bags, with dark azures, cerise pinks and twinkling white/silver flashes. Cinderella’s kitchen was suitably depressing, whilst the ballroom had a glorious sweeping staircase.  The costumes were also fabulous. Cinderella was transformed into a veritable swan with her shimmering white tutu, whilst the larger of the Ugly sisters looked horrendous in her bright yellow affair. The fairy godmother was reminiscent of Glinda the Good witch in The Wizard of Oz in her flowing, glistening gown, with the wicked stepmother at the evil end of the spectrum in heavier burgundy.

The whole performance was totally mesmerising. I sat enthralled as the crystal carriage appeared on the stage. It was an enchanting moment that made everyone gasp, and then smile. The land of fairy tales may be just make-believe, but it was lovely to visit there, even if only for an afternoon…