Bourne Identified


British choreographer and director Matthew Bourne has adapted Tim Burton’s movie, Edward Scissorhands, for the stage.  We caught up by email to discuss Edward and other muses.

Q:  Although you don't have children, you've taken on some shows with great kid-appeal: 'Cinderella', 'Nutcracker', 'Mary Poppins', 'Edward Scissorhands'. Are you conceiving these with families in mind, or are they just shows that interested you?

I am conceiving them with the whole family in mind, which means everyone, right? I think that there is a widely held view that a  "family" show is for kids only, but surely it is something that can be appreciated and enjoyed by adults and kids alike across the generations.  I try to layer my shows so that there are different things in there to enjoy and understand for everyone. Different levels of sophistication, I suppose, and universal themes.  These are certainly all shows that I had a passion to make. I consider myself lucky that the kind of work that I love to do also has a wide popular appeal.

Q:  What are some of the shows and movies you saw as a child?

A:  MGM musicals, The Sound of Music, Psycho, Mary Poppins, The  Birds, West Side Story, Whistle Down the Wind, and lots of Disney.

Do you find that audiences in New York respond differently to your shows than in London?

A:  I have only played two of my own shows in New York — Swan Lake and  Play without Words — both rather adult, though Swan Lake is now studied in schools in the U.K. and is the only Swan Lake that many young kids have seen!  We have, though, had a long-standing relationship with L.A .and have started to tour more extensively in the States, and the reaction has always been incredibly warm and more vocal than British audiences.... Our current tour of Edward Scissorhands has also attracted the elusive teenage audience! I think they are asking their parents to bring them.... Edward seems to be a hero to the young...I am also proud to say that Edward Scissorhands has had a standing ovation at every show on our U.S. tour since we started in November.

Q:  When you go to dance or music theater performances in New York, the audience often has more girls than boys, but adults of both sexes.   How can more boys be encouraged to attend dance?

A:  We don’t seem to have that problem at our shows. I think that boys and young people in general need stories, imagery and characters that they can relate to on stage. Dance often does not give them that. I also try to cast my shows as you would a play or a movie, with performers who look more like characters you might meet in day-to-day life, not untouchable, ethereal gods and goddesses. Much as I love classical ballet, you won’t find many young boys out there who can relate to the image of a guy in white tights and a frilly shirt!  My male swans have had a big impact on many young men who have gone on to become trained dancers (and have even come into my company).  It’s one of the things I am most proud of.

Edward Scissorhands will be at Brooklyn Academy of Music, March 14-31.  For tickets, go to