Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Love That Dare Not Beak Its Name

In 1997 my friends from Washington, DC, Jim Brown and Bret Limage, were visiting Los Angeles. I happened to have tickets to a "re-done Swan Lake" at the Ahmanson Theater and Jim and Bret reluctantly agreed to go with me.

When the show was over, with tears in our eyes, we agreed Matthew Bourne's masculine, radical re-thinking of "Swan Lake" was one of the most moving and visually stunning show we'd ever seen.

Flash forward a decade and tonight I saw the 10th anniversary production of this "Swan Lake." Knowing the show's shattering ending made it even more emotional to watch it tonight.

This is not the traditional ballet-version of Swan Lake that so many audiences have come to know. Instead this is a dance drama told to Tchaikovsky's rich and melodic music. It's at times funny, sexy, beautiful and heart-breaking.

In chatting-up the House Manager during intermission I learned that Simon Wakefield, who danced the role of The Prince tonight, performed in the same show on the Ahmanson stage 10 years ago as one of the swans.

Los Angeles has seen more productions of Bourne's shows than any city outside of London thanks to the good relationship between the Center Theatre Group and Bourne's New Adventures.

I've seen several of Bourne's shows including Cinderella, The Car Man, Play Without Words, Nutcracker!, My Fair Lady (Bourne was the choreographer), Mary Poppins (co-directed and choreographed by Bourne) and most recently Edward Scissorhands in London in January.

Tonight while watching one of his earliest shows it was fun to recognize elements that show up in his latter shows.

Of "Swan Lake" the London Observer was right when it wrote, "See it. Or live to regret it.
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