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Tonight’s opening performance in Birmingham, led by Samara Downs and Lachlan Monaghan was completely, utterly, absolutely and totally magnificent!!

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Thanks for starting this thread Janet. I'm going to see the Sat matinee, I think the cast leads are the same as the opening night. If anyone else who is attending wishes to say hello at an interval send me a message. 

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Posted (edited)

I’m attending on Tuesday 25th for the Triple at SW and Sat 29 th eve for Hobson's Choice. Really looking forward to seeing BRB ! Do we know the casting yet for Hobson's Choice at SW ?? Thanks if anyone could report back ! 

Edited by Mandy Kent
To ask re casting
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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, Mandy Kent said:

I’m attending on Tuesday 25th for the Triple at SW and Sat 29 th eve for Hobson's Choice. Really looking forward to seeing BRB ! Do we know the casting yet for Hobson's Choice at SW ?? Thanks if anyone could report back ! 

https://www.brb.org.uk/whats-on/event/hobsons-choice#dates-and-times

Edit: click on Sadler’s Wells to get links to cast lists.

Edited by Bluebird

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Hi North Star. I shall be at the matinee tomorrow. I am sitting in the Circle if you recognise me from our meeting at the Evening of Music and Dance. 

For anyone disappointed that they may not see the Lachlan/ Samara cast I must tell you that the alternative cast at the matinee on a Thursday were quite superb. I have seen many performances of Hobson’s over the years and this was as good as any.

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I'm interested in seeing this at Sadler's Wells but next week's weather forecast looks horrible to heat-haters like me. Can anyone tell me what Sadler's Wells is like on the air con front? I've only been there a couple of times some years ago so can't remember.

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3 hours ago, George C said:

Hi North Star. I shall be at the matinee tomorrow. I am sitting in the Circle if you recognise me from our meeting at the Evening of Music and Dance. 

For anyone disappointed that they may not see the Lachlan/ Samara cast I must tell you that the alternative cast at the matinee on a Thursday were quite superb. I have seen many performances of Hobson’s over the years and this was as good as any.

 

Hubby and I have just got back from the Hippodrome.  I can only agree George.  Bravo Max Maslen!  I kept doing a double take as he was so like Michael O'Hare it was uncanny.   I will submit a fuller report after tomorrow night.

 

P.s.  my wonderful hubby got so fed up of me moping he is taking me to Sadler's Wells next week..I am so lucky.

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Dawnstar, the Second Circle can certainly be chilly enough :) 

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I went to the Sat matinee Hobson's Choice in Birmingham with Samara Downs as Maggie and Lachlan Monaghan as Will. 

 

It was my first Hobson's Choice, and I could not fail to admire the quality and substance of this ballet and how it was delivered by the company. I have not followed Bintley's works until recent years where I have started to rack up visits to his ballets; Cinderella, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, King Dances.

 

The classical style, the balance of narrative elements,  the distinctiveness of characterisation, the wonderful sets and costumes, the splendid score, all made for a ballet that i would think should satisfy the most critical of audiences. In particular I have grown to especially admire Bintley's ensembles and his pas de deux as works of a real master and Hobson's choice again confirmed this to me. While it is not a ballet that one would expect to find much grand spectacle, I must mention the Salvation Army pas d'action was a spectacular creation and was probably my highlight of the ballet - Momoko Hirata's wonderful turning skills, with the billowing tails of her uniform a clear image still in my mind. 

 

I have taken time and persistance to appreciate narrative neo-classical ballet, which I suppose I would categorise Hobson's Choice as. And I must admit that my emotions and sensations were not as highly engaged as they have been in other ballets. But objectively I can see it contains the ingredients of a ballet I could love, given the opportunity to see it again which I hope is the case. Not so long ago, I thought I could never take to any ballet outside the supernatural fantasies of the Petipa canon, but Manon, Fille, Taming of the Shrew have proved me wrong and on those grounds I'd see Hobson again (can't do London next week unfortunately). 

 

Really nice to bump into Janet and George C in Birmingham, hope you enjoyed the final performance Sat evening - by the wonder of the internet I've already seen a clip of Sir Peter Wright appearing on stage for Bintley's final curtain in Birmingham, do let us know the details. And would love to hear more reviews on the forum by anyone else who has been to this ballet.  

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I'm not long home from a magical and poignant trip to Birmingham to see Birmingham Royal Ballet's six performances of Hobson's Choice.  This seems to me to be an appropriate ballet on which David Bintley will end his artistic directorship of the company (and over 40-year career with BRB and RB).  The ballet obviously means.a lot to him and it is an absolute masterpiece.

 

Hobson's Choice is narrative ballet at its best, it tells the story well and David Bintley has managed to include the silences and stillness contained in the play within this masterpiece.  It was made in 1989 as a 2-acter to go with Theme and Variations in a programme at the Royal Opera House. I did not see those performances but I did see the ballet in Birmingham in the Autumn of that year, when it had been expanded to 3 acts, and at every revival since.  I just love this work!  David Bintley has always taken great care with the casting of this ballet and I have seen far too many memorable performances of it to mention them all.

 

The 2 casts on show this week (who will also be seen at Sadler's Wells in the coming days) are both utterly magnificent and we have been treated to 6 exceptional performances.

 

The cast on Wednesday was led by Samara Downs and Lachlan Monaghan who were both (IMHO) born to dance the roles of Maggie Hobson and Will Mossop.  Samara was just exquisite in the role of Maggie with her exemplary dancing but also her subtle acting - even the tiniest of gestures had meaning.  Lachlan showed the character development of Will Mossop from the gauche, illiterate young bootmaker who caught Maggie's eye to the successful and happy businessman he became by the end.  His dancing was just a joy to watch, the clog dance being particularly scintillating.

 

Maggie's younger sisters, Alice and Vickey were played by Delia Matthews and Laura Purkiss whose beaux Fred Beenstock and Albert Prosser were played by Mathias Dingman and Rory MacKay.  All 4 dancers got under the skins of the roles.  Jonathan Payn was Henry Hobson and who was a very convincing drunk, manipulating, obsequious (to his rich customers) man.

 

The duets for the younger sisters are full of humour.  Those for Maggie and Will are achingly romantic and so full of poignancy that I seemed to be having real problems with hay fever in every one!  The first duet for them which ends Act 1 shows beautifully Maggie and Will's burgeoning romance as 2 people really not knowing how to deal with each other but gradually realising affection.  The joy in the Lily of Laguna duet is palpable.  Just to note that the lyrics were printed on the cast sheet and the audience was invited to sing along, which we did at every performance!  The duet before they go to the bedroom is utterly sublime.  This is where David Bintley uses stillness to such breath-taking effect - as the music swells and soars Maggie and Will are standing in quiet realisation.  It got me every time!!

 

The other cast led out the final performance with David Bintley in charge in Birmingham last night.  Beatrice Parma was a feisty Maggie and Max Maslen was someone else born to dance the role of Will Mossop.  They melded together perfectly and were just beautiful to watch.  Alice and Vickey were played by Yvette Knight and Laura Day to great effect.  Their beaux were Valentin Olovyannikov as Prosser and James Barton as a pitch-perfect Beenstock.  Dominic Antonucci was a terrific Hobson.

 

The Salvation Army members were outstanding in both casts.  There are lots of character vignettes to enjoy too.

 

If anyone can't decide whom to see at Sadler's Wells I would urge you to see both casts as they are both equally wonderful.  It is also worth biting the programme because it is effectively a tribute to David Bintley.

 

Last night's performance led by Beatrice Parma and Max Maslen was very special indeed as the whole cast danced their hearts out for David Bintley.  Of course he came on for the curtain calls and the audience went wild.  He was overcome and seemed genuinely surprised by the flower shower.  After lengthy applause and cheers Sir Peter Wright came on stage and made a beautiful and moving valedictory speech leading to more cheers.  My one disappointment is how quickly the curtain came down and this special evening ended.  Many ex-members of the company had come to enjoy the performance and wish him well too.

 

Very best wishes to David Bintley for the future.  I hope we see much more of his work in the years ahead ... he has made too many masterpieces for them just to be lost in the mists of time and the memories of his dancers and loyal audience.

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Janet thank you so much for loading these pictures. It

was  such a wonderful evening and it was a shame that it had to come to an end!!

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16 hours ago, Jan McNulty said:

Many ex-members of the company had come to enjoy the performance and wish him well too.

 

 

Spotting who was in the audience was great fun!

 

I would like to add to Janet's review and say that I think the first pdd between Maggie and Mossop is one of the most beautiful in any ballet.

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I saw Lachlan Monaghan dance the Clog Dance from Hobson's Choice at a solos evening at the RBS when he was still a student, and.It struck me then that he was born to dance the role of Will Mossop, and it is great to see that that early promise has been fulfilled

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38 minutes ago, Wulff said:

I saw Lachlan Monaghan dance the Clog Dance from Hobson's Choice at a solos evening at the RBS when he was still a student, and.It struck me then that he was born to dance the role of Will Mossop, and it is great to see that that early promise has been fulfilled

 

Lachlan did the pre-performance talk with Kit Holder on Friday evening.  It was absolutely fascinating to hear both of them talking about what this ballet means to them.

 

Lachlan mentioned about doing the clog dance at RBS and on more than one occasion.  He said he was not scheduled to do this dance but was attracted to it when he saw another dancer doing it and learnt the clog dance by studying it on YouTube!  He also mentioned he was chosen to do it subsequently for a gala in respect of Dame Ninette de Valois and was coached by Michael O'Hare.

 

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SO sorry I'm going to have to miss this.  I would have loved to have seen it - but work demands I be elsewhere.  You would have thought that a work like this would have been sufficiently popular to fill more than three performances over two days - but I just checked the Sadler's website and there are 100+ seats on EVERY level for EVERY performance - and that with the cheapest seats being considerably less dear than those in Birmingham.  I honestly can't help but feel that something is not quite right with that picture.  It seems the balletic art form - outside of the ROH itself - gets ever more niche - at least in London. 

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I wonder if the general Sadler's Wells audience is drifting away from ballet - I've certainly had that feeling on a number of occasions.  I think the trouble is that Hobson's Choice, whether play, film or ballet, is probably not on people's radar much these days - but if you could actually persuade them to go I'm sure they'd love it :( 

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I don’t go to Sadler’s Wells for contemporary dance - I wonder how audience sizes compare?

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Thank you Jan for your report on Hobson's Choice, it's a long time since I saw it at Sadler's Wells.  I watched the DVD I have of this ballet - had forgotten how much fun it was!  This was the one with Michael O'Hare as Will Mossop and his brother as one of the Salvation Army.  

 

 

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1 hour ago, Margaret said:

Thank you Jan for your report on Hobson's Choice, it's a long time since I saw it at Sadler's Wells.  I watched the DVD I have of this ballet - had forgotten how much fun it was!  This was the one with Michael O'Hare as Will Mossop and his brother as one of the Salvation Army.  

 

 

 

My first performance was a Saturday afternoon in Birmingham with Marion Tait and Graham Lustig.  Kevin O'Hare danced Fred Beenstock.  IIRC in future revivals he also danced Albert Prosser (Two Pigeons or MauriceC may be able to confirm or correct me).  It was in the days before I regularly saw multiple performances in the same week.

 

I hope everyone enjoys the performances at Sadler's Wells as much as I did in Birmingham.  

 

A friend took this picture on Thursday evening.  Jonathan Lo has just been appointed as the new Music Director at Northern Ballet.

 

 

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On 23/06/2019 at 18:20, Jan McNulty said:

Very best wishes to David Bintley for the future

 

Learning a lot from everyone on this thread about a work unfamiliar to me. 🙏

 

Delighted to see that for tonight’s Young Talent Festival at the ROH Linbury, the RBS is doing Scottish Dances from Flowers of the Forest by David Bintley 

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Quite right Janet.  The official second cast with Grahame and Marion was Nick Millington as Albert Prosser and Kevin O'Hare as Fred Beanstock.  

I had a few very happy performances watching Kevin fight to keep his moustache on as he eat all the cake he could handle.  With neither Stephen Wicks or Nick coming to Birmingham Kevin moved over to be Albert Prosser, keeping Joe Cipolla as Fred, although both Mark Welford and Robert Parker taking on the role over time.

 

I am less reliable with the second cast Alice and Vickey.  I do remember Samira Said as the most ridiculously elegant and beautiful Northern shop girl you could possibly imagine.  I remember Anne Marie Little and Simone Clarke at times as well as the late Jane Billson with Andrew Allen as Alice and Albert.

 

So many great memories over the years!

 

I saw Samira on Saturday night.  Still as beautiful as ever.  Seems rather unfair really.

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On 25/06/2019 at 09:56, Bruce Wall said:

SO sorry I'm going to have to miss this.  I would have loved to have seen it - but work demands I be elsewhere.  You would have thought that a work like this would have been sufficiently popular to fill more than three performances over two days - but I just checked the Sadler's website and there are 100+ seats on EVERY level for EVERY performance - and that with the cheapest seats being considerably less dear than those in Birmingham.  I honestly can't help but feel that something is not quite right with that picture.  It seems the balletic art form - outside of the ROH itself - gets ever more niche - at least in London. 

 

I've just booked for Friday. I was holding off until nearer the time to make sure the weather forecast wasn't going to change to horribly hot, like it's going to be on Saturday. Maybe other people are likewise waiting on the weather?

 

I've only been to Sadler's Wells twice before and both those occasions were back in 2009, so I was surprised to find it still has my details in its system!

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1 hour ago, Two Pigeons said:

Quite right Janet.  The official second cast with Grahame and Marion was Nick Millington as Albert Prosser and Kevin O'Hare as Fred Beanstock.  

I had a few very happy performances watching Kevin fight to keep his moustache on as he eat all the cake he could handle.  With neither Stephen Wicks or Nick coming to Birmingham Kevin moved over to be Albert Prosser, keeping Joe Cipolla as Fred, although both Mark Welford and Robert Parker taking on the role over time.

 

I am less reliable with the second cast Alice and Vickey.  I do remember Samira Said as the most ridiculously elegant and beautiful Northern shop girl you could possibly imagine.  I remember Anne Marie Little and Simone Clarke at times as well as the late Jane Billson with Andrew Allen as Alice and Albert.

 

So many great memories over the years!

 

I saw Samira on Saturday night.  Still as beautiful as ever.  Seems rather unfair really.

 

I've got in my mind Samira Saidi and Chenca Williams?

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I thoroughly enjoyed it this evening. A comedy with plenty of narrative & not too much dancing for the sake of dancing is exactly to my taste! I thought the cast were excellent, especially Samara Downs & Lachlan Monaghan.

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Posted (edited)

A few rather random comments & questions on last night.

 

I've only seen BRB once before, a schools' matinee of The Nutcracker back in 1995. I find it rather amazing that two of the dancers in that performance, Jonathan Payn & Marion Tait, were also in last night's performance. I hadn't realised until I read the programme that BRB doesn't have character artists - I'd assumed they had the same structure as the RB, being an off-shoot - so Payn is a first soloist. His biography only really lists character roles but did he used to do "proper" soloist roles?

 

I thought the piece was the most play-like ballet I've seen. It basically was a play but done in dance rather than in words. The only dancing-for-the-sake-of-dancing bit was the Salvation Army scene. I found it interesting that that short scene included more principals than the main cast did. Does Bintley usually cast everything on "suitability" rather than rank or is this piece an exception? I was very glad that I went for as far forward as I could get, row C stalls, so I could see all the acting clearly. I imagine it's a piece where you really need to be able to see facial expressions to enjoy it fully.

 

I doubt there's much audience crossover between ballet & Mischief Theatre but I found Lachlan Monahgan as Will reminded me strongly of Dave Hearn as Max in the Goes Wrong shows (anyone know what I'm talking about?).

 

I'm now eyeing up their Giselle in November but I wouldn't want to book before knowing the cast, which presumably they won't announce until a couple of weeks beforehand, & I suspect that a popular ballet like Giselle will already have sold out before then. I guess I'll have to wait & see. I certainly don't want to leave it another 24 years before seeing BRB again!

 

PS When looking at the pictures of past casts in the programme I spotted Alexander Campbell as Will. I can't imagine him in the role: he seems far too good-looking & confident!

Edited by Dawnstar
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36 minutes ago, Dawnstar said:

A few rather random comments & questions on last night.

 

I've only seen BRB once before, a schools' matinee of The Nutcracker back in 1995. I find it rather amazing that two of the dancers in that performance, Jonathan Payn & Marion Tait, were also in last night's performance. I hadn't realised until I read the programme that BRB doesn't have character artists - I'd assumed they had the same structure as the RB, being an off-shoot - so Payn is a first soloist. His biography only really lists character roles but did he used to do "proper" soloist roles?

 

 

Birmingham Royal Ballet hasn't been an offshoot of the Royal Ballet for over 20 years!  

 

Jonathan Payn was a terrific dancer although he has concentrated more on character roles for the last few years.  Fans of Birmingham Royal Ballet are SO VERY LUCKY that Marion Tait's move to the ballet staff in 1995 (when she gave up principal roles) did not mean that she gave up character roles.  She lights up the stage just by setting foot on it!  In a full circle sort of way, she was the first Maggie Hobson I saw.

 

I think David Bintley has tended to cast by suitability for his own ballets.  With Hobson's Choice (although created on principals) this has been particularly evident in my opinion.

 

Alex Campbell is a superlative actor and I have been privileged to see all six of his performances as Will Mossop - 3 in Hong Kong in 2011 where he made his debut in his final season with BRB and 3 in Birmingham in 2012 when he came back as a guest due to other dancers injuries.  He was also a breath-taking and heartbreaking Cyrano.  David Bintley used to publicly refer to him as the Boy Wonder.

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23 minutes ago, Jan McNulty said:

 

Birmingham Royal Ballet hasn't been an offshoot of the Royal Ballet for over 20 years!  

 

I know they split quite a long time ago but I would have expected BRB to have had the same structure of dancers as the RB prior to the split & then to have kept it, but evidently not. Thank you for the rest of the information.

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5 hours ago, Dawnstar said:

 

I know they split quite a long time ago but I would have expected BRB to have had the same structure of dancers as the RB prior to the split & then to have kept it, but evidently not. Thank you for the rest of the information.

 

As far as I am aware they have never had exactly the same structure.   BRB is a smaller company (and was even smaller when the split happened).

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