Rehearsals of Matthew Bourne's The Picture of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde's cautionary fable The Picture of Dorian Gray has been adapted into a seductive dance production by Matthew Bourne.
Bourne is best known for his adaptations of classic stories, Swan Lake, Nutcracker, The Car Man and Edward Scissorhands.
Set in the image-obsessed world of contemporary art and politics, Matthew Bourne's 'black fairy tale' tells the story of an exceptionally alluring young man who makes a pact with the devil.
Dorian Gray is quite a dark tale, why did you decide to adapt this particular story?
I thought it was the time now, most of the pieces I have done in the last 10 years have been quite feel good in many ways, I felt it was time for the audience who have been with me all this time, to have a different sort of journey now, a darker story in between all the lighter stuff.
Are you a fan of Oscar Wilde?
I am a fan of Oscar Wilde, I wouldn't say I am obsessed by Oscar Wilde, I find often the wit gets in the way of the play sometimes. I love the novel of Dorian Gray, the obsession with youth. It is a modern obsession which we all know about, and the idea of what it is like to become a well known face, a celebrity, and how that can change you inside.
Bourne was a dancer on Broadway until 1999
The main characters are really strong roles was it hard to cast this production?
It was hard to cast. Richard Winsor who plays Dorian is really the reason I did the piece, because I knew I had someone who could play the part, in many ways you wouldn't normally do that but Richard had been working with me for some time, and I knew he could create a certain amount of sympathy for the character.
You have changed a central male character into a woman, why did you do that?
Yes the character Lady H is based on Lord Henry. I felt the novel was a bit misogynistic. I thought we needed a powerful female character. Michela Meazza plays that part, [she's] almost a one off, I can't find anyone else to play the part.
Basil Hallward the artist who becomes infatuated with Dorian in the book becomes a photographer in your production, tell me about that?
Yes, Jason Piper who played the swan in my Swan Lake plays the part. You've got to have someone with enormous charisma to play it and Jason is perfect for this role, he has great charisma on stage.
The company are about to embark on the tour, how does it all come together?
We have the oddest tour coming up. We open in Bromley, then go to Milton Keynes. Then we go to Italy for two weeks, then we come back and do Bradford, Sadlers Wells for two weeks and then Moscow. Isn't that the oddest bunch of dates? And then we have a break and more UK touring in the year.
The Dorian Gray tour stretches from Bromley to Italy
Do you have to adapt the production to different audiences?
We very much listen to an audience. On the first night we measure what the audience like and dislike, and take it from there. Audiences react differently in every town or country.
I understand you are a fan of Pedro Almodovar. Might you consider doing an adaptation of Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque de Nervios (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown)?
I often get asked this question: what's your next adaptation? I think the story is incredibly interesting. The thing I like about Pedro is something that is not spoken about often enough: what a brilliant story teller he is. You know he writes these incredible scripts that kind of keep changing, don't they? The stories are fascinating, the style is wonderful. I think it would be a great source for material.
So what are the plans for 2010?
Later this year we are doing Swan Lake again. It will give everyone a chance who has not seen it live to see it in the theatre again. There are a lot of young people who are studying it at school, and we know there is a big demand for people to see it live. Next year I am hoping to do a new production of Cinderella. I did one 10 years ago, but [this would be] a new production of that, set during the Blitz in World War II.
Is dance in a good place at the moment?
Generally, I think people on the street are much more excited about dance through programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing. I love it, I am all for it, as I think it makes everyone want to do it. Everyone feels like they can dance, you see people you know learning week by week and getting better, you see the pleasure in their eyes and the tears of pride, I get excited by it.
Who is your favourite judge?
It has to be Len - definitely - I love him!!
The Dorian Gray tour starts on the 4 June. It contains adult themes so not suitable for children under 14. Matthew Bourne was talking to BBC News reporter Claudia Redmond.
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