Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

Moira Shearer as Titania, 1954

Recommended Posts

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

post-848-038344000 1312076702_thumb.jpg

post-848-001262500 1312076724_thumb.jpg

Link to comment

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.

Link to comment

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.

Link to comment

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.

Link to comment

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.

post-848-085557800 1312226211_thumb.jpg

Link to comment

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:


But my favorite is Mickey Rooney's Puck:


Link to comment

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.

Link to comment
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...