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Pineapple Poll


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Can anyone give me some info about this ballet? I've never heard of it before. They're showing a video of a performance of it (not sure which company) from 1959 at the CBC Museum in Toronto and I was wondering if I would like it. Thank you!

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According to Alexander Bland's book The Royal Ballet: The First Fifty Years, now out of print, Pineapple Poll was the work of John Cranko and was made in 1951 for the Sadler's Wells Theater Ballet. In 1959 it was staged for the Royal Ballet, which hasn't danced it in many years. The music is by Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert & Sullivan), arranged by Charles Mackerras.

So, Paquita, I'd guess that the video is of the Royal Ballet.

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I saw it when I was a child and thought it very funny then - not so sure what I would think now. I remember Poll and her friends dressing up as sailors in order to get aboard a ship captained by the delectable Captain Belaye, danced by David Blair in the performances I saw. (I was quite in love with him at the time!) It is based on a story by WS Gilbert, of comic opera fame, with music by Arthur Sullivan.

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The story is based on Sir William Schwenck Gilbert's Bab Ballad "The Bumboat Woman's Story", which is the same story which served as a springboard for H.M.S. Pinafore, although the plotlines are very different. There are numerous Cranko jokes all through the choreography, like the corporate chute allongée (Albrecht in Giselle) done by the girls when Lt. Belaye appears with his new bride, or the music blaring out "Ring forth ye bells..." and the girls do bell-kicks! Lots of fun for young and old, and the Gilbertians and non-Gilbertians among us.

Oh, and the production recorded was probably from the Touring Section of the Royal, as it was a staple of their repertoire for years, and yes, also the National Ballet of Canada. (Besides a lovely company, which modesty prevents me from mentioning, that used to work out of NY City Center....;)) In that production, one of our own posters was the finest Gilbertian hero Jasper (nobility and greatness disguised by a humble exterior) I ever saw in either the operas or ballet treatments.

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On my very first trip to London as a teenager, I saw Poll on a triple bill with de Valois's "Rakes Progress." The contrast between these two made for a very intesting evening. Pauqita, I think you'd like Poll.

I also remember the Joffrey's version fondly. Mel, did Rebecca Wright dance Poll? If not, she should have.

Both of these ballets represent good if not great works that enriched their companies' repertoires and now seem gone for good. It's too bad.

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Do these American/Canadian productions use the Osbert Lancaster designs? I can't imagine this ballet without them, any more than I can imagine La Fille Mal Gardee without them.

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Joffrey's definitely did, and the set weighed tons! Our idea of a tech horror program was Petrouchka, Flindt's The Lesson, and Poll! And for an encore, the stage manager could jump headfirst into the pit!

Judging from Celia Franca's photos of herself as Mrs. Bumble, the incessantly-nattering-about-the-weather Aunt, NBC used the Lancaster as well.

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