REVIEW: Fairy tale in all its splendour

Regent Theatre
Sunday, November 13

The Royal New Zealand Ballet's production of The Sleeping Beauty was an elaborate display of grand set designs, lavish costuming and beautifully classical dancing.

One of the greats, The Sleeping Beauty combines innocence with the perils of life.

The newly refurbished Regent Theatre was almost full to capacity and was the ideal place to watch a fairytale on a Sunday afternoon.

Garry Harris' ambitious staging remained a welcomed focal point throughout the performance, with seamless changes in between scenes.

Reminiscent of Renaissance Italy, the set was stunning, but must have proved difficult for the cast to get used to dancing in a sometimes smaller stage.

The lighting was perfectly matched to reflect the "good" world that Aurora lived in versus the sinister world of Carabosse.

If a career in dance means being dressed in lush velvets, rich furs and 400m of net, then after this production I'm sure there will be many children rushing to sign up.

Dancing to a live orchestra as opposed to a pre-recording is infinitely better, and while the Southern Sinfonia provided a wonderful accompaniment, there were a couple of moments where timing may have been an issue.

Originally choreographed by Marius Petipa, Greg Horsman has created a visual classical delight, while a pair of naughty cats introduced comic elements.

There was a definite distinction between Act I and Act II.

Act I was filled with a sense of innocence and youth until the arrival of Carabossse.

Maree White's portrayal of The Black Fairy as an almost sultry temptress produced a beautiful contrast between that and the whimsical charm of the Fairies.

A standout for me was Witt, The Green Fairy (Yang Liu). She had a certain lightness and made the technically demanding choreography seem effortless.

It must be said though, the comedy imparted by Shannon Dawson (Catalabutte) and Lady Florine (Alayna Ng) had endeared the hearts of the both the young and the older audience members.

The pas de deux in Scene IV, Aurora's Wedding, were simply exquisite. The Bluebirds (Lucy Green and Medhi Angot) were enchanting, but it was the pas de deux of Princess Aurora and Prince Desire, in particular the series of three fish dives, that had the audience captivated.

The Sleeping Beauty will forever be a well-loved classic and it is hoped it won't take so long before it returns to grace our stages again.


- Penny Neilson



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