Sheffield return for Matthew Bourne’s global hit ballet Swan Lake
A brilliant restaging of the ballet Swan Lake with male swans and a more theatrical setting won fans worldwide for choreographer Matthew Bourne.
The show was first staged in 1995 and went on to become the longest-running ballet in both the West End and Broadway, also featuring in the film Billy Elliot. Here, Matthew speaks about a revival of perhaps his best-known and best-loved work that is coming to the Lyceum in Sheffield.
With all of its success and rich history, how do you feel about the prospect of bringing the show back to UK audiences?
It’s always exciting to bring back Swan Lake. So many people love it and you know they’re going to want to come and see it again and bring friends and family to watch it who didn’t see it last time. That is the growth of the show over the years, I think - the fact that people want other people to come and see it.
There’s also a whole new generation of young people who won’t have seen it. We know, even from discussions with the cast we have at the moment, how inspiring this piece can be for young people who see the piece and then want to go on to a career in theatre, or particularly dance.
Many of the men in the show, and in fact the women too, first came to dance through this piece having been taken to see it by their parents, or perhaps by their dance school, and now they’re in it themselves.
It still seems to move and inspire people and therefore we get excited about doing it because that’s what we’re here for. We’re here to entertain.
The new staging of the show is being presented as having a fresh look for the 21st century. As the show has been seen by millions of people worldwide is it a bigger challenge to revisit this work than other shows in your repertoire because audiences know it so well?
It’s an interesting point about changing a piece that is so well-known and so well-loved. We’ve made these changes for several reasons – one being that it’s been around for 23 years now since we first made the piece and Lez Brotherston (set and costume design) and I felt it was a great opportunity to refresh it.
I wouldn’t say we’re changing it enormously but refreshing it for this next period of time. It may change again in the future, who knows, but I think whilst we’re still excited about the piece and we feel we’ve got this opportunity, so it seems a great chance to do it.
Everything we’ve done to the piece has been mindful of the fact that people already love the piece - and that’s not different from many other projects that I’ve taken on actually.
For many people seeing the new version of Swan Lake they probably won’t recognise many of the changes we’ve made, and I think they will feel they are still seeing the same piece.
We will know however, that we’ve made hundreds of little changes. It won’t be such big changes that people will think ‘oh what did you do that for?’ or ‘why did you lose that great idea?’. aybe there will be one or two things that big fans of the show will miss but I think generally speaking we’re celebrating the piece that already exists.
I certainly don’t think audiences who already love the piece will be in any way disappointed.
Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake is at the Lyceum in Sheffield from May 21 to 25. Box office: www.sheffieldtheatres.co,uk