It’s often said that children are the harshest of critics. Thankfully, in the case of Angelina Ballerina The Mousical - Live On Stage, that’s not the case. Any shortfall in the production values, be they technical capabilities of the cast or the over-complication of plot, are magnanimously ignored by the tutu-clad tots bopping in the aisles.
A scene from Angelina Ballerina The Mousical at the Arena, St Albans Photo: Robert Day
Based on the series by author Katharine Holabird and illustrator Helen Craig, Angelina Ballerina has already seen a stage version a few years hence by the English National Ballet. Unfortunately, one cannot help but draw unflattering comparisons. On this regional tour, the costumes seem unimaginative, the choreography simplistic and the casting weak. Apart from the tails and ears, the performers don’t convey any animalistic attributes and in terms of dancing and singing talent there are no standout roles.
As Angelina and her friends toil towards a concert at their school, the Camembert Academy Of Dance, conflicting opinions and a gender battle between the preferences of the girls and boys (sparkles vs hip hop) combine in a less than remarkable show. In a sweet and much needed add-on to the professional cast, local dance schools are invited onstage to perform a couple of steps and a plie or two, much to the pride of and joy of their teary-eyed parents. It keeps the performance going, but isn’t enough to save it.
Sometimes it’s enough to capitalise on the success of a popular character, and where ticket sales are concerned the children’s book and TV world are full of easy pickings. But for a producer whose credits include The Gruffalo and The Tiger Who Came To Tea, this production falls short.