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BRB Midscale Tour South West 2012

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Cornwall is such a beautiful county and I didn't really need the excuse of the BRB Midscale Tour being in Truro to visit!


The Midscale South West Tour 2012 comprised Take Five, White Swan adagio, excerpt from Two Pigeons gypsy encampment, Concerto pdd and The Grand Tour.


We saw three wonderful performances of Take Five, including the one I described that was part of Robert Parker's final performance (http://www.balletcoforum.com/index.php?/topic/929-thank-you-and-good-luck-to-robert-parker/).


The bite-sized ballet could have looked awkward given that the three excerpts were danced completely out of context. It was admirable, therefore, that all the casts we saw were able to convey something of the roles.


I must say that Celine Gittens and Tyrone Singleton were breath-taking in the White Swan adagio. Celine was every inch the frightened, tortured swan princess with her beautiful arms and hands and elegance of line. Tyrone Singleton is simply born to dance the Prince. Together they were dynamite and I really hope that we get to see them perform the full Swan Lake together in the Autumn (if they do - beg, steal or borrow a ticket!).


The Two Pigeons excerpt was danced by all three casts we saw with panache and enthusiasm.


The pdd from Concerto is very beautiful and we saw three gorgeous performaces. Callie Roberts and Tom Rogers were divine together.


I really didn't know what to make of The Grand Tour. I watched Friday evening's performance with open-mouthed disbelief. By the end of Saturday evening's performance I was really enjoying it and I'm very much looking forward to seeing it again! It's very stylised and full of famous characters. It is set on a cruise-liner in the late 1920s and the costumes are to die for. The "story" is centred around an American tourist who is looked down upon by the celebrities on the cruise. She helps a couple of stowaways and, in turn, she is looked after by the Chief Steward. There's some nice choreography for the stewards and the stowaways and a very touching duet for the tourist and the chief steward. There are vignettes for the celebrities who include Noel Coward, Douglas Fairbans, Gertrude Lawrence and Theda Bara.


It is one of those demi-caractere ballets at which Birmingham Royal Ballet excels and the dancers all performed with panache. Both the always wonderful Victoria Marr and youngster Jade Heuson were fabulous as the American Tourist. I particularly liked Callie Roberts as Theda Bara and Samara Downs as Gertrude Lawrence. Matthew Lawrence excelled as Noel Coward and Robert Parker was a dashing Douglas Fairbanks.


I personally would have started the evening with The Grand Tour and ended with Take Five but all round it was a very enjoyable programme and we enjoyed three terrific performances.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is a report on BRB’s South-West Mid-scale tour. I saw all the performances – three at Poole and three at Truro. It was very successful and very well received with good attendances and enthusiastic audiences. I can’t resist quoting what a friend overheard a lady say to her companion after the final, Wednesday evening performance in Poole. “I wish we had come last night then we could have come again this evening and seen it twice”.


I am sorry that this posting is so late. But since there has been only one other posting on this topic I thought it was a case of better late than never.


BRB now seems to have settled on a suitable format for programming the mid-scale tours. It is to take two complete one-act ballets plus a number of shorter pieces, mostly pas de deux. This does work very well and appears to be what audiences want.


For the SW tour this year the short pieces were an excerpt from the gypsy camp scene in The Two Pigeons plus two pas de deux : from the white Act of Swan Lake and from Concerto. This almost became the Celine Gittens – Tyrone Singleton show for they did all three at different times and were outstanding in every one of them. If I have a favourite it was the White-Swan pas de deux. Almost as busy were Natasha Oughtred (and it was good to see her back on stage) and Jamie Bond who danced the two pas de deux. I can make it nice and symmetrical by choosing the Concerto pas de deux as my favourite from them. I had wondered how The Two Pigeons excerpt would work when taken out of context but it was fine. I think it helped that all the dancers in this, and there were three casts, had recently been in the full ballet.


Preceding this and opening the programme was Take Five and the finishing ballet was a revival of The Grand Tour. However I will consider them in the opposite order.


The Grand Tour was choreographed in 1971 for what was then Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet by Joe Layton a choeographer and sometimes director of Broadway musicals. I think it is not unfair to say he was not in the very top rank but he did some good work and had a decent career. The most famous show he worked on was The Sound of Music for which he did the choreography. If you have seen that show, and who hasn’t, you will realize that it contains very little dancing. You could say the same about The Grand Tour. The scene is set on a liner such as those which many years ago people used to get from Southampton to New York. On the liner are eight stars and celebrities of one sort or another, who were very famous in the nineteen twenties and thirties. Even in 1971 most of these were of distant memory and so Leyton needs his dancers to sketch out their characters. BRB dancers are very good at this sort of thing but Leyton gives them very little to work on. In the end, it seemed to me that what we got was caricatures. Many of these people were very considerable artists or writers and I think they deserved better than that. However, the ballet was well received by audiences who laughed a lot and applauded a lot. It did stand up to multiple viewings and I think most people will find parts of it amusing.


Maybe because the score was an arrangement of Noel Coward’s music and it was not good policy to annoy him, he and his chum, Gertrude Lawrence, came out best. I liked Matthew Lawrence and Robert Parker as Coward and Elisha Willis and Samara Downs as Lawrence. One highlight is when the Coward on stage has to mime to the recording of the real Coward singing “Half-Caste Woman”. Matthew Lawrence does this so well that it does look as if he is singing and not just miming. The leading role is actually none of the celebrities but an American Lady tourist. Victoria Marr was very good in the role as was Jade Heusen. It may well be the biggest role I have seen Jade dance and I was pleased she had been given such an important part and that she had seized the chance so well


Take Five is one of a series of one-act jazz ballets which David Bintley created a few years back. Most are very good indeed and it is difficult to pick out the best. But Take Five is surely in the running. I find it fast, fresh and fun and when it is danced as well as it was in the South West it is exhilarating to watch. My only regret is that it was programmed as the opener. I would have preferred it to have ended the show.


The ballet has a small cast which I would describe as three supporting girls, three supporting men, two leading girls and two leading men. One of the latter has what I suspect is the hardest thing to do namely Flying Solo which is long, fast and must be exhausting, not that the dancers show that. I usually find that when that goes well so does the whole ballet and this is what happened. The role was shared by Jamie Bond and Joe Caley and I guess we were entitled to expect fireworks from them and that is what we got. Flying Solo is followed by Two Step which is almost a pas de deux. It was beautifully danced by Elisha Willis and Robert Parker in one cast and in the other by Celine Gittens and Tyrone Singleton (those two again!!).


I started with a quote and I’ll end with one. There was an event on Saturday lunchtime in Truro when Jamie Bond kindly answered lots of questions from BRB Friends in the SW. At the end a lady made what I thought were some charming remarks. She said, and I paraphrase:” It was so good to have a visit by a company of the quality of BRB as in the far South West they felt a long way away. She hoped that BRB would continue to come to Truro as these visits were very much appreciated”. I think that shows how significant these mid-scale tours are and how important it is that they continue.




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I heartily agree with the last remark about BRB coming to the South West. We have very much missed the Spring visit to the Theatre Royal in Plymouth this year although it is not a mid-scale tour. I gather there will be an Autumn tour to Plymouth but they used to come twice a year. I find the audiences in Plymouth very enthusiastic and people travel from Somerset, Cornwall and all over Devon to attend. The performances seem to be well attended and the Theatre Royal is an excellent venue, you can see very well from virtually every seat. I don't know the reason for the lack of a Plymouth visit this spring. It may well be a funding issue. Maybe someone knows? I do hope they continue these tours as well as the mid-scale tours in future

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Pat - if I had to take an educated guess, I believe there was a "big" musical on in the Theatre Royal for several weeks at the time of BRB's Spring Tour. There may have been other reasons but I really don't know.

Thank you Janet. An educated guess is fine. I am hoping that it is a one-off, not a sign of things to come!
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I know a number of friends who are hoping for a return to normal with a spring visit too. Although I don't get down to Plymouth very often, when I first came down the company used to do three seasons in Plymouth with one in June or July too. I remember a very happy week of Sleeping Beauties at the end of June 2003!

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I know a number of friends who are hoping for a return to normal with a spring visit too. Although I don't get down to Plymouth very often, when I first came down the company used to do three seasons in Plymouth with one in June or July too. I remember a very happy week of Sleeping Beauties at the end of June 2003!

Yes, me too. I don't remember BRB doing three visits to Plymouth but certainly two full scale tours plus a mid-scale visit to Exeter, which was always enjoyable.
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