Swan Lake is the most famous and beloved ballet in the world... there was a lot of resistance and concern when in 1995 Matthew Bourne presented his version - now famous for it's all-male flock of swans the production is still packing out theatres almost twenty years on.
"It's not how I remember Swan Lake!" I overheard someone say at the interval, there may not be a tutu in sight but this is very much the story you know and love, it just happens to someone else. Here, a young prince is awakened by a nightmare of a swan. He has a girlfriend, not the princess type, (think Legally Blonde) who after embarrassing the family is paid to leave. After a night of drinking, the prince contemplates suicide at the thought of never finding affection but he is stopped by the sight of swans in the lake of a public park. Initially rejected by the all-male flock, the prince is taken into the wings of the lead swan - finally realising what his heart had always desired.
Coventry-born Andrew Monaghan shines as the prince, as a previous Junior and Mid Associate with the Birmingham Royal Ballet he now finds himself dancing the lead on home turf. A warm reception is always a given at Birmingham Hippodrome but Monaghan earned every aspect of it. Quite obviously exhausted by the bows he sustains charm having given every effort throughout the prince's troubled journey. Carrie Johnson delights as The Girlfriend, a comic role underneath which is a saddened soul. Johnson steals all attention with a beautiful, beaming smile - a character you can't help but love and feel great sympathy for.
Chris Trenfield has incredible strength and is entirely commanding of the stage as the lead swan and also as The Stranger. Trenfield delivers intense passion - combining perfectly with Monaghan's truthful lust, there is a most definite and inspiring partnership between the two men. The all-male flock are far from the dainty tutu-clad, pointe shoe'd ballerinas but are full of attack as a feisty and muscular group who are utterly mesmerising.
This is no ordinary night at the ballet... referred to by Bourne himself as more contemporary dance theatre than ballet, this opens up to a whole new audience. This modern telling will familiarise those who may feel distanced from a traditional ballet. Despite it's age, Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake remains fresh and it's themes couldn't be any less relevant today. Whilst being humorous and exciting this beautiful production is daring and tragic. This cannot be missed. For tickets call 0844 338 5000 or click here.
Audiences attending the performance on 13th February 2014 will be treated to a special performance prior to the curtain up. In partnership with Matthew Bourne and Re:Bourne, the charitable arm of his dance company New Adventures, the Hippodrome's curtain-raiser fives local 16-18 year old students the exhilarating experience of working alongside professional dancers and choreographers. Over the past few months, students from Stratford Upon Avon College, Walsall College and Birmingham Ormiston Academy have been working closely with Dominic North, one of Matthew Bourne's principal dancers, and Claire Palethorpe, a freelance dance practitioner on creating the curtain-raiser. The five minute performance, part of Hippodrome Plus is inspired by Swan Lake will see 19 young men perform on the Birmingham Hippodrome main stage to nearly 1800 people.
ALSO BOOKING at Birmingham Hippodrome: Matthew Bourne's New Adventures and Re:Bourne present Lord Of The Flies, Wed 14 - Sat 17 May 2014 (Book online here). Part of the International Dance Festival Birmingham, Lord Of The Flies brings together professional dancers with young people from the West Midlands.
Cast List: Michael Barnes, Kerry Biggin, Stephanie Billers. Cordelia Braithwaite, Madelaine Brennan, Tom Broderick, Otis-Cameron Carr, Nicole Cato, Reece Hayden Causton, Emma Chadwick, Harry Clark, Tom Clark, Tom Cummings, Saranne Curtin, Chris Agius Darmanin, Iván Delgado Del Río, Freya Field, Robin Gladwin, Chantelle Gotobed, Glenn Graham, Tim Hodges, P J Hurst, Luke Jackson, Carrie Johnson, Jack Jones, Graham Kotowich, Katrina Lyndon, Jamie-Emma McDonald, Andy Macleman, Anjali Mehra, Edd Mitton, Andrew Monaghan, Liam Mower, Kyle Murray, Jonathan Ollivier, Ashley-Jordan Packer, Ashley Shaw, Paul Smethurst, Chris Trenfield, Simon Williams.