THE Alhambra Theatre has once again fallen under the spell of a Matthew Bourne production, as his unique take on Romeo and Juliet wowed crowds.

This week the acclaimed choreographer's version of the Shakespeare inspired ballet arrived in Bradford - and marked some of the first performances of the new production by this cast.

And Sir Matthew delighted the audience with an appearance onstage after Thursday's performance answering questions about what inspired him to tackle such a well known story.

His latest production puts a typically quirky spin on the Shakespearian romantic tragedy. Rather than following star-crossed lovers from feuding families, the ballet is based in the "Verona institute" in the near future.

In this clinical institute for young people, boys and girls are separated, only occasionally crossing paths. It is here that Romeo, the son of a popular Senator, meets Juliet, an inmate who is regularly tormented by an infatuated guard.

Although the dialogue free ballet loses some aspects of the story, such as the family feud, it still retains it's key message - of love transcending all barriers. And Shakespeare's tragic ending also remains - with the very first scene foreshadowing the lovers' fate.

And despite a re-jigged story and setting, Prokofieff's iconic score remains.

Bourne's productions have a reputation for being some of the most accomplished modern ballets, and Romeo and Juliet lives up to that high standard.

Despite only being a few performances into the run, the dancers were flawless, with complex choreography used to convey the dramatic changes in mood, from passionate to terrified to highly medicated and oppressed.

And a shrinking of humour also helped lighted the mood of a story that everyone knows doesn't end well.

With just one set, the performance relies on lighting and the dancers to create the different settings.

In one particularly inventive scene, the action moves from the boys' bedroom to the girls' bedroom by the cast seamlessly swapping places on the minimal furniture before swapping back again.

All of the pieces came together to create a highly emotional and spectacular theatre experience, and when complete it received a rapturous response from from the crowd.

Receiving particular applause were a group of local dancers who had been chosen to take part.

After the show Sir Matthew spoke about the production and answered questions from the audience.

He told the crowd how happy he was to be in Bradford again, adding: "We always expect the crowd in Bradford to be good, and you usually are."

He said with the show being a relatively new one, both he and the cast had been waiting to perform in front of an audience after months of preparation.

Bourne told the crowd he had been deliberately vague about the setting of the performance, leaving it up to the audience to decide whether it took place in a prison, psychiatric hospital, school or similar institution.

He said the performance would change as he and the cast picked up on things they could improve over the various shows. But judging by Thursday's incredible performance, there is very little improvement needed.