Madame Butterfly

Norwich Theatre Royal

> Norwich Theatre Royal

What a treat to see a simply beautiful piece of work. It's a pleasure from beginning to end.

While many dance companies almost try too hard these days, wanting to appear ultra-contemporary with impenetrable productions, others remain firmly stuck in yesteryear, with formulaic shows that lack spontaneity or flair.

Yet, after a few years of perhaps finding their feet following budget cuts, the Leeds-based Northern Ballet Theatre are back on form.

This show holds your attention throughout as it successfully combines good old-fashioned faultless dancing with clever staging and choreography. You always feel that they offer you something - and then some more!

This piece certainly gives you the full package, with glorious costumes, a charming set, evocative Puccini music and, of course, a tragic ending that is a must in the ballet world.

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Keiko Amemori, just promoted to principal artist, is bewitching as the doomed butterfly. Her emotional duet with US naval officer Pinkerton, played by the oh so strong Jonathan Byrne Olliver, is the show's highlight. Both display tremendous technical ability and stamina as the piece really stretches their talents.

Other familiar faces, and this has always been a strength of the company, include Steven Wheeler as Sharpless, the American consul, which he plays with all the necessary formality and Hironao Takahashi as another would-be butterfly suitor, Prince Yamedori.

And special mention should go to the little chap who played Butterfly's young son. We didn't get his name but he very nearly stole the show!

The company's latest show is Dracula, while work is set to start soon on the Three Musketeers - surely both must-sees.

t Madame Butterfly continues until Saturday, November 5. Call 01603 630000 or visit www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

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