It was a magic night as Birmingham Royal Ballet staged the UK premiere of its breathtaking production of Aladdin.
Any new show is always going to be a challenge for a company with such an excellent reputation to live up to, but this delight not only makes the grade but raises the bar.
The title might suggest a pantomime – but there is no hint of cheesy slapstick. This production is slick and sophisticated.
It tells the traditional story of a young tearaway Aladdin and his adventures with the Genie who helps him win the heart of his beautiful princess.
Cesar Morales is an energetic and engaging Aladdin while his princess, the elegant Nao Sakuma has the quality of making even the most elaborate moves look effortless. Together they make a mesmerising match.
Stunning sets range from the Eastern delights of a bustling colourful market place to the stark simple shades of a wind-swept desert. An impressive lion dance and dragon procession adds to the taste of the Orient. A cave bathed in a jewelled kaleidoscope of colours which changed to match the dancers costumes is a highlight and this sets the scene for the introduction of the magic lamp and the Genie, who arrives with due drama thanks to some trickery with lighting and special effects, which are also put to good use for the magic carpet scene.
Special mention should be made to the dazzling and diverse costumes designed by the former Wolverhampton College of Art student Sue Blane. The dancers wardrobes have enough glitter, glamour and glitz to put even the Strictly Come Dancing sequins to shame.
The music, composed by Carl Davis, reflects the rhythms of the East and manages to sound both traditional and contemporary - rather like a blockbuster film score crossed with a classic masterpiece.
This new addition to the company’s repertoire, which enraptured the first night audience, is sure to delight families for years to come. It could even rival the much-loved Nutcracker as the Midlands favourite family ballet.
Aladdin runs at the Hippodrome until February 23.
By Maria Cusine