Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands returns to the stage

Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands returns to the stage with all-new UK tour

It seems that everyone loves a good film adaption right now, with countless musicals and plays based on well-loved films taking to the stage for the entertainment of theatre fans. These alternate versions of the stories popularised in film are becoming more and more commonplace, with the recent opening of a stage production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels serving as the most recent example. The response from critics and the theatre-going public varies from show to show: some have gone on to become smash hit successes that are still running in the West End years after they first appeared, while others have been les well-received and written off as flops.

A growing number of people are starting to find the film-to-stage formula a little tiresome however, myself included. When it works it can be great, but there is always a feeling of familiarity and that sense of, ‘been there, seen that’, which can unfortunately impact negatively on the production, regardless of how well it’s realised. It may simply be due to the fact that there isn’t always enough of a distinction between seeing it acted on screen and seeing it acted on stage, and perhaps that’s why the news of another film adaption – this one with a unique twist – returning elicited intrigue and excitement on this occasion.

It was recently announced that Matthew Bourne’s dance adaption of the 1990 classic film Edward Scissorhands is being revived for a major UK tour, which launches this November. Based on Tim Burton’s gothic romance starring Johnny Depp, it made its world premiere in at Sadler’s Wells in November 2005 and went on to tour the UK as well as play in countries all over the world, including performances in Japan, Australia, Europe and the US. Through the medium of dance it tells the bittersweet tale of ‘a boy created by a lonely inventor, who dies leaving him alone and unfinished. Left with only scissors for hands, Edward must find his place in a strange suburban world where the well meaning community struggle to see past his appearance to the innocence and gentleness within.’ The unorthodox love story is brought to life without the use of singing or speaking, using just dance and music to relate to the audience this parable about the ultimate outsider which brings to mind the character of Frankenstein, another misunderstood ‘monster’ who yearns for acceptance but is met with fear and rejection.

Matthew Bourne devised, directed and choreographed the production, which features portions of Danny Elfman’s original theme music in addition to the score by Terry Davies. The award-winning director/choreographer has earned much acclaim for his work in the past, especially in the case of his all-male version of Swan Lake (1995) which has been staged all over the world and became the longest-running ballet production in both the West End and on Broadway. It has collected over 30 international awards in that time, including 2 Tony Award’s for Bourne, who won ‘Best Choreography’ and ‘Best Direction of a Musical’. He is also known for such work as Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Nutcracker!

Edward Scissorhands was years in the making, beginning when Bourne was introduced to the film’s original screenwriter Caroline Thompson. They worked together to adapt it for the stage, gaining the necessary funding and cooperation of Danny Elfman and Tim Burton. The production was met with a mixed reaction upon its debut, but it has received numerous nominations and awards and gained the approval of the film’s star Johnny Depp, when he came to a performance at the Orpheum Theatre, San Francisco in December 2006. The actor signed a souvenir programme for Bourne which read, ‘Bravo! I teetered on the verge of tears throughout.’

The upcoming 2014/15 tour version is a reworked production which features set and costume designs by Olivier Award-winner Lez Brotherston, lighting by Howard Harrison and sound design by Paul Groothuis. The title role will be shared by Dominic North and Liam Mower, both of whom have previously performed leading roles in New Adventures dance company productions.

Dominic North has starred in Nutcracker!, The Car Man, Early Adventures and Swan Lake, as well as recently creating the role of Leo in Sleeping Beauty and is currently appearing as Ralph in the national touring production of The Lord of the Flies which has just opened at the Lowry Theatre, Salford. He first played the role of Edward in the dance theatre production at the Sydney Opera House, Australia in 2007, and his performance gained him a National Dance Award nomination for ‘Outstanding Male Dancer’.

Liam Mower starred as Billy in the original London company of West End smash hit musical Billy Elliot, winning ‘Best Actor in a Musical’ at the Laurence Oliver Awards. He has performed in 4 New Adventures productions now, including Nutcracker! and Play Without Words, making his principal debut as Count Lilac in Sleeping Beauty and most recently playing The Prince in Swan Lake.

Speaking about Edward Scissorhands, Matthew Bourne said: “In 2005 I achieved a long time ambition to bring Edward Scissorhands to the stage. Now in 2014 I am delighted to have the opportunity to take a fresh new look at this magical production, which will be revitalised for a new generation of dance lovers and theatregoers.”

The tour opens at the Plymouth Theatre Royal on 10th November 2014, running there until 15th November 2014. Throughout 2014-2015, it will then continue to play further venues in Glasgow, Salford, London, Woking, Nottingham, Liverpool, Norwich, Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Bradford, Southampton and Cardiff, which includes a return to its first home at Sadler’s Wells.

This tour marks a new chapter in the story of Edward Scissorhands, which becomes available for a new generation of theatre and dance fans to enjoy. It should appeal to a wide range of audiences, and fans of film adaptions can see the romantic dark fantasy reimagined for the stage in a way which breathes fresh life into the well-known tale. I think that’s what an adaption should do. It should take a familiar story and presents it in a way which makes it feel brand new. That is exactly what Matthew Bourne has done with Edward Scissorhands, and that’s why I am looking forward to it returning to the stage.

By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)

Content updated 7th October 2014

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