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Cranko's Taming of the Shrew


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..with a new cast in Munich (01.02.02)

The "Shrew" in Munich has been associated for years now with the cast Judith Turos / Kirill Melnikov - both great actors and a great pairing, maybe to some of you known from their guesting in New York years ago, when they received praise for their Tatiana and Onegin.

Judith Turos has even been compared to Marcia Haydee and been acclaimed by some critics to match the original interpretation - not only because she looks quite a lot like Haydee, but also for the fire and depth of her characterization of Kate. And it's amazing how good she is - think she must be fourty (plus?) now!

So... every new cast in Munich has to expect to be measured against this - and that's probably why we

haven't seen many other dancers as Kate and Petruccio for a while - Oliver Matz guested from Berlin, with Kiki Lammersen (who stopped dancing some years ago), once Oliver Wehe got a go - but that's about it.

Last Friday finally saw some new faces - Lisa-Maree Cullum and Alen Bottaini. Both are dancers with very nice technique, so this was no point to worry, although I believe this ballet gives the principal dancers a hard time! They were given the probably best possible coaching - by Marcia Haydee (see also my review of the masterclass). But still many of us were sceptic: Lisa-Maree Cullum does not only look soo different from Judith Turos (she's not so dark, plus much smaller) - so far, she has had greatest success in fairy style and very classical roles (Giselle, Raymonda) and also dramatic ones (Manon). But is she a comedienne? Alen Bottaini is a fine actor - but how about the rapport between the two?

To cut a long story short - it was a huge surprise. And a huge success. Both really got into the roles right from the start - and they found their own interpretation. This cast was not as "rude" as Turos/Melnikov - one could see quite early both had a soft side hidden behind their horrible behaviour.

They added individual notes - Bottaini's Petruccio is a real Casanova who knows he can get whoever he

wants; he nods happily when Lucentio, Hortensio and Gremio tell him Kate is beautiful - hesitates

when they tell him he must marry her - but then has to agree as he needs the money. After he has

presented the three in disguise to Kate's father (remember, they pretend to be teachers to get close to Bianca) he would love to stay there to court Bianca as well - but the father leads him out to Kate. Nice little details - thoughtful interpretation!

Lisa-Maree Cullum's Kate is really a horrible woman at the start - but already in the middle of the first pdd she realizes that Petruccio has something she likes. (This "turning point" was pointed out by Marcia Haydee in the masterclass, that's probably why it has become so obvious to me only now!) When Petruccio knees in front of her and kisses her hand after the first pdd, for a moment she enjoys this - but as soon as she realizes the others are watching, she remembers her role, quickly takes her hand away and walks away a few steps - looking at her hand as if there was something very interesting - while Petruccio walks away very very proud and with a big smile on his face.

When Petruccio takes her home, this Kate looks as if she was starving and freezing - like her Manon,

Lisa-Maree's Kate makes me feel so sorry for her - while Petruccio has such a great time teasing her.

And at the end, the third pdd was full of harmony - like it should be.

I hope they will be given another chance soon - they seemed to have fun on stage, the audience went really mad (this does not happen too often in Munich), and it was a great night!

PS: Not to forget to mention a third debut, that of Gremio (the "old" guy, disguised as singing teacher) - Norbert Graf gave a very nice interpretation, portraying an elderly man who tries to catch up with the young and attractive but ends up looking funny as he falls over his clothes, drops things - and is not successful in courting at all...

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