REVIEW: Spanish flair comes to Milton Keynes Theatre with Sofia National Ballet’s ‘Don Quixote’, July 2013


MINI SERIES: Sofia National Ballet


A little passion and wild abandon can go a long way – as Sofia National Ballet dancers illustrate in their vibrant interpretation of Don Quixote.

Despite being an unknown entity (this month marks the Bulgarian company’s very first visit to the UK) the auditorium at Milton Keynes Theatre was almost full on Monday evening for Giselle and theatregoers were equally keen to see some Spanish flair last night.

The dancers of Sofia National Ballet did not disappoint. Explosive balletic fireworks lit up the stage in the well-paced narrative piece, inspired by one of the tales in Miguel de Cervantes’ epic novel (published in 1605). The ballet is loosely based on characters featured in the book, with the most successful version created by 19th century Russian choreographer Marius Petipa. As a production, the spectacle is part pantomime, part drama-comedy but remains a pastiche to the novel, rather than a parody.



Sofia National Ballet dancers in Don Quixote.



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REVIEW: Ethereal spirits grace the stage as Sofia National Ballet brings ‘Giselle’ to Milton Keynes Theatre, July 2013


MINI SERIES: Sofia National Ballet


Dancers from Bulgaria’s leading ballet company, Sofia National Ballet, are making their Milton Keynes debut this week.

Sofia National Ballet was formed in 1928 and is immersed in the Russian classical tradition. Established as an acclaimed cultural institution in Bulgaria, it prides itself on its interpretations of the world’s favourite ballets.

Milton Keynes Theatre is the last stop on the Company’s first ever visit to the UK, presenting three timeless narrative works – Giselle, Don Quixote and Swan Lake. Last night saw the cast of dancers – accompanied by the Orchestra of Sofia National Ballet – perform Giselle. The poignant story was penned by Théophile Gautier and Vernoy de St Georges in the 19th century, during the Romantic Era. This period saw the rise of the ballerina (previously, men had dominated the art) and is characterised by ballets which tell stories of men falling in love with waiflike spirits.


Sofia National Ballet dancer in Giselle.


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NEWS: Musical stars prove to be “purrfect” personalities for raising awareness of busy RSPCA rescue centre – Milton Keynes, July 2013




Feline fans are being urged to dig deep after performances of Cats at Milton Keynes Theatre in a bid to help abandoned moggies. A bucket collection is being held throughout the show’s two-week run to raise funds for the Milton Keynes & North Bucks RSPCA rescue centre.

Milton Keynes Citizen Leisure Editor Sammy Jones and I joined cast members posing onstage with some adorable rescue kittens in order to highlight the centre as part of the Citizen’s Citikat appeal.

Stars Rum Tum Tugger (played by Oliver Savile), Jennyanydots (Alice Redmond) and Victoria the White Cat (Alicia Beck) were more than happy to bond with the 6-week-old kittens as they scampered around the junkyard set of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s smash-hit musical.


Cast of Cats join kittens onstage at Milton Keynes Theatre for RSPCA fundraising.


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REVIEW: ‘Cats’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, June 2013




Miaow! The claws were out when it was announced that record-breaking musical Cats would be stopping off at Milton Keynes Theatre on tour, with fans clamouring to book for the show. Fortunately, I got my paws on a ticket and – once seated in the auditorium – felt like the proverbial cat that got the cream.

This show combines words, music, dance, costumes and design for an evening of pure purrfection. Composed by musical theatre impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cats is based on ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’, a collection of light verse by T.S. Eliot (published in 1939). The show first opened in the West End in 1981 and enjoyed a phenomenal twenty-one year run (with a similarly impressive eighteen years on Broadway), smashing records and winning awards.

This remarkable musical tells the story of a tribe of felines, known as the ‘Jellicles’. We join them on the night of ‘the Jellicle choice’ – deciding which cat will rise to the Heaviside Layer to be reborn. The set throughout is a junkyard – a playground for the tribe. Instantly recognisable items spill over the side of the stage, including tin cans (Heinz Macaroni, Princes Peaches, Princes Prunes, Go Cat) and egg boxes.



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REVIEW: Northern Ballet’s ‘Ugly Duckling’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, April 2013


“Quacking” tale of makes for a delightful introduction to ballet for little ducklings


A lonely duckling who just doesn’t fit in, a menagerie of colourful animal characters and plenty of creative choreography feature in Ugly Duckling, Northern Ballet’s first ballet especially for children.

Ugly Duckling is a captivating adaptation of the classic fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen.

Northern Ballet is renowned for powerful storytelling and inventive interpretations of well-loved classical ballets and innovative new productions – inspired by popular culture, literature and opera. Now, the company is on a mission to capture the imaginations of tots, introducing them to the magic of live ballet, music and theatre with a specially created short ballet, based on a familiar tale.


Northern Ballet dancers in Ugly Duckling (photo by Martin Bell).

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