Review: Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty reawakens, celebrating 10 years since its premiere at Sadlers Wells, when it became the fastest selling production in the company’s history. Now established as a firm favourite in the New Adventures’ repertoire, the award-winning Sleeping Beauty has enchanted international audiences throughout the UK and across the globe, and is now at Wales Millennium Centre for one week.

Credit: Johan Persson

It’s a production full of imagination, wit and charm. Set initially in Edwardian grandeur and then 100 years later in modern day 2011. The grand palace now faded and overgrown, serving only as a backdrop for Instagram selfies for tourists, but still managing to evoke an ethereal sense. This gives the audience a unique perspective on this classic tale of love and redemption. As you might have guessed, Sleeping Beauty is the classic fairy tale. It’s about our Princess Aurora (Ashley Shaw) who falls asleep for 100 years and is awoken by a kiss. Not necessarily the first kiss, but true love’s kiss. And what if that wasn’t the end of the story? What if there was more to it than just one kiss from just one suitor? Our good-looking gardener Leo (Andrew Monaghan) heads the list of bachelors, along with Caradoc (Ben Brown), son of Carabosse (also Ben Brown), the evil fairy who places the sleeping curse on Aurora.

Closing off our list of key characters are Paris Fitzpatrick as Count Lilac, King of the Fairies, Kayla Collymore as Queen Eleanor, and Danny Reubens as King Benedict.

Credit: Johan Persson

This ballet is a glittering mix of dance, music and costume. With an unforgettable score by Tchaikovsky, the songs fit each scene like a glove, giving plenty of light and dark, tension and joy.

The dancing is nothing short of amazing. I don’t know how these performers do it! They make it all look so easy: performing flips and jumps in heels (and tights), and it’s clear that there’s a lot of hard work behind their performances. It fascinates me that the entire narrative can be delivered using movement and music alone.

The costumes are so beautiful and sumptuous; each one has its own unique design that really helps set apart this version from other productions. It’s also fun seeing what comes next: will we see another dress/suit combination? Or maybe some more fancy hats? Well, you’ll just have to wait until curtain up tonight!

Credit: Johan Persson

If you’re looking for a ballet to give you the warm fuzzies – and also an easy introduction to ballet – this is the show for you. It’s exhilarating and charmingly campy. It is dripping in elegance, and reminded me of the stories I used to read when I was young! Go see it!

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty is on at Wales Millennium Centre’s Donald Gordon Theatre 31 January – 4 February 2023. Tickets from £18 available online here or from the Wales Millennium Centre Box Office.

Image credits: Johan Persson