Founded ten years ago, Adventures in Motion Pictures, under the direction of artistic director and choreographer Matthew Bourne and producer Katharine Dore, has quickly achieved international acclaim with its irreverent takes on dance icons, although, to date, it has done so strictly as a touring company with no long-term base in London or elsewhere.
During the first four years of the Old Vic residency, six new productions, directed and choreographed by Bourne, will be produced and played in repertory at the Old Vic. Extensive national and international touring, a major education programme and an apprentice scheme will also follow.
The Old Vic has long been a landmark venue in British theatrical history, being at various times the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company as well as the birthplace of both the National Theatre and the Sadler's Wells Opera and Ballet, later the Royal Opera and Ballet. In more recent years, it has endured a more precarious existence. The last company to reside here was Sir Peter Hall's repertory company whose residency was cut short in 1997 after just one season when the theatre's Canadian owners, Ed and David Mirvish, put the theatre up for sale. Fears at the time ran rampant that the theatre might be turned into a lap-dancing club or other unsuitably commercial venue. However, the Old Vic was saved in 1998 by a charitable trust established to preserve it as a reputable theatre.
The Car Man premiered in Plymouth last month and is touring regionally before its West End transfer. Based loosely on George Bizet's famous opera Carmen, The Car Man - subtitled 'an auto-erotic thriller' - does not follow the scenario of Carmen and, although it features Bizet's timeless score (with new, percussive orchestrations), it tells its own story, inspired by classical Hollywood film noir movies. Rather than a cigarette factory, the action is set in a vehicle body shop. It shows how the dreams and passions of a small community are shattered by the arrival of a handsome new stranger in town. Fuelled by heat and desire, the inhabitants are drawn into a downward spiral of greed, opportunism, sex and murder.
The cast for The Car Man is headed by Alan Vincent, Ewan Wardrop, Will Kemp and Ben Hartley dancing Luca; Kemp, Wardrop and Arthur Pita dancing Angelo; Saranne Curtin, Michela Meazza and Vicky Evans dancing Lana; Scott Ambler and Neil Penlington dancing Dina Alfano; and Etta Murfitt, Emily Piercy and Heather Habens dancing Rita.
The Car Man is AMP's first new show in three years. It follows the company's renowned 1995 production of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, featuring an ensemble of male swans, which collected eight UK awards, including an Olivier for Best New Dance Production, and 20 US awards, including three Tonys. Swan Lake returned to the West End earlier this year for a sell-out, five week run at the Dominion Theatre. AMP's last production, Cinderella, based on Prokofieff's original score, premiered at the West End's Piccadilly Theatre in 1997. It won the 1998 Olivier for Outstanding Achievement in Dance for Lez Brotherston's set and costume design.
The Car Man is also designed by Brotherston, in his fourth collaboration with AMP. Lighting design is by Chris Davey, music by Terry Davies and Rodion Shchedrin, adapted from the Bizet score, and musical direction by Brett Morris.