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3 hours ago, alison said:

I did wonder.  Just like old times ...  Have they still got all the dancers' signed photos up in there?

I don’t know but the Shakespeare and the Harlequin was were you could meet the dancers from SWRB , as a fan I did meet David Ashmole, Alain Dubreuil and Carl Myers such nice fellows . David was taken far too early ,Carl I was told emigrated to NZ ,Alain i believe coaches and travels lot 

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For anyone wondering who the wonderful cymbal player was, it was Lennert Steegen.  He certainly played the cymbals at every performance I saw in Birmingham and assume he did in London too.

 

Given that Brandon Lawrence was previously a cymbal player I now have great expectations of this young man!

 

https://www.brb.org.uk/profile/lennart-steegen

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I feel he should have got a credit on the cast sheet. On Friday he pretty much stole the show in the Salvation Army section!

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Posted (edited)

I am rather tardy with this report but I cannot let some of the happiest evenings I have ever had at the theatre go unremarked.  I was in something of a sulk about the fact that both my shows at the Hippodrome were to feature the same cast.  Oddly enough as it panned out it worked in our favour.  those of you who know me will be very aware that for the last 37 years the primary driving force behind much of my ballet going was Stephen Wicks whom I extremely proud to call a close friend.  when I married hubby in 2012 Wicky insisted on coming to the wedding and they met for the first time.  He also came to my mother's funeral the following year and from the start they got on really well.  Alan. who had previously shown absolutely no intererst in ballet whatsoever, became almost obsessed with seeing Hobson's Choice so we watched the excellent DVD of the orginal cast from time to time.  this was all after the ballet had had its last outing when the exceptionally good casts of Ambra Vallo and Alex Campbell or Elisha Willis and the great Robert Parker so we had to wait for another 7 years.

 

Rumours began circulating that it was coming back at the end of 2018/19 and that Lachlan Monaghan was the likely first choice for Will Mossop.  The moment the booking opened I rang the Hippodrome and got two seats for the Friday night and as the box office guy was so helpful I decided to get two more for the Saturday evening in case there was anything special for David Bintley's farewell.  As homework we watched the David Lean film and the first cast DVD again but Alan was less than keen on seeing the same work two evenings running.  I just smiled prettily and hoped for the best.

 

I was getting more and more excited about seeing this favourite lovely ballet again and as we got closer to the performances Alan's attitude changed as soon as he heard Wicky was coming to the final night, so two performances it was.  I have indicated earlier how impressed I was with Max Maslan and, on the whole, I was pretty happy with all of the cast with an honourable mention for Mr Steegen on the cymbols.  I really should not have told Alan to pay attention as he sort of missed absolutely everyone else who was dancing the hearts out while banging tambourines.

 

However, there was one performance by which I less than persuaded and that was Dominic Antonucci as Henry Hobson.  He is someone I like very much but I thought his performance was very sketchy and he omitted some details which I remembered from seeing Desmond Kelly (and Wicky for that matter) some years ago.  In fact Desmond was the person I missed most from the old days.  This was slighly ironic as the following night he was the first person I saw (talking to lovely Sheila Lyon-Hitchman, our much missed Friends' coordinator). At least I had the chance to tell him how much I had missed him.  

 

The Saturday evening was one of those nights at the Hippodrome we have very rarely these days.  lots of ballet illuminati, previous dancers and friends all together discussing happy memories.  it was absolutely right that David B had a great send off.  He has done so much to keep the company going through very lean times and he has created a very talent troupe of excellent dancers.  OK, some of his ballets didn't work out entirely well but those that did were glorious and Hobson's is the pick of the lot.

 

Lovely evening, lovely show.  We took my nephew and his girlfriend who really enjoyed it all (full marks to Mr Steegen once again) and seeing Sir Peter on stage completed it all.

 

By this time hubby had gone from 'I don't want to see the same show twice' to 'let's go to Sadler's Wells for the very last one'.  I must stress here that he remained fixed in his real liking of Max Maslan who reminded him so much of John Mills in the film.  So, we were all booked up for the Wells (as it will always be in my heart and head) and we battled on, despite the hottest June day in my life time.  We had arranged to meet that man again and one of my oldest going ballet companions in the Shakespeare's Head.  the last time I remember being in there was in 1990 for the last night of SWRB performing at the old Wells theatre.  I am sure I have been there since but the main point here is that it had not changed an iota in almost 30 years.  It was still a real locals pub, unbelieveably shabby and full of old framed sigh photographs the theatrical artisites of every description.  

 

Both our expected guests arrived very hot and late due to humoungous issues with the tube.  By this point I was feeling like an oversteamed suet pudding but was past caring by then.  It was so hot it reminded me of the old days in the 80s when sitting and sweltering in the Amphi or the Balcony at the Coli before both theatres got air conditioning. 

 

there were lots of dancers from the old days.  Samira and Alain Dubreuil looked as stunning as ever, making we feel even more like a limp and moist lettuce leaf, but even they were outshone when I saw Mark Welford for the first time for 12 years.  It was great to chat to him but he was with the utterly exquisite Leticia Muller and she hadn't changed a bit from 1996 and Bathsheba Everdene which I swear she could have done it all over again.  She really is still one of the great beauties of the dance world.

 

I know that there were lots of dancers past and present there but they were all in the circle and we were in the stalls but we saw a fair number of them in the distance, not least throwing carnations at the end.  we were in the middle of the stalls and it was an absolute hoot to watch the reactions of the audience as they gradually clocked Mr Steegen on his cymbols totally stealing the show.  As it was the very last show he appeared in the finale as well and nearly ran off with that too as everyone was dancing on the shop floor.

 

I don't want to get into a which cast was best as both had tremendous highs but I will say that, for me, Lachlan and Samara Downs were destined to play Will and Maggie and they gelled together really well.  What I do think made a big difference was the ever constant and much underrated Jonathan Payn as Hobson.  He got everything absolutely right and it was like seeing Desmond Kelly all over again and, for me, it lifted the whole show.  Hubby, now a self appointed expert on Hobson's Choice really enjoyed it all but remained faithful to liking Max Maslan the best.

 

On our way out we saw everyone filing into the pub and as we returned to our hotel we agreed that absolutely everything, the cost, the effort, the heat was worth it to have been there on David Bintley's (and possibly Hobson's) farewell to BRB as director.  The occasion was much less formal than at the Hippodrome.  the banner with 'Thank You David' was a lovely touch, Sir Peter repeated his speech from the week before and David said a few words.  I cannot explain it that clearly but I felt the Hippodrome was all about the the BRB years with its formal dinner for wealthy subscribers and the Wells was all about the Dancers, past and present.  Given that David had started his career with SWRB at the Wells I felt it very appropriate that the very last show was there.

 

BRB open next season with David's Giselle and the RB are reviving Tombeaux (his finest one act in my opinion) he will not be forgotten.  Wicky tells me that David has a lot of work in the pipeline although I believe he and his family are staying in Birmingham to live.

 

I had decided that this is very likely to be my last visit to the ballet but certainly to London and I though I could not ask for a better finish.  However, before we left the theatre the four of us had agreed to meet up again in the Autumn to see Coppelia at the Opera House which Wicky is helping to revive.  At the end of the day there are more important things than money!

 

p.s.  many congratulations to Mathias Dingman who I reckon was in every one of the nine performances, either as Fred Beanstock or in the 'Roland Price'  role in the Salvation Army.  He was almost as good as Mr Steegen.

Edited by Two Pigeons
p.s. added
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What a wonderful post, 2P.  Thanks so much!

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I would just like to reiterate my friend Two Pigeons review of the last night of Hobson's Choice at Sadlers Wells - a lovely if somewhat bittersweet evening.  It was a long time ago now that the company moved to Birmingham and we have seen friends come and go and some go on to be Directors of other companies.  Bintley played an enormous part in this move and the company's current excellent standard and the banner Thank you David said it all.  I hope this is not the last we see of Hobson's Choice but I have my doubts.  If you have not seen Tombeaux you are in for a treat next season.  I certainly missed Desmond Kelly's authority in the role of Hobson and of course no-one can come close to Michael O'Hare as Will but it is obvious they have all been coached by said Mr O'Hare.  Lovely to see Stephen Wicks who was also a stalwart from SWRB days.

 

I had a complete about turn last night at Sadlers Wells as I went to see Sir Matthew Bourne's new R&J - more of which later.

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Lovely to hear from you Snow Queen.  We had a lovely time didn't we.  You have made me think, whatever happened to our two favourite wolves?  

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P.s. trust you to mention  young Mr O'Hare!  But you are right that his coaching influence was pretty clearly on view.  If you had seen the other cast you would have done lots of double takes watching Max Maslen.  It was like seeing Michael all over again.

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Just caught up with this thread that was a really lovely post Two Pigeons Thankyou. 

Did you say the RB are reviving Tombeaux? Is this in the 2019-20 season?

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Yes indeed.  It's scheduled to be part of a triple bill next June.

 

I was thinking about Snow Queen's comments about dancers from SWRB/BRB becoming directors.  From those I can think of we have - 

 

Kevin O'Hare obviously

Iain Webb at Sarasota Ballet

Peter Jacobsson previously at Royal Swedish Ballet now at Ballet de Lorraine

Miyako Yoshida future director of National Ballet of Japan (as far as I know) 

Graham Lustig Oakland Ballet Company

 

There are probably others which do not come to mind immediately.

 

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1 hour ago, Two Pigeons said:

Yes indeed.  It's scheduled to be part of a triple bill next June.

 

I was thinking about Snow Queen's comments about dancers from SWRB/BRB becoming directors.  From those I can think of we have - 

 

Kevin O'Hare obviously

Iain Webb at Sarasota Ballet

Peter Jacobsson previously at Royal Swedish Ballet now at Ballet de Lorraine

Miyako Yoshida future director of National Ballet of Japan (as far as I know) 

Graham Lustig Oakland Ballet Company

 

There are probably others which do not come to mind immediately.

 

 

I suppose Robert Parker could be added to that list, as artistic director of Elmhurst.

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Excellent point!  We should also include Iain Mackay as director of the Yorkshire Ballet Seminars too.  Either way, Sir Peter and David Bintley must be very proud of all their proteges.

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