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Aladdin

Birmingham Royal Ballet

 

What really stood out for me is how visually mesmerising this production is, the set design and lighting from Dick Bird and Mark Jonathan is revolutionary for this kind of show, not even mentioning the fact that this is a touring production, add to that the entire troupe supply a move-perfect show with Conductor Paul Murphy guiding the Royal Ballet Sinfonia through Carl Davis' extravagant score - and you get some idea why the theatre is full to the rafters with people of all ages and backgrounds, this isn't just a ballet; this is a visual triumph!

Max Eden, North West End, 2oth September 2017

 

There is much to like in David Bintley’s three-act Arabian Nights adaptation. The wonderful sets by Dick Bird fill the stage with a sense of magic and faraway lands, from a bustling “souk in old Arabia” (crammed with colourful hanging carpets) to a mysterious desert cave filled with treasure and the royal palace where Aladdin marries his beloved Princess. Sue Blane’s costumes — an exuberant display of orientalism from Morocco to China — are a knockout; Mark Jonathan’s lighting positively glows.

The Times, Debra Craine, 2 November 2017

The design team of Dick Bird (sets), Sue Blane (costumes) and Mark Jonathan (lighting) deserve special mention and do excellent work respectively, adding necessary levels of dimension, atmosphere and texture to the production

The Arts Shelf, 21 September 2017

Aladdin

Houston Ballet

 

Lighting designer Mark Jonathan works serious magic with the cave's stalactites and stalagmites, which glow in colors that change with each "jewel" variation; a ravishing bathhouse dome full of small, circular skylights; and a palace courtyard whose sunset-drenched arches are backed by an evening sky.

 

Molly Glentzer, The Houston Chronicle, 21st February, 2014

 

Aladdin

Birmingham Royal Ballet

....the design team of Sue Blane, Dick Bird and Mark Jonathan, who create a magic-lantern show of desertscapes, minarets and palace interiors. The Djinn of the Lamp hovers magically in a puff of blue smoke, the Maghrib's wickedness extends all the way to his glow-in-the-dark fingernails. Between them, a family-packed theatre is kept happily entertained.

Judith Mackrell, 

The Guardian, 19th February 2013

A huge rib cage-like entrance leading to a space lit by stalactites and ‘mites that change colour to reflect dancing jewels are thrilling imagined by set designer Dick Bird and lighting designer Mark Jonathan.

Simon Hale, The Birmingham Press, 6 October 2017

Far from the Madding Crowd

Birmingham Royal Ballet at the Hippodrome, Birmingham

 

Hayden Griffin’s skeletal tithe barn is handsome and versatile, and Mark Jonathan’s lighting evokes moods and seasons with tremendous subtlety.

Louise Levine, Daily Telegraph, 29th June 2012

The Sleeping Beauty

Birmingham Royal Ballet


...coherent storytelling, a thoroughbred choreographic text and Philip Prowse’s exquisite designs. Prowse’s old-school tutus, the sumptuous palette of old gold and ashes of roses, and 24-carat lighting from Mark Jonathan ensure that each stage picture is lovelier than the last.

Louise Levene, Financial Times, 5th February 2018

 

 From the first view of the rich, gold drop-curtain, drawn by a bewigged and frock-coated flunkey with his encrusted candelabra, you are ushered into a world of fantasy....

 An ornate, dark gold and veined marble hall by Philip Prowse has the solidity of 17th century dynastic architecture about it, a formal stuffiness in the full-bottomed wigs and dense brocades, all lit with bronzed dimness of candlelight. It is a palace that begs for youth and brightness, and which duly lightens and pales, until its close 100 years later with a dazzling golden shower of spangles over the 18th century wedding of Princess Aurora.

 

Prowse and his lighting designer Mark Jonathan must take huge credit for the atmospheric rightness of this production and its sumptuous French-Russian Elegance. 

 

Ismeme Brown. The Daily Telegraph. 19th June, 2003

 

 

Mark Jonathan's lighting, in particular for the rays of sunshine breaking through the thick canopy of the enchanted forest was another delight.

 

Anne Byrne. Express & Echo. 7th July, 2003 

Sylvia

The Royal Ballet, Royal Opera House

 

The beautiful sets and costumes by the Ironside brothers, Robin and Christopher - a compelling reason to see the ballet again - have been restored, with sympathetic help from designer Peter Farmer. They've been wonderfully lit by Mark Jonathan,     far better than the old Opera House could have achieved. So the new production looks gorgeous 

 

Jann Parry. The Observer. 7th November, 2004

 

    The other joy of this Sylvia is its ravishing sets: gorgeous backdrops, misty landscapes inspired by the French painter Claude Lorrain, and a magical transformation scene in which Orion's cave vanishes and Sylvia is carried home across the sea. The original designers were Robin and Christopher Ironside…with the help of Peter Farmer and lighting expert Mark Jonathan…their work has been brought back to life in a spectacle that embodies all the romance of ballet. 

 

Rupert Christiansen. The Mail on Sunday. 7th November, 2004

 

Ballet productions lit by Mark Jonathan are a joy as he has sensitivity to artists and sets. Peter Farmer tastefully develops the sumptuous original Second Empire designs of Robin and Christopher Ironside. Conducted with brio by Benjamin Pope - it’s a delight. 

 

Gavin Roebuck, The Stage, January 24 2008

The Protecting Veil

Birmingham Royal Ballet

 

Bintley's The Protecting Veil, to John Taverner's music and fine designs by Ruari Murchison under dramatic lighting by Mark Jonathan. 

 

Dancing Times. March, 1999

 

It seems simple as it passes: only in retrospect do you realise how perfectly judged the costumes are Ruari Murchison, how brilliant the lighting Mark Jonathan. 

 

Dance Now. Summer, 1999

 

Lighting by Mark Jonathan is excellent, the setting, Ruari Murchison, no less so, and the oblique homage to de Valois is sincere. 

Clement Crisp. Financial Times

 

David Bintley translates Taverner's religious tract magnificently through a series of stunning stage pictures of the Virgin in red, wrapped in a white veil against black or a battered gold background, looking like a byzantyne painting. The various stages in her life are conveyed with cello and orchestra and Ruari Murchison's simple designs suggesting the cross or an interior are matched by Mark Jonathan's lighting. The total effect is overwhelming. 

 

Dance Express. April, 1999

 

On the vast stage of Sadler's Wells, it looks even more impressive. Ruari Murchison's simple wall of gold leaf glimmers dimly as if lit by church candles, etches a Blakean sunrise for the Virgin's transfiguration, and dazzles to proclaim the ressurection. Christ's cross is a simple column of ruched brown silk which ingeniously slips away to reveal a golden ladder pointing the way to Heaven. This is design which almost inspires worship in itself. 

The Independent on Sunday. 14th February, 1999

Dance Reviews...

Powder 

Houston Ballet

Powder is all bold choreography; creative port de bras, well-incorporated lifts, wiggling jumps and flurries of movement in every conceivable combination – solos, duets, trios and groups – bathed in warm light, designed by Mark Jonathan.

Houston Press, Natalia de la Garza 27 October 2017

The Sleeping Beauty

Royal Ballet, ROH

This production, with original designs by Oliver Messel beautifully adapted by Peter Farmer and superbly lit by Mark Jonathan, is fairy tale stage magic. 

Mark Ronan, 16 Fabruary 2017

Monica Mason and Christopher Newton’s production is well staged by Christopher Carr, beautifully designed by Oliver Messel with Mark Jonathan’s superb lighting . 

Gavin Roebuck

The Stage, 27th October ,2009

The Nutcracker

Northern Ballet Theatre

A particular favourite remains the traditional “transformation” scene at the close of the first act, silver costumes all a’glitter amid the falling snow, beautifully lit by Mark Jonathan’s lighting, as you dream of reaching for your ice skates.

Charles Hutchinson York Press 6th December 2018

    Indeed the entire production is hugely successful. The imaginative set designs by Charles Cusick-Smith are eminently suitable for touring; Mark Jonathan has created fresh and intelligent lighting schemes and the musical arrangements by John Longstaff are excellent. The Costumes by Nixon are exciting, colourful and original.....it would be difficult to beat this production of the Nutcracker for dramatic intelligence and strong production values.

 

Mike Dixon, Dance Europe. January 2008

The gorgeous snowy sets designed by Charles Cusick Smith were sets to die for: the NBT Orchestra, lead by Geoffrey Allan, who gave a dynamic and lyrical rendering of Tchaikovsky’s wonderful score, which would have stood on its own as a concert performance, was under the Direction of John Pryce-Jones: inspired lighting by Mark Jonathan illuminated this scintillating Company and brought the Nutcracker Christmas to life.

 

Fringe Review RF 13 th October, 2007

Cinderella

The Royal Ballet

 

    This is a gorgeous production, with magical sets by Toer van Schayk transforming the grim surroundings of Cinderella's kitchen into a succession of spring, summer, autumn and winter gardens for the dances of the Seasons fairies, Mark Jonathan's lighting providing a dreamlike quality. Christine Haworth's delicate costumes could have stepped straight out of a Watteau painting

 

Dance Expression. February, 2004

This production by Wendy Somes contains some clever ideas such as the moon transforming into a clock in Act I when the fairy godmother warns that the spell will break at midnight, and then the clock in the ball scene — invisible from the Amphitheatre — shows itself in the lighting on the dance-floor so the whole audience can see it. The transformation of Cinderella’s clothes from a brilliant white tutu to rags is done in a split second, and the poor girl flees as the curtains close.

 

Paul Kay as the Jester (photo Tristram Kenton)

Act III again mixes the mundane and the magical, and some clever effects are achieved with Mark Jonathan’s lighting. I like the dappled pink effect in the auditorium during the overture, and the dappled white at the end, as the prince and his bride recede into the distance. For an evening of enchantment you won’t do better. Ashton’s choreography is magical — the fairy-tale entrance of Cinderella to the ball as she comes down the stairs en pointe in ethereal splendour, the brilliant asymmetry of the twelve stars … one could go on and on.

                       Mark Ronan’s Word Press                                                        21st November 2010

Beauty and the  Beast

Birmingham Royal Ballet, 

Birmingham Hippodrome

 

Philip Prowse's sumptuously sooty inky designs.The old-gold and black-velvet sets and often inky costumes could easily render the dancers invisible, but Mark Jonathan's ingeniously atmospheric lighting allows us to savour every detail. The constant transformations from home to castle and back again are unfolded with amazing smoothness... 

Louise Levene. The Sunday Telegraph. 18th December, 2005

 

It boasts, and will do well to boast, superb design by Philip Prowse, which excites the imagination, delights the eye, performs prodigies of dramatic stimulation. The Beast's domain is ripest Louis XIV, the Beauty's Charles X. Costuming is brilliant. It is well lit by Mark Jonathan.

Clement Crisp. Financial Times. 3rd December, 2003

Beauty and the Beast

Birmingham Royal Ballet

Philip Prowse’s Gothic designs with Mark Jonathan’s stunning lighting

Back stage Bristol, 2 may 2019

...the sets, by Philip Prowse, are mightily impressive, and choc-full of atmosphere. They were complemented by the magnificent lighting of Mark Jonathan – though it is pretty dark at times it helps create pure Gothic magic.

Cormac Richards, Reviews Gate, 6 March 2019

It is, however, as visually arresting with Philip Prowse’s darkly gothic set design cleverly evoking a feeling of decaying grandeur in the Beast’s castle and Mark Jonathan’s innovative lighting design making good use of light and shadow to great atmospheric effect.

Frankly my Dear, 21 March 2019  

 

 David Bintley and his team have kept their potential audience clearly in focus, and its strengths are in a brilliantly-created set (Philip Prowse), atmospheric lighting (Mark Jonathan), an ingenious score, newly composed by Glenn Buhr, and straightforward classical choreography. 

Robert Beale. Manchester Online

With a great transformation scene and Mark Jonathan’s evocative lighting adding darkness one minute and the dawning of a new day- the next, Birmingham Royal Ballet's Beauty and the Beast is a gorgeous rendering of a family favourite.

Glenn Meads., What’s on Stage  25 January 2012   

 The Lowery    
 

Beauty and the  Beast

Birmingham Royal Ballet, 

Birmingham Hippodrome

 

When he's transformed back into a man, we, like Belle, have to come to terms with him once again. Scarcely recognisable as the hunter in the dark prologue, he looks smaller and more vulnerable than his beastly alter ego.

    Mark Jonathan has lit the rest of the production so that Philip Prowse's magnificent jet and gold designs are now visible in detail, their magic wittily surprising. 

 

Jann Parry. The Observer. 18th December, 2005

 

...its story brought to life through wonderfully choreographed dance (David Bintley), lavish sets (designed by Philip Prowse) and costumes, and a stunning score by Glenn Buhr. Mark Jonathan's haunting lighting put the perfect finishing touch to this captivating production.

 Emily Taylor, 2008, British Theatre Guide

it’s a gorgeous piece of fantasy and stagecraft. Philip Prowse’s sets, under Mark Jonathan’s lights, entice and enchant

Manchester Theatre Awards

Robert Beale 24th January 2012

As the curtain is raised it is clear that we are in for a treat. The show looks sumptuous – the sets and costumes really look the part. Perhaps, less obvious, is a lighting design that enables castles and old houses to look dark and yet for the action to be well lit. This show feels the part before a single step is danced.

North East Theatre Guide, Stephen Oliver 28th March 2019

Giselle

Birmingham Royal Ballet at Sadler's Wells

Hayden Griffin’s Gothic cathedral (do I recognise Whitby Abbey ruins?) and Mark Jonathan’s lighting are brilliantly evocative, moonlight casting shadows through its arched empty windows.

Vera Liba, British Theatre Guide, November 2019

Sylvia

American Ballet Theatre, The Metropolitan Opera House, New York

This is a lavish production, with a looming forest and grotto, a hideout with the sea and Eros' magical ship beyond, and a towering formal temple. These are the original designs by the brothers Robin and Christopher Ironside, with additional designs by Peter Farmer. In an era of crashing chandeliers and airborne cars, they hold their own. Their costumes- in tangy and delicately matched colours, each outfit looking individual yet homogeneous- are a treat in themselves. Mark Jonathan's lighting managed to be highly theatrical but not intrusive. 

 

Jennifer Dunning. The New York Times. 6th June, 2005 

Sylvia

American Ballet Theatre, The Metropolitan Opera House, New York

    

Having seen this ballet last November at Covent Garden's Royal Opera House, I find it looks even better on the large Metropolitan Opera House stage. Mark Jonathan's inspired lighting proves shadowy when apt and at other times washes the stage with warm white light that brings out the painterly details of the settings and the rainbow of pastels in the costuming.

Robert Greskovic. The Wall Street Journal. 8th June, 2005

Sylvia

American Ballet Theatre, 

The Metropolitan Opera House, New York

Mark Jonathan's lighting, likewise, contributes to making the production a visual cornucopia.

Aeron Kopriva The New York Sun 6th June 2005

La Sylphide, 

The Royal Ballet, Royal Opera House

 

IN THE THEATRE, so much can go wrong.

When it comes to performing a multistranded classical ballet, the chance of lighting, dancers, music, scenery and steps all coalescing into a faultless whole seems as likely as winning a rollover Lottery.

Well, dance lovers, I have news for you.
Johan Kobborg’s new production of La Sylphide is perfect. Choreographed in 1836 by August Bournonville, it has remained a hallowed gem of the Royal Danish Ballet, Kobborg’s alma mater.

....Herman Lovenskiold’s music never sounded so good and Soren Frandsen’s sets are vibrant thanks to Mark Jonathan’s lighting.

Jeffery Taylor, The Sunday Express 27th May 2012

La Sylphide

The Royal Ballet, Royal Opera House

 

This excellent staging is by the Royal Ballet’s Danish principal Johan Kobborg, who has added some choreography of his own. The fine set designs by Sören Frandsen are beautifully lit by Mark Jonathan, and I love the costumes by Henrik Bloch. 

Mark Ronan’s Theatre Review May 2012

La Sylphide is, despite its trappings of tartan and tulle, a deep and moving work, a masterpiece in reality and, for those interested in such things, as near a perfect evocation of the Romantic spirit as we can see on any stage. Johan Kobborg’s production, first seen in London in 2005, is pitch-perfect – he himself is in the long and distinguished line of Danish male dancers who have made their mark as James, the ballet’s anti-hero. Sets and costumes are a deftly traditional evocation of the lithographs and paintings of the nineteenth century, Mark Jonathan’s lighting was impressive, altering mood to great effect. 

Classical Source- G.J. Dowler May 21 2012

La Sylphide

The Royal Ballet, Royal Opera House

 

The result is lovely, immaculate, heart-warming. It’s gorgeous to look at, using Sören Frandsen’s sets and Henrik Bloch’s costumes from the Copenhagen theatre, which are completely authentic for the ballet’s period — the handsome hall of a Scottish manor house, the rocks and trees of the misty forest — in exquisite lighting by Mark Jonathan. The sight of the Sylph in purest white, looking in through the leaded window, framed against blue light, is ravishing. So are the Sylphs en masse, in their delectable ensembles.

 

David Dougill. The Sunday Times. 16th October, 2005

The Seasons

Birmingham Royal Ballet at Sadlers Wells, London

 

 Jean-Marc Puissant's costumes, including crushed velvet in various hues and Mark Jonathan's subtle lighting lend the exercise an attractive patina. 

 

Donald Hutera. The Times. 18th September, 2001

 

 

Giselle

Birmingham Royal Ballet at the Hippodrome, Birmingham

 

Hayden Griffin has set the scene in a ruined abbey, with skeletal vaulting and an air of real mystery, enhanced by Mark Jonathan's fine lighting. 

 

Financial Times. 5th October, 1999

 

The 18 earthbounds were eerily lit in Mark Jonathan's spooky sidelights. 

 

    Louise Levene

 

 It permits the pale starlight specified by Gautier, the bright moonlight casting soft blue shadows. The lighting here by Mark Jonathan is a major success. Atmosphere is everything. The long skirts of the Willis hang beautifully both in repose and movement, and seem to encase them in a haze of light. 

Cormac Rigby. Dance Now. Winter, 1999 / 2000

 

Both designer Hayden Griffin and lighting director Mark Jonathan collaborated to create a truly unforgettable atmosphere. Presenting a fertile landscape in Act I (complete with a live horse), the pair then craft the perfect place for Act II’s ethereality, as great pillars dominating the churchyard are broken by single shafts from the moon left to light the stage.

Beth Baker-Wyse   The National Student  25th June 2013

 

This production of Giselle is dedicated to designer Hayden Griffin, who died earlier this year. And it his incomparable genius – combined with Mark Jonathan’s lighting – that is without doubt a huge contributory factor in this enduring ballet’s appeal.

John Phillpott, Worcester News 20th June 2013 

There was eeriness to the Gothic setting of Act II, much due to the subtle lighting of Mark Jonathan. 

Seen and Heard International Geoff Read  21st June 2013

Dante Sonata

Birmingham Royal Ballet at the Hippodrome, Birmingham

 

The tumultuous beginning of Liszt's sonata "after reading Dante" gives way to a quieter sequence, and a passageway of light appears across a dark stage, down which enters a group of women in white.Their gentleness is taunted by a women in a black skirt with a snake coiled round her body and arms. So the theme of light versus darkness is established in Dante Sonata, Frederick Ashton's ballet. 

 

John Percival. The Independent. 18th April, 2000

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