Enchanting pig comes out smelling of roses

The Enchanted Pig, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, until Saturday.

IF you told the kids you were off to the opera, would you be greeted with a shrug their shoulders as they turned back to the Nintendo DS?

The word opera has many connotations for those who don’t think it’s their bag - and for some of those who DO think it’s their (probably SamCam) bag.

But this production cuts through all the preconceptions.

Tell the children you’re going to a dazzling musical show, with an enchanting fairytale heart, featuring high emotion, dazzling costumes, a scary monster and loads of jokes, and you may just get a better response.

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It just happens that the whole tale is sung; the words are called the libretto and the music is more stirring than your average JLS tune.

A small opening-night audience - adults and children - were soon hooked at the Theatre Royal.

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The Enchanted Pig begins with three stunning princesses, sitting sewing waiting for princes, as princesses are supposed to do. They fit the usual template from that point of view, but from there the traditions break down. One wears bovver boots and threatens a severe wardrobe malfunction at any moment; all sport towering conicle hairdos, one complete with nesting robin.

A clever chorus of scientists and engineers watch with the rest of us as the story unfold.

It’s based on a Romanian folk tale but the set and costumes are strikingly modern. The youngest princess is married to a pig who gives some of the younger members of the audience a pretty solid fright when he first appears, but of course he turns out to be handsome prince under a spell.

There are many twists, turns and even a few fart gags as we meet an array of wierd and hugely entertaining characters on the way to the happy ending. There are so many madcap moments, laughs and amazing things to look at, that the fact that we’re listening to beautiful arias and ‘classical’ music soon ceases to be an issue.

As an introduction to the opera style it’s great. The whole thing is highly accessible for youngsters and adults and I would have enjoyed it even without my spellbound children sitting beside me.

This production between The Opera Group, Royal Opera House and Young Vic is in town until Saturday.

On opening night, it was all a half-full Theatre Royal could do to applaud as loudly as cast and musicians so richly deserved. Being a school night for the vast majority of children in Bury St Edmunds obviously didn’t help: it would be great for this crew to come back when more people can turn out to see them.

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