Northern Ballet are back on form with their magical production of The Little Mermaid, on tour at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday.
There was so much that was good about this show, it’s hard know where to start.
The story, which follows Hans Andersen’s somewhat dark fairytale quite faithfully, could present a staging challenge, being set partly deep under the ocean and partly on land.
But artistic director David Nixon’s amazing choreography combined with clever use of costumes appeared effortlessly to evoke the underwater seascape, with water women in their frothy costumes creating waves as they twirled.
Through the swaying underwater world swim the three mermaid sisters. Yes, we know they are being lifted by their fellow dancers, but their grace and fluidity is such that they appear to float weightlessly.
Top accolade must go to leading lady Abigail Prudames, who brings fluidity, fragility and superb acting skills to the role of the little mermaid, Marilla.
Barely on her feet during the first act, she gets to fully showcase her beautiful dancing in Act 2.
But for me the most memorable scene of the evening was when she first appears without her tail at the end of Act 1.
After the effortless grace with which Marilla moves while wearing her mermaid’s tail, to see her stripped and tormented, suffering the pains of her transformation, was a surprisingly shocking moment of theatre.
She was ably supported by Joseph Taylor as Prince Adair, Dreda Blow as Dana, Kevin Peung as a charmingly playful Dillion the seahorse and Ailen Ramos Betancourt and Miki Akuta as her two sister mermaids.
On top of an excellent cast, the other stars of the show were the costumes and the music.
Contrasting with the blue, flowing costumes of the underwater world, the scenes on land featured a range of beautiful costumes on a red theme.
The music, specially written for the show by Sally Beamish, was a delight, redolent of Celtic folksong, evoking everything from a storm at sea, to underwater fun and games between Marilla and Dillion, to a joyful wedding scene to Marilla’s broken-hearted torment.
But how on earth, I was wondering, would you represent the fabled song of the mermaid, so pivotal to the story, as Marilla has to sacrifice her beautiful voice in order to live as a human?
Well, I won’t tell you how, but I will tell you it was totally spine tingling.
This is a superb show and my favourite Northern Ballet production for many a year. If you love beautiful ballet and great storytelling, don’t miss it.
The Little Mermaid is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday night.
Box office 0844 871 7652 or ATGTICKETS.COM/MiltonKeynes