- George Piper Dances – Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, 5th February 2002
In one of their earliest go-it-alone shows, the George Piper Dances (who eventually became the name by which they were always much better known as – the Balletboyz) were masterminded by Billy Trevitt and Michael Nunn. For this first tour they were accompanied by Matthew Hart, Ludy Dodd, Christopher Marney and Oxana Panchenko, and they performed William Forsythe’s Steptext (which was always one of their signature dances), Charles Linehan’s Truly Great Thing, Lightfoot/Leon’s Sigue and Russell Maliphant’s Critical Mass. We knew they were going to make it big!
- Sunset Boulevard – Opera House, Blackpool, 11th February 2002
We went up to Blackpool for Valentine’s weekend, old romantics that we are, and there took in the touring production of Sunset Boulevard, that we had missed in the West End. This is a show that really split us, as I rather enjoyed it, but Mrs C found it awful! Norma Desmond was played by Faith Brown and she was impressive; Joe Gillis was played by Earl Carpenter. It rained a lot; but the Opera House was an attractive theatre.
- Rambert Dance Company Spring Tour – Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, 9th March 2002
The programme for this Spring tour was an unfamiliar selection. First came Richard Alston’s Unrest, danced to music by Arvo Part; then Siobhan Davies’ Sounding to music by Scelsi. After that came Symphony of Psalms choreographed by Jiri Kylian, and the last piece was Christopher Bruce’s Grinning in your Face, to the accompaniment of music by Martin Simpson. I have to confess to not having too many memories of this particular performance.
- Bedroom Farce – Aldwych Theatre, London, 20th April 2002
I don’t usually mention shows I’ve seen before in these blogs, but the combination of Richard Briers and June Whitfield as Ernest and Delia was just too great to ignore. A brilliant production of Ayckbourn’s 70s classic.
- Nederlands Dans Theater 2 – Milton Keynes Theatre, 18th June 2002
Another trip to see NDT2, this time with a terrific programme of Jiri Kylian’s Indigo Rose, Paul Lightfoot’s Sad Case and Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16. A terrific selection of dances from an amazing company.
- My Fair Lady – Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London, 30th July 2002
On a blisteringly hot summer night, with a packed audience and a faulty air conditioning system, the producers of My Fair Lady gave us all branded fans to keep us cool during the show! This was a superb and very successful production, starring Alex Jennings as Henry Higgins, Joanna Riding as Eliza, and Dennis Waterman as Doolittle. This was the production that famously originally had Martine McCutcheon in the lead role – on very rare occasions. Great show!
- Art – Whitehall Theatre, London, 10th August 2002
Yasmine Reza’s tremendously successful play had already been running for five years when we finally got to see it, on one of its regular cast changes. Our cast featured Ben Cross as Marc, Alex Ferns as Serge (although we saw his understudy, Michael Gyngell) and Sanjeev Bhaskar as Yvan. Extremely good – but then it wouldn’t have lasted that long if it wasn’t!
- The Play What I Wrote – Milton Keynes Theatre, 3rd October 2002
Hamish McColl and Sean Foley’s loving homage to Morecambe and Wise was every bit as good as everyone had said it was. At the time, McColl and Foley were a double act called The Right Size, and this particular departure into theatre was probably the most successful thing they ever did. For this week in Milton Keynes they were joined by special guest Toby Jones.
- Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo – Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, 20th November 2002
Always keen to see the Trocks whenever they toured, the production was so successful that the theatre ran out of programmes. So all I have to remind me of this particular performance is a photocopied running order and cast. We started with Swan Lake (of course), then aften an interval, it was whatever the Pas de Deux of the night was, then La Vivandiere, plus The Dying Swan, and then finally, Raymonda’s Wedding. I do remember finishing off our drinks in the theatre bar after the show (the bar at the Wycombe Swan always welcomed you to linger again with a fresh drink) when a number of the cast came in for a quick drink and we all gave them a huge round of applause in the bar.
- Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – London Palladium, 10th December 2002
For Mrs C’s birthday treat we saw the new musical version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Palladium, and it was a terrific show. Michael Ball was Caractacus Potts, Anton Rodgers his father, Emma Williams was Truly Scrumptious, and the Baron and Baroness were the formidable coupling of Brian Blessed and Nichola McAuliffe. Peter Polycarpou was the Child Catcher and Edward Petherbridge the Toymaker. I don’t know if this was a performance that featured one of my favourite actors Harry Francis in the role of young Jeremy Potts – it might have been! A superb production throughout.