Friday, February 23, 2018

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Center Stage

‘Sleeping Beauty’ awakens old tale with new storyline


“Sleeping Beauty” showings are limited to two days only running Sept. 27-28. Tickets can be purchased through General admission starts at $38 for this must-see fairy tale with a twist.

“Sleeping Beauty” showings are limited to two days only running Sept. 27-28. Tickets can be purchased through General admission starts at $38 for this must-see fairy tale with a twist.

The animated version of “Sleeping Beauty” reiterated picturesque images of Walt Disney staples: anthropomorphic forest creatures, women singing gay melodies as they clean house or pet wild life, the plights of young love, the forces of unrelenting evil and the promise of a fairy-tale ending. For those who remember it well, at the end of the film, Princess Aurora dances with Prince Phillip while her fairy godmothers argue back and forth over which color the princess’ gown should be: “pink… no blue… no pink.” But in Matthew Bourne’s version of “Sleeping Beauty,” which is coming to Des Moines in late September, audience members will see the ballet as anything but pastel. It is dark. At times, very dark.

Visually enhancing the score created by famous Victorian-era composer, Tchaikovsky, Bourne choreographs a storyline different than what is at the forefront of our minds. As the story’s heroine, Aurora’s very existence was spawned by a deal made with the devil incarnate, sorceress Carabosse. Upon her birth, the princess is not granted the gift of grace, song or virtue but instead is given traits of rebellion by a couple impudent fairies.

As she grows into a young adult, Aurora’s unrestrained ways lead her to a secret meeting with Leo, the royal gamekeeper, on her 16th birthday. It is during this rendezvous that Aurora encounters Caradoc, the surviving son of Carabosse, whom she also displays an attraction toward. He forces the royal family to atone for their negligence in not paying off their debt to the sorceress for the birth of their daughter by placing them in a century-long sleep. Unable to live with the idea that he will grow old without her, Leo seeks help from a fairy whose vampirism bestows eternal life upon the young boy with just one sinking bite into his unbroken skin.

One hundred years later, the court is awakened to a modern-day setting where the tale resumes. Caradoc and Leo straddle their supernatural gifts in order to fight for the ownership of Aurora and her affections. What ensues is a battle of lust with the promise of a “happily ever after” ending, torturously just out of the audience’s reach.


Although new to Des Moines, this production of “Sleeping Beauty” is making international waves. The Guardian calls it “Wonderful. Bourne’s clever gothic re-write. Beguiling and true.” But for those who need examples and imagery, Mail on Sunday characterizes the story as: “Imagine ‘Downton Abbey’ turned into a Tim Burton movie.”

On his Twitter handle, Matthew Bourne has expressed his excitement to come to Des Moines’ Civic Center, describing the set designs as “ravishing,” the score as “sumptuous” and the story line as “thrilling,” in a tweet to Cityview last week from the U.K. CV

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