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Beauty of a show is coming back.

Byline: FRIDAY, JANUARY with CATHERINE JONES

WHAT do you get when you mix Twilight-style Gothic romance with Merchant Ivory tea parties and modern hoodies? The answer, perhaps improbably, is Sleeping Beauty.

'Improbably' unless you are dance maestro Matthew - actually Sir Matthew since the New Year's Honours were announced last month - Bourne.

The choreographer's genius vision for the Tchaikovsky-scored classic makes perfect, beautiful sense when it unfolds in front of you on stage.

And it seems theatregoers agree. The production became Bourne's most successful-ever touring show when it was premiered three years ago.

It's just enjoyed a second, all-but sell-out eight week Christmas run at London's Sadler's Wells. And now it's heading back on the road, and arriving in Liverpool next month.

"I think everyone is ready to get back on the road again," says the 56-year-old. "We're excited about that."

When Sleeping Beauty came to the Empire in 2013 it was a huge success, and garnered a five star review from the ECHO.

Matthew claims its popularity on tour "surprised us all a bit". But surely he must have a feeling when a show has got it just right? "Well, yes," he allows. "I guess I know if it's called Sleeping Beauty, and if it's music by Tchaikovsky, that does draw a lot more people in than a show that isn't!

"But I felt there was a big appetite for this kind of work. And I think the word had got out about the vampire theme and that was very popular at that time.

"It came together very quickly for me, as a piece, I was very happy with it quite early on, so that was nice, I felt confident about it.

"And people have been loving it." It's not hard to see why. Matthew and his New Adventures company bring a sense of theatre and spectacle to each production.

"I consider what I do to be a piece of theatre," he explains. "My medium is dance and non-verbal storytelling.

"I think all dance should be theatre in a way - it's on stage, it's there for an audience."

After years of being missed out of the touring schedules, Liverpool audiences have been able to enjoy annual visits from New Adventures for the past few seasons.

The first production to head our way was Matthew's famous male Swan Lake.

Cinderella, Nutcracker! and Sleeping Beauty followed, while last year Edward Scissorhands enchanted theatregoers.

The leading role there was shared between dancers Dominic North and Liam Mower (a former Billy Elliot in the West End), and both are returning in Sleeping Beauty.

Ashley Shaw meanwhile shares Aurora duties with 22-year-old Cordelia Braithwaite.

"She's our second Aurora," Matthew smiles. "Lovely, a really unique talent, very beautiful but doesn't know how good she is.

"And Ashley, who was second Aurora last time, is wonderful. Everyone is praising them both so much."

Both have ascended through New Adventures' ranks, and Matthew admits one of his chief pleasures is "casting, and developing the talent we have".

He adds: "We've got quite a lot of talent in the company at the moment.

"It's hard to keep them all happy and busy, because there's a lot of up-andcomers as well as people who are still there."

Their boss is certainly busy. He's currently putting the finishing touches to a new project, still under wraps, that might hopefully find its way to Liverpool on the next tour.

What he will say is that it's a brand new show, based on an old British film.

"I found an old notebook of mine a while back and there was a little list of possible shows we might do. It's getting harder now to find the shows.

"We've done a lot of the ones that I've really wanted to."

| Sleeping Beauty is at the Liverpool Empire from February 16-20.

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Sleeping Beauty by Matthew Bourne
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 29, 2016
Words:643
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