Birmingham Royal Ballet's Aladdin (Plymouth)
Originally designed against the clock for the Japanese National Ballet some five years ago, this family-friendly Arabian tale is making its UK debut with the exciting Cesar Morales in the title role.
Nao Sakuma is delightful as Princess Badr al Budur and their fluid pas de deux drew spontaneous applause from the packed auditorium.
There is a fair bit of audience ‘participation’ throughout the pantomimic production with numerous children adding their oohs and aahs as genies and carpets fly and villains escape boos and hisses by the seat of their harem pants.
Dick Bird’s sets are superbly atmospheric – from the franticness of the souk to the stalactite-ridden cave, the splendour of the palace to the peaceful bathhouse – a tremendous backdrop against which the vacuous story unfolds while Mark Jonathan’s lighting skills are tested with burgeoning lamplight, flying floorcoverings, birds and djinns, intense desert heat and cloudy nights.
Very cartoon-like, the story is dispensed with in episodes, allowing plenty of opportunity for showcasing the talent of not just the principals but also the corps de ballet. Of particular note is the enchanting dance of the gems in which Momoko Hirata and Jospeh Caley as the Rubies, Natasha Oughtred, Ruth Brill, Karla Doorbar, Laura-Jane Gibson and Kristen McGarrity as the Sapphires particularly excel.
Marion Tait, BRB Assistant Director, shows she is still on form with the caricature part of Aladdin’s mother and Tzu-Chao Chou is athletic as the blue genie - a spot-on, slimmer lookalike for Disney’s creation.
All in all, frothy, family-friendly fun.