Showing posts with label Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

EXCLUSIVE JDCMB SPECIAL OFFER: Wimbledon tickets!

The Wimbledon International Music Festival, which runs 14 to 29 November, is kindly offering readers of JDCMB tickets at a special reduced price for two events in this year's fabulous programme. This, happily, is my local international music festival and it is quite something to be able to hear a collection of world-class artists just a short bus ride away. 

I've also been fortunate that the festival (in 2012) staged my play A Walk through the End of Time starring Dame Harriet Walter and Henry Goodman, then commissioned another play from me - Sins of the Fathers, which was a slightly off-the-wall take on Wagner, Liszt and Cosima. Last year Viv McLean and I gave a matinee of the Alicia's Gift concert. 

This year it's over to you for these two very special treats. JDCMB readers can get £10 off the two top prices for each of these events - so £28 tickets for £18, and £23 tickets for £13.



Roxanna Panufnik
Saturday 21 November 
Henry Goodman narrates a 150th Anniversary Celebration of 'Alice in Wonderland', written by Louis de Bernieres. Matthew Trusler (violin) and Ashley Wass (piano) perform 12 short pieces by 12 celebrated composers  representing the 12 chapters of the book. The composers are Sally Beamish, Roxanna Panufnik, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Stuart MacRae, Poul Ruders, Howard Blake, Carl Davis, Stephen Hough, Richard Dubugnon, Ilya Gringolts, Colin Matthews, Gwilym Simcock, Augusta Read Thomas.
Book via this link using the promotional code Jess10, which you enter at the 'basket' stage.







Mikhail Rudy
Thursday 26 November
Mikhail Rudy (piano) presents a recital incorporating two of his now-legendary multi-media projects: Petrushka, which was a commission from this festival a couple of years ago, and his latest one - here coming to the UK for the first time - The Sound of Colours, featuring animations of the Chagall paintings in the auditorium of the Paris Opéra Garnier. 
Mikhail Rudy was close to Marc Chagall in his last years. He gave his first concert in the West with Mstislav Rostropovich and Isaac Stern in the Beethoven Triple Concerto for Chagall’s 90th birthday, and subsequently met him on numerous occasions. Now, in collaboration with the Chagall family, who allowed him to use many unpublished sketches for the ceiling of the Opera Garnier, Rudy has created a new project on the music from Gluck, Mozart, Wagner, Debussy and Ravel.
Book via this link using the promotional code Jess10, which you enter at the 'basket' stage.






Saturday, July 25, 2015

Cheering up with the Wonderland Blues



Before all that rain started, we spent a gorgeous afternoon at Opera Holland Park, under the leaves in the Yucca Lawn groves, watching Will Todd's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It's on until 1 August, so assuming we're clear of the rain, do try and catch a show.

It's one of those rare delights that holds little kids riveted, yet their parents equally so: a sassy adaptation of the characters and elements of the story, plus an eclectic take on the music with everything from gospel through a hint of zany modernism to something edging towards Somewhere Over the Rainbow (and try the Wonderland Blues above, starring the larger-than-life Keel Watson as the Caterpillar and super Fflur Wyn as Alice).

Wonders in Aliceland. Photo by Alex Brenner


The sets are dotted around in different spots beneath the trees; your ticket is a cushion and you take it with you to sit on on the ground, moving around between scenes. Full marks to the orchestra - known as the Alice Band - for shifting too, and to the cast for marshalling us all into the right places at the right time.

And in this environment, after a while even the most hardened critic/opera fan begins to shake off the old encrustations of cynicism and overwork grumpiness and...well, if you're surrounded by entranced four-year-olds, eventually you begin to feel like one yourself. And you discover anew that 'opera' scrubs up as enormous fun: a good story well told, through top-notch music and singing and movement and drama and costumes, all live in front of you. What a refreshing and welcome joy with which to see in the rest of the summer.

This show, incidentally, has legs. Though OHP commissioned it two years ago, it's travelling excellently and will be at the Linbury in November. A CD (as above) is now available too. More info about cast, performance dates, etc, here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Concerts? Remember those? Get down the Wiggy tonight, then

Christmas: the kiss of death, if you're a musician. Or a music-lover, for that matter. Nothing but Messiahs and Nutcrackers being wheeled out all over again as far as the ear can hear. After you've been around for a few decades, you may start wanting to scream at the sound of that celesta. Maybe escapism is the reason so many of us eat and drink ourselves into a stupor over the days of festivities. By 30 December, enough, already.

Thank you to all those doughty musicians who brave the seasonal wheeliebin to remind us that life goes on. At the Wigmore Hall tonight the smiley, gleamy-toned Australian pianist Piers Lane is doing a recital that is refreshingly free from anything topical. The first half is Rachmaninov and the second is Schubert, culminating with the great A major Sonata D959. Do please try to tear yourselves away from the overload and hear some really wonderful piano playing. Book here.

A few other chippings of gold amid the general plastic recycling have come from the Royal Ballet, which gave Alice's Adventures in Wonderland instead of The Nutcracker this time, and BBC4, which made the Christmas ballet treat The Winter's Tale - an absolute glory of a full-length story ballet, choreographed this year by Christopher Wheeldon, which needs to be seen by lots and lots of people. It is not exactly seasonal, despite the title; instead, it's a very grown-up and brilliantly imagined balletic translation of Shakespeare's play, with a specially composed score by Joby Talbot and featuring astounding performances from Edward Watson and Lauren Cuthbertson as Leontes and Hermione, and Sarah Lamb and Steven McRae as Perdita and Florizel. (You can catch it on the iPlayer for another 25 days if you missed it.)

Last but not least, do catch Fascinating Aida's brilliant show Charm Offensive at the Queen Elizabeth Hall during the first two weeks of January. Here's a taster, which I've been attempting to bear in mind this past week (honest, guv).




Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Mad Hatters' Dance-Off

Maybe you were lucky enough to get into the ZooNation show The Mad Hatter's Tea Party at the ROH Linbury after I did my article about it the other week, but the thing sold out in a trice. I suspect this one will run and run.

In case you missed it, here's the dance-off between the Royal Ballet's Mad Hatter from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, tap-dancing megastar Steven McRae, and ZooNation's supercool counterpart, Turbo, with some fans to cheer them on. Happy festivities! And don't forget to log in to JDCMB tomorrow, the Winter Solstice, for what used to be the annual Ginger Stripes Awards, but has been given a little bit of a makeover this time...



Friday, March 29, 2013

Alice's Adventures at the ROH

So did you all go to the cinecast of the Royal Ballet's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland yesterday?

It was such a full-on, energetic and brilliant performance that I felt as tired this morning as if I'd danced it myself. Er, OK, not quite. I was in the theatre this time, not the cinema - and enjoying the fact that there were so many young children around who were visiting the gorgeous ROH for the first time and falling under the spell of live performance at the age of only six or seven.

Alice is, first of all, the perfect (purrfect) ballet for anyone who has a large, striped cat.

The outsize Cheshire Cat - a giant puppet whose limbs, tail and head are manipulated by black-clad dancers and that hence is able to come to pieces and disappear bit by bit as Lewis Carroll stipulates - is so cleverly conceived and slickly executed that you'd think it would steal the show.



But of course the rest is on that level as well. It's a virtuoso tour-de-force for every part of the company: Bob Crowley's designs, Joby Talbot's glittering music and the total choreographic effect mesh together into one madcap yet consistent world, while the level of execution (pace Queen of Hearts) is tip-top from orchestra to lighting to corps to soloists. There's no weak link anywhere in the piece.

There seems no limit to the daredevil imagination of choreographer Christopher Wheeldon or the abilities of his dancers. Steven McRae's tap-dancing Mad Hatter is a special joy...



(That's from the previous TV broadcast/DVD, with Lauren Cuthbertson as Alice.)

More great moments with Zenaida Yanowsky's spoof Rose Adage as the Queen of Hearts (hilarious, yes - but have you ever noticed that mothers in ballet stories get a really raw deal?). And the flamingos, and the scampering little hedgehogs, and the fresh, tender, striking choreography for the pas de deux of Alice and Jack - Sarah Lamb and Federico Bonelli...

Incidentally, Eric Underwood's supple-backed, strong-torsoed Caterpillar needs special mention. His smouldering power and super stage presence has stood out in quite a number of performances this season and I for one can't understand why this fabulous American, who started his career in the Dance Theatre of Harlem, is not ranked higher than Soloist. He got a huge and much-deserved cheer last night.

Particularly fascinating to see Alice at the RB two days after Giselle by the Mikhailovsky. The former is everything that the latter is not: sterling quality at every level, slick, contemporary, seamless, crazy, riotous, ironic, funny. The latter, though occasionally clunky in scenery and workaday in general level of the corps, had one thing (or two, depending how you see them) that the Royal doesn't: namely, Osipova and Vasiliev.

Lamb and Bonelli are both beautiful, technically tremendous dancers. The role of Alice is a particular workout for the lead ballerina, who's on stage and holding the show almost the whole time - a massive challenge carried off by Lamb with immense strength, charm and delicacy. But neither of these two excellent principals manipulates the confluence of time and space on stage the way the Russian duo do. They were part of the performance, key members of the Olympian teamwork; they didn't transcend it.

In the second interval, we spotted two audience members, pale and frown-faced, putting on their coats. They looked like ex-dancers. You'll miss the best bit if you leave now, we said. "We are not so impressed," said the man, Russian accent to the fore. "We find rather simplistic." That's your problem, mate, we didn't say. It's not a word I'd ever choose to describe a production as complex, bravura and vivid as this one. Was that, perhaps, a little indication of the different priorities of British versus Russian ballet? But next year, come to think of it, Wheeldon and Joby Talbot are teaming up again to bring us another full-length creation at the RB: The Winter's Tale. By Shakespeare. That will be very different - and interesting indeed.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Oh, my ears and whiskers!



Christopher Wheeldon's madcap, rainbow ballet of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is coming back to Covent Garden on Friday and it will hit the big screens live on 28 March. I went down the rabbit hole to have a chat with two of its stars, Lauren Cuthbertson and Edward Watson. The piece is out in The Independent today - and Lauren also talks about what it was like when her Knave, Sergei Polunin, walked out with no notice last year.

Sod's Law, though, along with the ROH website, reveals this morning that poor old Lauren is not able to go on for her three performances after all. Seems to be the lingering effects of the ankle surgery. We wish her the speediest possible recovery. Sarah Lamb replaces her, and Yuhui Choe takes over the performances that Sarah was previously scheduled to do. Meanwhile, watch the ROH news page for more of my interview with the wonderful Ed, in which we talk about Mayerling.

On Saturday afternoon, incidentally, I went to the (mostly) excellent triple bill of Apollo, 24 Preludes (the new Ratmansky to orchestrated Chopin) and Aeternum (new Wheeldon) and three quarters of the cast - six out of eight dancers - had to be replaced in the Ratmansky. The last-minute line-up did provide a chance to enjoy the radiant dancing of someone who seems to be a real "one to watch" - Melisssa Hamilton, who hails from Northern Ireland and won a Critics' Circle Award in 2009. More about the programme when I've got a mo.