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  1. Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty arrived at the Lowry tonight after its world premiere in Plymouth last week. It is described as a Gothic Romance and Lez Brotherston's sets and costumes are lavishly gothic and utterly fabulous and really set the scene. Our Sleeping Beauty is born in 1890 (the prologue) and comes of age (and is sent to sleep ) in 1911. The reawakening takes place in 2011. I don't want to ruin everyone's voyage of discovery by disclosing that "the butler did it" but I will say that the opening scenes with the baby Aurora are just brilliant. There are six fairies - 3 men and 3 women. Lilac is Count Lilac. Carabosse is only in the prologue and the dark fairy role is then taken over by her son Caradoc (played by the same dancer). I just LOVED the fairy costumes. The solos for the six fairies gave a tantalising hint of the Petipa choreography we all know and love - especially the 5th and 6th variations. There isn't a rose adagio but there is a lovely duet for Aurora and a gardener to that music. The "pricking of the thumb" is achieved by a rose, which makes perfect sense. There are several twists to the standard story which I won't reveal except to say that it all ends happily! Matthew Bourne certainly knows how to put a show together and on first viewing this has become one of my favourites! It has similarly sly references to royalty as those contained in Swan Lake and there are some fun scenes at Aurora's party (which takes the form of a garden party with tennis). I felt a degree of sympathy with Caradoc which I do not usually feel for Carabosse in more conventional productions. Tonight we saw Hannah Vassallo as Aurora, Dominic North as Leo, Chrisopher Marney as Count Lilac and Ben Bunce as Carabosse/Caradoc. Both Ben Bunce and Christopher Marney had enormous stage presence and really seemed to be manipulating the action. Hannah Vassallo and Dominic North were sublime in their roles. What more can I say - I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!
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