Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, Romeo & Juliet

Mayflower Theatre 24-28 September

Write up by Soraya Scrivener

 

This World Premiere tour is somewhat different to the usual New Adventures set up. There are 2 casts currently in the UK, aptly named Capulet and Montague. Whilst one is rehearsing the other is performing in a different town. This production is committed to nurturing the next generation of on and off-stage talent. Joining the professional cast at each venue are 6 pre-professional ‘Young Cast’ dancers currently in training with diverse dance backgrounds including contemporary, classical and musical theatre. Many of the company have made their professional debut and some have completed their 3rd year of training whilst on the tour. New Adventures have also appointed ‘Young Associate Artists’ in choreography, design and music. I was treated to a fabulous behind the scenes rehearsal of act 1. Described as a ‘passionate and contemporary re-imagining of Shakespeare’s classic love story.’ Don’t expect sword fights and feuding families but do anticipate spectacular Bourne twists in an institution setting. There was such a youthful energy and dramatic intensity to the rehearsal, so much so that I didn’t take any photos as I didn’t want to miss anything or distract anyone. I was pleased to learn this production is accompanied by a live orchestra, something that lack of funds has prevented at times. I was initially apprehensive that Prokofiev’s magnificent score had been re-orchestrated but today’s recording hints that Terry Davies has done a superb job and Bourne’s creative choreography seems to fit the music like a glove.

I first had the pleasure of chatting to Ben Brown and Danny Reubens. Here’s a quick bio of them both:

 

Ben Brown (Mercutio) trained in musical theatre at Laine Theatre Arts and joined New Adventures in 2017 as a Swing for the UK and International tour of Cinderella.

Danny Reubens (Tybalt) started his training at the age of 18 at Rambert School of Ballet & Contemporary Dance and continued at Central School of Ballet, and in 2008 whilst in his final year joined New Adventures for the international tour of Edward Scissorhands.

 

I asked them about the young cast opportunity as every 2 weeks there’s a fresh lot and if for them ‘Is it strange because suddenly you’ve got 6 new people and don’t they do some input themselves on the creative side of things?

BB: ‘They have their own little solos that they do and then the raunchy duets they pretty much make up themselves.’

DR: ‘The whole company ethos is about supporting young professionals…Everyone’s different. That is part of the excitement behind it that there’s gonna be no show the same… A project like this would have been right up my street at this age. It’s a foot in the door… It’s the perfect way to be seen. You learn so much of what you need to do…’

 

It must keep you on your toes?

DR: ‘You’re constantly adapting your show to fit.’

BB: ‘From the start to the end of this week the difference in their shows and how they react to us and vice versa always changes completely and then by the time that we’re at the end of show week it’s almost changed completely again.’

 

What would you say to my readers to encourage them to come this week? Or what should they expect? There’s always a Bourne twist but the story is really quite different this time.

DR: It’s highly emotional, it’s highly devastating, it’s nail biting, it’s a rollercoaster of emotions and also is very topical. It questions a lot about the world we live in and what we’re dealing with… A lot of thought-provoking things and understanding the younger generation.

BB: ‘To remind them what that first love is like. When you literally just can’t keep yourself apart from them.’

DR: ‘It’s worth coming just to see the first kiss’ I have to agree this was a truly beautiful scene in rehearsal. ‘You have to come along. It’s the best thing that they’ll see all year… We do twist things… We have created different characters from the classic. Tybalt is very different…He has more mental health issues.’

BB: ‘We have the gay relationship between Mercutio and Balthasar. Everybody has their own back story as to why they are there.’

 

How have you collaborated with your equals in the other cast?

BB: ‘The rehearsal process was 6 weeks together and then we had 2 weeks in Leicester together. Then its’s pretty much been messaging one another changes between the 2 casts.’

DR:’ When we came to creating the role, we shared the responsibility. With the look as well… We also get encouraged to keep it our own.

 

How do you find company life? You came down to Southampton from Birmingham and then you’re going to Newcastle.

DR: ‘I’ve been a nomad for 12 years… It’s addictive… It’s another excuse to travel. The hardest thing is finding good digs.’ I mentioned I have one of the cast staying with me.

 

I then got to meet Alan Vincent, the Resident Director for the Montague Cast who gave notes to the cast at the end of the rehearsal session.

Alan spoke of ‘lots of highlights’ for him since joining in 1997, including the original cast of Cinderella and Swan Lake on Broadway. As a principal dancer he created many roles in his time, his first in the Car Man which is dear to him. He also humbly mentioned playing The Swan.

We chatted about how the young cast had only just learnt the choreography and Alan explained

‘It’s best to get it done as quickly as possible and then run it, run it, run it ,note it, and then work on it… It seems to work for us.’ Mentioning the rest of the cast he added ‘For over half of them it’s their first professional show. You know it’s going to be full of energy!’

 

What would you say to my readers to say come and see the show?

‘It’s super exciting! The choreography is amazing! The story is breathtaking! It’s moving! It’s shocking!… I still get really teary. It’s one of our most powerful shows…It’s face paced, super powerful, emotional. Bring tissues!’ I certainly will. I can’t wait to watch it at The Mayflower this week. Get tickets whilst you still can.

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