REVIEW: ‘Truly wonderful’ ballet opens at Bristol Hippodrome

Delia Mathews as Belle in Beauty And The Beast. Picture: Caroline Holden

Delia Mathews as Belle in Beauty And The Beast. Picture: Caroline Holden - Credit: Caroline Holden

A tale as old as time was faultlessly re-imagined in the form of a ballet by the Birmingham Royal Ballet who staged their version of Beauty And The Beast, which opened at the Bristol Hippodrome last night (Tuesday).

Delia Mathews as Belle and Tyrone Singleton as the Beast in Beauty And The Beast. Picture: Bill Coop

Delia Mathews as Belle and Tyrone Singleton as the Beast in Beauty And The Beast. Picture: Bill Cooper - Credit: Bill Cooper

Many people know the story of Belle and the Prince who was transformed into a horrifying beast through the Disney film.

But this ballet takes the fairytale back to its roots, with several comparisons to the original tale penned by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont.

The 18th century fairytale follows the story of a cruel prince, cursed to spend the rest of his life living in a fantastical castle with the animals he callously hunted, who finds salvation in the heart of a beautiful girl.

The enchanting story had you gripped as soon as the curtain lifted, with a cheeky fox running away from a gaggle of hunters.

Iain Mackay as the Beast and Michael O'Hare as the Merchant in Beauty And The Beast. Picture: Roy Sm

Iain Mackay as the Beast and Michael O'Hare as the Merchant in Beauty And The Beast. Picture: Roy Smiljanic - Credit: Roy Smiljanic


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The ballet is a balancing act between the dark and dangerous side of the Beast and then the light and beautiful side of Belle.

The Birmingham Royal Ballet put on a faultless performance, with not a pointe shoe out of place.

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Belle (Delia Mathews) was a loveable dancer who really portrayed her character’s emotion through dance.

The sadness of her father’s departure through to her inner battle of love and hate with the Beast were told wonderfully.

Beauty and the Beast. Picture: Bill Cooper

Beauty and the Beast. Picture: Bill Cooper - Credit: Bill Cooper

The Beast (Tyrone Singleton) did a fantastic job as the brutish and unapproachable prince who had been doomed to a life as a monster.

But, through dance, Singleton peeled back the layers of his character piece by piece to show the raw emotion of his situation and the love for Belle.

The comical trio of Belle’s sisters Fière (Laura Purkiss) and Vanité (Samara Downs) and the wealthy townsman Monsieur Cochon (James Barton) made for comedy gold and the dark and romantic performance.

The snobby sisters yielded several laughs as well as the pig-faced rich man whose quirky dance moves were hilarious.

Delia Mathews as Belle and Tyrone Singleton as the Beast in Beauty And The Beast. Picture: Bill Coop

Delia Mathews as Belle and Tyrone Singleton as the Beast in Beauty And The Beast. Picture: Bill Cooper - Credit: Bill Cooper

The company did a wonderful job as animals and extras, embodying the creature they were playing whether it was a bird, a rabbit or a wolf.

I must tip my hat to the choreographer who plotted a wonderful production which had me wondering where to look next; with petticoats flying, feathered-arms flapping, pointe shoes spinning.

The costumes were another stand-out for me, with brilliant attention to detail and very well-researched period correctness.

But I must, without a doubt, praise the set designers who stole the whole show in my eyes – a show like this would not have been made if it were not for the opening forest, dropping mansion curtains and library set-up.

Overall, this was a truly wonderful production which I will remember for years to come.

The Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Beauty And The Beast will be at the Hippodrome, in St Augustines Parade, from today (Thursday) until Saturday.

There will be a 2.30pm matinee today and on Saturday and at 7.30pm each night.

Tickets, priced £13.90-47.40, are available from the Hippodrome website or from 08448 717627.

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