NO wonder Rapunzel director Liv Lorent pays tribute to her dancers – the amazing costumes, set and hair mean they risk doing themselves an injury if they aren’t careful!
“I’m so grateful to them,” said Liv
“The hoop dresses take negotiation to work with. The steel set means you have to know what you are doing or you will get a bruise, the music and narration are great, but you have to be bang on with your timing or you will miss the cue.
“And for the dancer who plays Rapunzel, it’s one thing for me to ask her to do big backbends.
“But there’s a lot of technical work to make sure that what looks like a beautiful effect doesn’t mean the dancer ending up with a black eye!”
Even before Liv had her first child, her five-year-old son - and she just had a baby girl a couple of weeks ago - she became caught up in the challenge of producing a family show based on a fairy tale.
The first in 2008, Angelmoth, was an original story.
“That was the first time of intense collaboration with set, music, costume, dancers, story and having some narrated words.”
By then, Liv decided she wanted to make the story as clear as possible for youngsters and adults.
She explained: “I remembered, even though I’ve grown up and trained in ballet all my life, that frequently as a child – and a grown-up – I'd be bemused by the mime. I often found it baffling and didn’t 'get' the story.
“So as a 21st century audience member, I thought why not have a proper bedtime story with a narrator’s voice coming in to put you absolutely on track with the story.”
Even before Liv had her son and became a regular at family shows, she wanted to be able to appeal to all the different ages in that audience.
“I discovered how nice it is to go with several generations of the family to see something together.
“There isn’t much – especially dance – that you can take both granny and kids to see. If you can, it means you can avoid babysitter charges too,” laughed Liv.
“I wanted to do something that had impact emotionally on grown-ups, but that also kept my child entertained too.”
When Alistair Spalding, the artistic director of Sadler’s Wells invited Liv to think of doing a show based on an updated traditional fairy tale, she was enthusiastic.
I researched loads and loads of fairy tales until I found one that really chimed with me.
“I think because of my age, I’m 41, lots of my friends and colleagues are in their late 30s and early 40s and thinking about having a child.
“For a lot of us it’s not always easy and there is a lot of heartache that goes with that.
“In Rapunzel, her parents have longed for another child but are fooled by a witch into trading her for what turns out to be a vegetable baby.
“I felt sympathy for the witch, a woman who couldn’t have children and wanted one so badly she practically stole one.
“That’s terrible, but both the wife and the witch are basically just two women who wanted a child.”
Meeting Carol Ann Duffy, the poet laureate who was later asked to rewrite the story for the show, Liv told her about the women’s unspoken longing, unsaid in the story.
“After the witch steals the baby, you never hear of the parents again,” said Liv.
“Carol Ann and I started talking about the present tragedy of the parents of Madeleine McCann, searching and trying to find their daughter any way they can. You wouldn’t stop looking, would you?
“So we absorbed Rapunzel's parents’ story into ours.”
But Liv got a fairy tale ending when her producer encouraged her to think of her “dream team” to collaborate on the show.
So she did.
Liv laughed: “I came up with the names, then looked at the list and thought ‘Yeah, that’s never going to happen!’.”
But it did. So as well as the poet laureate working on the story, Liv got Doctor Who composer Murray Gold to create the music, top actress Lesley Sharp to be her narrator and secured Game Of Thrones costume designer Michele Clapton.
Liv had to work a little harder on that one...
“My partner Ben Crompton is an actor in Game Of Thrones,” she said. “We were watching it one night and I said ‘Do you think I could ask Michele to do my costumes?’.
“Ben said, ‘You can do whatever you want, but I’m not asking for you!’.
“So I traced her online, met her in London and she said yes. And only then did I tell her that she knew Ben!
“Michele loves dance, so though she is very busy doing films and TV, she was keen to take on a different challenge.
“I love Murray Gold’s music and it was an incredible experience being there for the recording of ours with the Northern Symphonia playing.”
And Liv has two of her star collaborators to thank for her latest project.
She explained: “It was Murray and Carol Ann’s idea that we should do a trilogy of fairy tales, so we’ll be doing preparation for another one for next year with the final one the year after.
“So now I’m on the hunt for the next story!”
Rapunzel by BalletLORENT is at Eden Court from today (Friday) until Saturday and features local youngsters in the cast.