REVIEW: Matthew Bourne’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, January 2013

 

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty is at Milton Keynes Theatre this week and the innovative choreographer has added some bite to the ballet classic.

Matthew Bourne made his name with bold re-imaginings of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker (his was set in an orphanage and titled Nutcracker!) and Swan Lake (complete with a mesmerising ensemble of male swans). Seventeen years after the premiere of Swan Lake, Bourne’s company, New Adventures, is completing the Tchaikovsky trilogy with Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty, a gothic interpretation of the Charles Perrault fairytale.

Storytellers and choreographers have adapted the potent plot before. Versions of the story explore the themes of good versus evil, the beauty of youth and transformation, the power of evil curses and the all-pervading idea of love conquering all. Walt Disney’s 1959 film sharpened the original narrative to create more of an ongoing love story. Somewhat more controversially, in 1985, avant-garde Swedish choreographer Mats Ek re-imagined Aurora as a drug addict, with a syringe causing her pricked finger.

In Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty, we still encounter the poisoned rose thorn that audiences expect — but the love story turns supernatural as vampires feature in the scenario.

 

Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty.

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REVIEW: ‘Cinderella’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, December 2012

 

I HAD A BALL AT CINDERELLA AND YOU WILL TOO!

It just wouldn’t be Christmas without some panto magic and Cinderella at Milton Keynes Theatre pulls out all the stops to cast its spell over audiences.

I was delighted to attend press night for the annual pantomime at the new city’s incredibly popular theatre — particularly after having interviewed leading lady Anna Williamson (Cinderella) and the multi-talented Kev Orkian (Buttons) a couple of weeks ago.

 

Cinderella programme

 

On arrival at the theatre, I was pleased to see audience members of all ages (from the very young to those in the ‘grannies and granddads’ age bracket) milling around, enthusiastically awaiting the beginning of an evening of festive sparkle. Carol singers from Arts1 School of Performance filled the steps of the theatre, helping to set the mood and providing distraction from the bitterly cold weather outside.

Meanwhile, excited youngsters queued up to bag their very own “bundle” of glowing goodies (complete with fairy wings and magic wand in the “Cinderella Bundle”, and different shaped light-up treats and magic wand in the “Buttons’ Bundle” and “Baron’s Bundle”, respectively).

Taking a seat in the auditorium, Christmas songs were playing to get everyone in the mood and the safety curtain was lifted up to reveal a stunning purple and pink themed Cinderella backdrop, showcasing lit up candelabras and swirls and flowers.

From the off, traditional good cheer fills the stage as the well-loved fairytale is brought to life in Eric Potts’ sharply written take on a classic story.
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REVIEW: ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, October 2012

 

The Phantom of the Opera is here in the new city this week, filling the auditorium of Milton Keynes Theatre with a chilling presence!

The West-End blockbuster is now into its 26th year and Cameron Mackintosh’s new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s phenomenal musical was especially created for the 25th anniversary national tour.

As I had hoped, last night’s performance was spine-tingling. Indeed, from the moment the glittering chandelier was unveiled just above our heads, the audience knew that a spectacular evening of entertainment lay ahead.

 

The Phantom of the Opera.

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REVIEW: English National Ballet’s ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, October 2012

 

Once upon a time, English National Ballet visited Milton Keynes Theatre to dance The Sleeping Beauty

The Sleeping Beauty was the very first ballet I was taken to see at a theatre as a child and it remains a favourite of mine.

World-famous ballerina Tamara Rojo’s first outing as both Artistic Director of, and principal ballerina with, English National Ballet saw her take to the stage at Milton Keynes Theatre last week as Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty.

A narrative ballet, bringing to life the world’s favourite fairytale, The Sleeping Beauty is often the standard by which classical ballet companies are judged. This is because it is one of the biggest and most difficult ballets to stage, showcasing pure, unadulterated dance — heavenly for lovers of classical productions.

 

Tamara Rojo, Yonah Acosta and Shiori Kase in a promotional photograph for English National Ballet's production of The Sleeping Beauty

 

Tamara herself acknowledges the importance of such opulent productions and the commendable commitment that English National Ballet shows in meeting touring obligations. In an interview before the start of English National Ballet’s latest tour, she told me: “Classical ballet is a big and important part of the repertoire for a ballet company as it is traditional and it is what draws new audiences to the ballet.”

On opening night, Tamara would have been all too aware of the judgements being made of her — as both newly acquired chief ballerina (returning to the company where she first flourished as a principal) and top boss. What pressure she must have felt to dance as a carefree sixteen-year-old princess while carrying with her the challenge of ensuring the Company survives as a business in a climate of cuts and dancing with her very own employees!

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INTERVIEW with Tamara Rojo, English National Ballet, October 2012

 

Tamara Rojo tells Georgina Butler all about her new job, The Sleeping Beauty and what she loves to do when she isn’t dancing…

 

An enchanting fairytale comes to Milton Keynes Theatre this month when English National Ballet, led by Tamara Rojo, brings a sumptuous production of The Sleeping Beauty to the city.

This classical ballet company comprises 67 dancers and travels the country, bringing ballet to the masses. Ahead of the run at Milton Keynes Theatre, I was lucky enough to catch up with the talented Tamara Rojo — former principal with The Royal Ballet and new Artistic Director of English National Ballet — to learn more about her new job and what audiences have to look forward to.

Tamara Rojo is a Spanish prima ballerina, known for her strong dramatic sense, expressive musicality and powerful technique. Announced as English National Ballet’s new Artistic Director back in April, this autumn she formally takes on the top management position – becoming the driving force behind the company and its creative vision. Speaking to her, it is clear she possesses passion, brains and ambition, coupled with the grace and enduring ability to interpret any role that she demonstrates on stage.

 

Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director of English National Ballet, with dancers Yonah Acosta and Shiori Kase (photo by Annabel Moeller).

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