Exactly six weeks after seeing Les Misérables, I embarked on yet another weekend getaway to Singapore, and yet another visit to the Esplanade, this time to see Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty. Bourne’s most famous work, Swan Lake, actually opened in Singapore about a year earlier, but I didn’t go to see it. For those who aren’t familiar with Bourne, well, the swans in his Swan Lake, for example, are performed by male dancers. And his Sleeping Beauty is subtitled A Gothic Romance.
The Singapore tour opened from 4 to 7 August as part of the Esplanade’s annual da:ns festival. Regular tickets were sold between 40 and 125 SGD. I bought the most expensive class about 2.5 weeks before the performance and managed to get a seat right in the middle of the stall area.
The performance itself was very interesting. The music might be Tchaikovsky, as in the classical ballet version, but the similarity ended there. It’s not everyday you see a gothic Sleeping Beauty (the set, costumes, make-up) with Princess Aurora prancing around barefoot, and the fairies, with their eyes made up super-heavily, not dancing graciously but grinning at you from time to time. And not to say that the old formula of prince-wakes-the-princess-up-with-a-kiss-and-they-get-married (almost) didn’t work here.
Did I just spoil the story?
Anyway, it was Cordelia Braithwaite who plays Aurora in the show I watched, but apparently Ashley Shaw (she was also in the cast) was the first Aurora. Nevertheless, I thought Cordelia did a great job. Her pas-de-deux (if you could call that in this particular version) with Dominic North’s Leo were flawless. Ashley herself was nice enough to like my Instagram post even though she didn’t perform on that show. (And she happened to take a holiday in Bali afterwards!)
Final comments: Sleeping Beauty with a twist…or many twists. Very great if you need to take a break from the way-too-straightforward classical version. Lol.
Matthew Bourne’s “Sleeping Beauty”
Esplanade Theatre, Singapore
6 August 2016 matinée
Aurora: Cordelia Braithwaite
Leo: Dominic North
Count Lilac: Christopher Marney
Carabosse/Caradoc: Liam Mower