THIS furry melodrama has been retold in British theatres, in many guises for more than 200 years.

This ballet, choreographed by David Bintley with music by Glenn Buhr – Buhr’s first ballet, premiered in 2003, following vaguely hot on the heels on Disney’s 1991 smash hit.

The ballet is dark and brooding, returning to the shadowy tale itself, but it does reference the Disney version, with a wardrobe, a magical candlestick, a rose ready to drop its first perfect petal.

Birmingham Royal Ballet have conjured up a first rate production here.

There are gothically towering sets designed by Philip Prowse and lighting, from Mark Jonathan which is really stunning. The lighting design incorporates effects including moving dappled light and, incredibly, the sensation of dust in the Beast’s castle.

Belle appears in a moment in a dress the colour of cobwebs. It’s a powerfully visual telling of the story. Buhr’s score is accomplished, memorable and full of melodic dialogues – a discordant harp jangles against a delicate piano, gongs roar – a super performance from the Royal Ballet Sinfonia conducted by Paul Murphy.

The piece suffered a little from a little weakness in bringing the choreography to life, specifically from Belle (Karla Doorbar). We all deserve to see the best. Others fizzed with energy – Belle’s horrid sisters, a gorgeous bent-double cameo from Beatrice Parma as Grandmère and Mathias Dingman’s Beast was beautiful and strong with a hint of demon.

The complex nature of the relationship between the central pair works so well when told through ballet. But the real wow moment of the piece was when a darkly-graceful corps / conspiracy of ravens brought Belle to the castle.

Where this production has triumphed is in bringing our own childhood memories to life, conjuring up a new, young inspired audience for ballet and making it both powerful and accessible.