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Principal casting announced for Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty

Rehearsal Images - Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty. Cordelia Braithwaite (Aurora) and Chris Trenfield (Leo).
Rehearsal Images – Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty. Cordelia Braithwaite (Aurora) and Chris Trenfield (Leo). Photo by Mikah Smillie

New Adventures have announced the principal casting for the first revival of Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty at Sadler’s Wells. The Christmas season runs from Tuesday 1st December 2015 to Saturday 24th January 2016.

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty is a gothic tale for all ages; the traditional tale of good vs. evil and rebirth is turned upside-down, creating a supernatural love story that even the passage of time itself cannot hinder.

Bourne’s new scenario introduced several characters not seen in Petipa’s famous Ballet or Grimm’s fairy tale. This imaginary kingdom is ruled over by King Benedict and Queen Eleanor. Princess Aurora’s romantic interest is not a Prince, but the royal gamekeeper, Leo. Representing the central forces of good and evil are Count Lilac (“the King of the Fairies”) and the Dark Fairy Carabosse. Bourne has also created the character of Caradoc, the sinister but charming son of Carabosse. Princess Aurora’s Fairy Godparents are characterised by their names – Ardor, Hibernia, Autumnus, Feral and Tantrum.

Returning to the central role of Aurora in this first revival is rising star Ashley Shaw. Ashley recently played Lana in the immensely successful revival of The Car Man, and has also played Kim in Edward Scissorhands, Sugar in Nutcracker! and the title role in Cinderella. Cordelia Braithwaite made her debut with New Adventures in Swan Lake in 2013 and has subsequently appeared in this year’s revival of The Car Man, covering the role of Lana. Cordelia makes her debut as Aurora this season; her first Principal role with New Adventures.

The leading role of Leo will again be played by Dominic North and Chris Trenfield who co-created the role in 2012. Dominic has appeared in more New Adventures productions than any other dancer and was most recently seen as Angelo in The Car Man (also in the filmed version for SkyArts). He was nominated as “Outstanding Male Dancer” at The National Dance Awards for his performance as Edward Scissorhands which he re-created to considerable earlier in 2015. Chris has this year been seen as Luca in The Car Man and played the role in the SkyArts TV broadcast in August. One of New Adventures’ most versatile leading men, he has also appeared as Tony in Play Without Words, the title role in Nutcracker! and The Swan/Stranger in Bourne’s Swan Lake which he also danced at the Music Centre of Los Angeles 50th Anniversary Gala last year.

Count Lilac will be portrayed again by one of New Adventures’ most accomplished performers Christopher Marney, and in his third Principal role for New Adventures this year, Liam Mower. Christopher has appeared in the extremely successful Triple Bill, Early Adventures, as Cyril Vane in Dorian Gray (Created role), The Prince in Swan Lake and The Angel in Bourne’s Cinderella in 2010. Recently he has had a notable personal success as the choreographer of the West End hit play, McQueen. Liam Mower is the Olivier award-winning original star of the West End hit Billy Elliot at the Victoria Palace Theatre. Joining New Adventures in 2011 to appear in Nutcracker!, he has also appeared in Play Without Words, as The Prince in Swan Lake (a role that he danced with the Royal Ballet’s Edward Watson at last year’s Ignite Festival) and his critically acclaimed portrayal of Edward Scissorhands earlier this year.

The twin roles of Carabosse and Caradoc will be shared by two charismatic New Adventures performers; Adam Maskell who co-created the role in 2012 returns to the Company having previously featured in Dorian Gray, Nutcracker! (title role), Play Without Words and as The Angel in Cinderella. Tom Clark makes his debut in a Principal role with New Adventures following roles in Swan Lake, The Car Man and as Jim Upton in Edward Scissorhands.

King Benedict will be played by Will Bozier (Edward Scissorhands) Glenn Graham (Swan Lake, The Angel in Cinderella and The Car Man) and Chris Trenfield. Queen Eleanor by Pia Driver (Swan Lake, The Car Man, Edward Scissorhands), Nicole Kabera (Edward Scissorhands, Nutcracker!, The Car Man, Swan Lake) and Katie Webb (Swan Lake, The Car Man).

Completing the Sleeping Beauty Company are: Daniel Collins, Jack Jones, Mari Kamata, Phil King, Dominic Lamb, Dena Lague, Katy Lowenhoff, Katrina Lyndon, Kate Lyons, Andrew Monaghan, Leon Moran and Danny Reubens

Sleeping Beauty is directed and choreographed by Matthew Bourne working again with three of his regular collaborators and New Adventures Associate Artists; Lez Brotherston (Set and Costumes), Paule Constable (Lighting) and Paul Groothuis (Sound Design). The 2015 Revival will be Directed by Matthew Bourne, Staged by Associate Director Etta Murfitt and the Resident Director is Neil Westmoreland.

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty premiered in 2012, and was the fastest selling production in the company’s history. Sleeping Beauty was created for New Adventures’ 25th birthday celebrations and completed Matthew Bourne’s trio of re-imagined Tchaikovsky ballet masterworks that started in 1992 with Nutcracker! and, most famously, in 1995, with the international hit Swan Lake. This dazzling production has won the hearts of thousands and smashed box office records across the UK and at Sadler’s Wells. Its USA premiere in 2013 prompted Joan Acolella of The New Yorker to hail Bourne as “the most popular choreographer of theatrical dance in the Western world” and The New York Times said: “This is Bourne at his best – a masterful storyteller.” The production also won three Los Angeles Drama Critic Awards and the Ovation Award for “Best Production”.

Perrault’s popular fairy tale, about a young girl cursed to sleep for one hundred years, was turned into a legendary ballet by Tchaikovsky and choreographer, Marius Petipa, in 1890. Bourne uses this date as his starting point, setting the Christening of Aurora, the story’s heroine, in the year of the ballet’s first performance; the height of the Fin-de-Siecle period when fairies, vampires and decadent opulence fed the gothic imagination. As Aurora grows into a young woman, we move forwards in time to the more rigid, uptight Edwardian era; a mythical golden age of long Summer afternoons, croquet on the lawn and new dance crazes. Years later, awakening from her century long slumber, Aurora finds herself in the modern day; a world more mysterious than any Fairy story!

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty at the Sadler’s Wells
Sadler’s Wells
Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN
Running Time: 2 hours
Age Restrictions: No under 5s admitted. Some scenes may be unsuitable for younger children (with the gothic, vampire theme, it is possible that some scenes may be a bit dark or scary for them).

Booking From: 1st December 2015
Booking Until: 24th January 2016
Important Info: Audio Described Performance: 16 Jan 2016 2.30pm


  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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