Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man

The return of Matthew Bourne's The Car Man in London for a strictly limited summer season

Previewed 14 July 2015, Opened 17 July 2015, Closed 9 August 2015 at Sadler's Wells Theatre in London

The Car Man is loosely based on Bizet's popular opera Carmen re-imagined by the award-winning choreographer Matthew Bourne. The familiar 19th Century Spanish cigarette factory now becomes a greasy garage-diner in 1960s America, where the dreams and passions of a small-town are shattered by the arrival of a handsome stranger. Fuelled by heat and desire, the inhabitants are driven into an unstoppable spiral of greed, lust, betrayal and revenge. Please Note: Age Guidance 12+.

The final evening performance on Sunday 9 August at 7.30pm was cancelled due to the death in a road traffic accident earlier in the day of the dancer Jonathan Ollivier who was due to play the lead role of 'Luca' in this performance. The Metropolitan Police released the following statement: "Police were called at 11:11hrs on Sunday, 9 August, to Farringdon Road, EC1 following reports of a black Mercedes saloon in collision with motorcycle. Officers, London Ambulance Service and London's Air Ambulance attended. The 38-year-old male rider of the motorcycle was pronounced dead at the scene at 11:53hrs. The driver who stopped at the scene was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and is currently in custody at a central London police station."

Originally seen in London's West End at the Old Vic Theatre in September 2000 when it won the Evening Standard Award for 'Musical Event of the Year', the production was staged at Sadler's Wells in 2007 and now, once again, the creative team reunite to bring this staging to London for a special summer season in 2015. Featuring original choreography and direction by Matthew Bourne, designs by Lez Brotherston, lighting by Chris Davey and music arranged by Terry Davies and Rodion Shchedrin based on Bizet's Carmen.

When this revival opened in July 2015, Lyndsey Winship in the London Evening Standard praised it as being "one of Matthew Bourne's best shows, a steamy melodrama that's just right for sultry summer nights." Rachel Ward in the Daily Telegraph thought that "nobody does it better than Matthew Bourne. His reimagining of Bizet's classical opera Carmen is a joyride of sweat, seduction and murder... the dance show is a peerless spectacle – and oh boy, does Matthew Bourne know how to thrill an audience... A masterful piece of storytelling. Coupled with Lez Brotherston’s dynamic set design, it’s unforgettable." Zoe Anderson in the Independent described how "it's the moments of quiet that ground this pulp noir story... this terrific revival is lit up by warm, spontaneous performances." Debra Craine in the Times highlighted that "Matthew Bourne describes it as a reimagining of Carmen and indeed you can rejoice in the iconic Bizet melodies woven into Terry Davies's atmospheric score... The fine dancers of Bourne's New Adventures troupe are also fantastic actors." Louise Levene in the Financial Times said that this "2000 production is ageing well," explaining that "successive revivals (and revisions) have sharpened and deepened the playing. The fight scenes are sickeningly realistic and while the rutting, thigh-slapping ensembles remain banal and repetitive, they are delivered with plenty of fizz and energy."

Matthew Bourne is perhaps best known for his award-winning interpretation of Tchaikovsky's classic ballet Swan Lake which featured a full corp de ballet of male swans. First seen at Sadler's Wells Theatre in 1995, the production transferred to the West End's Piccadilly Theatre, winning the Olivier Award for 'Best New Dance Production' and running for just under five months, becoming the longest running full-length ballet to ever be staged in London's West End. His other full length ballets include adaptations of Tim Burton's motion picture Edward Scissorhands, Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray and Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker. He has also provided choreography for the stage musical versions of Sam Mendes/Rupert Goold revival of Lionel Bart's Oliver!, Trevor Nunn's revival of the Lerner and Loewe musical My Fair Lady and Richard Eyre's stage version of Walt Disney motion picture Mary Poppins.

"The Car Man is back. Smouldering away in Islington, deliciously oversexed and with morals to make an alley cat blush. To a commissioned score by Terry Davies and Rodion Shchedrin's adaptation of Bizet's Carmen, Matthew Bourne creates havoc in Harmony, an uptight small-time Italian/American town, baking in the sun and seething with lust. His current company of dancers is superb and deals with his angular, almost brutal dance language in The Car Man with enthusiasm and clarity... This is Bourne at his best." The Sunday Express

"Of all the hundreds of rewrites and revisions of Bizet's Carmen, Matthew Bourne's is probably the most startlingly radical. Using only the skeleton of the opera's score (coarsely arranged by Terry Davies), he abandons the Spanish gypsy scenario entirely and imagines a lazy American backwater in the mid-Fifties, where the heat is rising and nothing much is superficially doing. Think James Dean and The Last Picture Show... Although The Car Man dates from 2000 and its overt eroticism no longer seems very shocking, it still brushes up fresh and punchy in this energetic revival. Bourne is not only a masterly storyteller but a clever psychologist who knows how to make gesture and movement expressive of emotion and motivation." The Mail on Sunday

"The piece is set to an adaptation by Terry Davies of music from Bizet's opera Carmen, and the plot loosely based on James M Cain's much-filmed novel The Postman Always Rings Twice. The result, a noirish tale of sex and betrayal set in a midwestern garage-diner, hurtles towards its denouement with unimprovably entertaining velocity. The dancing – low-slung, loose-hipped and fast, with a singing neo-balletic line – impels the story with thrilling force... Choreographically, this is one of Bourne's strongest works. Unconstrained by the need to adhere to an existing score, as in his adaptations of classical ballets, he has worked with Davies to tailor the music to his needs... See it." The Observer

The Car Man in London at the Sadler's Wells Theatre previewed from 14 July 2015, opened on 17 July 2015 and closed on 9 August 2015

The Car Man - 2000

Previewed 4 September 2000, Opened 13 September 2000, Closed 13 January 2001 at the Old Vic Theatre

An Auto-Erotic Thriller. Adventure In Motion Pictures give a twist to the classical story. A tale of passion and revenge featuring boldly percussive new orchestrations of Bizet's stirring and timeless score for Carmen, The Car Man does not follow the scenario of the famous opera, but tells its own story inspired by classic Hollywood Film Noir movies and the New Wave European cinema of the 1960s. Bourne's new scenario 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!

Choreographed and directed by Matthew Bourne with music by Terry Davies and Rodion Shchedrin adapted from the original score by Georges Bizet. Designs by Lez Brotherston and lighting by Chris Davey.

"The debut production of the Adventures in Motion Pictures Company, now in their new home at the Old Vic, is an unashamedly populists reworking of Bizet's opera Carmen. But forget waltzing toreadors. The plot here has been relocated to an Italian American town straight out of some blue jeans commercial. Matthew Bourne - the genius choreographer and director behind this - has kept Bizet's score, in suite form, and cunningly linked it to a B-movie plot... The show bursts with eroticism. Camp? Very. Exciting? I nearly fell off my seat... Proving that dance isn't all tights and tutus, The Car Man shunts ballet into the new century. A humping, pumping, thumping fat hit." The Daily Express

"As punning titles go, The Car Man is witty and iconoclastic, and a reinvention of another cliched classic, Carmen. With its factory setting, ordinary people, lust, passion, revenge, murder, betrayal, heartbreak and, of course, Bizet's sexy score, it's now relocated in a hick Italian-American Mid-Midwest town, where the guys model themselves on James Dean and the girls on Sophia Loren. Sparks fly in the car-repair garage where The Car Man is set, partly due to all the welding going on, but also the rows between the alcoholic owner and his drop-dead gorgeous, wife, and the partying when the work is done. A drifter, a charismatic hunk named Luca, gets a job at the garage. Lana - the garage owner's wife, a flirt and a temptress - can't wait to put a shine on his headlights, and Luca is so cool he can be seen in her frilly dressing gown without embarrassment. Fearless to the point of reckless, he also protects the gentle Angelo when he is bullied, but his feelings for him are not simply fraternal, and it's Luca's combustible sexual ambiguity and a couple of unpredictable twists in fate which make The Car Man such a dangerous and thrilling ride. Atmospheric, gripping, explosive, erotic, The Car Man had me on the edge of my seat, gasping. As they say in the States, buckle up for your own protection." The Mail on Sunday

The Car Man in London at the Old Vic Theatre previewed from 4 September 2000, opened on 13 September 2000 and closed on 13 January 2001