All but one of these were at the Wycombe Swan!
- Ennio Marchetto – Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, 12th February 1999
A hilarious show in the company of this brilliant impersonator who uses unfolding paper costumes to reveal his characters. Sadly mis-booked by the theatre, in that it was clearly designed to be one part of a double bill, so that when we were all packing up to go home, barely forty minutes after we’d sat down, front of house were visibly embarrassed at how short-changed we’d been! Nevertheless, hugely funny and entertaining.
- The Prisoner of Second Avenue – Oxford Playhouse, 15th February 1999
Neil Simon’s 1971 play, that was made into a hit film four years later, toured with the terrific casting of Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason, Neil Simon exponents par excellence. I remember feeling that the story itself was quite dated and not terribly interesting, but it was great to see such a distinguished cast doing it superbly.
- Twisted – Motionhouse Dance Company at the Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, February 1999
An exhilarating return of this exciting contemporary dance company to Wycombe’s Swan Dance season. From the programme: “An airborne toxic event has occurred – “something” has been released into the atmosphere. What is more dangerous – the unknown substance or the mystery that surrounds it? News spreads like wildfire – hype begets rumour which creates panic. Fortunately help is at hand, or is it? As events become distorted so people and things become twisted.” In retrospect, incredibly prescient!
- Mark Baldwin Dance Company – Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, 26th February 1999
Mark Baldwin’s own dance company, which he ran from 1993 until he became Artistic Director of Rambert, always starred Baldwin’s own elegant and attractive choreography. This programme featured Pulcinella Disperato, Darkness Visible, M-Piece, and Song of the Nightingale. The small company were Shelley Baker, Bart de Block, Richard Court, Martin Lindinger and Mark Baldwin himself.
- The New Rocky Horror Show – Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, 1st March 1999
I’m not entirely sure what was new about this; I don’t think the show itself had changed, must just have been a new production. It’s a shame that I don’t remember much about Jason Donovan’s performance as Frank N Furter, but I do remember that Nicholas Parsons was absolutely brilliant as the Narrator. The cast also featured Laurie Brett, better known as Eastenders’ Jane Beale. Rocky Horror is often a bit… messy, I reckon, and this was no exception!
- Dance Bites – Royal Ballet at the Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, 11th March 1999
The last ever Dance Bites tour featured four ballets of the highest quality, and with a company that included Darcey Bussell and Deborah Bull. First up was Love’s Fool, to music by Karl Jenkins, and choreographed by William Tuckitt. Next was Walk and Talk, choreographed by Ashley Page, followed by Monotones with music by Erik Satie, and choreographed by Frederick Ashton. The final piece was Towards Poetry, music by Julian Anderson and choreography by Mark Baldwin. We were always very appreciative of the Royal Ballet coming out to perform on our patch!
- The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) – The Reduced Shakespeare Company at the Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, 18th March 1999
Even though the original production was still running in London, this touring production of the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s hilarious adaptation of the works of William Shakespeare called at the Wycombe Swan for a couple of nights of sheer comedy perfection. The brilliant cast were Rick Bland, Christian Malcolm, Michael O’Connor and John Schwab. We still quote lines from this today.
- The Return of Don Juan – Arc Dance Company at the Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, 23rd March 1999
It’s still extraordinary to think that we bought front stalls to see this show, with principal dancer Irek Mukhamedov, for a mere £6.25 each! Kim Brandstrup’s comic ballet had premiered earlier that month at Sadlers Wells, and the lavish production virtually bankrupted Brandstrup’s Arc Company. Full of excitement and showing-off, a really fun and virtuoso night of dance!
- Earth and Sky – Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, 10th April 1999
Douglas Post’s thriller starred Sam Janus (before she became Samantha Womack) and Joe McGann and had originated at the now defunct Nuffield Theatre Southampton. Mr Post’s website gives a fascinating account of what this play is about. If only I could remember one thing about it. But alas I can’t.
- Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo – Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, 26th April 1999
Our second ever visit to see the Trocks featured a classic programme beginning with Swan Lake Act II, then (as always) a mystery pas de deux to be announced on the night, Go for Barocco (which is always hilarious), The Dying Swan, executed by Comrade Ida Nevasayneva as it nearly always was when she was in town, and finally Raymonda’s Wedding. It’s a sign of the times that the programme includes the statement “Les Trockadero would like to dedicate this performance to the memory of all Trocks who have died of AIDS”. It was an always present threat. As always, an evening of blistering joy.