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Matthew Bourne's Edward Scissorhands Carves Two-Week Run at Brooklyn Academy of Music

by Merilyn Jackson
March 14, 2007
Brooklyn Academy of Music
30 Lafayette Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(718) 636-4111
Performances on March 14-16, various times
A story ballet with contemporary dance, Matthew Bourne's Scissorhands winsomely pantomimes Tim Burton's 1990 movie with Caroline Thompson's screenplay. Whether or not you saw the movie and became a Scissorhands fan, you'll find this satire on a slice of American hypocrisy and religiosity faithful to its original for the most part, and a terrific vehicle for dance. It's been touring the U.S. since January and I saw it in Philadelphia.

A London choreographer and shameless showman, Bourne is a fiercely determined dancemaker who draws on his love of movie musicals to popularize dance. He's created a revamped Carmen for non-opera lovers he called Car Man, and has a Cinderella and Nutcracker on the boards as well. His dance company, Adventures in Motion Pictures, is the only for-profit dance company in the U.K. Its most famous and still continuously touring show is his male Swan Lake. His bare-chested, menacing Cobs, as male swans are called, dance a thrilling, suspenseful and gender-inverted ballet antithetic to the romantic perils of the black/white swans, Odile and Odette.

Like much of Jerome Robbins' work, Bourne's choreography is based in classical ballet but veers into a vernacular vocabulary that makes even the most neophyte dance viewer relax in his seat. In Scissorhands, as in his Swan Lake, social dance appears in set pieces, restructured, but still recognizable and enjoyable. And in at least one large group section, I would like to think he is paying homage to Robbins' West Side Story dance/fight between the Sharks and the Jets, rather than ripping it off.

Edward's character, created in the mad scientist mode, falls somewhere between Frankenstein and Pinocchio. Edward's fate is not so bad as Frankenstein's, but not so good as Pinocchio's. Edward's creator dies before he can fashion hands more suitable than the Swiss Army knife-style shears dangling sharply from his wrists. This makes for his hapless adventures in suburbia when Peg Boggs folds him into her family. Bourne cast Sam Archer (alternating with Richard Winsor) in Edward's role, Etta Murfitt in Boggs' and Michela Meazza in the Joyce Monroe-sexpot role, which she carries off with Cyd Charisse-style exuberance.

While the show bogs down a little in places, Bourne inserts enough wonderment to keep you in your seat. High points for me: The Ice Dance section where Edward fashions an ice goddess in the image of his romantic lead, Kim Boggs (Kerry Biggin alternating with Hannah Vassallo;) the Topiary Garden charmingly peopled with come-to-life topiaries freshly clipped by Edward and a dance in which the cheerleaders appear to have Pom-Poms for hands, making Edward's situation a bit less geeky.

Terry Davies arranges some of Danny Elfman's original film themes woven into and around his music and Lez Brotherston, who also designed his Swan Lake costumes created the early sixties American groovy costumes and the darling, lopsided sets. Take the kid in you or preteens to this poignantly and lovingly realized show.
Edward Scissorhands

Edward Scissorhands

Photo © & courtesy of Bill Cooper


Edward Scissorhands

Edward Scissorhands

Photo © & courtesy of Bill Cooper


Edward Scissorhands

Edward Scissorhands

Photo © & courtesy of Bill Cooper

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