Posts Tagged ‘matthew bourne’

Review – Matthew Bourne’s 2010 “Cinderella” – Sadler’s Wells Theatre

December 9, 2010

Last night I went to see Matthew Bourne’s radical updating of Cinderella at Sadler’s Wells. The conceit of the whole show is that it is London during the Blitz; Cinderella (Kerry Biggin, I think, rather than Mikah Smillie) is the forgotten child of a family of six, with two stepsisters and three stepbrothers, including one I would call “grabby” as he constantly making a move toward Cinders (a problem NOT in any version of this story I’d seen before!). Rather than a ball, the family is heading out to the Cafe de Paris nightclub; rather than a prince and a castle, we have an airman (Sam Archer, I believe) and the promise of a life rather more mundane than fairytale (but happy nonetheless).

Still, Bourne fixes clearly on the important emotional elements are: the feeling of being excluded; the desire to be wanted; a chance to experience the admiration of others after a lifetime in the shadows; the attempt to fix a “near miss” at love. A dance and shoes seem to be required for flavor, but a fancy coach is gone. The father element has become more tragic with his transformation into a man confined to a wheelchair. Overall, the magical elements have been pulled away and a painful, yet believable, story is left behind. Panto drag stepsisters gone? I say hurray; this kind of comedy is a distraction to the story.

The ballet is in three acts. It starts slowly with the character-setting first act. Our evil stepsisters are glamorous 40s debutantes; the very wicked stepmother (Michela Meazza, looking like she does in every Bourne show) is an alcoholic Joan Crawford type who really seems to be seconds away from pulling out a wire hanger; the brothers are in term lewd, louche, and mommy-fixated. There is a burst of energy as invites to a dance arrive; but it’s actually far more exciting when an injured airman shows up seeking shelter. This isn’t a part of the story we expect, and it adds a real edge: where did he come from? When is he going to appear again? Since when does the stepmother go for Cinderella’s love interest? The dancing itself in this act is forgettable, aside from the bit when Cinderella tries to dance with her paraplegic father and her dance with the mannequin/Prince substitute. It’s a relief when the fairy shows up and spirits her out of her house and into the rubble-strewn streets of London; I found we spent far too much time in her stifling house and were not nearly entertained enough while we were there.

Act two is the voyage to and arrival at the ball. Some of the best lighting design comes as Cinderella and the Airman find and lose each other in the darkened streets of Blitz London; street patrols illuminate and block them as they rush back and forth trying to find each other. They finally wind up together at the Café de Paris, which the program notes is “Cinderella’s dream and nightmare:” look up the history of this place (it’s in the notes) if you need to know why. I found all of my ability to enjoy the spectacle of dancing overwhelmed by the heavy weight of impending death as I waited for the bomb to strike the restaurant. It changes the whole feeling of this scene from anything it was before to a Masque of the Red Death, rather than Cinderella’s triumph; she escapes, alive, with the man she loves, but with the rest of the dancers dead (apparently the band leader had his head blown off in real life, I found myself very creeped out by this), there’s no joy in it. I was also very confused by how she went from mousy brown to a platinum blonde in this scene, though I just loved her glamorous white gown.

Act three has the best design of the show, with a delicious hospital ward created by a glowing red cross hovering in the air and white curtained panels moved around by doctors and nurses. The Airman is searching for Cinderella, which gives us the opportunity for a rather salacious scene in a prostitute-filled Tube station as well as a violent encounter on the Embankment; truly, in war, all the rules of morality have gone by the wayside, and anyone can be a victim. Eventually, as required, we have our reunion for the two lovers; deliciously, the stepmother is taken to jail. We finish at a train station, bidding goodbye to the newlyweds while the fairy finds another person needing some magic in their lives.

It’s taken me rather a lot of time to chew through how I felt about this production and whether or not I thought it worth recommending. During it I found myself feeling very distant from the action on stage; I was never caught up by the dance, even though I enjoyed thought the solos of the fairy (actually referenced as “the angel” in the program, and because there was no cast sheet I can’t say for certain who was playing it the night I saw it) . I did, however, love the set, lighting, and luscious 40s costuming; the grey palette (a deliberate homage to black and white movies) felt less like a pushy design decision and more like something that caught the austerity and gloom of war-time London. Ultimately, I think, I’m going to say yes to this Cinderella, not just because it is beautiful, but because its reworking of the story, its Bourne-ian deconstruction to the heart of the matter, succeeds better in telling the tale than any straightforward rendition would have. It showed me a new side of the classic, and, while I would have preferred more dancing, I left feeling like I’d managed to pick up a little more magic in the air than there had been before I went in the room. Who would think that by removing nearly every bit of unreality from this story Bourne would create something more universal than what he started with? It’s not perfect, but it’s a good night of theater, and my guess is that as a Cinderella, I’ll be thinking of this story much longer than any version with gawping comedy stepsisters stomping around on the stage and making a spectacle of themselves, because it’s not, after all, their story; it’s hers.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Tuesday, December 7th, 2010. Cinderella continues at Sadler’s Wells through January 23rd, 2011. For a more positive view, see Judith Mackrell in The Guardian; for one capturing my frustration with the dance, see the always eloquent Clement Crisp of the Financial Times.)

Review – The Nutcracker – Royal Ballet (2009)

December 18, 2009

When Christmas time comes around, I’ve got three things on my mind: A Christmas Carol, panto, and Nutcracker. These, to me, are the three elements that build holiday cheer and a real feeling of “It’s Christmas!” in me. And, insofar as I am able, every year I try to see a new version of each of these shows, meaning I’ve seen both a black light and a South African “Christmas Carol,” and Nutcrackers ranging from Mark Morris’s “Hard Nut” (which required a trip to San Francisco) and Matthew Bourne‘s (which has my favorite first act of all). Last year we saw Mr. B’s version at City Ballet, and I was surprised at how inflexible I was as to certain story elements. This review, then, isn’t so much about the dance, it’s about the performance elements of the ballet, and how it compares to my mental ideal of The Nutcracker, formed on a version I saw in Munich in 1981, Arizona Ballet’s version, and (to some extent) Pacific Northwest Ballet’s bizarre incarnation. (For the record, the female star should be called Clara. I realize Mr. B did not adhere to this, but you can’t just go around calling Sleeping Beauty “Heather” – it doesn’t work.)

The ballet opens in a workshop, where Drosselmeier (Gary Avis) is making two dolls. The first, an angel, he sends off with his assistant to be delivered to Clara’s parents’ house. The second is, of course, the Nutcracker, whom we see suddenly peering out at us through a scrim (that had been a picture of a soldier). This was all a very new setup for the opening scenes, and I liked it a lot – it got us through a lot of the music with the addition of some very meaningful narrative. We also were introduced to the utterly bizarre Assistant (Ludovic Ondiviela) – who probably could have been used much better than he was as he only got one little star turn in the whole night.

Then it’s time for the party. This scene was far less chaotic and dull than many versions I’ve seen, doubtlessly in part because of choreographer Peter Wright’s completely correct choice to have Clara (Iohna Loots) performed, all the way through, by an adult woman, meaning there is room for much more good dancing in this act rather than the excess of flim flam you get when you’re trying to make too much out of child dancers. We still had the doll-carrying girls versus the soldier-carrying boys; but we also had a nice dance of the adults with a little tableau of the servants at the far back of the stage in front of the Christmas tree as well as doll dances done with a Harlequin/Columbine and a Soldier and, er, uh, “Vivandiere” (seemed like “mean chick who hangs out with the soldiers and would just as likely beat you to death herself”). I thought the two pairs of dances were charming rather than particularly virtuosic, but didn’t mind. Drosselmeier himself was a real wizard type, juggling, making flowers appear out of nowhere, and leaving a trail of glitter wherever he walked. I liked this portrayal quite a bit.

As for the set, there was the seemingly requisite owl, but also a soldier bunny (who came back to haunt us); and a strange giant dollhouse that only appears after the “transformation” scene. The angel makes several appearances after being given to Clara’s family: first in a sort of hallucination, when only Clara sees her full sized in front of the tree; then leading the change into the “giant Christmas tree;” again pulling the sleigh Clara and the Nutcracker use to go to Sugarplum Land; then, at the beginning of act 2, as a group of six dancing in the smoke to greet them upon their arrival. It was a very unique take and one I enjoyed.

Unfortunately the various dances in the suite weren’t all I wanted them to be. The Russian and Chinese dances were great: in these, the trope of having Clara and her soldier dance with the character dancers was perfect, showing off Ricardo Cervera’s kicking skills and Iohna’s grace and charm. The Arabian sequence didn’t have the sensuality I wanted, though, and the Dance of the Sugar Plum fairy was just … flat, not at all the dance extravaganza I was hoping for. Ah well, the Waltz of the Flowers was good, at least, if just a wee bit on the sugary side.

Overall I thought this was a very good Nutcracker, probably the second best of all the ones I’ve seen, and well worth seeing again. Still, I’m hoping next year I can travel for a Nut, and see either Birmingham Royal Ballet or Ballet Scotland, and see something really new and different.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Wednesday, November 16th, 2009. All performances are sold out but you might be able to get day seats.)

Review – The Nutcracker – New York City Ballet (Lincoln Center)

December 29, 2008

Two days before Christmas my husband and I went to Lincoln Center to see City Ballet’s Nutcracker, as choreographed by Balanchine himself. According to the program, Balanchine is the one who brought this ballet back into the modern story ballet repertoire and established it as the Christmas ballet of choice for all dance companies, and before he touched it, it has pretty much been unloved in forgotten*. What I was there to see, though, was not “The Nutcracker, as Envisioned by Mr. B. in the Great Revelation Which He Shared with America,” but rather yet another take on one of my favorite story ballets (most of the versions I see credit Petipa as being the originator of their choreography), one which has millions of different possible combinations of how to handle the music. I’ve seen Kent Stowell’s (at Pacific Northwest Ballet), Matthew Bourne’s, English Ballet’s, Arizona Ballet Theater’s, and a few others I can’t remember right now. I love the way all of these different choreographers and dance companies take something which I sort of think doesn’t have a lot of flexibility (the music stays the same and there’s always the Hoffman story behind it all) and makes completely different ballets – in my mind, at least.

City Ballet’s Nutcracker is most notable, in my mind, for the fact that rather than having Clara turn into an adult before she goes into the fantasy world (where the various Suite dances take place), a child is present throughout in the role – which limits the dancing she can do, as you’ll never get anywhere near the same quality of dancing from an 8 or 10 year old as a 24 year old! (She’s also called “Marie” instead of Clara – how did that happen? – and was performed by Maria Gorokhov.) This also limits the emotional intensity of the role – it’s not about her coming into adulthood, it’s dancing about an 8 year and her toys and fantasies. This is not intrinsically interesting and, I think, diminishes the overall potential of the ballet substantially.

That said, there are things to enjoy about the first act, primarily the costumes and the charm of the young dancers (and some fun scenery as a scrim is used to hide the living room, the first time I’ve ever seen this done – the children stand in front of a door and peer in the keyhole, and the lights go on behind the scrim so we can see what they are looking at). This half of the Nutcracker follows a more or less normal “plot,” with boys and girls (and adults) showing up for a party at Marie’s parent’s house, Marie being given a Nutcracker, and the inevitable fight between the boys with their war toys and Marie (and the girls) which results in the Nutcracker being injured, a “growing Christmas tree” and rat/mice versus Nutcracker battle.

City Ballet’s also has a dance for other toys that Drosselmeier brings with him, in this case a toy soldier (Austin Laurent) and a “Harlequin and Columbine” pair (Erica Pereira and Brittany Pollack). There is also a new character, the nephew of Drosselmeier (played by Joshua Shutkind), who is kind to and solicitous of Marie (and later becomes the spirit animating the Nutcracker when we move on to the dream sequence). Marie falls asleep on a couch and the story transitions into the dream sequence, of which the most notable thing was the multi-headed rat king. Once the Nutcracker has defeated him, his crown is given to Marie, and the set is swept away to a snowy wonderland (no idea why) where Marie and the Nutcracker appear to be royalty of some sort and hordes of ballerinas come out to dance as snowflakes while white bits fall from the ceiling. This last bit was pure theatrical magic, although I was a bit worried that the ballerinas were going to slip on the “snow.”

The second half follows the conceit that the ballet is taking place in the “Land of Sweets,” but all of the traditional names for the solos have been changed. The Arabian (or Peacock in Stowell’s version) dance is now “Coffee,” the Chinese dance is “Tea,” the Russian dance is Candy Canes – where did this come from? I was put off my the peculiar choices here. On the other hand, the freaky woman with the giant skirt I hadn’t seen since Ballet Arizona made an appearance, and I got a huge laugh watching the little kids come out from under her skirts and dance on stage. Thanks to Justin Peck for being this ballet’s panto dame (Mother Ginger, to be accurate) – I really enjoyed his clowning and hamming. We also got a nice Waltz of the Flowers, with the flowers in lovely tiered full skirts in increasing intensity of pink that poofed up gorgeously as they swirled around. Aaah!

Unfortunately, I was rather checked out for Teresa Reichlen and Charles Askegard’s performance in the final duet of “The Sugarplum Fairy and her Cavalier.” But I don’t think it was just me worrying about the bills piling up during this trip; it was the rather uninspired choreography in all of the show leading to its ultimate, well, canned duet. I just wonder what was going on for Balanchine – to me, it felt like he just wasn’t very excited about this show and didn’t want to make it a showcase for outstanding dancing – he just wanted to move the narrative along. I wonder if the music didn’t inspire him enough, or if he was in a hurry, or if there was something else going on – but when I think of the incredible things he was doing at this time and earlier, I feel like he forgot to care about the Nutcracker enough to make it a great dance piece. So, overall, while I found this an entertaining enough evening, I left disappointed. Balanchine was not only not able to make the first act any better than almost anyone else (only Bourne has excelled here), but he didn’t even make the second act brilliant like I think he had the ability to do. Ah, well – at least the music was great, and with luck, I’ll be able to see City Ballet more than once in ten years and get a better choice of shows the next time.

(This review is for a performance that took place at 6 PM on Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008.)

*Note the Wikipedia article on the Nutcracker completely blows this assertion out of the water. What is up with this obsessive worship of Balanchine? Is City Ballet incapable of accepting the fact that things have gone on in ballet during the time he was choreographing that didn’t involve him, that other influences were moving ballet forward at the same time? No wonder I came to the UK being ignorant of Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan!

Great deal on Matthew Bourne’s “Edward Scissorhands” at Sadler’s Wells (various dates)

November 21, 2008

I very much like Matthew Bourne and was quite excited to get to see this show some three or so years ago at Sadler’s Wells (December 2005, to be precise). Now, after seeing four or five more of his shows, I consider this to be the weakest of the lot – a nice story but not particularly interesting dancing. His Nutcracker and Swan Lake retell stories and make them better; this does not.

That said, it’s still fun and a good night out and I’m sure plenty of people would enjoy seeing it. With this in mind, I’m pleased to say that the Metro has a deal for half priced tickets for this show at Sadler’s Wells – 50% off two top riced tickets (£50 or £40) – it advised in the paper that you call the ticket office at 0844 412 4300 and quote the “metro offer,” or do it online and use the promo code pcdmetro when prompted. It’s only good for shows on Sunday, but there’s a 2:30 ashow and a 7:30 show, so lots of opportunities to see it there, and it runs from December 2nd to January 18th (2009).

NOTE: They’ve since published a second offer, good on these dates:
Dec 7, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19, 21, 23, 26, 28, 30, 31, Jan 1 and 2
50% off two top ticket prices (normally £50 and £40) – call 0844 412 4300 and quote “metro offer” or buy off of their website with promo code pcdmetro.

FYI if you’re looking to see it at the New Wimbledon Theater, LastMinute.com has them for £27 on up, and they also have them for sale for the Sadler’s Wells dates as well.

Anyway, enjoy!

Review- Matthew Bourne’s “Dorian Gray” – Sadler’s Wells

September 4, 2008

After months of anticipation, last night I finally got to see Matthew Bourne’s “Dorian Gray.” A conversation before the show went like this:

“I’ve heard it wasn’t received well in Edinburgh.”
“Really? Why?”
“Well, they described it as ‘vacuous’.”
“But it’s all about being vacuous! You’ll have a great time.”

Well, as it turns out, I actually found my evening rather boring. The key problem was that Bourne failed to create any real emotional interaction between the dancers. Did Dorian and his photographer feel a really strong passion for each other? I couldn’t see it. The dancer Dorian picked up, when did they become boyfriends? Was his death a tragedy? Was I supposed to care? I just didn’t, really, not for any of them. I watched the movement and I thought about what was happening and tried to piece together a story (since I don’t know the original), but without that connection between people there wasn’t really enough happening on stage to make me care.

In some ways, I feel this show highlights some of the weaknesses of Bourne as a choreographer, as his reliable helpers were stripped away and he was left to just what he could create from, well, nothing. He went out without the powerful music and proven story (i.e. Carmen) that have helped him make so many truly enjoyable works, and instead had to rely much more on his power as a creator. The music for this show was at times fun; I really enjoyed the live piano performance on the stage at one point and also the drumming. However, it was generally kind of bland, though at several points it was amplified to the point of pain – a very, very bad plan in an indoor DANCE venue. The story itself … well, I think it might be suitable for a dance performance, but for some reason, to me, it just seemed kind of … well, workshoppy, like he hadn’t quite filled in the holes yet to make it a good, continuous narrative. There were fun scenes, to be sure (such as the bit with the business cards being handed to Dorian – and might I add that when he later handed his own to the ballet dancer, I expected a Wayne Macgregor-like telling off, which made me giggle), and some of the dancing was … kinda fun (the man on man seduction scene early on had a fair amount of energy), but … when all was said and done, I got my real joy at the end, hearing Adam and the Ants’ “Prince Charming” being played over Sadler’s Wells’ excellent PA system. It’s short, at least, at two hours including interval, but in its current incarnation I would call this production – with the exception of the mirror covered, skull shaped disco ball in Act 2, which I crave – just not ready for prime time.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008. I watched from the main floor, row K, which I highly recommend.)

Pre-show anticipation – Matthew Bourne’s “Portrait of Dorian Gray” – the excitement is building! – and discount tickets for Peony Pavillion

June 2, 2008

I actually broke down and bought my tickets for Portrait of Dorian Gray today. I’m not going to be able to make it Edinburgh to see it as part of the Fringe (that weekend was already booked), but the September London presentation at Sadler’s Wells is a must. I will now be seeing it on Wednesday, September 3rd, and I’m excited! It’s also now the theatrical event that’s booked furthest ahead on my calendar. Tickets for most of the main floor were already sold, which I think is pretty impressive.

Oddly, this all came about because I was rebooking my tickets for The Peony Pavillion, since a fabulous deal came my way – £15 stalls seats for any show, if you use the promotion code pcdchineseopera . For all of the people who’ve come to this blog looking for info on authentic Chinese cultural presentations, I’d like to encourage you to see this show – it should be top of the line and it’s not the thing I’ve ever had the opportunity to see. Go go go (both of you)!

I also booked tickets for the Sara Baras flamenco show in mid-July (also at Sadlers Wells), and I’m kind of wondering about seeing the English National Ballet’s show at the Royal Festival Hall in early July. It’s got choreography by three people I’ve never heard of before, but it’s also butting right up against my departure date for the York Early Music festival, so I might be too pressed to catch it. Sadly, I’ve never been particularly electrified by any performance I’ve seen by ENB, so this is also making me think I shouldn’t go … but maybe this time things would be … different.

Closer in, I’ve got a pile of tickets accumulating in anticipation of my uncle’s arrival next week – the Marguerite the Musical set, a quartet of Revenger’s Tragedy at a delicious £10 a pop, a trio for Romersholm at the Almeida (I never see discount tickets there – makes me think they must do a better job at picking the right shows for the right length of time, or maybe they’ve done a good job of cultivating a steady audience) … now all I need is to have those silly Powder Her Face tickets jump in my hand for the Sunday June 15th performance, and somehow get a few for the Edith Bagnold’s Chalk Garden at the Donmar on Wednesday June 11th – but it looks sadly like they are sold out and you can forget my doing standing room for anything these days. Perhaps Afterlife at the National will prove an acceptable substitute, but with my luck it won’t even be on that day.

In a final note, I am still beating myself up for not ordering my Jordi Savall tickets for the York Early Music Festival early enough, and am praying to the gods of returned tickets to show me some mercy on this – he’s the whole reason I’m going!

Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker (at Sadler’s Wells)

December 31, 2007

Of all of the holiday shows I’ve been anticipating, the one that was an absolute Must See was Matthew Bourne’s “Nutcracker.” This is because 1) the Nutcracker is a must, at least as long as I can keep seeing new versions of it and 2) I love Matthew Bourne’s choreography. So I arranged a block of four tickets (using both of the two for one vouchers I’d got with my renewed Sadler’s Wells membership) on a date in the middle of the “festive season” when my Canadian visitor would be able to accompany us.

To my surprise (and since I like to be surprised I often don’t read about a show at all beforehand), Bourne had completely reset the first half of the ballet. Instead of a party in which a bunch of spoiled children are given gifts and some dull adults dance insipidly while we all wait for The Suite Spot, Bourne set the show in an orphanage, in which the children are abused by the headmaster and headmistress and forced to dance for potential donors (who have presents for the children). The fights over the toys were much more story-driven, and while there was no Uncle Drossmeier, I didn’t find myself missing him at all as the children got into a huge fight and took the orphanage over from their captors – er, “caretakers.” It was great! It was exciting! And the redhaired “Nutcracker” doll looked JUST like a Charlie McCarthy ventriloquists dummy and was creepy as hell, so when he came to life, it was scary. Was he going to eat Clara? Was he going to beat up the kids in the orphanage? Anything seemed possible because we had gone so very far off script. The scene ended with what I think of as the snowflake dance (I can’t remember what it’s called right now), set as ice skating on a lake, with all of the orphanage residents recast as white clad skaters – and Clara fighting to get her nutcracker man back from a seductive other girl (the Carmen of CarMan, which I saw back in August).

Act 2 was also very much re-set, although it did have the series of themed dances for the “suites” – only there were only Spaniards left, no Russians or “Persians.” Instead we had a seductive (creepy) Yoga instructor, a motorcyle gang (the Russian dance),  and a bunch of fluff headed, high-heeled chorines bouncing around and going to a party together. They all wound up in Sweetie land, which had a Busby Berkeley worth giant cake in the background, covered with all of the dancers, who proceeded to lick the cake and each other throughout the rest of the show. (This was really just too bizarre but I loved it, even though I had to keep watching the dancers hands and mouths to see what they were up to – it’s not the kind of thing I’m normally watching for during a ballet!) I was completely caught up in all of the sparkly costumes and rather hypnotic movement – yeah, Clara Nutcracker other characters, whatever, I was having a good time.

And the end, well, yes, there was an end,  and it was great fun, and really, why haven’t you gone to see it already? I can easily imagine watching this again and it really just supports my entire love for Matthew Bourne. He supports my belief – perhaps he’s even created the belief – that these works of danceable music are every bit telling stories that are just as trancendant as any Shakespearean tale, and they can easily handle being reworked and updated and shuffled around and still tell a compelling, exciting, tale. The great thing about Bourne is that he also makes them very watchable and relevant. It’s a shame, really, the Ballet Boyz (and Chris Wheeldon) have recognized that ballet is losing its audience and must be updated – but they’re not managing to do it in a way that makes it relevant to people who don’t have ballet experience. Bourne absolutely makes great dance that really connects to people, right in the gut, with emotions that people can relate to, and all while following (though not slavishly) the story of these great ballets. I do really hope that ballet can manage to not become completely culturally irrelevant over my lifetime but if it does start to grow its audience again, it will be because of Matthew Bourne and not because of people who are doing beautiful, sterile choreography to Phillip Glass.

(This post is for a performance that took place Friday, December 29th.)

Review – Bolshoi Ballet’s La Bayadere and Le Corsaire, London Coliseum – Matthew Bourne’s CarMan, Sadler’s Wells –

August 4, 2007

Four shows in four days means I didn’t have a lot of time to write these up, but here’s what I did make it away with.

La Bayadere, which in English means “The Rubber Snake,” is set in a fantasy version of India or Burma or some such, and featured SEXXY MEN COVERED IN GOLD PAINT AND A LOIN CLOTH. Well, there was only one man primarily dressed in gold paint, but there were lots of loin cloths and not much else on the other dancers. And then there were the female temple dancers. Hot damn. I go to ballet because dancers are sexy. I mean, that’s not all it, but … WOW. Er, plot: boy meets priestess, boy breaks religious taboo, boy attempts to recreate Orpheus. (I thought La Bayadere was called “Dances in Jammie Pants” in English, but J corrected me.) The end scene is super cool, set in the Land of the Shades, one of those classics of 19th century ballet, with all of the girls in white skirts. Very cool.

CarMan: Boy meets girl, boy meets boy2, there is sexin’, then someone winds up in jail, and someone winds up dead. There were honest to God naked man willy on stage for this one, and apparently from the balcony seats there are PILES of naked boys during the shower scene. And there was a group sex scene, with, um, rude things happening. And there was a fair amount of boy on boy action. Count on Matthew Bourne to take the stick out of ballet’s collective butt and find something else to put there instead. I suspect this was a good show but I was feeling too crap to really enjoy it.

Le Corsaire (or “The Pirate Ballet”): Boy meets girl, dad sells girl to the highest bidder, boy improves girl’s life by being shipwrecked with her on a desert island. There are swordfights (including one on a boat), there are dancing flowers (not sure why a pasha would have a fetish for ballet and ballerinas, but this one did). Highly recommended for its Busby Berkely-like qualities, and awesome shipwreck, and horribly messy interpretation of what “eastern” cultures are like.

(Le Corsaire was seen July 31, 2007. CarMan was seen August 2, 2007. La Bayadere was seen August 3rd, 2007. The fourth show was The Drowsy Chaperone, which should get its own post as I loved it to bits.)

Mini-review – Matthew Bourne’s “Swan Lake” – Sadler’s Wells

December 21, 2006

I had a great night at Sadler’s Wells with Jess, Libby, Caroline, and Wechlser watching handsome shirtless men dance around stage with leather pants on. Er, I mean, with feather pants on, at least in acts one and three, as this was Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake. Something about the production seemed to leave us all very … energized. Not sure how to put it really, but I do think “festive” captures it. Talk about getting in the spirit of the season! What is it about watching actors die on stage that could possibly be so cheering? At any rate, I end the day in a very good mood, which I must frankly admit has a LOT to do with it being the start of my Christmas vacation. No work until January 2nd … WOOOO!

(This review is for a performance that took place on December 20th, 2006. It was migrated from another blog.)