‘Madame Ballet’ is a Janus Entertainment presentation, partnered by the City of Perth Winter Arts Season; it is showing at The Studio Underground in the State Theatre Centre of WA, Northbridge.
This world premiere by award-winning writer, John Aitken, is an intriguing work of fiction - based on historical facts – that helps to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the West Australian Ballet Company. The title of the play has been borrowed from the special issue of ‘Brolga’, the Australian Journal about Dance that celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Company in 2002.
The play runs until 16th June, with all shows at 7.30 pm.
It is 1952 on a Perth beach, a young man, musical arranger James Penberthy (Andrew Southern) flexes his muscles in an attempt to attract the attention of the lady in a bathing costume, sunbathing nearby. His approach works, and soon he finds that she is Kira Bousloff (Alinta Carroll) a ballerina born in Monte Carlo of Russian parents. He then learns that Kira arrived in Australia with her Russian husband, dancer, Serge about eighteen years earlier, just after they had toured Europe with the Ballet Russe and the Covent Garden Ballet Troupe.
Kira had always wanted to have ballet school of her own, and so set out to develop the West Australian Ballet Company in an area where ‘culture’ was an unknown word. Serge has disappeared from the scene, and James, who was composing for most of Kira’s new dances, controversially moves in.
The ballet company’s initial performances were performed on the roughest of stages, in the most remote areas of WA.
A young and inexperienced newspaper reporter, Jody Robb (Michael Becker) is sent out by his editor to scrape up any scandal on the new company. He notes that the young enthusiastic couple are struggling through many adversities, such as a threatened theatre shutdown due to lack of funding, however being saved at the last moment by entrepreneur John Birman (Murray Dowsett).
Kira’s strong and fond memories of the past drive her on. Then there is the controversy over employing an Aboriginal dancer, Mary Miller (Justina Truscott - née Smith) in preference to the refined, and logical white choice of the theatre officials, Mandy (Alysha McGreevy).
This play has an abundance of humour blended into the informative and intriguing story. There is a great deal of romance, passion for the arts, coupled with a brutal drive all built into the multifaceted character of Kira; however, Alinta Carroll, with John Senczuk’s action-filled direction, conquers the complex mind giving a wonderful performance. Equity Award winning Alinta has proved her beautiful singing skills many times, and here she shows her talent at ballet. Her sylph-like figure produced the most delicate movements whilst her mind delivered the often uncaring and stubborn attitude, of a woman determined to achieve success. A complex and demanding performance carried off with skill.
Most of the action takes place either in the wings of the theatre, or in the rehearsal area. The set was fairly simple, but Ian Boase’s clever lighting and Kristy Armstrong’s delightful, well researched costumes of the day, gave a genuine and charismatic feel for the period. Jangoo Chapkhana’s musical arrangements were charming and his piano accompaniment lively.
It was obvious that there were many groups of retired ballerinas and dancers in the audience who just loved the ‘in’ jokes of the script, as they relived the atmosphere of their days on the stage.
Although a WA based story, this play would be very much appreciated by audiences anywhere in Australia, as the public attitudes and political history of only 60 years ago seem so unbelievable today. Yet another resounding success for the Senczuk / Aitken team.
Friday 10th May 2013 8pm
Saturday 11th May 2013 2pm & 8pm
Friday 17th May 2013 8pm
Saturda 18th May 2013 2pm & 8pm
Friday 24th May 2013 8pm
Saturday 25th May 2013 2pm & 8pm