Review: Northern Ballet. The Three Musketeers. Nottingham Theatre Royal.

Northern Ballet are always a welcome sight and sound as they return to the Nottingham Theatre Royal with their varied dance programme. Previously we have been enthralled by Jonathan Watkins bleak 1984, Daniel de Andrade’s The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, David Nixon OBE’s The Little Mermaid, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and now the classic tale of The Three Musketeers.

This superb ballet brings not only the highest of balletic form and skills to the stage but also some impressively realistic fencing from the Musketeers and d’Artagnan. The fight direction and choreography is by Daniel de Andrade with assistance from Leeds Fencing Club. Noticeable too is the preponderance of beautifully actualised lifts from the principals. The dance throughout is totally engaging and tells the story of d’Artagnan, a young gallant eager to join the ranks of the King’s Musketeers but not without a fight or two and a girl’s heart to win. Then there is the issue of the Queen’s stolen priceless diamond necklace to find and return safely home to her majesty. Nothing is straight forward and the four brave men and one plucky girl, encounter the bad guys and one evil Milady de Winter and have the challenge of riding horses across the stage in full Musketeer get up. And this is all in a ballet? Qui, mais bien sûr!

There is a fair smattering of comedy in this fun and adventurous ballet and fine performances from d’Artgnan (Kevin Poeung), Athos (Nicola Gervasi), Porthos (Javier Torres), Aramis (Jonathan Hanks) Constance (Antoinette Brooks-Daw) and King Louis XIII (Sean Butler). Hannah Bateman makes a strikingly haughty bad girl Milady de Winter and Mlindi Kulashe (Cardinal Richelieu) and Ashley Dixon (Comte de Rochfort) chill as a silent but deadly cut throat pairing.

The Three Musketeers gives us plenty of visual cheer with a superb corps de ballet dancing their socks off as washerwomen, aristocrats, masqueraders, attenders at the ball and guardsmen. The stunning costumes have been given a new countenance since the previous tour and look stunning. The sumptuous live score is played by the Northern Ballet Sinfonia and musically directed by John Pryce Jones. The music is composed by Sir Malcolm Arnold.

Charles Cusick Smith’s elaborate set designs take us from the streets of Paris, the docks and a cell at Calais; Madame Bonacieux’s house to the grand palace and its rooms where lovers hide and dancers revel at the ball. For a fine 17th Century night out amongst the gallant lovers and swashbuckling Musketeers pop on your big feathery hat and head down to Nottingham Theatre Royal.

Northern Ballet’s The Three Musketeers runs until Sat 6th October.

(originally written for Nottingham Post)

Reviewer: Phil Lowe

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Phil Lowe is a member of UK Theatre.

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