Jump to content


Christopher Wheeldon Takes On Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron"An American in Paris" - new Broadway production


  • Please log in to reply
111 replies to this topic

#16 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 09 July 2013 - 12:28 PM

dirac, thanks for that link.  Some excellent reviews and comments.  Definitely worth reading.

 

phrank, thanks for the video of "The Goblins.   McRae does seem to have some of the necessary style. He got excellent reviews for his dancing of the Mad Hatter in Wheeldon's Alice, so has the advantage of knowing the choreographer well.  wink1.gif

 

I Googled and came up with this article (March 15, 2013) from The Guardian:

 

Steven McRae -- the Ballet Star who's a Modern-Day Fred Astaire

 

The careers of countless British actors demonstrate that good training and hard work can allow you to acquire all sorts of "American" accents.   All you need is a good coach, and London probably has plenty of those.  But can he sing?

 

Here's part of Judith Mackrell's commentary on the video.

 

McRae looks like a Broadway natural, but you can see the classical dancer at work in the easy, graceful counterpoint of his arms and upper body, which acts as kind of jazzy épaulement to the footwork at 3.29 and 4.11 as well as the actual ballet moves, not least the expertly controlled drizzle of pirouettes at 4.20 that are worked into his routine.


#17 Buddy

Buddy

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 550 posts

Posted 09 July 2013 - 12:51 PM

Thanks, Dirac, for your insights and the Ballet Alert comments about the NYCB production.
 
Cool if we found that Marcelo, Rolando….were also latent Caruso's.
 
The fact that Christopher Wheeldon is the "director" as well as the choreographer seems to spell 'Dance' with a big D. It will be interesting to see how this all developes.


#18 Buddy

Buddy

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 550 posts

Posted 09 July 2013 - 02:13 PM

The careers of countless British actors demonstrate that good training and hard work can allow you to acquire all sorts of "American" accents.  

 

 

bart 'logo' :

 

"The consolations of the imagination are not imaginary consolations."

 

tiphat.gif



#19 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 24,799 posts

Posted 09 July 2013 - 05:07 PM


The careers of countless British actors demonstrate that good training and hard work can allow you to acquire all sorts of "American" accents.

 

That's true, bart (and they seem to be better at it than Americans doing British accents). But they don't always ring true. And this fellow will be taking over a Gene Kelly role, and Kelly was so echt American. I think it's really important to the story that the "American" aspect of the character come through.

 

"All sorts" - indeed. You remind me of that bizarre accent Laurence Olivier assumed for his role in The Betsy as a Detroit auto tycoon (otherwise a highly enjoyable performance). Apparently the director tried to talk him out of it but he was not to be budged.

 

"His [Gene Kelly] many innovations transformed the Hollywood musical film, and he is credited with almost single-handedly making the ballet form commercially acceptable to film audiences." [I would have to include Fred Astaire in this]

 

http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Gene_Kelly

 

 

Thanks, Buddy. Kelly did indeed promote and proselytize on behalf of ballet (and dance in general) and used ballet dancers often, even if he was not himself an innately balletic dancer (which is not a knock, BTW). Astaire was innately balletic, but interestingly he had no interest in the art form. Because he was Astaire he was forever getting fan letters from the likes of Baryshnikov and Fonteyn, but his own fan notes tended to go to dancer/performers like Sammy Davis, Jr., Michael Jackson, and John Travolta (in his Saturday Night Fever days).



#20 sandik

sandik

    Rubies Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,333 posts

Posted 09 July 2013 - 08:01 PM

 


 

I Googled and came up with this article (March 15, 2013) from The Guardian:

 

Steven McRae -- the Ballet Star who's a Modern-Day Fred Astaire

 

The careers of countless British actors demonstrate that good training and hard work can allow you to acquire all sorts of "American" accents.   All you need is a good coach, and London probably has plenty of those.  But can he sing?

 

Here's part of Judith Mackrell's commentary on the video.

 

McRae looks like a Broadway natural, but you can see the classical dancer at work in the easy, graceful counterpoint of his arms and upper body, which acts as kind of jazzy épaulement to the footwork at 3.29 and 4.11 as well as the actual ballet moves, not least the expertly controlled drizzle of pirouettes at 4.20 that are worked into his routine.

 

This comes from an excellent video series in the Guardian -- they're doing some wonderful work with their online resources.

 

I didn't really follow along with the critical commentary when Wheeldon made a version of AiP for NYCB -- I was glad to see that thread, but I do think it's a very different job to stage a musical adaptation of a film than it is to make a ballet based on themes from the play or the film.  Wheeldon's suite of dances from Carousel has many virtues, but it is not a set of excerpts from a stage show.

 

The film-to-stage adaptation has become a category all its own in contemporary musical theater -- I think it might be smart to look at works like Hairspray or Singing in the Rain when we think about what a stage version of American in Paris might be.



#21 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,995 posts

Posted 09 July 2013 - 08:30 PM

Also "La Cage aux Folles" and "The Producers."

#22 Jayne

Jayne

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 870 posts

Posted 09 July 2013 - 09:15 PM

Isn't Mr McRae Australian?



#23 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,995 posts

Posted 10 July 2013 - 12:09 AM

Isn't Mr McRae Australian?

Yes:
 
Prix de Lausanne 2003: 
http://www.prixdelau...rs/Page-16.html
 
In this interview, Mark Monahan writes,
 

By his teens, already an extremely capable tapper, he knew that his future lay in dance, and, having trained throughout high school, he won a place at the Royal Ballet School in London, at 17. A year later, in 2004, he joined the Royal Ballet; by 2009, he was a principal.

 
Given the chronology, did he take the Prix de Lausanne scholarship to the Royal Ballet School, which he joined a year later?  The Royal Ballet site lists the Artists, but, alas, provides no bio links.



#24 ballet_n00b

ballet_n00b

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 53 posts

Posted 10 July 2013 - 05:06 AM

Isn't Mr McRae Australian?

 

He is, but he doesn't sound particularly Australian.

 

 

 

 
Prix de Lausanne 2003: 
http://www.prixdelau...rs/Page-16.html
 
In this interview, Mark Monahan writes,
 

By his teens, already an extremely capable tapper, he knew that his future lay in dance, and, having trained throughout high school, he won a place at the Royal Ballet School in London, at 17. A year later, in 2004, he joined the Royal Ballet; by 2009, he was a principal.

 
Given the chronology, did he take the Prix de Lausanne scholarship to the Royal Ballet School, which he joined a year later?  The Royal Ballet site lists the Artists, but, alas, provides no bio links.

 

 

 

I remember reading an article which said that he already had a place at the school but needed the scholarship money or he wouldn't have been able to afford to go.



#25 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 10 July 2013 - 06:44 AM


I didn't really follow along with the critical commentary when Wheeldon made a version of AiP for NYCB -- I was glad to see that thread, but I do think it's a very different job to stage a musical adaptation of a film than it is to make a ballet based on themes from the play or the film.  Wheeldon's suite of dances from Carousel has many virtues, but it is not a set of excerpts from a stage show.

 

The film-to-stage adaptation has become a category all its own in contemporary musical theater -- I think it might be smart to look at works like Hairspray or Singing in the Rain when we think about what a stage version of American in Paris might be.

 

Agree completely with this, especially the part I've put in boldface.  The world of Broadway musicals is hugely different from the world of ballet dances that use Broadway scores.  This includes audience expectations and psychology.  (Stephen Sondheim's books, Finishing the Hat and Look, I Made a Hat, are especially revealing about the process of creating and putting on a Broadway musical.)

 

My local company is currently preparing West Side Story Suite, which they will perform in February.  Dancers who can actually sing have already been cast for parts that require it.  I'm sure it will be fun.  For a 30-minute ballet, there's plenty of room for suspension of disbelief.  When you are putting together a full-length show -- one which includes long stretches of dialogue, singing without dance, etc.-- a lot more is at stake and different skills are required.



#26 Buddy

Buddy

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 550 posts

Posted 10 July 2013 - 08:19 AM

 

My local company is currently preparing West Side Story Suite, which they will perform in February.  Dancers who can actually sing have already been cast for parts that require it.  I'm sure it will be fun.  For a 30-minute ballet, there's plenty of room for suspension of disbelief.  When you are putting together a full-length show -- one which includes long stretches of dialogue, singing without dance, etc.-- a lot more is at stake and different skills are required.

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Now, Christopher Wheeldon and the playwright Craig Lucas are adapting the movie for a stage production, with Wheeldon to be both choreographer and director."

 

How literally translated (from movie to stage) do posters here think that the new production will/has to be? With Craig Lucas included it does seem like it might be a lot of theater (acting and singing) as well as dance. Yet the idea that Christopher Wheeldon is also the director fires my imagination.

 

I still love the idea of Marcelo Gomes or Rolando Sarabia flying around the stage and doing what Gene Kelly did in 'balletic' terms, something that Christopher Wheeldon could handle brilliantly.  This might really be an exciting take on the 'heart and soul' of Gene Kelly.

 

 

bart 'logo' :

 

"The consolations of the imagination are not imaginary consolations."

 

 

tiphat.gif

 

By the way, I saw Steven McRae's performances when he won the Lausaunne competition. I live half the year about an hour away. I haven't been to one in awhile because of timing, but back then there was usually one contestant each year or two who really stood out . Steven McRae was certainly one of them. His final number was a tap dance, some of it on pointe. I'd never seen this done at Lausanne, before or since. It was a treat. 

 

And by the way, Bart, they discovered that your own *Miami City Ballet*'s Jeanette Delgado is also a fine singer.

 

Marcelo, Rolando….now once again 'do ray me fa do' . 



#27 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,995 posts

Posted 10 July 2013 - 08:27 AM

The video of McRae tapping at Prix de Lausanne is embedded in the article to which ballet_n00b linked above.

#28 lmspear

lmspear

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 158 posts

Posted 10 July 2013 - 09:18 AM

I'm going to put Alex Wong up for consideration. He was recently on Broadway in Newsies we know he can tap.

#29 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,995 posts

Posted 10 July 2013 - 09:28 AM

That's an inspired choice, lmspear.

#30 lmspear

lmspear

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 158 posts

Posted 10 July 2013 - 09:32 AM

Thank you Ma'am. :D


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):