A tale of passion – for ballet, theatre and old movies

Jan 12, 2019
A young ballerina dreams of far away lands with The Nutcracker in her arms - Getty Images

It may come as a surprise to some of you, but I don’t spend all my free time between the pages of a book. I love ballet and celebrated Christmas with Queensland Ballet’s The Nutcracker – for the umpteenth time.  

I don’t remember how old I was when I first saw the Nutcracker, but I imagine I was around six years old and saw it with my godmother, Aunty Marie, who was also the first person to take me to a ballet when I was about four.  Every time I see The Nutcracker, I look at all the young girls in the audience wearing their tutus, with their hair in the obligatory ballet bun and in my mind’s eye I see a certain little ballerina, circa 1955 unable to contain her joy in the world of the Snow Queen and the Sugar Plum Fairy seen through Clara’s eyes. The same not so little ballerina, circa 2018, spares the world the sight of herself in a pink tutu, but still finds it difficult to contain her joy as she shares Clara’s journey yet again.

For many years I was involved in community theatre as an actor, director,  coffee maker extraordinaire, seamstress, the complete opposite of extraordinaire and whatever it took so the show could go on. I love live theatre and a highlight of this year for me was an amazing stage version of one of my favourite movies.

North by Northwest from legendary director Alfred Hitchcock, with its galaxy of stars including Cary Grant (Roger Thornhill), Eva Marie Saint (Eve Kendall) , James Mason  (Phillip Vandamm), Jessie Royce Landis (Roger’s mother) Martin Landau (Leonard) and Leo G Carroll (The Professor) is for me one of those movies which never loses its appeal.

North by Northwest, the stage production is from the same creative team behind the stage version of Ladies in Black – Simon Phillips director and Carolyn Burns who did the stage adaptation. 

Although the play has already had massive seasons for the Melbourne Theatre Company, in the UK and Canada, as the usual transition is in the opposite direction, from stage to screen, I was intrigued as to just how this production would work.

If you get the opportunity to see North by Northwest, the play, go for it! It’s innovative and creative which sound like strange words to use about something that harks back to the days pre-CGI. It is an altogether awesome theatrical experience. An amazing ensemble cast, lead by Matt Day, play all the characters from the movie. Other than the appearance by “Alfred Hitchcock” who you may remember always had a walk-on in the movies he directed, the cast never descends into mimicking the performances of the film. 

With ingenuity, the plot has not been simplified to suit the confines of the stage. Thankfully, the subtle humour of the movie is retained as is much of the brilliant original film music composed by Bernard Herrmann.

And now on to 2019 and my first ballet for the year is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, presented by the Australian Ballet. I’m really looking forward to seeing Alice, particularly as hubby, he of the “ballet is a good reason to sleep” school of thought, is accompanying me, at his own suggestion!

Do you share my passion for theatre or ballet? I’d love to learn about your experiences and whether, like me, you usually go alone.

For all types of entertainment, books, movies, theatre ballet and all the arts, let’s hope for a wonderful 2019.

Karen xoxox


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