On April 27, the Lyric Opera House in Chicago boasts the world premiere of Cathy Marston’s Of Mice and Men created for The Joffrey Ballet, her first original creation for the company.
The dance story follows George Milton and Lennie Small, two drifters looking for work on the golden farms of Depression-era California. When tragedy strikes, George and Lennie face difficult choices that test the nature of their friendship. Marston goes from page-to-stage with Steinbeck’s tender tale of friendship, perseverance, and sacrifice.
Of Mice and Men is set to Thomas Newman’s commissioned score, the first work for a ballet for this Academy Award®-nominated composer. Newman may not encessarily known by name, but for sure many will recognize some of his film scores for The Shawshank Redemption, 1917, and Skyfall.
Scott Speck, Music Director of The Joffrey Ballet, will be leading the Lyric Opera Orchestra during the ten performance run of the program. He comments:
“Thomas Newman is one of the most potent and evocative voices in Hollywood music, his versatility is at the top of his class – and incredibly, this is his first-ever score for ballet.
He has a remarkable way of evoking the wide-open spaces, dusty air and countrified feel of Central California nearly a century ago.
Newman’s rhythmic drive takes the form of instruments that you might have heard playing in a saloon band in that time and place – a piano, a guitar, maybe a solo violin. But just as often, we hear the full orchestra in all its glory.
Kudos to Cathy Marston for suggesting him as our composer, and to The Joffrey Ballet for making it happen!”
The program begins with the Joffrey premiere of Serenade, set to the score by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Serenade is George Balanchine’s first ballet created in America in 1934 and originated as a lesson in stage technique, using unexpected events from rehearsals as the basis for the choreography. According to The George Balanchine Trust, “When one student fell, he incorporated it. Another day, a student arrived late, and this too became part of the ballet.”
Balanchine subsequently reworked the ballet several times before landing on its current iteration, which features four movements based on a score by Tchaikovsky: Sonatina, Waltz, Russian Dance, and Elegy.
Featured Photo of Xavier Nuñez and Dylan Gutierrez in Cathy Marston’s Of Mice and Men. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.
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