Ballet Review: ‘Sleeping Beauty’ is a Spectacle to Behold

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Matthew Bourne’s adventurous ballet production of “Sleeping Beauty” is sumptuous, sensuous and visually stunning. He has taken liberties with the familiar fairy tale, but who cares? The characters are all there, even though the story has been updated somewhat in an effort to explain a 100-year slumber. 

The Bourne choreography is wonderful and the dancers are extraordinary. Unlike many other ballets, emphasis is placed on the sets and costumes. Each scene provides excitement. 

Sprites and demons in fanciful costumes dart in and out as the struggle between good and evil begins. 

Princess Aurora is danced by Hannah Vassallo, who is a marvel. With her pliant body, she is able to go completely limp and be hoisted, twisted and dragged about by her partners. 

The dancing honors must be shared by everyone. The dark fairy Carabosse, usually a woman, is played by a male dancer, Adam Maskell, who also appears as “her” son, Caradoc. He/she is terrific, as menacing as can be in his black feathery costume. 

Aurora’s lover in this version is a simple gatekeeper, played by Dominic North with warmth and passion. Christopher Marney is the king of fairies, his quintet of disciples danced by Kate Lyons, Katy Lowenhoff, Joe Walkling, Ashley Shaw and Liam Mower. 

The imaginative sets and the inventive costumes were designed by Lez Brotherston, who must be considered a star of the show. The costumes alone make a visit enjoyable. 

It was unfortunate that Tchaikovsky’s romantic music was provided by an over-loud recording. Another quibble. I wanted a prince for Aurora, rather than a commoner. 

Matthew Bourne’s “Sleeping Beauty” is playing at the Ahmanson Theater until December 21. It’s a delightful pre-holiday Christmas present.