As with most fairytales there are some mixed messages in this Northern Ballet version of the story of the vainglorious prince turned to a monster by a slighted fairy.
We find that looks are not the only important thing, and yet they remain the ultimate reward.
We find a mixed bag too in David Nixon’s choreography. There isn’t quite enough dance in the first act: the stage never feels consumed, though the shopping and removal scenes are sweet treats.
The second half then opens spectacularly: everything from the giant rose bed to the three-way dream dance between Beauty, Beast, and Prince is perfect on every level.
Ashley Dixon is a twitching, tumbling, menacing Beast, that mellows convincingly to ensnare Dredda Blow’s prim and proper Beauty. Giuliano Contadini’s Prince Orian is suitably preening, with Rachael Gillespie, Dominique Larose and Mlindi Kulashe offering comic relief as Beauty’s family.
The score mixes Saint-Saëns, Debussy, and Bizet, and the sinfonia discharge their duties well – other than a surprising awkwardness during Clair de Lune. Duncan Hayler’s set design is erratic, with some charming details slightly undone by some crass choices.
Dance wins out in the end and the second half does more than enough to reward the audience – but it could have been all the more dazzling if that fizz had been there from the first.