When you first take your seat in the pocket-sized auditorium of The Georgian Theatre Royal you wonder how there can possibly be room to put on a full-scale ballet. Yet, as the curtain goes up, it is like entering the tardis itself.
The full extent of the stage – which is actually the same size as the auditorium – is revealed and the impressive backdrop with its huge classical columns and receding perspective adds to the illusion of space.
At some points in the production there were no fewer than 16 dancers moving energetically around on the stage but at no point did you feel they were at all constrained. A truly remarkable feat and one must give credit to these touring companies that bring top-quality performances to such a wide variety of venues.
The fact that the company is mainly composed of talented young dancers at the beginning of their careers is largely responsible for the freshness and vibrancy that they bring to this classic fairytale.
The story is well known. A queen (Jasmine Wallis) celebrates the christening of her daughter, Princess Aurora (Grace Hume).
Several good fairies have been invited to bless the baby but the wicked fairy Carabosse (Rachel Victoria Hernon) was left off the guest list.
Understandably angered by the snub, the wonderfully portrayed Carabosse (resplendent in a dark, snake-embroidered costume and accompanied by sinister beaked henchmen) gate-crashes the party and casts a spell on Aurora – on the princess’ sixteenth birthday she will prick her finger on a spindle and die.
Fortunately the Lilac Fairy (Casey Pereira) is able to modify the curse and Aurora will not die but sleep for a hundred years until a handsome prince awakens her with a kiss.
In Act Two everything unfolds in true fairy tale fashion. Prince Desire ((Yassaui Mergaliyev) is led to the enchanted castle by a vision of Aurora and awakens her.
Their ensuing elaborate wedding celebrations are attended by a host of colourful storybook characters including Red Riding Hood and the wolf and the entertaining and comic performance of Puss in Boots and the White Cat.
The final breath-taking dance of Aurora and her Prince was met with rapturous applause by an audience that was clearly content that they all lived happily ever after.
This was a polished production that would have pleased die-hard ballet fans as well as those seeking an introduction to classical ballet.
A special mention must go to the costumes, which were simply stunning – from the pastel-coloured fairies with their garlands of flowers to the full courtly dress of the elegant Queen. The dancing was perfectly executed throughout with many memorable individual performances that were carried out with obvious zest and enthusiasm.
This really was the stuff of fairy tales and a truly magical evening.