Review Northern Ballet: The Little Mermaid at Newcastle Theatre Royal

Review Northern Ballet: The Little Mermaid at Newcastle Theatre Royal

When land meets the sea Northern Ballet splash onto the stage of Theatre Royal Newcastle to depict the classic 1837Hans Christian Andersen story The Little Mermaid (spoiler potential for the younger audience, there is no Sebastian or Ariel and doesn’t have the expected Disney, happy ever after). 

Now let’s dive in to the shell stage, with movement of structure and lighting to move between sea and land. The Little Mermaid was choreographed by former artistic director of Northern Ballet, David Nixon OBE  in 2017 who passed his slippers to Federico Bonelli in April. 

With orchestra in place to play the Sally Beamish’s original score, the curtain rises to the opening scene. Under the sea. So many things to watch and I think that each and everymember of the audience will see something slightly different. The costumes shimmer and sparkle and add a dimension of their own. The opening scene introduces us to the majority of the cast including Marilla (Saeka Shirai)the little mermaid and her two older sisters Erina (Dominique Larose) and Evelina (Miki Akuta).

The dancing was hypnotic and the staging truly took us to the sea. The swimming mermaids were beautiful and flowing suspended in the air by fellow dancers. 

Next enters Lyr, the Lord of the Sea (Sean Bates) and he was a little scary and absolutely befitting the character. His choreography strong and beautiful. The Little Mermaid’s best friend is Dillion the Seahorse (Filippo Di Vilio) rather than Sebastian the Jamaican crab. This character adds some playfulness which is definitely required. 

The submersion of the Prince Adair’s (Joseph Taylor) boat was dark and emotive. The price appeared to be the only survivor of the sinking by Lyr and his men, enabled by Marilla who brings him safely to shore. 

Along came a group of woman with their nuns in the front. Dana (Sarah Chun) finds Prince Adair and he was mistaken in the thought that she saved him. Who wouldn’t fall in love with Prince Adair and his come hither look with most of the cast and is graceful and strong in his movement and one you can’t help but watch. Marilla watches on forelorn.

Marilla pleads with Lyr and the toing and froing between the pair leave Marilla with human legs in exchange for her voice. The new legs are shown well with subtle nuance to depict that every step causes her pain. Adair treats Marilla as a lost little girl rather than a woman who he could love.

Second Act

Adair’s family care for Marilla, the girl with the lost voice who is lost and alone in this world. Time stands still in parts for Marilla to dream of her future life with Adair which won’t happen as he is betrothed to Dana. 

The ballet becomes dark as Lyr wants Adairs life in exchange for a return of voice and mermaid status and he expects Marilla to kill Adair. She sees the love between Dana and Adair and chooses love of the pair instead of freedom for herself. She throws the danger into the storm and in turn looses her life and the ballet ends with Marilla’s soul ascending from the sea.

Although at times I got a little lost in the story as the Disney version is so imprinted in my mind I thoroughly enjoyed this performance, the music, the ballet, acting and staging as did my daughter Emily, aged 12 who was my plus 1 for the evening.

The audience was filled with all age groups and a girl aged approximately four adorned in full mermaid costume stole the foyer show for me. 

The Little Mermaid is on at The Theatre Royal until the 29thof October. Tickets are from £15 and can be bought here.

To read more about the story please head to Northern Ballet.

This production contains periods of flashing lighting.

Running time 2 hours 5 minutes (approximately)

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