Beauty and the Beast

Birmingham Royal Ballet

Birmingham Hippodrome


From start to finish Beauty and the Beast at Birmingham Hippodrome has the audience transfixed and transformed into this gothic fairy tale of exquisite ballet, grandeur and composition.

The impeccable flow of movement and rhythm stems from the working collaboration between choreographer, designer and composer. Superbly choreographed by David Bintley, he chose to encourage Canadian composer Glen Buhr to write his first ever ballet score. The first scene is mesmerising as Belle, Momoko Hirata, is elevated in her library, the set design by Philip Prowse just oozed opulence.

It was no surprise to see Bintley on the edge of his seat watching the performance as he prepares to step down as director at the end of the 2018/19 season this year.

After being director of Birmingham Royal Ballet for 24 years it was clear to see his passion and enthusiasm emanating as he watched in anticipation with a look of sheer joy. Bintley created this ballet in 2003 and was delighted to revive it and it is glaringly obvious why.

A cruel prince who lived for hunting is cursed by a Woodsman, Rory Mackay, and turned into a monstrous beast. His prey, a vixen, Laura Day, is transformed into a Wild Girl, Miki Mizutani. Belle’s father, a merchant, fears his ships lost so accepts money from Cochon, Kit Holder, who has been courting Belle’s two hideously greedy sisters and then is indebted to him for his weakness.

When Belle’s father, Michael O’Hare discovers the ships have been sighted he sets off to recover his fortune and the two sisters Fiere, Ruth Brill and Vanite, Alys Shee, demand gowns and jewels on his return but Belle simply asks for a single rose.


At the Beast’s Castle where the merchant ends up during a storm in desperation after falling prey to a gang of brigands and losing his servants, he takes refuge only to be served food and drink by unseen hands. The clever set design provides the perfect sinister angle as furniture moves of its own accord and wine is poured into ornate goblets as if by magic.

Mark Jonathan’s lighting is dark and mysterious and as the merchant leaves with treasure and a full belly, he remembers the rose for Belle. The Beast becomes angry at his intrusion and the merchant agrees that Belle will come and live with The Beast, Cesar Morales, as compensation.

One of my favourite scenes in the first Act is the Birds of the Forest who carry Belle back to the Beast’s Castle with the Raven, Lachlan Monaghan and the Wild Girl. The seemingly continuous choreography is a sight to be seen and truly out of this world with lighting, again, playing an important part of setting the atmosphere.

In the Act two the hilarious wedding scene for the two sisters is vulgar and tacky with an amusing performance by Grandmere, Laura Purkiss, who manages to hobble around with her walking stick but Monsieur Cochon struggles to choose between the two brides-to-be.

Despite numerous proposals for marriage by the Beast to Belle, Belle decides to leave and go home on the condition she returns soon to mend his broken heart. Belle realises her love for the Beast and the curse is lifted and they live happily ever after and walk off into the sunset as he is turned back into a handsome prince.

BRB’s Beauty and the Beast has it all, an incredible score, beautiful choreography, costumes and a set so lavish and sumptuous you are magically transported into the castle and forest by simply sitting down and watching the curtain rise. Perfect for all the family. To 02-03-18.

Emma Trimble


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