Victoriana brought to life in variety show pastiche

Friday 31 January 2014, 12:45

Polly March Polly March

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A new show by the leading contemporary choreographer Lea Anderson MBE comes to Cardiff next week.

Ladies and Gentlemen is a humorous pastiche of the music hall style and features a group of six talented performers from Newport and Cardiff and more than 100 specially created props.

Ladies and Gentlemen. Photo: Simon Boughton. Ladies and Gentlemen. Photo: Simon Boughton.

The show is inspired by the public’s seemingly insatiable appetite for talent shows and features popular acts from the traditional variety show format such as illusions, a quick change act, a psychic act and even a ventriloquist’s dummy.

It originated as a smaller work created for the Wales Millennium Centre two years ago but the dancers urged Lea to re-visit the piece and sought funding for a larger production which she has created alongside musical director Steve Blake and designer Tim Spooner.

Lea told me: “It’s a really enthusiastic bunch and we decided to work along the lines of creating the music and movement simultaneously with music hall as the overall genre.

“What we liked was the way so many weird and wonderful things were objectified in this forgotten era.

“So we’ve got juggling balls that look like planets, a human mantelpiece, a magic window, intestines, pretend doves, an x-ray machine, and all sorts of things that Tim has created and the choreography supports how these objects move.

“It’s like the best bits of every variety show you’ve ever seen - bringing together all we know and love about those popular variety shows. The troupe consists of music hall performers who have been doing it so long they are falling apart and have started forgetting why they are doing what they are doing.

Ladies and Gentlemen. Photo: Simon Boughton. Ladies and Gentlemen. Photo: Simon Boughton.

“It’s a very bizarre and eccentric world but I think the audience will find it very engaging and funny.”

Lea is artistic director of the internationally acclaimed female dance troupe The Cholmondeleys and its male counterpart The Featherstonehaughs.

She hopes to apply for further funding in the future to take the show on tour.

Ladies and Gentlemen is at Chapter Arts Centre from 4 - 8 February 2014.

It stars Gareth Clark, Lauren Lee-Jones, Belinda Neave, Marega Palser, Caroline Sabin and Bert Van Gorp.

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