He hides. He stares. He cuts. He sings?
You can see where the impulse might come from. The imperfect, unfinished man, whose wish to love and be loved is tragically thwarted by his own inability to do anything but cut and slice and hurt. A tragic figure, a noble stand-in for our own self-image tainted by the pain we inflict on others and the abandonment we've felt. Why not have him voice his pain in music? Why not craft his loneliness into a haunting aria that implores heaven to relieve him of his misery?
Why not, indeed?
Edward Scissorhands: the Opera!
Two problems: although the character of Edward is the stuff of opera, opera doesn't borrow from the movies. That kind of recycling is so, well, so Broadway. Second, the story veers too much between tragedy and comedy. This is Pinocchio, writ large, a story for kids. Kids don't listen to opera. What you want here is family entertainment, like Annie!
Edward Scissorhands: the Musical!
He cuts, he sings, he dances. Danny Elfman is on board. Caroline Thompson, who wrote the screenplay, starts to write lyrics. Tim Burton himself shops the idea around.
Problem: Been there, done that. Elfman and Burton: the Musical? It was called The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Still, if Daddy wants to give his favorite baby new life, it's his prerogative. He keeps asking. There's got to be a way. So who do you call to put the twisted imagination of the "phantom of the Warner lot" on the stage? Who ya gonna call?
Who else but the Damien Hirst of the dance world?
Matthew Bourne, the bad boy of ballet, he of the all-male Swan Lake (glimpsed in Billy Elliot) and the prince-less Cinderella set in London during the Blitz. He's willing to take on a musical.
No, no, no, says Burton. You're a choreographer. You can't direct a Broadway musical. Sure, Swan Lake, but that's all dancing.... you're just telling a story nonverbally... hold on... no, it's crazy... there's no way... but, then again... could it... it just might work!
Edward Scissorhands: the Ballet!
It may have been his Nutcracker, or it may have been Play Without Words, but whatever Burton had seen of Bourne's work he knew instinctively that a wordless dance story, the kind that Bourne excels at, that's what Edward needed (Okay, maybe not instinctively. Bourne pitched the idea eight years ago). Elfman agreed.
And so, with Terry Davies adding new music to Elfman's original score, Bourne's company, New Adventures, sank £1.3 million into a short run of Edward Scissorhands in Plymouth in November 2005, and a run at Sadler Wells in London, which opened November 30. A UK tour began in February 2006.
Bourne vets Richard Winsor and Sam Archer alternate in the title role, with Kerry Biggin and Hannah Vassallo alternating in the part of Kim. Bourne stalwarts Scott Ambler and Etta Murfitt will dance as Bill and Peg (Kim's parents) in addition to serving as the show's associate directors.
Another familiar Bourne Collaborator, Lez Brotherston has created the set and costumes, and rounding out the creative team, Howard Harrison designed the lights and Paul Groothuis the sound.
Surprisingly, the ballet does not include the character of "The Inventor," played by Vincent Price in the film, just one of the changes in the stage scenario that differs from the screen version. Brotherston designed the costumes of the suburban families to a 1950's look, instead of Burton's 1980's aesthetic. In the film, the topiary sculpted by Edward did not start dancing. Another way this version is different: although the character of Edward Scissorhands himself cannot speak, in Bourne's version the rest of the cast do not speak (although their characters can-- if that makes sense).
The Guardian called it, "a cracking piece of theatre. Superbly cast, steeped in stage tradition..." (Judith Macrell). The Times found it "amusing and attractive, an entertaining story well told," if a little slight in the choreography department on opening night.
Edward Scissorhands Web site. <http://www.edwardscissorhands.co.uk> (October 17, 2005)
"Edward Scissorhands." New Adventures Web Site. <http://www.new-adventures.net/index.php?PageID=102> (October 17, 2005)
"n-Joy: Matthew Bourne Interview." BBC.co.uk. July 5, 2005. < http://www.bbc.co.uk/norfolk/content/articles/2005/05/06/nn_festival_matthew_bourne_feature.shtml> (October 17, 2005)
Debra Crane, "First Night Reviews, Dance: Edward Scissorhands." The Times Online. December 1, 2005. <http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,14936-1899019,00.html> (December 14, 2005)
Ernio Hernandez, "Matthew Bourne Edward Scissorhands to Tour UK Following London Debut." Playbill.com August 22, 2005. <http://www.playbill.com/news/article/94672.html> (October 17, 2005)
Judith Mackrell, "Edward Scissorhands." The Guardian. Decmeber 1, 2005. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/critic/review/0,,1654928,00.html> (December 14, 2005)
Tony Phillips. "Bourne Again." The Village Voice. March 7, 2005. < http://www.villagevoice.com/dance/0510,phillips,61829,14.html> (October 17, 2005)