Beauty and the Beast

David Nixon CBE
Northern Ballet
Newcastle Theatre Royal

Listing details and ticket info...

Dancers of Northern Ballet in Beauty and the Beast Credit: Tristram Kenton
Kevin Poeung and Dominique Larose in Beauty & the Beast Credit: Tristam Kenton
Kevin Poeung and Harry Skoupas in Beauty & the Beast Credit: Tristram Kenton

Much-loved Northern Ballet returns this week with its critically acclaimed production of Beauty & the Beast, and what could be better in this dark and wet month than this tale of love and that goodness and kindness matter more than looks?

Beauty and the Beast is a familiar story to many, but choreographer and former Artistic Director David Nixon CBE has chosen to open the ballet with the vain prince, danced by Jackson Dwyer, before he’s transformed to the Beast and the wealthy family, a widower (Bruno Serraclara) and his three daughters in their fancy castle. The intelligent, beautiful, book-reading Belle is danced by Amber Lewis and her two shopaholic sisters, Isabelle and Chantelle by Alessia Petrosino and Aerys Merrill, who is particularly pertly danced and well-drawn as a character.

Their spending habits draw them all into debt, and they find themselves evicted and living in a caravan (of sorts!) in the woods. It is there, of course, that the widower gets lost and wanders into the Beast’s rose-filled garden, takes the rose and incurs the wrath of the Beast, beautifully performed by Harris Beattie. This sets in motion the sequence of events that takes Belle to the castle, instead of her father, gradually falling in love with the Beast because of his kindness and good qualities and not because of his looks.

The production is absolutely sumptuous with fantastic sets designed by Duncan Hayler, which transform, dismantle, change and shift, creating a compelling, visually absorbing and immersive atmosphere, superbly lit by Tim Mitchell; the opening scene alone is marvellous. There is a gothic feel to the Beast’s world, reflecting his deep sorrow and loneliness and his fear of rejection when Belle leaves him to return to her family in act II.

The costumes are designed by David Nixon, showing his multiple talents, and realised by Julie Anderson. They are often quite quirky, switching from a mix of Georgian fashion, so well realised in the ‘fops’ who visit the family in act I, to modern at unexpected moments—the sisters' underwear is hilarious!

Contrasting the fun dances and visual jokes, The Beast has some really moving, difficult choreography, where he conveys mesmerisingly real emotional pain and longing, both alone and in the duets with Belle. Act II’s opening trio with the prince, "Belle and the Beast", is wonderful, intricate and evocative, as is the duet in the sprite-filled scene.

The whole ballet is brilliantly paced, as Nixon’s work always is, with clear narrative, no old-fashioned mime and with duets that have spectacular lifts. This is story ballet for today’s audience: clear, glamorous, a little sexy, super good dancing, very well rehearsed and highly suitable for all the family.

The music is a compilation of music, some well known, some less familiar, arranged by John Longstaff and really well played by Northern Ballet’s own orchestra. So why, oh why is Northern Ballet’s funding so poor that they are having to consider cutting their own orchestra? The answer is their Arts Council funding has stood still since 2015, which makes no sense and goes against claims of levelling up.

Please support the campaign to save live music, for everyone’s sake!

Reviewer: Dora Frankel

*Some links, including Amazon,,, ATG Tickets, LOVEtheatre, BTG Tickets, Ticketmaster, LW Theatres and QuayTickets, are affiliate links for which BTG may earn a small fee at no extra cost to the purchaser.

Are you sure?