don quixote

Don Quixote

Birmingham Royal Ballet

Birmingham Hippodrome


As Storm Eunice made it appear as if the world was about to end, it was an absolute joy to be transported to another far more enjoyable place via what Carlos Acosta calls the Sunshine Ballet – Birmingham Royal Ballet’s new production of Don Quixote at Birmingham Hippodrome.

Originally due to be premiered in 2020 when Carolos Acosta became Director of BRB, it was delayed due to the pandemic – but my goodness this official world premier was certainly worth the wait.

With the awful, grey windy weather outside (all credit to Birmingham ballet lovers for braving it), inside the Hippodrome became a riot of colour, warmth, humour and happiness – indeed it took me back to when I first saw The Wizard of Oz (not on its first release, I might add) and the screen suddenly flicks to Technicolor. It was something which was a privilege to experience.


The sets, costumes (of which there are 300 and which are almost worth their own review!), lighting and Ludwig Minkus's score are trulysumptuous and you know, as soon as the curtain rises that you’re about to experience something special.

Augmented by the superb Royal Ballet Sinfonia, it’s as though you’re in a truly heightened reality.

The story itself is simple but effective as we follow the adventures of Cervantes’ Don Quixote, a hidalgo, a member of minor Spanish mobility, who reads so many stories of chivalry that he soon believes himself a knight – it is up to the audience to decide whether he is deluded or just a modern day interpretation of a knight. He is ably served by his servant Sancho Panza.


Don Quixote and Sancho, played superbly by Birmingham-born Tom Rogers and Kit Holder respectively, are a fantastic pairing. They set the tone for the whole production – pure of heart, fun and talented. The rest of the company follow suit.

The love match of Kitri and Basilio (Principal dancers Momoko Hirata and Mathias Dingman) is a spellbinding display of dancing – particularly in the third act. Principal Brandon Lawrence, as the famous matador Espada, also gives a powerhouse performance.  

It’s not all dancing though, there’s plenty of comedic relief with Rory Mackay’s Gamache being a particular highlight.

To mention only the cast members above is to do the whole production a disservice. Don Quixote is a fantastic company performance, from the principal dancers, to the principal character artists, the first soloists, soloists, first artists, artists, students and apprentice – the 60 dancers are all on point.

What they deliver is something which will knock your socks off. When you consider that this has been achieved with a rehearsal and production period of only 4 weeks (under COVID restrictions) this is a seriously impressive production from Carlos Acosta – who incidentally was there in person on opening night.

Given his skill and gravitas, it would have been easy for him to milk the adulation and applause solely for himself. Instead, he made sure that the creative team present – Nina Dunn, video and projection designer; Peter Mumford, Lighting designer; Tim Hatley, set and costume design and Paul Murphy, Principal conductor all shared in the plaudits. A sign of a fantastic leader.

As if the talent on show tonight was not enough, celebrated dancers Marianela Nuñez and Vadim Muntagirov will perform the roles of Kitri and Basilio for two nights only at the Birmingham Hippodrome next week (22 & 23 February).

Marianela and Vadim performed the roles for The Royal Ballet in 2019, and Marianela danced Kitri with Acosta in the original staging in 2013 - Acosta’s first ever full length ballet.


Don Quixote’s run at Birmingham Hippodrome runs from 18th-26th of February, after that travelling to The Lowry, Salford, Sunderland Empire and Plymouth Theatre Royal.

It’s a performance I would highly recommend whether you’re a massive ballet fan or not. 

Theo Clarke


Birmingham Royal Ballet 

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