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BRB Summer Celebration


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BRB open their final week of the UK season on Wednesday with a mixed programme comprising The Grand Tour, David Bintley's new ballet Faster and The Dream. We'd love to hear your thoughts on this thread.

 

Meantime BRB have posted a GORGEOUS rehearsal video from The Grand Tour for our delectation. Enjoy!

 

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Having been asked to post some thoughts on the matinee I saw yesterday - here goes My first thought is how enthusiastic and accomplished those dancers are - for example Samara Downs (Gertrude Lawrence in the Grand Tour) was in important roles in all three ballets of the afternoon and shone in each. Iain Mackay had leading roles in the first two and danced and acted his socks off. It is perhaps unfair to pick people out but it was the dancers that gave me my enjoyment not so much the works. The Grand Tour for me was a cross or a combination of Fin du Jour and Cavalcade and quite slight - for me it doesn't seem to make the most of the music and wasn't Gertrude Lawrence very much from a working class background - a shining star out of the gutter not the diletante (can't spell) that Samara is given to portray? Faster is just that and ends as it starts with cast out of breath - I personally can no longer run! The Dream I had a lot of problems with - that awful scrim first off - but I went to catch a Mr. Bracewell Oberon and for that alone I enjoyed it mightily. His costume is the wrong colour and has awful dreadlocks around the neck but how he dances and commands his Fairyland! Long may he continue! As a temptation for any "London balletomanes" who want to see him in the flesh I discovered that by travelling London Midland - takes longer and no reserved seat - I got a Senior day return from Euston to New Street for £13 - couldn't get far up the M1 in my car for that price!!

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I saw the Thursday evening performance and yet again another amazing evening of dance. Grand Tour was wonderful so evocative of the 1920s era and Victoria Marr's comedic skill was nothing short of brilliant. Fabulous costumes complemented the fabulous dancing.

Faster was good - very fast as per the title - in particular I liked the pas de trois with Ambra Vallo, Jamie Bond and William Bracewell(? correct me if I am wrong) - how does she do all those splits OMG!!!

The Dream was just lovely - so visually pretty! William Bracewell made a fine job of Oberon alongside the lovely Natasha Oughtred as Titania, but stand out performer for me was Tzu Zao Chi as Puck - he was ama-z-ing! On this form BRB is a must see.

Edited by Don Q Fan
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I saw Saturday eve performance, one of just a handful in the upper circle. The lower circle was barely half full aswell - I hope audience numbers were due to the olympic torch arriving in Birmingham (with Sir Cliff Richard) that evening and not indicative of usual audience numbers. Onto the performance: Throughly enjoyed Grand Tour with Vicoria Marr and her comedic skill. Laura Purkiss shone as one of the stowaways. Faster - wow! Such a spectacle of speed and energy. I especially enjoyed the 'runners' and the 'swimmers' with my daughter declaring the basket ball sequence to be her favourite. The Dream was lovely. It is one of my least favourite Shakespeare plays and I had not expected to enjoy the ballet as much. Visually it was beautiful and the dancing throughout was suberb. James Barton as Puck, Joesph Caley as Oberon and Elisha Willis as Titania stood out for me but a special mention must go to Kit Holder (I think) who made dancing as an 'ass' look so easy and so funny.

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I too was disappointed at the matinee at the sparseness of the audience, tho it sounded even more absent for the evening! - one contributory reason may be the Hippodrome's pricing policy - I was told at 1.30pm there were no Standby prices for the coming matinee unless you were local holding something called "a leisure passport" - the senior concession available was a measly three pounds off the top three price bands (less than 10%) - London theatres which presumably have to be competitive will normally sell best available standby seats to anyone with notes in their wallet at about half price - which is much more of an incentive IMO!

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I saw the Saturday matinee performance and although there were quite a few empty seats the actual triple bill was fantastic! I thought William Bracewell did a fantastic job as Oberon in The Dream and is definitely one to watch in the near future!

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Here are some thoughts on Friday evening’s performance. Grand Tour was a nice bit of stylised frippery and shows the enduring allure of the Jazz Age. Was it just my ignorance or would anyone else have minded some kind of briefing on the characters? Noel Coward and GB Shaw are recognisable caricatures, yes and Joseph Caley was surprisingly convincing as Douglas Fairbanks. But who was Theda Bara, what was Gertrude Lawrence famous for… and which was which? The programme could have helped more. As for the dancing – sometimes it seemed there was more smoking and posing than actual dancing, though we did enjoy a comic turn from Jade Heusen as the American Lady. She is young for that role and did really well. Also flying the flag for ex-Elms was Lewis Turner who, with Laura-Jane Gibson did a great turn as the Italian stowaways, best fun of the lot – a G&S operetta turn with dance!

I was just thinking how the female ballet figure is suited to those twenties dresses, when the next part of the show revealed dramatically what those figures are. The crop tops for the girls show such amazing athletic figures, lean and muscled. It was fun to see the different sports zoom through – fencing, basketball and synchro swimming. Ambro Valla as high jumper turned gymnast was an extraordinary turn. I thought the ‘injured’ athletes pas de deux was just a fraction too long. But opening and closing sections were dazzling in their speed and inventiveness. I’d like a stop motion video to see it all properly. Fantastic – would love to see that at the Olympics opening ceremony, or anytime really. Another grumble with the programme - it would have been nice to know who was playing which 'part' and give them some credit.

 

The ‘Dream’ was another fine piece. What a great role for a man is Puck - here danced with virtuosity by Mathias Dingman - and what a demanding but hilarious role is Bottom, on pointe, too. On Friday it was Jonathan Caguioa, also a dashing steward in Grand Tour. However... Nao Sakuma and Chi Cao looked fine and as Titania and Oberon. She maintained her presence but by the end I felt there was just the slightest hint of going through the motions for both of them. Hmm, maybe it had just been a long day.

 

This was certainly a full evening’s entertainment, great value and variety, and I can’t believe that it is it, all over and barely a review in the papers. Especially given the work that must have gone into Faster – here today and gone tomorrow! I see that the show will be turned into Autumn celebration for a few days in London in October. I wonder if we will see Faster much in the future, or it if is all too closely connected with this one big event year. I hope not.

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I've been enjoying reading everyone else's thoughts about this triple bill. Please keep them coming. For myself, I loved the programme.

 

My first viewing of the Grand Tour was on midscale in Truro. It looked very different on the bigger stage and the music also sounded different with the full-sized orchestra. I must be showing my age but I was aware of most of the characters; the only exceptions being Theda Bara and Gertrude Stein's companion. I really enjoyed the three performances that I saw; it may be a slight piece but there is plenty to enjoy and it is a good evening starter. The company have well settled into its quirkiness and we saw some fabulous performances. Both Victoria Marr and Jade Heuson as the American tourist display a fine sense of both comedy and pathos. I will only ever consider going on a cruise if Steven Monteith or Tom Rogers is the Chief Steward! Iain Mackay is HILARIOUS as Douglas Fairbank and both Callie Roberts and Samara Downs are scintillatingly vampish as Theda Bara (who according to Wiki is the first celebrity described as a vamp!).

 

Faster is an exhilerating roller-coaster of a ride. David Bintley has been very clever indeed in his portrayal of a number of Olympic sports. Carole-Ann Millar as a fencer and runner is jaw-droppingly awesome. I loved the section for the synchronised swimmers and the section where Ambra Vallo seems to start as a high jumper and turns into a gymnast with the help of Jamie Bond and William Bracewell. This is a fantastic display of the dancers strength and grace and it should be included in the Olympics openin and/or closing ceremonies.

 

I love The Dream and I loved the three performances I saw. Nao and Chi just inhabited the roles of Titania and Oberon on Friday evening - for me it was a blissful performance. Natasha Oughtred and William Bracewell were terrific on Saturday afternoon. William Bracewell is surely one to watch, he's already strong with a breath-taking elegance of line and he can act. Natasha is a gorgeous interpreter of Ashton. I don't think I have ever seen such a bouncy impish Puck as Tzu Chao Chou; everyone around me was gasping in amazement at his speed and precision in the scherzo. James Barton, in another cast, is glorious as Puck.

 

Three great performances of a fantastic programme to end my BRB-watching season. Thanks to everyone at BRB for what has been a fantastic season. Roll on the autumn!

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