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Tag: family shows in Manchester

Circus 1903 | Review

Circus 1903 | Review

Travelling circus’ in today’s day and age have evolved greatly from those of yesteryear, and certainly aren’t on the same size scale. Gone are touring cities as they were known, and gone are the use of captive animals, thank goodness. But, there is something so nostalgic about the golden age of circus, and Circus 1903 have captured the essence of that perfectly.

Bringing the big top to the stage, Circus 1903 is everything you would hope and imagine it to be and more! From the music composed by Evan Jolly, to the set and costumes, everything is there to transport you back to your youth, a more simple time of good old fashioned fun and wonder. Comedy and participation from the children in the audience bring a whimsical and genuine feel good factor to the show. Contortionists with eye watering flexibility, acts of balance that seem to defy gravity, jugglers with skills faster than the speed of light, performers using ariel silks creating a ballet in the sky, this show has it all and more.48479750521_5781cc6017_k

The creators of the show really wanted to harness the essence of a typical circus in their hay day, and it was important to them to keep the show as original as possible. Acts such as the ‘russian cradle’ (where the ‘flyer’ is thrown and caught by the ‘catcher’ who is secured by a harness, and essentially acts as a human trapeze,) are included as a traditional circus acts and display not only feats of flexibility and timing, but incredible strength. Another aspect to the authenticity of the show, are the 2 life size elephant puppets, Queen and baby Peanut, created by the team behind War Horse. Majestic Queenie takes up half the stage with her imposing size, her eyes seem to reveal a real soul. Baby Peanut is as mischievous as any young animal, and is a firm favourite with the children in the audience. Whether it be down to the ingenious design and construction, or the true magic of the circus, these 2 elephants are brought to life right before your very eyes!48479901342_83c84b755f_k

Willy Whipsnade, the resident Ringmaster, is the glue that holds all these individual acts together. Originally from a magic background, Willy (aka David Williamson) is the perfect ringmaster, introducing each act with his fabulous story telling skills, which effortlessly build anticipation in the audience! His real skills lie in creating a magical experience for the younger members of the audience! He clearly adores children, and frequently pulls them up out of the audience for some magic tricks and comedy interludes. As they say in showbiz, ‘never work with animals or children’ and poor Willy has to do both! Needn’t fear though, as his razor sharp whit and quick as a whip ad lib moments means he controls rampaging baby elephants and unpredictable children with a healthy dose of comedy. Willy Whipsawed is the eccentric uncle figure, who’s traveled the world and has the most exciting stories of adventure to tell!48479750191_abdc0543aa_k

Circus 1903 is 2 hours 20 minutes of pure escapism that will awaken your inner child for an evening without worries or regrets, just simple, innocent fun and wonderment. In this day and age, that is priceless.

Circus 1903 will be rolling into The Lowry, Salford Quays, on Tuesday 19th November until Sunday 24th November. Tickets are available now on this link https://thelowry.com/whats-on/circus-1903/

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Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Beauty & the Beast Review

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Beauty & the Beast Review

Forget the story you think you know of Beauty and the Beast, and be transported back into a world of folklore and enchantment with the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s retelling of this classic fairytale.

From the moment the curtain rises, you’re thrust into a magical medieval relm and back to your childhood. The swish of a cloak turns a bright eyed bushy tailed fox into a fiery red headed girl almost instantly. Furniture that serve unexpected guests of their own free will. Seeing is most definitely believing, and you’re not even wondering about the how, because it’s all too captivating.

Yvette knight was innocent and unassuming as Belle. Perfect for “a girl with her nose ways stuck in a book” Her stature and pose gave her dancing an etherial quality.40182381283_cf236822a6_o

The Beast was danced by Brandon Lawrence. He performed with great power and intensity, an angered and ferocious wild animal. His leaps and jumps are gravity defying.40182381453_bc023aedfe_z

Beatrice Parma as Vixen was my personal favorite. With a twinkle in her eye and a spring in her step, she was every inch the sprightly fox maiden. Her dancing was effortless and the height of her leg extensions were breathtaking!40182381063_cee32c0db8_z

The setting and lighting designs seemed to have been lifted straight from pages of a fairy story. Grandeur book cases filled with leather bound, gilded books, castle ruins suffocating in vines and roses, not forgetting an enchanting ball room, complete with candles and chandeliers. Artifical smoke played a huge role in creating atmosphere, with beams of light breaking through to create light and hope, and dim underlighting when a more ominous feel was needed.46233108045_929f0ea552_z

There were surprising comedy elements included, particularly in Act 2, involving Belle’s 2 sisters (Laura Purkiss and Samara Downs) fighting over a portly suiter Monsieur Cochon (James Barton) and a pompus court dance!

The costumes really were exquisite! With luxury silks, heavy velour and plenty of embroidery and brocading, it was clear no expense was spared. The Beast’s and other animal’s fur ‘skin’ was very cleaverly achieved with catsuits covered in textured tufts, and their masks were immediately identifiable as to the animal they were. I, along with everyone I’m sure, were waiting to see Belle’s trademark yellow princess gown and how that could possibly be danced in. When she finally emerged, there were gasps from the audience. A very extravagant yet practical conpromise had been made, that still created all the drama and opulence you’d expect! Stunning!47147351751_c21d0690bb_z

2 scenes stood out for me in particular. The first, when Belle is transported to the Beast’s castle by a flock of birds. There were so many dancers on stage, all intertwining in different directions, just like a group of starlings dance in the sky. Mesmerising and distracting and suddenly Belle is flying above them. The second, when Belle and the Beast dance in the ballroom with all the other enchanted animals. They waltzed and turned, reminding me of the scene from the film ‘Labyrinth’ where Sarah is dancing with Jareth at a masquerade ball and the other gueats are all wearing animal like masks.

 

This production would make a wonderful family treat. The BRB have a programme called ‘First Steps’ – shortened, more easy to follow story lines for a younger audience – however this production was so filled with magic and wonder, it’s an ideal first full length production for children or ballet new comers. It also has a happy ending unlike the majority of ballet tales, so no awkwardness to explain away!

Beauty and the Beast is showing at The Lowry untill Saturday 23rd March, before it heads on to Sunderland and concludes in Bristol,so don’t miss out on your chance to see this gorgoeus production! Ticket info can be found on the website https://www.brb.org.uk/whats-on/event/beauty-and-the-beast-2019

Unitll the last petal falls…….

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