Ballet Theatre UK - Blackpool Grand Theatre
From the moment the dancers take the stage at the intimate and ornate Blackpool Grand Theatre, a magical seascape scene was woven.
Ballet Theatre UK’s The Little Mermaid is a touching adaptation of an enchanting fairy tale.
The 12 strong cast played an impressive array of characters between them, from village girls and men, to waves, royalty and evil spirits – with quick and seamless costume changes. A simple set was used to tell the tale, including a large, moveable, and quickly wreckable boat, and beautiful strips of purple and blue silk to represent the sea.
For another generation, the Little Mermaid is part of a Disney franchise beginning with the animated 1989 film.
But parents thinking of taking their little ones to this production should be warned – this adaptation is not a happy ending, but a dramatic version truer to the traditional tale penned by Hans Christian Andersen, which follows a mermaid who falls in love with a human prince and gives up everything to win his love.
The kind-hearted Little Mermaid rescues the prince during a storm at sea, and begins a journey that takes her from her home beneath the waves to the grand palace on land.
Determined to pursue her love, she makes a bargain with an evil sea witch, but it comes at a heavy price – the loss of her voice.
Later, despite his love for the mermaid, the prince marries another girl, chosen by his parents.
The audience was enthralled by the decadent, sparkling, beautiful costumes worn by guests at the wedding ball, followed by one of the highlights, a touching love triangle scene with the prince torn between his new wife and the mermaid.
As the newlyweds sleep, the evil Sea Queen returns and offers the heartbroken mermaid the option of stabbing him with a dagger or ending her own life – and she takes the latter.
All the dancers were impressive, but the prince, though expressive and emotional, seemed shaky when performing lifts.
Overall it is a lovely performance, especially for families, and limited only by space onstage and the skipping of little chunks of the storyline.