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The Cadillac Palace Theater
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Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake - Chicago Premiere

by Susan Weinrebe
February 21, 2006
The Cadillac Palace Theater
151 West Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60602
312.902.1400

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake - Chicago Premiere


February 21 to 26, 2006

Broadway In Chicago
At
The Cadillac Palace Theater
151 West Randolph Street
Chicago, Illinois 60602
312.902.1400
Susan Weinrebe
February 21, 2006

Director and Choreographer: Matthew Bourne
Set and Costume Designer: Lez Brotherston
Lighting Designer: Rick Fisher
Musical Associate: Rowland Lee
Restaged by Scott Ambler, Etta Murfitt, Vicky Evans
Musical Director/Conductor: Earl Stafford
Company Manager: Doug Kinsley
Production Stage Manager: Sabrina Mulac
Music Coordinator: Sam Lutfiyya
Music Recorded by THE SWAN LAKE ORCHESTRA at Air Studios, London, 2004
Conductor: Brett Morris
Publicity: Ted Boles
Dancers:
The Swan/Stranger: José Tirado/Alan Vincent
The Prince: Neil Penlington/Simon Wakefield
The Queen: Saranne Curtin/OxanaPanchenko/Nina Goldman
The Girlfriend: Leigh Daniels/Agnes Vandrepote
The Private Secretary: Alan Mosley/Peter Furness
The Ensemble: Will Aitchison, Ashley Bain, Rain De Rye Barrett, Emma Bown, Cody Choi, Leigh Daniels, Lauriane Delteil, Ben Dixon, Pia Driver, Aaron Francis, Peter Furness, Nina Goldman, Stuart Goodwin, Glenn Graham, Rebecca Jackson, Hendrick January, Simon Karaiskos, Daisy May Kemp, Helen Moore, Mbuelelo Ndabeni, Dominic North, Gavin Persand, Sam Plant, Edwin Ray, Victoria Sahakian Rogers, Paul James Rooney, Paul Smethurst, Toby Smith, Damien Stirk, Irad Timberlake, Agnes Vandrepote, Chloe Wilkinson
A pair of glowering eyes, "See it or live to regret it!" set the menacing tone in ads for Matthew Bourne's incarnation of the classic ballet, Swan Lake, and they weren't kidding!
The swans who danced last night were tough, and threatening. Male, and with more testosterone than they needed, their corps was more like a posse of young guys up to trouble than vapidly gliding birds. They looked like they carried concealed weapons! The leader of the swans, by far the largest and most solid bodied of the dancers, exuded a compelling magnetism, important in all leaders apparently, even fowl.
The plot of Bourne's Swan Lake picks the bones of the original story, leaving a reworked tale unbound by any specific time in history or geographical place. A sad prince who longs for affection is rejected by his emotionally absent mother, the Queen.
The Prince so despairs of being anything more than a state figurehead, that he intends to drown himself. At the last moment, a vision stops him. It is the Swan.
They meet again at a court dance, but as in the Odette/Odile dual role, a beguiling Stranger seductively partners all the ladies of the court, dancing passionately and creating a frisson of sexual danger. The Queen, especially seems to relish the roughness of this uninvited guest who brandishes a riding crop and shares his cigarette with her in a cross-species mating dance.
What follows is jealousy, intrigue, nightmare, battle, death, and redemption. In a thrilling love/death scene, the Prince's struggle is resolved and he and his Swan are at last united.
Somewhat like the Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg's production of Anna Karenina, Bourne gives his dancers a platform to exercise their acting abilities as the narrative and sub-text of his creation emphasize the story line. This particularly suits the talents of the performers who vary in the polish of their technique.
Equally important as a medium for the message, are grand props underscoring the psychological weakness and small presence of the Prince.
Clearly, the packed audience adored the production, this despite some slow spots when we all waited for the next thing to happen. Still, the Queen, Oxana Panchenko, was as evocative a dancer as one could wish to see on any dance stage. She combined the qualities of a prima ballerina with the nuances required to demonstrate her complex characterization. The Prince, assisted by the symbolically oversized props of bed and crown emblem, truly was a little boy lost. Finally, the Swan, Alan Vincent, virile and commanding in the part of the mysterious and dangerous stranger, dominated the stage.
One quality of any great piece of theater or dance is that it can retain its integrity when innovators put their own stamps of creativity on new productions. Matthew Bourne, not only does this, he breaks stereotypes and gives us a fresh vision of Swan Lake.

Swan Lake
Photo courtesy of Bill Cooper



Swan Lake
Photo courtesy of Bill Cooper



Swan Lake
Photo courtesy of Bill Cooper

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