‘Scissor’-ing to Sadler’s

Director/choreographer Matthew Bourne‘s stage version of “Edward Scissorhands” is aiming toward a London preem in November at Sadler’s Wells Theater, where five-time Olivier Award winner Bourne has just been named one of three new artistic associates at the 1,800-seat venue. Long one of London’s leading homes for international dance, the Wells (as the playhouse is informally known) is keen to shift from being a receiving venue to a producing house, initiating its own work — in this case with Bourne and Robert Noble‘s New Adventures troupe.

The intention is for a 10-week “Scissorhands” run, preceded by several weeks out of town.

The through-danced piece, adapted from Tim Burton‘s 1990 film, will have a cast of 30, so smaller than Bourne’s career-making “Swan Lake” but around the same size as his “Nutcracker.” No cast has yet been named, but one person who won’t be onboard is Bourne’s “Swan Lake” star, Adam Cooper, who is busy pursuing his own career as an independent choreographer. (Indeed, Cooper’s ballet of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses,” in which he stars as well, has its European preem at Sadler’s Wells, starting July 21.)

Danny Elfman, who scored the “Scissorhands” film, will, as expected, do the music for Bourne’s show.

HONORED “BEHZTI”

“Dishonor” may be the English-language translation of Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti‘s “Behzti,” but the contentious play finally made headlines for the right reasons March 7 when it was honored with the 27th annual Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for the best play written in English by a woman during the preceding year. (Liverpool scribe Chloe Moss‘s “How Love Is Spelt” and Heather Raffo‘s Off Broadway hit “Nine Parts of Desire” were the two runners-up.)

Bhatti quite understandably didn’t seek the spotlight at the gala ceremony and dinner at London’s tony Arts Club, mindful of the sorts of headlines that drove her into hiding toward the end of last year — and led to the cancellation, after only nine perfs, of the play’s Birmingham premiere, due to violent protests from Britain’s Sikh community.

But for the record, and speaking as one of the six judges who awarded Bhatti the prize, I think her acceptance speech should be excerpted for its eloquence, clarity and vigor — all qualities evident in “Behzti” itself. Herewith are some of the playwright’s remarks:

“This means a lot because it treats (the play) as a piece of writing and not as a controversy. The last few months have been challenging and extraordinary — there’ve been some very bleak moments and some very dark days. (But) I believe writing a play is an act of liberation.”

And in response to those who have accused the onetime actress of possessing a “corrupt imagination,” Bhatti had this to say: “I certainly hope corrupt imaginations all over the world continue to flourish; mine certainly will, because it’s all I have.”

BLEACH-ED OUT

That quintessentially British cult hit “Shockheaded Peter” is getting more American by the week, at least in regards to the casting of the Off Broadway entertainment at the Little Shubert that has folded in American thesps virtually from the start.

The idea, says Michael Morris of U.K. entity Cultural Industry, who first produced the show in London, is “one of an integrated company of people who go on in different combinations.” At one performance, Brit visitor Martyn Jacques might be leading the so-called Tiger Lillies, at another it could be his American alternate — and eventual replacement — Luther Creek. Ditto for Jacques’ U.K. colleague, and co-creator, Julian Bleach, who watches from the house when his American equivalent, Paul Kandel (a 1993 Tony nominee for “The Who’s Tommy”), is on.

“Having Americans in the company early is right for this show,” says Dan Markley, co-producer of the $1.2 million production that marks the first fully open-ended run “Shockheaded Peter” has had anywhere. “We knew the creators wouldn’t be around forever, (so) we set about solving that puzzle from the very beginning.”

It also, of course, helps make the piece ripe for replication, though Markley said such plans were at a very early stage.

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