Peter Schaufuss: Divas

Previewed 19 June 2008, Opened 25 June 2008, Closed 5 July 2008 at the Apollo Theatre in London

Peter Schaufuss' dance spectacular Divas in London - celebrating 3 legends in 1 sensational show

Choreographed and directed by the award-winning Peter Schaufuss. Divas pays homage to three of the world's greatest diva icons - Edith Piaf, Marlene Dietrich and Judy Garland - in one stunning dance show.

Peter Schaufuss' Divas is presented in London following the success of last year's Satisfaction dance show which was set to the music of the Rolling Stones and was also presented at the Apollo Theatre from 28 August to 8 September 2007.

Described by Peter Schaufuss as a 'dancical' (from dance/musical), Divas in London portrays three of the world's greatest entertainers, focusing on the art and individuality of the three women and their differences in character. Peter Schaufuss describes the three acts of Divas as individual pictures drawing inspiration from songs and lyrics. The performance is a mosaic of impressions conveying an image of the times. The grand piano with its lustrous black-and-white surface reflects all the colours of life. The set design is minimal, allowing the limelight to be focused on the entertainer and cabaret artists themselves. The costumes, on the other hand, are contemporary and reflect the time and place of these great female entertainers.

"Garland, Piaf and Dietrich are brought to life in Divas, a musical spectacular that exudes energy and spirit, but lacks narrative drive. Divas, the glitzy show now running at London's Apollo Theatre, is the second production that the Peter Schaufuss Ballet, from Denmark, has brought to the West End, following last year's visit with Satisfaction (to Rolling Stones songs). Schaufuss calls these spectaculars "dancicals"... Schaufuss's multinational company are stylish dancers and could do with more expansive surroundings: the two-tier staging he has adopted hems the big group numbers into an uncomfortably narrow strip along the front, which seems perverse. Divas is a show that, for all its energy and spirit, rollercoasters from the lack of a narrative or link between the parts. The three divas meet only at the curtain calls, which are staged somewhat extravagantly." The Sunday Times

"Ballet directors are evangelists at heart. Not content with a devoted, dance-loving audience they are forever thinking up ways to seduce the ballet virgin. Peter Schaufuss's method of choice is the 'dansical', a full evening of plotless routines pegged to a clutch of popular songs. The crossover format is apparently very big in Denmark (where Schaufuss's company is based)... The three acts are led by Caroline Petter, Zara Deakin and St Petersburg Ballet Theatre's Irina Kolesnikova, who phoned in a few fouettes but whose coldly compelling stage presence was never fully exploited. There is no attempt to tell the life stories of the stars (be grateful for small mercies) and only Deakin's sequinned-and-furred Marlene offers an outright physical impersonation. The staging is brisk and slick, and one could hardly fault the soundtrack. But that is the most one can say for this bland, overblown and doggedly unsophisticated cabaret." The Sunday Telegraph

"Taking three of the world's greatest female cabaret artistes and attempting to create a dance language that reflects their characters and songs is a challenge many would baulk at; through simple but effective staging and sensitive choreography, Schaufuss has succeeded admirably. Edith Piaf, Marlene Dietrich and Judy Garland are entirely different performers and Divas avoids direct biography by concentrating on impressionistic portraits of the music through dance. It works well, sometimes brilliantly... by fusing classical steps with Fosse-like jazz movement and sprinkling his own brand of populist dance dust over the whole confection, Schaufuss has laid the ghost of Satisfaction and come up with a winner." The Daily Express

Edith Piaf (1915 - 1963) The French cabaret singer Edith Piaf was literally born in the gutter. But with amazing effort and enormous talent she became one of France's greatest stars. Her very emotional and powerful voice was extremely expressive. Edith Piaf, a victim of an awful childhood, was only 147 cm in height. She ate and drank her way through life and indulged in alcohol and men in abundance. She lived life to the full and paid the price.

Marlene Dietrich (1901 - 1992) The German cabaret singer and actress, Marlene Dietrich turned to German cabaret and film early in her career. She originally aspired to become a concert violinist but had to abandon the idea following a wrist injury. In 1930, Marlene Dietrich experienced her breakthrough with a lead part in the first German talking movie, Der Blaue Engel. Immediately after the premiere she left her husband and child and followed the film director Josef von Sternberg to Hollywood where a seven-year contract with Paramount Pictures was in the making. Together they created and staged Marlene Dietrich's glamorous image. However, the partnership came to an end following the box-office failure of The Devil is a Woman. After World War II, she was decorated by America and France for her commitment to entertaining the troops during the war. The following 25 years, Marlene Dietrich performed as a celebrated entertainer the world over. She retired in 1976 to a reclusive existence and died in 1992.

Judy Garland (1922 - 1969) The American cabaret singer and actress, Judy Garland was introduced to show business at the early age of two. She was awarded an Oscar and nominated for several others. She appeared in more than 1100 theatre and nightclub performances and concerts. She won a special Tony Award for the first of three Broadway shows at The Palace. Additionally, she recorded a host of singles and albums. Judy of Carnegie Hall was awarded as many as five Grammys in 1962, including Album of the Year. Her part as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz made Judy Garland an overnight megastar, loved and admired by millions worldwide. Hiding behind her beautiful, self-assured appearance and her amazing voice was a shy and delicate young girl. No one had prepared her for the consequences of stardom, and soon drugs and alcohol became her solace in life. The rest of her career was a rollercoaster of scandals and comebacks.

Peter Schaufuss' Divas in London at the Apollo Theatre previewed from 19 June 2008, opened on 25 June 2008 and closed 5 July 2008.