Don Quixote

, with the Royal New Zealand Ballet


Where and when: Aotea Centre, to Sunday

On a sunny terrace "somewhere in La Mancha", all is swirling skirts, clicking heels and the colours of sunshine for the Royal New Zealand Ballet's vibrant re-telling of this most iconic of Spanish tales.

And a very lucid and charming re-telling it is.

John Hull, in the title role, steps into Sir Jon Trimmer's hallowed shoes undaunted, and performs the tricky balancing act of comic portrayal and drama, on which the whole story depends, with aplomb - not easy when your grand steed is an undisguised floor mop.

Shane Urton is Sancho Panza in the lead cast, and he too produces a strong character, likeable and well rounded, from gawky, nerdish beginnings.

Gary Harris's staging and design is neon bright and beautifully evocative, with a magically moonlit gypsy camp and starry skies in the second act. The APO gives Ludwig Minkus' score a resounding reading.

And then there is the dancing! This Don Q is a love story at heart, and the svelte and quicksilver Kohei Iwamoto, as Basilio, and a dynamic and wonderfully flirtatious Mayu Tanigaito, as Kitri, present a partnership of lovely lightness and lyrical lift. They fly through the technical challenges of their roles with passion and precision and culminate their performance with a breathtaking wedding pas de deux in act three.

Abigail Boyle is a gorgeously sultry Mercedes, as elegant as she is lascivious, and brings a brilliant expressiveness to the role, proving a dramatic talent to match her flawless dancing.

Paul Mathews is another show stopper as the bling-bedecked lowlife Gamache, louche, lithe and a master of both drunk dancing and audience favourite, the clever and very funny little dog.

Harry Skinner is a buzzy, bossy Lorenzo, with a bristling black moustache. Clytie Campbell is a classically classy Queen Driad. MacLean Hopper jauntily embodies Cupid, a character that above all epitomises Harris's zany, zealous and not-quite-camp style.

They all lead out a sterling cast of jaunty sailors, long legged waiters, a band of rude and raunchy Gypsies, a bevy of beautiful Bridesmaids and Friends and a beautifully presented corps of Driads who perfectly held their tableaux and artful arms aloft for a very long time. Splendid!