Express & Star

The Sleeping Beauty weaves magical spell on audience – Our five star review of Birmingham Royal Ballet

From the moment the orchestra strikes up the overture of Tchaikovsky’s glorious The Sleeping Beauty, we step into a magical fantasy world where the woes of the modern world are swept away, writes Maria Cusine.

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Yu Kurihara and Lachlan Monaghan in a scene from The Sleeping Beauty by Birmingham Royal Ballet. Photo: Tristram Kenton

Birmingham Royal Ballet weaves a spell on its audience with this magical production, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

Daria Stanciulescu as Fairy Carabosse in The Sleeping Beauty. Photo: Tristram Kenton

The sets are stunning, like an elaborately-illustrated storybook come to life, studded with chandeliers, mirrors and gilded columns.

The costume department has excelled, showcasing creations worthy of an exhibition in their own right.

From exuberant wigs to golden cloaks, glittering gowns, twinkling tiaras, resplendent robes in black and tutus in iridescent hues worthy of the prettiest of dragonflies.

And the live powerful music from the Royal Ballet Sinfonia is seamless as always.

All of the above are worthy of stealing the spotlight. But the dancers, of course, are the outstanding stars of the show at Birmingham Hippodrome.

Sir Peter Wright’s production of The Sleeping Beauty stays true to the classic fairytale where the baby Princess Aurora is cursed by the evil fairy Carabosse who arrives amid much drama. Insulted at being left off the guest list for the princess’s christening, Carabosse casts a spell and Aurora is destined to die after pricking her finger. But there’s a good fairy to save Aurora from the deadly curse and instead the princess falls in to a deep sleep along with the entire court.

Yu Kurihara as Princess Aurora and Lachlan Monaghan The Sleeping Beauty by Birmingham Royal Ballet. Photo: Tristram Kenton

There’s an impressive contrast of scenery as it switches from the opulence of the palace to the dark, dense and tangled forest where Aurora sleeps while she awaits to be awakened by a prince.

The Fairy Carabosse, performed by Daria Stanciulescu and The Lilac Fairy, played by Eilis Small, each play their part wonderfully, with a powerful stage presence highlighting good versus evil.

The entire cast goes all out to impress, showcasing a wealth of talent culminating in the final act which incorporates characters from courtiers to fairytale favourites.

It includes an enchanting caper by Gus Payne and Isabella Howard as Puss in Boots and the White Cat.

Lachlan Monaghan excels as Prince Florimund, commanding the role with speed and agility while Yu Kurihara is mesmerising as Princess Aurora, one of the most technically demanding ballerina roles.

She dances with poise, precision and a beguiling mixture of fragility and strength. Their grand pas de deux drew whoops of delight from the audience.

It's easy to see why BRB's director Carlos Acosta describes the production as a 'jewel in the crown' of the company's classical repertoire – it certainly dazzles.

The Sleeping Beauty by Birmingham Royal Ballet. Photo: Tristram Kenton

A magical, spellbinding performance from Birmingham Royal Ballet which awakens the senses. How lucky we are to have this company on our doorstep.

It runs at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday, March 2. Tickets are available from