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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
Edward Scissorhands

These people who connect with the film and identify with the character are coming to see this wordless dance, which is quite foreign to them. But during the evening they learn to enjoy this new form of theatre.— Matthew Bourne

Sam Archer in Edward Scissorhands
Sam Archer in Edward Scissorhands
(Photo:Bill Cooper)
Nutcracker, move over! The classic Christmas ballet that has been a staple for generations confronts a cutting edge rival in Matthew Bourne’s adaptation of Tim Burton’s film Edward Scissorhands at the Ahmanson.

"It couldn’t be a re-creation of the film. I’m not into those kinds of productions,"” Bourne said in an interview for Performances and anyone who saw his last production at the Ahmanson, Play Without Words based on Harold Pinter’s film The Servant, can attest to that.

The most striking difference from the dark poignance of the film is the use of color in the sets and costumes designed by Lez Brotherston —would you believe pastels! The delicate colors in the little houses in Anywhere, USA, reflect a pastel life, relieved by the pulsing sexuality of budding teens and restless housewives. The second major difference is the adolescent ebullience of the ballet. The topiary trees cut by Edward are danced by the cast with a dignity befitting greenery.

Attention has been paid to suburban stereotypes. The Boggs are a "Father Knows Best" family whose cheery mom Peg adopts Edward and whose daughter Kim wins his heart. Mrs. Joyce Monroe is the neighborhood vamp with a name too obviously an allusion to Marilyn. Mayor Franklin Upton III and Rev. Judas Evercreech, symbolize politics and family religion. The Covitts and the Grubbs, with equally Dickensian names, round out the neighborhood.

The Inventor who creates Edward appears briefly in the early scenes, unlike the film’s Vincent Price who made each of his scenes memorable. The taunting teen-agers and narrow-minded neighbors are predictably depicted.

What makes it all work is the vulnerable yearning expressed by Richard Winsor (who alternates with Sam Archer) as Edward in a performance that combines intuitive acting and athletic grace with the challenge of mastering 20-inch blades attached to spring-loaded gloves. This breathless feat comes off perfectly throughout the ballet. It’s pure Bourne and we applaud him for giving new life to Edward Scissorhands. If it’s not as stunning as Bourne’s Swan Lake, that may be because that was an original concept.

The ballet begins at Hallowe’en when bizarrely costumed trick-or-treaters break into the mansion of Edward’s inventor and ends at Christmas among snowflakes and decorations. Edward fits in very well with these annual rituals whose pagan origins have survived in today’s calendar. He is an object of fascination— used for what he can do, duped, persecuted by Kim’s jealous boyfriend, and finally disappearing. The ballet is bracketed, as the film was, by Kim as an old woman limping on stage with her cane shadowed by the image of Edward.

Both Tim Burton and Matthew Bourne have seen Edward Scissorhands as an image of the outsider who combines the desire to belong with the ability to destroy. It’s a wonderful concept, worth doing and well done.

Editor's Note: For a review of the London production which includes a list of the production numbersgo here.

Devised, directed and choreographed by Matthew Bourne
Based on the original story and motion picture directed by Tim Burton for 20th Century Fox
Original screenplay and co-adaptation by Caroline Thompson
Music And Arrangements by Terry Davies, including themes from the original motion picture by Danny Elfman
Cast at the performance viewed: Edward (Richard Winsor), Peg Boggs (Etta Murfitt), Bill Boggs (Scott Ambler), Kim Boggs (Hannah Vassallo), Kevin Boggs (Gavin Eden), Joyce Monroe (Michela Meazza), George Monroe (Steve Kirkham), Bunny Monroe (Sophia Hurdley), Gerald Monroe (Shaun Walters), Charity Upton (Mikah Smillie), Mayor Upton (Gareth Charlton), Darlene Upton (Gemma Payne), Jim Upton (James Leece), Esmeralda Evercreech (Rachel Morrow), Rev. Judas Evercreech (Matthew Malthouse), Marilyn-Ann Evercreech (Shelby Williams), Gabriel Evercreech (Ross Carpenter), Tiffany Covitt (Madelaine Brennan), Brad Covitt (Jake Samuels), Candy Covitt (Kerry Biggin), Chase Covitt (Philip Willingham), Gloria Grubb (Mami Tomotani), Manny Grubb (Adam Galbraith), Sandra Grubb (Dena Lague), Sheldon Grubb (Luke Murphy), The Inventor (Adam Galbraith), Little Edward (Gavin Eden), Old Kim (Madelaine Brennan)
Set and Costumes: Lez Brotherston
Lighting Design: Howard Harrison
Sound Design: Paul Groothuis
Running Time: Two and a half hours, one intermission
Running Dates: December 12 to 31. 2006.
The Ahmanson Theatre, Center Theatre Group, 135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, (213) 628-2772
Reviewed by Laura Hitchcock on December 13.
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