Emilie Moon Claire Haddleton
4:30 PM 12th February 2024
Great Family Half Term Entertainment: Tortoise And The Hare
Photo: Brian Slater©
There was a real buzz of excitement in the foyer of the Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre in Leeds as dozens of families arrived for the opening performance of Tortoise and the Hare
. Very happy and enthusiastic front-of-house staff helped children to craft their own ‘hare ears’ or ‘winner’s medals’ whilst others encouraged the children to complete a treasure hunt to win a big sticker for their jumpers. This was a lovely start to the whole experience.
The 40-minute performance was a perfect introduction to ballet for children as the popular tale was beautifully told through dance and live music. The theatre is small and cosy, allowing for the young audience to really feel part of it. Even the opening announcement was written with children in mind; the usual reminders to turn mobiles off followed by “remember not to feed the bunnies!”.
Tortoise & the Hare, production, 2024, dancers Julie Nunès, Kaho Masumoto and Yu Wakizuka.
Photo Sophie Beth Jonesr©
The 4-man band was superb, bringing the whole performance to life and changing the tempo to reflect the characteristics of each animal; face-paced for the speedy hare and slow and steady for the tortoise. We could see many of the children pointing out the different instruments to their adults- a good chance for them to experience live music.
The set was simple but bright and the costumes colourful and imaginative. Clever lighting was used especially during the race itself.
Two happy children at Tortoise & the Hare
Photo: Emilie Moonr©
Onto the ballet; the 6 actors, some taking on duel roles were animated and mesmerising at the same time.
There was always something to look at and the scenes were short and sweet which held the children’s attention really well. Highlights for us were the solo performances of the bee and the butterfly, both of whom drew gasps of delight from the young crowd as they appeared on stage. The two hares convincingly portrayed their exercise moves through dance and the whole cast were clearly very talented. The actors danced their way through the cheery times, sad times and the many humorous moments; wonderful chorography.
As the story drew to a close, there were many happy children all around the theatre. We heard lots of “that was so good” and “I loved the hare’s face” and “the butterfly was so pretty”. From the mouths of babes, giving Northern Ballet maximum stars for this show.
As well as having a clear moral, this story demonstrates many values including kindness, honesty and perseverance.
This was real family entertainment and a perfect half term treat.
Tortoise & the Hare
is at Leeds Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre £10, £7 under 12s
Times: 11:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00 & 16:00
More information here