Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
2.15pm, 20 June 2015
As V watched the mischievous elves doing bouncing ballet on their woodland bed she looked at me with sparkling eyes and I knew exactly what she was thinking.
“Don’t even think about it,” I whispered. Well, she did and I did have to stop her recreating that scene later but who can complain when she has enjoyed something on the stage so much that she wants to do it herself?!
The Elves and the Shoemaker is Northern Ballet Theatre’s third ballet especially for children and was just as enthralling as The Ugly Duckling and The Three Little Pigs – it’s such a fantastic thing for the young ones, not only to introduce them to a fantastic art but also because they can follow a wonderfully creative story without having to concentrate on a load of words!
The story is the one familiar to so many – a hard-working but poor shoemaker struggles to earn enough money to support his family. The kind-hearted man decides to give his final pair of shoes, all he has left in the world, to a poor lady in need of help. The next morning the shoemaker awakes to find that his last piece of leather has been transformed into the most magnificent pair of shoes overnight. He discovers that not only are the shoes beautiful; they are also magical.
The traditional Brothers Grimm tale is translated into dance very well by choreographer Daniel de Andrade to an original score, composed by Phillip Feeney and is full of warmth, humour and most importantly, magic.
As night draws in and the stage lights flash and the cottage windows open of their own accord, a hush falls over the auditorium which soon turns to laughter as the comedy duo Tap and Stitch peek through and jump in to fashion shoes. They make shoes using a liberal sprinkling of fairy dust – and make sparkly silver ballet shoes which I know V had her eye on!
The shoemaker was also amazingly athletic and his reaction to finding new shoes every morning had us all laughing.
Personally, I was a bit perturbed by the new shoes being put on the table – I’ve seen Blood Brothers – but that was my own neurosis.
As always, Northern Ballet shows that the art form is not the stuffy genre that many believe it do be, but a fun-filled, colourful and magical experience.
Run time: About 45 minutes
Age range: 3+ but younger siblings will be fine.
Other stuff: Lovely little free programme – but get yours early as they can run out!