After months of rumors, false starts and international negotiations, Los Angeles audiences will see the American premiere of a controversial, radically updated British production of “Swan Lake.”
Complete with bare-chested male swans and a royal family that closely resembles the scandal-plagued Windsors, this unorthodox interpretation of the classic ballet will open at the Music Center on April 25, replacing “The Play’s the Thing” in the Center Theatre Group season at the Ahmanson.
Since plans to take the production to Broadway have been postponed until next year, the two-month Ahmanson run (ending June 15) will be the only U.S. engagement of this “Swan Lake” in 1997, said Charles Dillingham, managing director of Center Theatre Group, the production’s principal producer in L.A.
Choreographed by Matthew Bourne to the score by Tchaikovsky, “Swan Lake” has just finished a six-month run in the West End of London (an unprecedented success for a ballet), won a number of major prizes, including the Olivier Award for best dance production of 1996, and was telecast by the BBC.
“I was totally blown away by the invention of it,” said Gordon Davidson, artistic director of Center Theatre Group, earlier this week. “It’s dance, nonverbal--but it’s also the essence of theater, and exactly what audiences in L.A. ought to be encountering.”
The London run made a media star out of Adam Cooper, a young Royal Ballet principal who appeared with Bourne’s company as a guest and will again play the dual role of the White Swan and Black Swan in Los Angeles. The great Royal Ballet veteran Lynn Seymour will dance the Queen Mother, the ballet’s principal female role. Other roles will be taken by members of Bourne’s 10-year-old company, Adventures in Motion Pictures.
According to the CTG’s Dillingham, the negotiations to bring the production to Los Angeles have been complicated by scheduling conflicts and putting together a group of producers to foot the bill. The associate producers for the production now include UCLA Center for the Performing Arts, Jujamcyn Theaters and Tannenbaum & Co., LLC.