The peacock

OUR BEST BOLLYWOOD MOMENTS ON THE BIG SCREEN

As we creep somewhat unwillingly into autumn and summer feels like a distant memory, we are keeping the vibrancy alive with the arrival of the internationally acclaimed musical, Taj Express at The Peacock this October!

The glitzy costumes, electrifying energy and breath-taking dance are sure to put the spring back in your step – Vaibhavi and Shruti Merchant’s spectacular Bollywood extravaganza is here to brighten up your seasonal blues!

Taj Express follows the story of Shankar, a struggling young composer paving the way for himself in the world’s most prolific film industry, following in the footsteps of his idol A.R. Rahman. Inspired by Shankar, and to get us in the mood, we are taking a look at some of our favourite Bollywood dance moments from the big screen…

WHEN YOU’RE ON A TRAIN AND ALL YOU WANT TO DO IS DANCE…

‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ (Dil Se, 1998)

In this fabulous 90’s Bollywood classic we see a spontaneous outbreak of dance atop a moving train! (We know what we’ve got planned for on our ride home…) The actor Shah Rukh Khan didn’t even use a safety harness whilst filming this scene! Written by the man himself, A.R.Rahman, this song also features in the opening sequence to the movie Inside Man (2006) starring Clive Owen and Denzel Washington.

WHEN YOU’RE SO GOOD YOU INSPIRED MOULIN ROUGE…

‘Chamma Chamma’ (China Gate, 1998)

This beautiful routine features an array of eye-catching Indian attire, including ‘jingling anklets’ worn by charismatic Bollywood star Urmila Matondkar, which she sings about in the Hindi lyrics. The tune was so popular it was remixed by Baz Luhrmann in his 2001 blockbuster hit Moulin Rouge!

WHEN YOUR WRATH TURNS YOU INTO A SNAKE…

‘Main Teri Dushman’ (Nagina, 1986)

We can’t get enough of the drama in this interpretive number – Sridevi, in the lead role, takes on the daunting task of portraying a shape-shifting venomous snake in this Bollywood cult classic. Apparently, Jaya Pradha was originally offered the lead role in this film which she turned down due to a fear of snakes!

WHEN DANCING TURNS A BLACK AND WHITE WORLD INTO COLOUR

‘Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya’ (Mughal-e-Azam, 1960)

The set’s the thing in this elegant number as Madhubala navigates an elaborate hall of mirrors in an exploration of forbidden love. This sudden splash of colour in a black and white film proves dance really can light up the darkest of days (and the limited budget meant they could only have two of the scenes in full technicolour)! Look out for the statue of Lord Krishna which was made from pure gold – no wonder it’s the most expensive Indian film ever made.

WHEN TWO DIVAS COLLIDE…

‘Dola Re Dola’ (Devdas, 2002)

We love a good old fashioned dance off! In this clip Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai treat us to Bollywood diva special as they do their very best to out-dance one another in this upbeat number (and look fabulous doing it!).

Taj Express runs at The Peacock from 2 – 20 Oct. Tickets are available from £15. To book, call the Ticket Office on 020 7863 8000 or book online.

OUR TOP 5 TAP DANCE SCENES FROM THE MOVIES

Australia’s finest tap-dancing troop, The Tap Pack, will be bringing a touch of old school cool to The Peacock this May with their toe-tapping show combining songs, sharp wit and slick suits for an evening of pure entertainment. In the countdown to their arrival, we’ve been inspired to look back at the some of our favourite tap dance routines from the big screen. 

1. SINGING IN THE RAIN (1952)
This musical number is probably one of the most iconic dance scenes in cinema, but it’s that couch-tipping moment which impresses us the most. Apparently the scene took 40 takes to capture but from the finished result, you’d never guess that Debbie Reynolds has no previous dance experience!

2. STORMY WEATHER (1943)
The Nicholas Brothers, Fayard and Harold, give an outstanding performance in the finale to Stormy Weather. It’s no wonder Fred Astaire named the pair as his own tap heroes! The film also showcased the talents of its African-American cast which was rare to see in a Hollywood movie of that time.

3. SWING TIME (1936)
It’s only right that one of the most famous dance duos of the silver screen are featured in our top 10. This clip of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire from the movie Swing Time is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Working titles for the film, included I Won’t Dance and Never Gonna Dance.

4. TAP (1989)
Gregory Hines plays the ex-convict son of a famous tap dancer, taking over his father’s Harlem tap studio and features the final film performance from Sammy Davis Jr. Aside from the obvious title, this move made our top 5 for its spectacular finale scene. Viewers should also look out for the singing talents of the great Etta James in the Times Square club scene!

5. CHICAGO (2002)
Richard Gere won a Golden Globe for his role in the 2002 movie remake of this Kander and Ebb classic, and it’s no wonder given he trained for months to deliver this impressive tap routine! It is rumoured that both Hugh Jackman and John Travolta turned down the role of Lawyer Billy Flynn before it was eventually offered to Gere.

The Tap Pack runs at The Peacock from 1 to 19 May. Tickets are available now priced from £15 by calling the Ticket Office on 020 7863 8222 or book online.

The Snowman celebrates 20th anniversary with star-studded gala

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Snowman being performed at Sadler’s Wells’ West End venue The Peacock theatre, we invited a number of celebrity guests to a special gala performance of the production.

The red-carpet event welcomed VIP guests to a pre-show reception with hands-on craft activities for their children, drinks in the interval and even the chance to meet the Snowman himself. Guests included musician, model and TV Presenter Myleene Klass, actor, singer and presenter Denise Van Outen, comedian Lee Mack, singers Kimberly Wyatt and Leah Wood, radio presenter Edith Bowman, television presenters Esther Rantzen and Gok Wan, actor and model Camilla Ruth

erford, barrister Cherie Blair, tattoo artist Sketch and actors Natascha McElhone, Mathew Horne, Natalie Cassidy, Anna Wilson-Jones and Georgia May Foote.

Bowman wrote on Twitter: “It’s beginning to feel a lot like Xmas. Love the #snowman17 #snowmanshowturns20 @sadlers_wells“, while Van Outen  posted: ‘We loved it! officialthesnowman @sadlers_wells what a fabulous snow ….. I mean show”.

We were delighted that The Snowman’s 20th anniversary stage production received such a warm welcome and look forward to many more fans and families enjoying the show during its run.

The Snowman is at The Peacock theatre until 31st December. You can book tickets here. How well do you know the story and production? Check our 20 facts about The Snowman here.

 Images: Piers Allardyce

20 facts about The Snowman

The heart-warming tale of a young boy’s adventure with his magical snowman friend has returned to The Peacock stage to delight audiences for the 20th consecutive year this festive season.

To celebrate this special anniversary, we’re sharing 20 facts about this enchanting story and its stage and TV adaptations. How many did you know?

  1. The Snowman opened at The Peacock theatre in 1997, meaning it is the longest running Christmas theatre show ever made!
  2. The original Snowman story, written by Raymond Briggs and published in 1978, doesn’t mention Christmas at all. The scene where the young boy and the snowman visit Father Christmas was added to the television adaption, but never appeared in the original book.
  3. The author Raymond Briggs admitted that there is more to this magical festive tale than meets the eye. The story was actually meant to introduce children to the concept of mortality. He said to the Radio Times: “I create what seems natural and inevitable. The snowman melts, my parents died, animals die, flowers die. Everything does. There’s nothing particularly gloomy about it. It’s a fact of life.”
  4. There are a number of different introductions to the television adaption. One of these features legendary British popstar David Bowie starring as the young boy many years later, wearing the scarf given to him by his snowman friend.
  5. There are 60 costumes in The Snowman stage production, all of which are handmade by the costume department at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre.
  6. The show employs 265 individual props, ranging from lumps of coal for the snowmen’s noses to toy soldiers, a sleigh and even a motorcycle with a sidecar!

  1. Far from the snowy surroundings the story is set in, Howard Blake, the composer of the iconic song Walking In The Air, said that the idea for the song actually came to him whilst he was walking along a beach in Cornwall.
  2. Staying with the beach theme, The Snowman is said to be set in Sussex, near Brighton. We know this because, in the television adaption, the snowman and the young boy fly over Brighton pier and Brighton Pavillion.
  3. Director of the stage production Bill Alexander said in a Guardian interview that he originally had dancer Carlos Acosta in mind for the role of Jack Frost!

  1. Since its release in 1982, the television adaption of The Snowman has been shown every single year at Christmas time.
  2. The Snowman cast can perform up to three shows per day. Because of the working restrictions, particularly for younger actors, three boys play the part of the Boy, and two men play the part of the Snowman.
  3. There are 42 people working on each performance of The Snowman, including 17 dancers, five musicians and 20 stage crew.
  4. Similarly to the book and the television adaption, The Snowman stage production has no words and the story is told through mime, images and movement.
  5. The pineapple and coconut costumes used in the stage version are very difficult to get into and the performers need to make very fast costume changes. To solve the problem, the crew decided to rig a pulley system last year for the costumes to be lowered from above onto the dancers just before they go on stage.

  1. Many people believe that it was Aled Jones who originally sang Walking In The Air, as he had a top 10 hit with the song in 1985, but the original was actually performed by Peter Auty, a choirboy at St Paul’s Cathedral.
  2. There were originally two different versions of The Snowman stage production. Director Bill Alexander worked with composer Howard Blake on a version at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, but there was also a ballet version, created by Robert North for his ballet company in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1993. The version we see today incorporates elements of both productions.
  3. Each of the 11 snowman costumes took one week to make. The costumes are created from more than 11 miles of white net!
  4. While watching the television of The Snowman on Christmas Day, the crew working on the stage show have been known to stand up automatically at certain points to do something onstage, forgetting they are at home!
  5. To mark the 30th anniversary of the original film’s release, a sequel to the original film was released in 2012, called The Snowman and The Snowdog.
  6. Last year, the two snowmen made a music video of themselves miming to the classic Christmas song Stay Another Day by East 17. You can watch it here!

The Snowman runs at The Peacock theatre 23 November – 31 December. You can book tickets here.

 

Images: Tristram Kenton