At opening night for Matthew Bourne’s “Cinderella,” Eric Idle, “Spamalot” author and Monty Python alum, called himself a “big fan” of the director-choreographer’s work, naming “The Car Man,” “Play Without Words” and the all-male “Swan Lake,” among the productions he’s seen during the past 20 years.
Minnie Driver, another self-professed Bourne admirer, also joined the star-studded audience for this Wednesday night performance, bringing along her mom.
The theatrical dance production of “Cinderella,” directed and choreographed by Bourne for New Adventures, opened Wednesday at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. Following curtain calls, the cast joined friends and VIP guests for an after-party at the nearby restaurant Vespaio.
More famous faces dotting the theater included Olympic figure skaters Adam Rippon and Meryl Davis, actors Conrad Ricamora (“How to Get Away with Murder”), Barrett Foa (“NCIS: Los Angeles”), Jeanine Mason (“Roswell, New Mexico”), Barry Bostwick (“Rocky Horror Picture Show”), Gabrielle Ruiz (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”), Mara Marini (“Parks and Recreation”), and Russ Tamblyn (“West Side Story”), writers Bruce Vilanch and Peter Paige, former Miss India Pooja Batra and “Mary Poppins” composer Richard M. Sherman.
Set in London during World War II, this version of the classic fairy tale has Cinderella meeting her prince — a shell-shocked RAF pilot — as bombs rain down upon the city. Instead of the usual fairy godmother, an elegant silver-suited angel glides through the tale and guides Cinderella to the romance at the heart of the story.
Early in the evening, Vilanch, attending with Dr. Barry Kohn, founder of Physician Volunteers for the Arts, said he sees all of Bourne’s ballets, including an earlier production of “Cinderella” at the Ahmanson. “It’s as beautiful as I remember it,” said the two-time Emmy winner for the Academy Awards telecasts.
Although the story has remained the same, at the after-party Bourne said that this version has now been “reconceived, reconfigured and reorganized.” He then added that he always enjoys bringing his work to Los Angeles. “I’m an L.A. guy,” he said, describing the local audiences as warm and welcoming.
Seated at a table on the covered patio, Sherman autographed a “Mary Poppins” book for Bourne. Played by Jason Schwartzman in “Saving Mr. Banks,” Sherman and his brother, Robert, co-wrote the score for the original 1964 Disney film, which included such numbers as “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” and later became a theatrical production, which Bourne co-choreographed.
Recently having starred in the Ahmanson’s “Soft Power,” Ricamora sat at the bar beside Jeigh Madjus, soon to appear on Broadway in “Moulin Rouge.” He described the ballet as “gorgeous,” as well as “unexpected,” saying, “This was the least precious ‘Cinderella’ I’ve ever seen — darker and rougher … but she also seemed stronger than a lot of other ‘Cinderellas.’ ”
“The part is so amazing,” said Ashley Shaw, the night’s Cinderella. “To have as a contrast two characters to play in the show: the glamorous Cinderella and the more downtrodden one … and to be doing it six times a week — it’s a dream come true.”
Andrew Monaghan, who played the pilot, said he appreciated that his role had more substance than the usual fairy tale prince. “In our version, you have the whole backstory. You have the war, the pilot with post-traumatic stress,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate to dance a lot of incredible roles. [Bourne’s] work is so fantastic and rich, especially for men.”
“Cinderella” continues through March 10 at the Ahmanson Theatre. For tickets or further information, call (213) 972-4400 or visit centertheatregroup.org.