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Peter Schaufuss Ballet: Midnight Express
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Author:  David [ Thu Apr 04, 2013 7:14 am ]
Post subject:  Peter Schaufuss Ballet: Midnight Express

Peter Schaufuss’ "Midnight Express" at the London Coliseum

Peter Schaufuss’ "Midnight Express", which is to open at the London Coliseum on April 9, will now not feature Sergei Polunin.

A statement released today says, "Due to unforeseen circumstances, Sergei Polunin will no longer be performing in Midnight Express at the London Coliseum April 9-14. Johan Christensen from the Peter Schaufuss Ballet, who was in rehearsals with Polunin, will dance the title role of Billy Hayes in his place. The real Billy Hayes has arrived in the UK today to consult on the production."

This story takes on Hayes' six years in a Turkish Prison after being caught smuggling hashish across the border at just 23 years old.

The production will feature Igor Zelensky and Wayne Eagling as previously announced.

Listings information

Tuesday 9th preview - 7.30pm
Wednesday 10th Charity Gala - 7.30pm
Thursday 11th - 7.30pm (pre performance talk & book signing by Billy Hayes at 5.15pm (tickets £5) )
Friday 12th - 7.30pm
Saturday 13th - 2pm and 7.30pm
Sunday 14th Matinee 2pm

Tickets All Performances (Except Wed 10th Gala): £11-£85
Box office: 020 7845 9300 (£3.50 booking fee applies) or (£1.75 Booking fee applies)

Author:  ksneds [ Thu Apr 04, 2013 7:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Peter Schaufuss Ballet: Midnight Express

While I hope that all is well with Polunin, I'm not sure it's a bad sign that he decided not to dance in a Schaufuss production :o) ... 60542.html ... -out-again

Author:  David [ Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Peter Schaufuss Ballet: Midnight Express

Interview with Polunin on Bloomberg TV from March 27, before he failed to appear for rehearsals:

Bloomberg TV

I see that Zelensky has returned to Russia too, citing "artistic differences”.

I fear this does not bode well for the production.

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Peter Schaufuss Ballet: Midnight Express

The BBC reports that Polunin has turned up in Moscow, alive and well.

BBC News

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Wed Apr 10, 2013 7:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Peter Schaufuss Ballet: Midnight Express

Katie Colombus reports on Sergei Polunin for The Stage.

The Stage

Author:  David [ Wed Apr 10, 2013 7:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Peter Schaufuss Ballet: Midnight Express

Midnight Express
Peter Schaufuss Ballet
London Coliseum; April 10, 2013

Charlotte Kasner

Anyone who may be put off attending this year's production by Schaufuss Ballet after the ghastly Tchaikovsky triple bill that they presented when last in London would be making a mistake.

Thirty five years after the film of “Midnight Express” shocked so many and on the day that we hear that a British woman has been sentenced to death for drug smuggling, we now have the chance to see Billy Hayes’ story represented in dance - and it works. Sets and costumes are excellent and the lighting particularly effective. Paradoxically, the set is spacious but suggests confinement, bars sliding and flying in and out to create the sense of a vast prison complex. Bright lighting represents the burning Turkish sun outside, only a few feet away on the other side of the windows, but utterly unattainable to the inmates. Darkness descends as the guards gather to beat another inmate or Billy himself, sometimes fatally.

The opening is extremely effective as the smuggling attempt is danced against the soundtrack of a heartbeat that gets faster and more stressed until Billy's arrest. Not original but nonetheless effective for all that. The first interrogation scene, danced by the guards wielding chairs will draw inevitable comparisons with Christopher Bruce’s seminal “Swansong”, as will Billy’s exit towards the light at the end, except that here, he is walking to real freedom.

Yes, this is Billy Hayes’ story but this is an ensemble piece with strong dancing and acting from all the cast. In spite of the much publicised and precipitous departure of Sergei Polunin and the less spectacular one of Igor Zelensky, the work was none the poorer. In fact, it perhaps made the collective nature of the work more effective as no one’s ego got in the way of the telling the story, which is no less harrowing with the passage of time. Incidentally, the production team are to be congratulated in getting the programme out with the new details and so little turnaround time.

It is the subject of this ballet that is innovative; the choreography is not especially original, although it is at times exciting and always effective in serving the narrative. The end of Act I is stunning and what Anthony Dowell would call a ‘gut-buster’ as the men jump straight up onto the table time and time again and bang their metal mugs rhythmically. It could have been a piece by DV8.

The duet for Billy and his father, played by Wayne Eagling, the only survivor of the original ‘names’ in the cast is extremely moving. It is all about line with extensions and arabesques proving that dance should not just be confined to the young. You can almost hear the recriminations and forgiveness in their interactions. A later visit by his girlfriend, danced by Simona Marsibilio is similar to the scene in the film, sends Billy down into another spiral of despair, although she provides the money for a bribe that eventually leads to Billy’s escape.

Schaufuss daringly includes an allegorical figure, an angel of death; in fact two angels as the prisoners who die have their own personal nemesis. Not least, it provides two more roles for female dancers and an opportunity for some serviceable pas de deux.

The music is a mix of popular songs (the “Istanbul Blues” being achingly apposite) and Mozart. It should be a cliché, but it really works. Schaufuss has selected some of the most popular and sublime works (the “Requiem”, “Ave Verum” and “Elvira Madigan” to name but three) and it comes as a blessed relief from the relentless horror and violence of the setting.

But, this is without doubt Johan Christensen’s night. Catapulted into the lead following minimal understudy's rehearsal in true Hollywood style, he is uncannily like Billy Hayes himself (present on stage at the opening). At only 20 years old, he not only has the technique and stamina to carry off the role but the dramatic maturity to be convincing. His Bournonville training showed throughout in expressive ports de bras and everlasting extensions. This is not a role that would suit a vast ego and it does not really provide a chance for bravura dancing. It is much more subtle than that. Let us hope that Christensen is given opportunities to develop slowly and fully and that we see much more of him in the future. Those lucky enough to catch this production can say they saw him here first.

Ballet-Dance also interviewed Wayne Eagling prior to the opening night, which will appear in the magazine pages in due course.

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Thu Apr 11, 2013 1:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Peter Schaufuss Ballet: Midnight Express

Press reviews of "Midnight Express."

Donald Hutera for The Times.

The Times

Judith Mackrell for the Guardian.


Ismene Brown for the Arts Desk.

Arts Desk

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Sun Sep 29, 2013 1:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Peter Schaufuss Ballet: Midnight Express

The Daily Mail reports that Peter Schaufuss Ballet is filing legal action against both Sergei Polunin and Igor Zelensky for breach of contract.

Daily Mail

Author:  Cassandra [ Mon Sep 30, 2013 3:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Peter Schaufuss Ballet: Midnight Express

Hardly a surprise. Totally unprofessional conduct from both these dancers.

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Thu Jun 05, 2014 11:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Peter Schaufuss Ballet: Midnight Express

The BBC reports that Peter Schaufuss has agreed to an out-of-court settlement with Sergei Polunin and Igor Zelensky.

BBC News

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