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Edward Scissorhands

Edward Scissorhands

Matthew Bourne's latest, Edward Scissorhands, is a wonderful holiday dance musical. It isn't a holiday musical because its climactic scene happens to take place at a Christmas party. It's a holiday musical because it is infused with the themes that it just isn't the holiday season without: reaching out to an outsider seeking acceptance, and seeing beyond the grotesque figure to the beautiful soul within. And while the piece certainly doesn't shy away from darkness and showing the vicious acts that we all-too-frequently commit with ease, it also shows the depth of joy we can give each other just as easily - and it is these feelings that overflow the stage and warm the audience long after the curtain call.

It is Bourne's most accessible piece - straightforwardly following its protagonist's journey from the moment of his Frankenstein-like creation. There is no necessity for viewing the film in advance of the show, or reading a pre-show synopsis. The plot is crisp and easy to follow. While there are moments when there is so much going on that you might miss a detail (every once in a while, part of the audience laughs, and you think, "Oh darn, what did I miss?"), there's no chance of losing the main storyline, as Edward leaves his solitary gothic chamber and tries to make his way in a pastel-colored suburb, with nothing but good intentions and a natural talent for topiary.

With this show, director and choreographer Bourne has reinvented himself - transforming from being a specialized taste, lauded as a visionary by only those who "get" his work, into the creator of holiday entertainment for the masses. And he has done this without skimping on the inventiveness that first earned him headlines. The show has several big ensemble numbers - from the comic "Suburban Ballet," in which we are introduced to six different families and the way they live in their perfect little houses (skewed perspective, as always, courtesy of set designer Lez Brotherston); through a celebratory outdoor party; a second-act opener when Edward is, for the first time, not only accepted but appreciated; and the splendid Christmas ball at the end (Brotherston's costumes, here especially, are a perfect complement). But Bourne's choreography really shines in its more intimate moments. In his hands, the act of putting suntan lotion on another's body becomes an exercise in seductive acrobatics. And Edward's desire for a local girl manifests itself in a series of three duets, culminating with some of Bourne's most unique choreography to date, which has been perfectly set up for maximum emotional effect.

At the performance reviewed, Richard Winsor danced the role of Edward as a good-natured innocent who only occasionally seemed so blind to the baser nature of those around him that it would get him into trouble. The long blades that Edward uses as hands seemed a true part of him, not just a prop. Indeed, it wasn't until partway through the second act that it dawned on me that dancing with those things has to massively difficult. Hanna Vassallo gave a sweet performance as Edward's love interest, Kim, seeming absolutely weightless in her leaps and lifts. And Etta Murfitt was charming as Kim's mother - the first person in the town to come across Edward, and whose immediate reaction to meeting this strange and deadly-looking man is to civilize him.

A note for those who want to appreciate the full impact of this show fresh and unspoiled - many of the production photos for the show, some of which are replicated in the "Performance" magazine - show certain images from the second act which are perhaps better left unseen. While I don't doubt that the show is effective on multiple viewings, there's a great deal of power in the onstage reveal of some of the more striking tableaux, and you'll be better off opening yourself up to this cathartic experience with completely fresh eyes.

Center Theatre Group - Michael Ritchie, Artistic Director; Charles Dillingham, Managing Director; Gordon Davidson, Founding Artistic Director - and Dance ad the Music Center present: A New Adventures, Martin McCallum, and Marc Platt Production Edward Scissorhands. Devised, Directed and Choreographed by Matthew Bourne; Music and Arrangements by Terry Davies; Including Themes from the Original Motion Picture by Danny Elfman; Based on the Original Motion Picture by arrangement with 20th Century Fox; Original Story and Motion Picture Directed by Tim Burton; Original Screenplay and Co-Adaptation by Caroline Thompson; Set and Costume Designed by Lez Brotherston; Lighting Designed by Howard Harrison; Sound Designed by Paul Groothuis.

Cast (at the performance reviewed):
Edward Scissorhands - 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 Franklin Upton, III - Gareth Charlton
Darlene Upton - Gemma Payne
James (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 Tomotsni
Manny Grubb - Adam Galbraith
Sandra Grubb - Dena Lague
Sheldon Grubb - Luke Murphy
The Inventor - Adam Galbraith
Little Edward - Gavin Eden
Old Kim - Madelaine Brennan
Cheerleaders - Kerry Biggin, Madelaine Brennan, Hannah Vassalo
TV Reporters - Steve Kirkham, Madelaine Brennan
Photographer - Adam Galbraith

Photo by Bill Cooper

Edward Scissorhands plays at the Ahmanson Theatre through December 31, 2006. For tickets and information see www.centertheatregroup.org


- Sharon Perlmutter






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