'On Your Toes'
Music, Lyrics, and Book: Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, and George Abbott; Choreography: Adam Cooper
by Emma Pegler
August 9, 2003 -- Royal Festival Hall, London
A triumph and a thoroughly good night out! It is truly a pleasure to see such accomplished ballet dancers acting and singing so well. Adam Cooper is a feast for the eyes. He is tall, slim and beautifully proportioned – no overdeveloped muscles – and looks handsome in an all-American way as the bespectacled Professor Dolan, in his baggy but well-cut 1930s trousers and billowing white shirt. When he reluctantly takes off his glasses and tucks them in his top pocket and starts tap-dancing, we are as enthralled as the music class who didn’t know that he was formerly a famous vaudeville dancer. It gets better.
When he finds himself having to
stand in for one of the missing slaves in the premiere of the Russian
ballet, ‘Princess Zenobia,’ his comic timing in missing the steps is perfect.
When he finally gets to premiere ‘Slaughter on Tenth Avenue,’ with his
black trousers (braces off his shoulders and hanging from his waist) and
black vest dripping with sweat (it was nearly 100 degrees outside and
the air conditioning in the Royal Festival Hall was not coping) he delivers
the performance of Phil Dolan’s life. Cooper is a brilliant dancer and
has delivered many, many superb performances. I am not sure that there
has ever been such a great Phil Dolan. I am only guessing but I cannot
believe that any man could match Cooper in the final scene.
Now, if you were given the task
of casting a ballet dancer for Morrosine’s role, who would you choose?
Of course – Irek Mukhamedov. He ‘is’ Morrosine – a great showy dancer
(Mukhamedov was jumping very well on Saturday night) with a passionate
Russian nature and heavy Russian accent. I don’t suppose he needed to
rehearse very much. Morrosine cheats on Baronova and she is bent on revenge.
So she falls for Professor Dolan. Mind you, she does like the way Dolan
dances, and he is the only one who can partner her properly in the jazz
ballet ‘Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.’ This sends Morrosine into a jealous
rage (even though he has frequently been caught in embraces with his Russian
hands on American ladies’ backsides) and he plots to have Dolan killed
All’s well that ends well. Frankie and Dolan are reunited and Miss Baronova embraces her lovable rogue, Morrisone. Lots of applause. A happy audience. My only criticism is that Rodgers and Hart’s music and songs are not particularly memorable, which is unusual for a musical of this calibre. I wasn’t able to whistle the tunes on the way to Pizza Express.
Edited by Jeff
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