Choreographer David Bintley loves this ballet as if it was his own child, which of course it is. He just can’t resist tinkering with it to get it completely right. I saw the premiere and the last revival so now I’ve seen it in three different guises.The good news is I reckon he’s finally got it just about right. It still needs a little editing but believe me this is one hell of a night out.
Opening with an exquisite fete champetre featuring a 17th century ballet as seen at the court of the Sun King (did I forget to mention it’s French?) we meet the swashbuckling hero of all time, Cyrano de Bergerac.
Cyrano, as played by Bintley’s handsome muse and I suspect alter-ego Robert Parker can dispatch twenty men with his sword in the time it takes to turn over your programme. In short he’s a Jack-the-lad lovable hero.
And Cyrano loves a fair maiden, Roxane, as he would, especially when it’s the gorgeous Elisha Willis, but he’s got a real problem. He’s ugly, or he thinks he is, he’s touchy about it too despite his many lovable traits. So when a mix-up over a letter means Roxane thinks another, top handsome guy (homecoming star Iain Mackay, not really given enough to do here) has written it, our sympathy for Cyrano begins surging full pelt.
The evening’s highlights include the explosive battle scene and the mock-classical bakers’ ballet guying the Sleeping Beauty’s climactic Rose Adagio, BRB ballet mistress Marion Tait’s wonderful acting as the sympathetically anxious chaperone, the frisky nun’s ballet under falling autumn leaves and the whole wonderful scene in which the comically fluid Mr. Parker as Cyrano pretends to be the spirit of the moon.
In this production Bintley has stolen a balletic march on the West End theatre by mixing the perfection of 19th century Russian classicism as seen in Petipa’s Don Quixote with the modern feel for spectacle we expect from Les Mis.
Do try to see it. It’s on until Saturday October 3, tickets from £15 to £45 on 0844 338 5000 or online at www.birminghamhippodrome.com. Just try and remember to take your hanky. But don’t worry if you forget. You’ll still enjoy the show.