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Entertainment & Arts

While Matthew Bourne’s ‘Swan Lake’ sizzled, we watched in the wings. Here’s what we saw

Dancers exit the stage and thread their way past set pieces tucked in the wings during a matinee of Matthew Bourne’s “Swan Lake” at the Ahmanson Theatre.
Dancers exit the stage and thread their way past set pieces tucked in the wings during a matinee of Matthew Bourne’s “Swan Lake” at the Ahmanson Theatre.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

The quest for love in a cruel, cruel world. That sounds familiar enough. But then throw in words like radical and spectacular and fresh and feisty, and you have Matthew Bourne’s “Swan Lake.”

The groundbreaking, feather-ruffling production has returned to Los Angeles, where it had its U.S. premiere in 1997. In his Times review, Lewis Segal reported the production to be as gloriously relevant as ever, the all-male swan-dancers proving to be “bare-chested virtuosos whose sense of menace kept the work from collapsing into short-lived camp.”

Center Theatre Group allowed The Times to camp out in the wings of the stage during a recent student matinee, capturing the dance drama from a different point of view. To see the show from a more conventional vantage point, join the audience for performances running through Jan. 5.

Hamilton High School students get the obligatory selfie before heading into the Ahmanson to see Matthew Bourne’s “Swan Lake.”
Hamilton High School students take the obligatory selfie before heading into the Ahmanson to see Matthew Bourne’s “Swan Lake.”
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
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Max Westwell, who alternates as the Swan, has the signature Bourne makeup applied backstage.
Max Westwell, who alternates as the Swan, has the signature Bourne makeup applied backstage.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
Nicole Kabera, who plays the cold Queen, gets final touches to her royal hair.
Nicole Kabera, who plays the cold Queen, gets the final touches done to her royal hair.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
Goodbye track jacket, hello shimmering dress: The view from the wings as the Queen greets the guards.
Goodbye track jacket, hello shimmering dress: The view from the wings as the Queen greets the palace guards.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
The cast of Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake perform at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, California on Thursday, December 12, 2019.
The swans have landed. Bourne’s famed corp is part enchantment and part menace.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

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Max Westwell as the Swan has a particular pull on the prince.
Max Westwell as the Swan with a particular pull on the prince.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
Andrew Monaghan as the Prince struggling with his feelings — not to mention mommy.
Andrew Monaghan as the Prince struggling with his feelings — not to mention his mommy.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
Darkness and light at the Ahmanson.
Darkness and light at the Ahmanson.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
Curtain call. The production, which has been receiving a rapturous reception, runs through Jan. 5.
Curtain call for the production, which has been receiving a rapturous reception, runs through Jan. 5.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

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Matthew Bourne's 'Swan Lake'
Where: Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., L.A.

When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1:30 and 7 p.m. Sundays, through Jan. 5 (check for exceptions)

Tickets: $35-$145 (subject to change)

Info: (213) 972-4400 or www.centertheatregroup.org

Running time: 2 hour, 20 minutes (including one intermission)

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