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 Post subject: On Your Toes ....Adam Cooper at the Royal Festival Hall
PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2003 8:05 am 
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On Your Toes preview Mon 4th August 7.30 pm





It’s New York in the 1930’s and the Russian Ballet has arrived to spice up the quiet life of Professor Dolan and his music students.

Adam Cooper has taken Rogers and Hart’s classic 1936 musical and re-choreographed, re-vamped and revitalized it. The witty lyrics and beautiful melodies are brought zing up-to-date with some terrific tap routines, classical ballet and jazz dancing.

The unlikely plot must be accepted at face value; a third generation vaudeville hoofer Junior Dolan (Adam Cooper) is sent to college by his showbiz parents to prevent him going off the rails and succumbing to his ‘lower nature’! He becomes a professor of music, teaching a talented group of students which includes Frankie Frayn (Anna-Jane Casey) who idolises him, and Sidney Cohn (Simon Coulthard), a budding young composer.

Whilst nurturing Frankie’s creativity with some after-class tuition, Junior starts to fall in love with her. She has witnessed the Professor tap-dancing in an unguarded moment
of nostalgia for his dancing days…his tap shoes are a constant memento in his briefcase!

They dream of escaping together to ‘A Small Hotel’ where they can be together in peace.
Her plans are of matrimony and quiet bliss, but……..

Then things start to get complicated with the arrival of the Russian stars. The sultry prima ballerina Vera Baranova (Sarah Wildor) is looking to pay back her straying boyfriend Konstantine Morrosine ( Irek Mukhamedov), and make him jealous. Junior is visiting the Ballet to promote Sidney’s new jazz-ballet music. One dance with the eastern temptress and he is hooked! Sarah Wildor, ex-principal with the Royal Ballet, shone as an
actor/dancer in the recent run of ‘Contact’. Tonight she gets into her role as the manipulative, temperamental diva, with a wonderful ‘rrrusssiann’ accent, and excellent comic timing. She seduces Junior on her softly cushioned bed. As he leaps onto the divan the scene closes……….

The funniest moments come during the Princess Zenobia ballet. Any Kirov fans that have seen Scherherazade and La Bayadere recently will recognize the source of the plot and the dead furry Tiger on a stick too! Junior is persuaded to join the corps de ballet as a slave to replace an absent dancer. But despite his dancing roots and enthusiasm, he is ill-prepared, under-rehearsed and unfamiliar with the make-up requirements! Watching the glorious Cooper dancing badly and creating havoc big-time is a revelation and a treat! And boy, can he swing from a rope! I almost expected a Tarzan-like ‘Aah-ooh-aah’ with chest-beating! It is such fun to see the chaos he causes!

Irek Mukhamedov as ‘the Beggar’ shows us that he can still light up the stage with his Bolshoi-trained leaps and pirouettes. He is a talented actor too, though the accent comes naturally!

The second half opens with Junior pondering his love-triangle predicament with the
help of Peggy Porterfield (Kathryn Evans), who is the manager of the Russian Ballet.

Her pearls of wisdom are conveyed through the song ‘The heart is quicker than the eye’
which includes a delicious tango. Junior is none the wiser but appreciates her advice.

The Russian Ballet maestro Sergei Alexandrovitch (Russell Dixon) is blackmailed by Peggy into producing Sidney’s new work ‘Slaughter on 10th Avenue’

The dancers come to meet the music students at the college, and they all dance together
in the superb ‘On Your Toes’ routine. Adam has introduced some new choreography into this number, so that now Junior and Frankie have a tap-dancing duet before the swirling circles of ballet girls on pointe, leaping male dancers and tappers in ‘Fred and Ginger’ outfits bowl you over with their exciting and complimentary dancing.

Sergei and Peggy meet outside the stage door for a breather before going in to watch the premiere of ‘Slaughter’. Here we have Kathryn Evans at her very best; she stole the show with her whisky-scented, slurred and outrageously funny version of ‘You Took Advantage Of Me’, following Sergei’s long-awaited kiss. She twirls her tassels like a burlesque queen and gives it all she’s got.

‘Slaughter on 10th Avenue’ is the grand finale of the show.
It is set in a sleazy dive where a sensational stripper pays over her earnings to a gun-toting, trigger–happy pimp, the Big Boss (Greg Pichery).Junior is given the lead role of the Hoofer, opposite Vera’s sexy, corsetted Striptease Girl.

Morrosine has been ousted from taking part in the performance following a fight with Junior, and motivated by jealousy and a desire for revenge, he takes out a contract on Junior with some low-life gangsters. The assassin is instructed to shoot his victim during the show, but Frankie overhears the plot and manages to send a warning note to Junior during the closing number. The Hoofer, dressed all in black and looking devastatingly handsome, falls for the Stripper and wins her attention. The dancing between Adam and Sarah is electric; they have a chemistry which is riveting. Think magnesium flares and fireworks…..that’s it!
Adam uses those famous,sexy, well-toned arms to perfection as he whirls around with Sarah. They are a wonderful couple to watch! Its only the second time that the Coopers have danced together professionally, lets hope we’ll see much more!

Frankie’s warning is delivered just in time and the assassination is foiled by Junior’s quick thinking. The orchestra are made to play the final routine again and again until the police arrive to arrest Morrosine and his cronies. Junior dances on and on, exhausted and dripping with sweat,but safe. And here the show ends.

Adam shows us his multiple talents as he sings well in a pleasant baritone, acts with conviction AND dances tap and jazz with flair! All this and he looks sensational too!
Oh boy……….

Director Paul Kerryson and his team from the Leicester Haymarket; musical director Julian Kelly and designer Paul Farnsworth, have transferred the show successfully to the larger stage of the Royal Festival Hall.



This musical runs until 6th Sept and is a sure-fire HIT!!


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 Post subject: Re: On Your Toes ....Adam Cooper at the Royal Festival Hall
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2003 6:03 am 
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thanks for this RAK - I am going to see the production on Saturday - it is pretty well sold already.


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 Post subject: Re: On Your Toes ....Adam Cooper at the Royal Festival Hall
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2003 8:31 am 
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Emma, I think you may see more ballets than Azlan and Stuart! :)


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 Post subject: Re: On Your Toes ....Adam Cooper at the Royal Festival Hall
PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2003 5:38 am 
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On Your Toes - Royal Festival Hall, Tuesday 5th August at 7.30p.m.

I was looking forward to seeing this production for two main reasons. Firstly to see how ballet stars cope with the different demands of musical theatre and secondly it always interests me to see theatrical productions at the Royal Festival Hall as for most of the year the venue only has to cope with the demands of a concert hall setting. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of both.

As Rak says you have to put the incredulity of the storyline aside and take this musical at face value. There are a few of the weaker songs that could be cut and this may be a blessing in a production that runs at over 3 hours in length. However the better quality numbers such as There’s A Small Hotel and On Your Toes are delivered with such panache and flair that this makes up for some weaker moments.

Adam Cooper as Junior gives an assured performance. He effortlessly tapped his way through the show combining the grace of Astaire and the athelticism of Kelly to great effect. Taking a leading role and choreographing such a dance laden show must have been a tremendous challenge, but he brings to the choreography a real sense of feeling for the piece, particularly in his duets with Anna Jane Casey who plays Frankie. And of course his partnering with Sarah Wildor in Slaughter on Tenth Avenue is first rate.

Wildor is a surprise package in the role of Vera Baranova but she seems to relish in the portrayal of a tempremental ballet star. Her over-egged accent is first rate and she certainly seemed to delight in the fiery and sultry scenes with both her husband and Irek Mukhamedov. Of course her dancing is spot on as sultry siren in the Slaughter ballet but she plays the comedy aspects of the Princess Zenobia ballet to a “T”.

I agree with Rak too that Mukhamedov makes the most of his smaller role and he certainly is still a delight to watch as he leaps around the stage.

The only problem I had on Tuesday was with the sound. In the balcony we had trouble understanding a lot of the dialogue and the singing and I heard other audience members comment on this in the interval. I think it was more a problem of balance between the orchestra and microphones rather than poor diction or projection from the performers, but it is a problem the company I should imagine will be anxious to resolve.

The design team on this show played to the constraints of the venue by choosing a simple set with scenery items that evoked location, a simple red carpet for the arrival of the Russian Ballet, a sumptuous sofa/bed for Baranova’s dressing room and brightly painted chairs that were used in all scenes. This meant that the majority of the stage could be used for the full-on dance sequences and that all scene changes could be completed swiftly and slickly. Costumes were again well chosen to show off the dancers attributes with another glitz to draw the eye.

If you are a fan of great dance musicals and hamper back to that golden age then this musical will be a treat. And it is worth the 2 and a half hour wait to get to the superbly glitzy On Your Toes and the passionate Slaughter on Tenth Avenue Ballet.


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 Post subject: Re: On Your Toes ....Adam Cooper at the Royal Festival Hall
PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2003 12:47 am 
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Location: London
Glamorous goes all amorous
by Donald hutera
On Your Toes


Quote:
HOW rich that this splendid revival of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s sassy, ballet-slanted 1936 musical should be playing during the Kirov Ballet’s season at Covent Garden. Doubly rich, indeed, because it is headlined by three former Royal Ballet stars — Adam Cooper, Sarah Wildor and Irek Mukhamedov — turned tip-top musicalcomedy stars.
more...


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 Post subject: Re: On Your Toes ....Adam Cooper at the Royal Festival Hall
PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2003 1:01 am 
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Stuart sees many many ballets...


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 Post subject: Re: On Your Toes ....Adam Cooper at the Royal Festival Hall
PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2003 4:01 am 
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Just wanted to correct an error in my review. The Coopers have danced together professionally more than twice. They both starred in Bourne's Cinderella, have danced together in Japan and in Exeter, and once ( or twice?) at the Royal Ballet.


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 Post subject: Re: On Your Toes ....Adam Cooper at the Royal Festival Hall
PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2003 8:02 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
On Your Toes
By John Percival for The Independent

Given that Natalia Makarova was the star of this show's last London production, it might seem odd for Adam Cooper's name to head the company list this time, but why worry? He has, after all, a bigger personality than most dancers: picked out early by Sylvie Guillem as her partner, chosen to create the male swan in Matthew Bourne's big hit Swan Lake, and featured as the grown-up Billy Elliott in that famous film.

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 Post subject: Re: On Your Toes ....Adam Cooper at the Royal Festival Hall
PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2003 10:59 pm 
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Hello! Thanks for the reports on this wonderful musical. May I ask, what did Cooper do, if anything, with what had previously been a Balanchine ballet, "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue"?


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 Post subject: Re: On Your Toes ....Adam Cooper at the Royal Festival Hall
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2003 12:47 am 
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Jeff - I am not wholly sure how far Cooper has modified Balanchine's choreography - I will have to consult a dancer friend of mine who is a NYCB dancer from Balanchine days.


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 Post subject: Re: On Your Toes ....Adam Cooper at the Royal Festival Hall
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2003 12:50 am 
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On Your Toes
Royal Festival Hall
Saturday 9th August, 2003


A triumph and a thoroughly good night out! It is truly a pleasure to see such accomplished ballet dancers acting and singing so well. Adam Cooper is a feast for the eyes. He is tall, slim and beautifully proportioned – no overdeveloped muscles – and looks handsome in an all-American way as the bespectacled Professor Dolan, in his baggy but well-cut 1930s trousers and billowing white shirt. When he reluctantly takes off his glasses and tucks them in his top pocket and starts tap-dancing, we are enthralled as the music class who didn’t know that he was formerly a famous vaudeville dancer. It gets better. When he finds himself having to stand in for one of the missing slaves in the premiere of the Russian ballet, ‘Princess Zenobia,’ his comic timing in missing the steps, is perfect. When he finally gets to premiere ‘Slaughter on Tenth Avenue,’ with his black trousers (braces off his shoulders and hanging from his waist) and black vest dripping with sweat (it was nearly 100 degrees outside and the air conditioning in the Royal Festival Hall was not coping) he delivers the performance of Phil Dolan’s life. Cooper is a brilliant dancer and has delivered many, many superb performances. I am not sure that there has ever been such a great Phil Dolan. I am only guessing but I cannot believe that any man could match Cooper in the final scene.

Professor Dolan has been pushed into a respectable life as a music teacher by his parents. It is only when the Russian ballet comes to New York that he dances again. The Russian troupe is modelled on the Ballets Russes and impresario Sergei Alexandrovitch is an undisguised Diaghilev – the distinctive white streak of hair against a mass of dark hair, and he bows to a picture of the former Tsar. Sarah Wildor, Cooper’s wife, is the star ballerina, Vera Baranova. She is suitably over-the-top Russian – all passion and fire, flinging ballet shoes across her hotel room and shrieking in arch tones at her itinerant lover and ballet partner, Konstantine Morrosine. Now, if you were given the task of casting a ballet dancer for Morrosine’s role, who would you choose? Of course – Irek Mukhamedov. He ‘is’ Morrosine – a great showy dancer (Mukhamedov was jumping very well on Saturday night) with a passionate Russian nature and heavy Russian accent. I don’t suppose he needed to rehearse very much. Morrosine cheats on Baronova and she is bent on revenge. So she falls for Professor Dolan. Mind you, she does like the way Dolan dances, and he is the only one who can partner her properly in the jazz ballet ‘Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.’ This sends Morrosine into a jealous rage (eventhough he has frequently been caught in embraces with his Russian hands on American ladies’ backsides) and he plots to have Dolan killed on stage.

Wildor matches his accent well. I have known her for many years as a good, and by nature, mute, ballet dancer. She is also, it appears, a great comedy actress and singer. Good luck to her. Since leaving the Royal Ballet she has experimented with other ballet companies and with musicals and she is clearly enjoying the diversity of her new life. And Cooper, Wildor and Mukhamedov are all having a great time in ‘On Your Toes.’ They are clearly great friends and good foyles for each other. Everything is more rewarding when you are amongst friends! And their enjoyment is infectious. The audience relishes in their performances.

There is plenty of dancing in this production and it clearly has Balanchine’s signature on it - Balanchine originally choreographed ‘Princess Zenobia’ and ‘Slaughter on Tenth Avenue’ – although Cooper has clearly rechoreographed ‘Slaughter.’ Balanchine married two Vera Baronovas – Tamara Geva who played Baronova in the Broadway version and later Vera Zorina from the London version. There is a wonderful photograph in the programme of Balanchine coaching Jacques d’Amboise and another woman he tried to marry, Suzanne Farrell, in ‘Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.’ Cooper sings but Wildor and Mukhamedov only dance. All three act well and the supporting cast is full of good singers and well-trained dancers. Anna-Jane Casey as Frankie, Dolan’s girlfriend, and Kathyn Evans as Peggy Porterfield, a rich entrepreneur and importer of the Russian ballet, have great stage voices and stage presence.

‘Slaughter on Tenth Avenue’ is a clever finale. The dancing is great jazz ballet and Wildor’s Striptease Girl is a great cameo for a reluctant club dancer, controlled by a sinister pimp, who longs to have a real love affair with Cooper, the Hoofer. There is comedy in the form of an elegant transvestite trying to let Cooper know that Mukhamedov has planted an assassin in the audience. The assassin in the audience is Mukhamedov himself. He slips in and takes his seat with his pistol on his lap. (The chap next to me in the audience remarked, “they let him in late,” as Mukhamedov takes his seat in row L. Groan!) The NYC police officers get to Morrisone before he gets to Dolan. All’s well that ends well. Frankie and Dolan are reunited and Miss Baronova embraces her lovable rogue, Morrisone. Lots of applause. A happy audience. My only criticism is that Rodger’s and Hart’s music and songs are not particularly memorable, which is unusual for a musical of this calibre. I wasn’t able to whistle the tunes on the way to Pizza Express.


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 Post subject: Re: On Your Toes ....Adam Cooper at the Royal Festival Hall
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2003 6:09 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
My cultural life: Adam Cooper
Adam Cooper enjoys chilling out in Palm Springs and listening to piano jazz with Friends - Going in feet first

Dance

The reason I started dancing was so that I could be like Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly in those old Hollywood musicals. I particularly liked Kelly in An American in Paris (1951), which I first saw when I was tiny, and I loved the way that Astaire experimented with rhythms and found clever ways of involving props. Then, when I was a student at the Royal Ballet School, I saw a tape of a Russian dancer called Vladimir Vasilyev. He looked very masculine on stage, unlike a lot of male ballet dancers of that era. He was the pinnacle of what I wanted to be as a dancer.

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 Post subject: Re: On Your Toes ....Adam Cooper at the Royal Festival Hall
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2003 6:13 am 
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Thank goodness, Cooper's on his toes
Charles Spencer for The Times reviews On Your Toes at Festival Hall


Sometimes it can be a mistake to revisit the past. Twenty years ago, this cracking Rodgers and Hart musical comedy about the arrival of the Russian ballet in New York was one of the first shows Mrs Spencer and I saw after our marriage.

She was then a rising young ballet dancer, and the show's fusion of romance, wisecracks, super songs, dance routines and an irresistible performance from Natalia Makarova proved just the ticket.

But for much of the first half of this revival, originally staged at the Leicester Haymarket, much of the fizz seems to have gone out of a show that made its debut in 1936 with choreography by George Balanchine.

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 Post subject: Re: On Your Toes ....Adam Cooper at the Royal Festival Hall
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2003 11:04 pm 
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i've been looking at the various reviews and interviews to try to determine how far the Balanchine choreography has been replaced, and i'm drawing a blank!


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 Post subject: Re: On Your Toes ....Adam Cooper at the Royal Festival Hall
PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2003 10:53 pm 
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This is indeed a post-colonial world ... Does Adam Cooper really make a convincing American? As I recall, the original producers hoped to have Astaire cast as Junior. Does Sarah Wildor really turn into a Russian diva?

O well, if Hollywood can turn Angelina Jolie into "Lady Lara Croft" of "Croft Manor," I suppose anything is possible...

The story sounds very close if not identical to what I remember from having seen "On Your Toes" years ago, particularly the "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" (as I recall it was at the Orpheum on Market St. w/ Lara Teeter as Junior and Starr Danias in Natalia Makarova's part as Vera Baranova).

Did the show's program mention the usual Balanchine Trust, Balanchine Technique, Balanchine etc that usually is appended to his ballets?

<small>[ 13 August 2003, 01:25 AM: Message edited by: Jeff ]</small>


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