Wow. This was my first proper foray into ballet and it was astoundingly beautiful, and I’m not just talking about the dancers. Northern Ballet was clearly the right company to see my first ballet with. Without further ado, join me as we delve into a world of debauchery and nipples.
The first thing that leapt out at me was the costumes. It was clearly evident that a lot of thought and effort had gone into what the dancers wore: elegance and practicality were balanced perfectly, though granted that a lot of the time little was worn at all. Admittedly, to my shame, I didn’t already know the story of Casanova and I was a little confused why the Devil and Lady Gaga was in it. At the interval I was able to ask who these strange characters were and learnt the Devil was actually the Chief Inquisitor, dressed entirely in red with a devil moustache and that Lady Gaga was just a nun in a crazy hat. Those costumes aside, the rest was very impressive! The set also looked like a lot of thought had gone into it, with three giant stone columns that moved into different configurations and a fourth section that lowered from the ceiling. It was a minimal but incredibly versatile set, used to great effect.
A lot of the time when I see shows I wonder what a lighting designer actually does: in my head they are responsible for changing light bulbs and flipping the lights on and off, and frankly I’ve seen productions where that seems to be all they’ve done. Casanova was different. We had multiple spotlights that followed characters, portable light sources and overhead lighting which was filtered to give the appearance of sunlight shining through metal grates. Overall, it felt like every aspect of this production had an enormous amount of effort put into it, which certainly justified the ticket price (more on this later).
The orchestra was exemplary as always and from where I was seated then I could see them, which was a nice treat. The choreography was equally as brilliant and really gave the impression that every little movement had been rehearsed to perfection, the synchronised movements were timed perfectly and that level of coordination is very visually impressive. Kenneth Tindall, the choreographer extraordinaire, is a very lucky man to work with such a committed team. The dancers were superb and obviously very talented, I fail to understand how they do anything apart from rehearse and go to the gym! Are dancers even allowed hobbies?
Now it wouldn’t be a fair review without a bit of criticism, though any criticism for this was incredibly difficult to find. In fact the only criticism I really have isn’t of the performance, but of Sheffield Theatres itself. Sheffield Theatres runs a scheme for 16 to 26 year olds to get £5 tickets to select shows, this is a great scheme and I’m sure it encourages lots of young people to go to the theatre, my issue isn’t with the scheme, the scheme is wonderful. My issue comes from the way it’s communicated to patrons, more accurately how we’ve been informed of changes in the scheme…or haven’t. It’s a little thing but it had a big impact on the price I paid for tickets and where we ended up seated. For as long as I can remember then at 10am on the day one month before the show starts then £5 tickets go on sale, these seats are marked on the seating chart by a little blue star so you can easily see them. At some unspecified point then this was changed to a slightly altered system that did away with the blue stars and allowed you to choose any seat to claim the discounted tickets, which is actually much better than the previous system and allows more choice in where to sit, but the discount isn’t applied until you choose your seats and progress to the next page. The issue comes when you haven’t seen an announcement about this new way of doing it and you spend hours refreshing the page waiting for the blue stars to appear, meaning you miss out on the discounted tickets and have to pay three times more than you were expecting and have to sit up in the Gods. I’m sure it wouldn’t have taken too much effort to send an email to registered people who had previously bought £5 tickets and let them know of the new way of doing things, but alas, I saw no such email. In fact I didn’t discover what was happening until I tweeted about it.
Casanova has now left Sheffield and is on tour, it’s currently in Norwich, then Milton Keynes, then Cardiff, followed by Salford and ending up in London. If you want to see this masterpiece then buy tickets as soon as you can, as I predict it’ll sell out quickly!
Also if you live in or near Sheffield and are lucky enough to be 26 or under then here’s a link to Sheffield Theatre’s discounted tickets, with updated information on the page to guide you through the process.
If you’re interested in finding out more about Northern Ballet and other upcoming shows from them then here is their website. I would recommend their production of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, with the world première at Cast in Doncaster in May.
After tweeting my review then Ian Kelly, the creative genius who wrote Casanova and co-wrote the ballet version, tweeted this:
I’m honored that he even read my review!