Six dance, four theatre
- The Immortals – Birmingham Royal Ballet at the Birmingham Hippodrome, 27th September 2003
Our first visit to see the Birmingham Royal Ballet in their base at the Birmingham Hippodrome, The Immortals consisted of three separate ballets on that godlike theme. First was Apollo, choreography by Balanchine to music by Stravinsky; then came The Sons of Horus, music by Peter McGowan and choreography by BRB’s very own David Bintley; then finally Krishna, set to music by Hariprasad Chaurasia and choreography by Nahid Siddiqui. The company included Principals Robert Parker and Nao Sakuma, Asta Bazeviciute and Molly Smolen, Chi Cao and Iain Mackay, Tiit Helimets and Dominic Antonucci. A wonderful, lavish production on a grand scale.
- The Graduate – Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, 3rd October 2003
The Cambridge Arts Theatre touring production of Terry Johnson’s adaptation of the famous Dustin Hoffman film starred Glynis Barber as the seductive Mrs Robinson and Andrés Williams as the easily seduced Benjamin Braddock. I remember enjoying it, but also thinking that it could have had more oomph; I confess I can’t remember why.
- Giselle – Birmingham Royal Ballet at the Birmingham Hippodrome, 4th October 2003
Back at the Birmingham Royal Ballet for another show with the BRB, this time the full length ballet Giselle, based on Petipa’s original choreography and with extra choreography by David Bintley. We took our goddaughter, her brother, her mother and her grandmother – and we all found it delightful. Asta Bazeviciute was Giselle, Tiit Helimets was Albrecht, Marion Tait Berthe and Molly Smolen Queen of the Wilis. Every bit as gorgeous as you would imagine.
- Richard Alston Dance Company – Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, 7th October 2003
Our annual trip to see Richard Alston’s company had three new dances for us – Grey Allegro, to music by Scarlatti and choreographed by Martin Lawrance; Slow Airs Almost All, set to Mozart, and Overdrive, with music by Terry Riley. The amazing Jonathan Goddard had joined the company and danced in all three pieces, favourite dancers Francesca Romo and Luke Baio also performed as did senior dancer Martin Lawrance. Fantastic as always.
- George Balanchine Programme – Ballet de l’Opera National de Paris at the Palais Garnier, Paris, 13th October 2003
As was becoming a tradition, any trip to Paris had to include a visit to the Palais Garnier to see the amazing Paris National Ballet. This was a programme of three works choreographed by George Balanchine – Symphonie en ut, with music by Bizet, Le fils prodigue, set to Prokofiev, and Les quatre tempéraments with music by Hindemith. Always the most spectacular privilege to attend such a show.
- Rambert Dance Company Autumn Tour – Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, 31st October 2003
Passing over the very enjoyable Audience with John Sergeant at the Wycombe Swan, where the great TV journo talked about the entertaining scrapes of his career, our next show was to see Rambert for their Autumn Tour. We started with one of Glenn Wilkinson’s Six Pack solo dances – to Ooh Be Do, then came Karole Armitage’s Living Toys. After the first interval came another Six Pack dance – to Zala, then Wayne McGregor’s PreSentient. After a second interval the show finished with Javier de Frutos’ Elsa Canasta. The fantastic company included Rafael Bonachela, Hope Muir, Glenn Wilkinson, Simon Cooper, Paul Liburd, Clemmie Sveass and Conor O’Brien.
- Beauty and the Beast – Birmingham Royal Ballet at the Birmingham Hippodrome, 6th December 2003
David Bintley’s vision of Beauty and the Beast, set to music by Glenn Buhr, was a full-scale full-length ballet of epic proportions. Belle was danced by Azta Bazeviciute and the Beast by Robert Parker. As always it was grand, beautiful and delightfully classical.
- Anything Goes – Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London, 31st December 2003
We took the Dowager Mrs C with us to see Anything Goes as a Christmas/New Year treat; it was a terrific show, directed by Trevor Nunn and choreographed by Stephen Mear. The excellent cast starred John Barrowman and Sally Ann Triplett, with Barrie Ingham, Martin Marquez and Susan Tracy for good measure. Way down the cast list playing “A sailor with wanderlust” was Dancing on Ice’s Jason Gardiner.
- A Chorus Line – Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, 3rd January 2004
I don’t normally include shows I’ve seen before in these memory blog posts, but this production of A Chorus Line was very different from the majority I’ve seen before. Karen Bruce provided brand new choreography for the show, which, for a Chorus Line purist like myself, was sacrilege. With no input from any of the original team (sometimes you would find that Bob Avian or Baayork Lee had lent a hand) it was unrecognisable apart from having the same songs and script. They even included an interval between Hello Twelve… and Dance Ten Looks Three. A cast of amazing talent though, with Josefina Gabrielle as Cassie, Michael Jibson as Bobby, Lara Pulver as Bebe and Hayley Tamaddon as Diana. Casualty’s Jason Durr played Zach. It was well done – but it wasn’t A Chorus Line.
- Taboo – Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, 22nd January 2004
Billed as The Boy George Musical, this had been a big success in London, but we missed it so were happy to catch it on tour. The excellent cast included Stephen Ashfield as Boy George and Neighbours’ Mark Little as Leigh Bowery. Dynamic and fun, a very engrossing and entertaining show.