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Moira Shearer as Titania, 1954A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM Old Vic production of the play


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#1 rg

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Posted 30 July 2011 - 05:47 PM

scans, front and back, of a publicity photo of Moira Shearer in rehearsal as Titania for the Old Vic production of Shakespeare's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM [see credits below for the U.S. run under Hurok's auspices].
the ballet in the background is either Helpmann's (likely) of Asthon's one contribution (likely).

A Midsummer Night's Dream - Metropolitan Opera House, (9/21/1954 - 10/17/1954)
Opening: Sep 21, 1954: Closing: Oct 17, 1954
Total Performances: 29
Presented by S. Hurok; Produced by arrangement with Old Vic Trust, Ltd. and Arts Council of Great Britain
Originally produced by The Old Vic Company
Written by William Shakespeare; Music by Felix Mendelssohn; Music arranged by Gordon Jacob
Directed by Michael Benthall; Choreographed by Robert Helpmann; "Nocturne" arranged by Frederick Ashton
Costume Design by Christopher Ironside and Robin Ironside
Company Manager: Edward Haas; Administrator: Mae Frohman and Walter Prude; Business Manager: Douglas Morris
Stage Manager: David Turnbull; Production Manager for The Old Vic, London: J.A. Titcombe; Stage Director: Mick Orr; Assistant Stage Mgr: Michael Bell
Orchestra conducted by Hugo Rignold; Guest Conductor: Arthur Lief; Orchestra Manager: George Koukly
General Press Representative: Martin Feinstein; Advance Representative: Gertrude Bromberg; Publicity Manager for Old Vic: Patrick Ide; Ballet Mistress: Barbara Fewster

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#2 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 31 July 2011 - 07:33 PM

Do you think it was all dance, or part dance, part dialogue? I notice Stanley Holloway listed as the third lead. He was a comic actor (wasn't he Mr. Doolittle in "My Fair Lady?"). Maybe he played "Bottom!"

#3 Simon G

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Posted 01 August 2011 - 06:25 AM

Do you think it was all dance, or part dance, part dialogue? I notice Stanley Holloway listed as the third lead. He was a comic actor (wasn't he Mr. Doolittle in "My Fair Lady?"). Maybe he played "Bottom!"



It was a straight up spoken version of the play with movement direction and a few dance interludes by the Old Vic Company, most of the choreography was supplied by Helpmann, but with a nocturne divertissement choreographed by Ashton. Holloway was Bottom. The reason why it was staged at the Met when it travelled to NYC was because the sets and production were so lavish they needed a big enough stage to accommodate it all.

#4 rg

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Posted 01 August 2011 - 07:17 AM

one NYC colleague who predates me in NYC noted the production as an 'overproduced dud.'
interesting that the formal credits note Helpmann as having "choreographed" the staging, while Ashton's contribution for the Nocture simply qualified as work he "arranged."
i guess the distinction(s) meant something specific in the '50s.

#5 bart

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Posted 01 August 2011 - 10:13 AM

There seems to be a "Ballet Mistress" for the production: Barbara Fewster.

Also, 29 performances at the (old) Met seems to be a fairly decent run.

#6 rg

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Posted 01 August 2011 - 10:21 AM

i noticed BF's presence as well.
perhaps local dancers were used in NYC and to perpare/rehearse them for the dance part of the play a ballet mistress connected to the production would seem a good idea.
or, the Helpmann's and Ashton's dances needed tending and rehearsing during the run.

#7 bart

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Posted 01 August 2011 - 10:25 AM

I am fascinated by the introspective, quite non-theatrical look on Shearer's face in your photo, rg.

A bit of Googling turned up a glamorous performance photo -- QUITE different.

http://ubdigit.buffa...CISOBOX=1&REC=7

#8 rg

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Posted 01 August 2011 - 10:32 AM

thanks.
vive la difference.

#9 FauxPas

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Posted 01 August 2011 - 11:05 AM

This production was recorded on lp and was recently reissued on cd. A young pre-Avengers Patrick McNee plays Demetrius.

#10 rg

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Posted 01 August 2011 - 11:16 AM

a related scan of a stage production, 20 years earlier than the Old Vic one w/ Shearer.
this grouping of fairies framing Oberon (no performers' names are given on the photo) is from a newsphoto, received at a Chicago newspaper Nov. 10, 1934 for a production of Max Reinhardt's now rather famous staging of the play, which was then due to run for 2 weeks in Chicago; the next year, it was translated for the now even more famous Hollywood film, with choreography by Nijinska.

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#11 bart

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Posted 01 August 2011 - 12:23 PM

Thanks, Faux Pas. It's available at Amazon. (If we buy after clicking the link at the top of the page, we are helping to support Ballet Alert. :innocent::thumbsup:)

rg, that is an amazing photo. i love the film, which is best watched, I think, with the sound turned off.

Here's a luminous shot of Anita Louise's Titania:
http://www.flickr.co...N03/4361899975/

But my favorite is Mickey Rooney's Puck:
http://www.corbisima...7e-4cd2d79766b5

#12 isorosan

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 08:03 AM

The 1954 version was recorded in August in a London studio by RCA and released on 3 LPs. Irving Kolodin reviewed the recording in Saturday Review (September 1954) and was enthusiastic. As far as I know he didn't see (or, at least, review) the actual performance. Sir Malcolm Sargent directed the music on the recording.
Since I have not heard it I would be interested if anyone has the LPs or to know if it is available on CD.

#13 Boomer123

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 01:22 AM

She looks so different from her Red Shoes days- perhaps it is shorter hair? I don't think I would see that it was her without the ID...


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