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Hagar


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 07 November 2003 - 09:55 AM

A couple of people have mentioned Sallie Wilson as Hagar -- I thought I'd start a thread for a discussion of Hagar in general.

#2 djb

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Posted 07 November 2003 - 10:09 AM

Well, I think Sallie Wilson was a great dramatic dancer (she was in ABT, for readers who are too young to remember her). Her acting style was very realistic, and to me she was totally believable in this role. I also was very moved by her performance.

I'd love to see Julie Kent as Hagar; I was very impressed when I saw her as Giselle.

#3 nysusan

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Posted 07 November 2003 - 10:44 AM

I loved Sallie Wilson. Her's was the last Hagar I saw until this season and it's apparent how difficult it is to really capture and project the nuances of this role.

djb, Julie Kent was one of the 3 Hagar's this season. I've seen all 3 and I'm sorry to tell you that she was my least favorite. To me, her characterization was very weak and one dimensional. I just felt a constant numbing sadness in her interpretation, no passion, or fear, none of the depths of emotion that Sallie Wilson brought to the role. I also thought that, dramatically speaking, she had the weakest supporting cast. Corella played the man from the house opposite and David Hallberg was the friend. Corella wasn't compelling enough for me as the man across the way (do you remember the way Marcos Paredes oozed sexuality with Sallie Wilson?). Hallberg is an absolutely wonderful dancer, but he's tall and very pure of line, blond & handsome with matinee idol good looks - dramatically it just didn't make sense to me, though I'm sure others will feel differently!

#4 djb

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Posted 07 November 2003 - 11:12 AM

Well, I'm sad to hear that. I was reading someone's review of Gillian Murphy as Hagar, and the reviewer thought that she gave a one-note performance. Did you see anyone besides Julie Kent in the role?

#5 nysusan

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Posted 07 November 2003 - 12:31 PM

Yes, I saw Murphy, Kent and McKerrow, all of their first performances. I liked Murphy's interpretation much better than Kent's but I can also can see why the reviewer called it a one note performance. So far I think McKerrow has been the most successful at conveying the emotional changes that Hagar undergoes and at reacting and responding to the events that occur as the story unfolds. Neither Kent nor Murphy seemed to be changed much when their Hagars thought they had lost the man they loved to the little sister, or when they found themselves discarded by the man across the way (not that they didn't register emotion, just that these pivotal incidents didn't bring about any perceptible change in their emotional trajectories). They both started off doomed and stayed that way. I guess I just found Murphy's portrayal more dynamic and more interesting than Kent's. Murphy's Hagar seemed to wallow in despair at the beginning, her anguish was very apparent , she seemed almost hysterical to me. She seemed completely willing to rush headlong into disaster. I thought it was a very emotional performance, fascinating but almost too emotional without enough modulation and nuance.

Then I read Carbro's review in the week 2 thread and a lightbulb went off in my head.


QUOTE (carbro @ Oct 29 2003, 07:20 PM)
I loved Gillian Murphy's Hagar. For the first time, I realized that Hagar was really an adolescent. An older adolescent, perhaps, but certainly not yet an adult.

Of course, Murphy's Hagar was a teenager, caught between her older sister's static world of repression & self denial and her little sister's almost psychotic need to flirt with every man she sees (Xiomara Reyes was the little sister for Kent & Murphy). Her world and her choices were filtered through the teenager's heightened emotionalism that makes every casual slight into a disaster,every molehill into a mountain. Certainly not Wilson's Hagar, perhaps not even a Hagar that Tudor could have envisioned but I thought it was very interesting, well thought out and compelling. Kent, I thought, was just dull!

#6 atm711

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Posted 07 November 2003 - 05:24 PM

I really do not want to get off 'topic', but I have to say something about the younger sister. I think she is getting a very 'bad press' as a malevolent being. She is young, she is obviously a teen-ager and she enjoys her emerging femininity. (somewhat like the old song--"I enjoy being a girl!"). Living with those two repressed women, it's a wonder that she turned out to be so feminine. Over the years, the portrayal of the younger sister has changed from one who might have been unthinking in her behavior to Hagar, to one who is consciously mean (since I can't say the 'b' word). I can't lay the blame for this on the current production, for I saw the same interpretation on an old 1973 tape with ABT.

#7 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 07 November 2003 - 05:30 PM

I agree, atm. As I remember it, when coached by Tudor, the younger sister was a flirt, and a bit of a brat, but not exactly a b----. :wacko: (Although that can also depend on who is dancing it. One of the two during my time was Ellen Everett, and I felt that she captured her as intended by Tudor. The other I will not mention by name, as her own personality pervaded the character and changed it considerably, at least IMO. I was dancing the Eldest Sister at the time, with Sallie Wilson as Hagar. There were a few performances with Veronica Mlakar as Hagar, but it was mostly Sallie. I was the only cast in Eldest Sister during that period of time.)

#8 Alexandra

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Posted 07 November 2003 - 05:43 PM

From what I've read, I'd agree that the Younger Sister sounds overdone. (I had liked McKerrow in this role very much; I didn't think she was malevolent.) I've thought of the Younger Sister as being barely adolescent, just discovering her sexuality -- or her effect on men, that she had some power over men. And not yet mature enough to realize that her actions had consequences. I think it's more interesting that way.

#9 liebs

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Posted 07 November 2003 - 06:17 PM

Victoria, I rember Ellen Everett. So I guess I saw you as well - how wonderful. I also remember Lucia Chase as the Elder Sister - showing my age.

#10 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 07 November 2003 - 06:47 PM

Liebs, I was the first one to do it after Lucia. The ballet had not been done for many years when Tudor finally restaged it in '66. I think Lucia still wanted to be doing it! :wink: Anyway, I had private rehearsals with Tudor, which were totally incredible. An education in themselves. However, Lucia also decided to rehearse me, and every time I had a rehearsal with her, and then went into one with Tudor, there was a huge problem. He would stop......think about it a moment, and then say, "You must have had a rehearsal with Lucia." And then he would roll his eyes and tell me what he wanted, or make me figure out what he wanted, which was more his way. :wacko:

#11 carbro

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Posted 07 November 2003 - 08:44 PM

Oh, Alexandra, you have expressed my sense of Younger Sister to an absolute T. As I see the family dynamic here, Elder Sis has pushed down any sexual feelings (or willingness to acknowledge them; I don't think it matters), Younger is celebrating their onset, and Hagar, in the middle, is torn between those two states of being -- the societal constraints :clapping: vs. the emotional cravings :clapping: . That is her torment.

To my eyes, Tuttle's YS was less mean, more innocent than Reyes' -- more along the lines of McKerrow's YS. Nicely done.

#12 nysusan

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Posted 07 November 2003 - 09:07 PM

I'm going to continue off topic here for a moment. Victoria, I just went through my collection of programs and the first Pillar I saw was in'73, with Bonnie Mathis as the older sister and Everett as the younger sister. Mathis is the prototype of the older sister in my mind. Were you still dancing with ABT then?

Also, ATM, if the tape of Pillar you have referred to is the one in "ABT - a Close-up in Time" then that is Elllen Everett as the younger sister and Bonnie Mathis as the older one. Already at this point, I think Everett's portrayal has a malicious component to it - so I've never seen this role done any other way. I do think that Reyes has taken it a step further, her flirtatiousness bordered on the psychotic in my mind, and she definitely appeared to be deliberately taunting Hagar. Tuttle's portrayal probably wasn't much less malevolent, but after Reyes it seemed much more benign to me!

#13 Paul Parish

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Posted 07 November 2003 - 11:02 PM

I remember when ABT brought Pillar here in the late 80's, the critic Keith White remarked to me, 'o Leslie Brown can't do Hagar -- she's too pretty."

This may be a gay man's response -- Keith was certainly gay, and so am I -- but so was Tudor. It's not sexist, really, for it's not about WOMEN -- it's about beauty, and how you respond if you need to have it and you don't. Very mid-century theme -- it's in Rodeo, and all through Tennessee Williams.

I hope it isn't too tacky of me to say that Hagar has to be a homely girl, if not downright ugly. Sallie Wilson could be transfigured by hte beauty of her expressions and of her dancing, so that great beauty shone through her, but she was not a good-looking woman. Julie Kent can't possibly do the role, she's Breck-girl pretty, and she doesn't have the dramatic range to play someone who doesn't THINK she's pretty that (say) Ingrid Bergman or Olivia de Havilland had.

#14 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 08 November 2003 - 04:10 AM

nysusan, no, I had left ABT by then. I did it in the sixties, before Bonnie. I think it was '64 or '65 when Tudor staged it again, and I did it until I left in late '66.

#15 Michael

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Posted 08 November 2003 - 05:19 AM

Paul you are right and that is the problem with Gillian Murphy in the role as well.


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