Monday, 30 November -0001

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: MATTHEW BOURNE

…is an English choreographer. He is the only British director to have won Tony Awards for Best Director of a Musical and Best Choreographer. In 2001 he was awarded the OBE for Services to Dance. He has homes in Islington and Brighton.

What are you working on?
I’m reviving my production of The Car Man. It’s a film noir-ish thriller and has some great roles for the brilliant young dancers in my company, New Adventures.

When are you at your happiest?
Now! I love what I do – I don’t think I’ve ever been happier.

What is your greatest fear?
Serious illness and loneliness.

What is your earliest memory?
Watching Millie sing My Boy Lollipop on Top Of The Pops, which was in 1964. I was four years old, but around the same time I also remember the deaths of both Winston Churchill and Walt Disney.

What do you most dislike about yourself?
I think I’m lazy and unadventurous, but my colleagues tell me otherwise.

Who has been your greatest influence?
The two great Freds of choreography: Astaire and Ashton. But also non-dance artists such as Tennessee Williams, Alfred Hitchcock and Harold Pinter.

What is your most treasured possession?
A watercolour painting by the Bloomsbury artist Duncan Grant, who I played in a dance piece I choreographed called The Percys Of Fitzrovia.

What trait do you most deplore in others?
Cruelty and bigotry.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
My turkey neck! My mum had one and it’s the only thing she gave me that I’m not thankful for.

What is your favourite book?
The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, by Christopher Booker. I find it very liberating as a storyteller to know that all narratives, be they novels, movies, plays, operas – even ballets – are variations on the same seven themes.

What is your favourite film?
The Sound Of Music. I saw it on my fifth birthday at The Dominion Theatre and have never been the same since.

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And your favourite music?

Anything by Tchaikovsky, Percy Grainger or Richard Rodgers.

What is your favourite meal?
I would kick off with a dry Martini, followed by a seafood platter (including lobster, oysters and fresh prawns), then a traditional spotted dick with golden syrup, washed down with a good bottle of white wine.

Who would you most like to come to dinner?
Sir Noël Coward, Kenneth Williams, Sir John Gielgud, Dame Maggie Smith and Joyce Grenfell – I’d just sit back and listen.

What is the nastiest thing someone has ever said to you?
I was once described in an interview as ‘rather boxy’ in stature.

Do you believe in aliens?
Possibly.

What is your secret vice?
Wine and over-use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Do you write thank-you notes?
Emails sometimes. I was very impressed to get a handwritten ‘thank you’ letter from Rowan Atkinson after I worked with him on the musical Oliver! – what a gent!

Which phrase do you most overuse?
‘We’ll see’.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
A full-time chauffeur and limo.

Tell us something we don’t know about you.
When I auditioned for college at the very late age of 22, it was the first dance class I had ever taken. Prior to that I was self-taught.

What would you like your epitaph to read?
That is not for me to say but it’s my dearest ambition to have a Blue Plaque on my house in 50 years time.

Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man is on tour and will be at Sadler’s Wells from 14 July to 9 August: www.new-adventures.net/the-car-man.


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