" /> First Night: Divas, Apollo Theatre, London <img src="http://www.independent.co.uk/multimedia/archive/00015/1star_15785a.jpg" alt="1 stars" height="10" width="56"/> - Reviews - Music - The Independent

First Night: Divas, Apollo Theatre, London 1 stars

Not even Piaf, Dietrich and Garland can save this

Peter Schaufuss's latest dance spectacular has three star subjects, thrown together apparently at random. Edith Piaf, Marlene Dietrich and Judy Garland provide the soundtracks, with a ballerina representing each woman. The only link is in the decor: all three have numbers in which they hug steel chairs, emoting vaguely to their signature tunes. It is stupendously bad.

Schaufuss set up his own company after an international career as dancer and director. Based in Denmark, its repertory has been a series of Schaufuss shows on celebrity subjects, from Diana – The Princess to last year's Rolling Stones musical Satisfaction. They show little sign of the experience Schaufuss must have gained around the world.

In Divas, Dietrich comes off worst. Zara Deakin (Schaufuss's wife) appears in silver sheath dress and furs, posing around the raised stage platform. Around her, the corps start evoking Berlin decadence and Nazi Germany. Schaufuss's ideas of both seem to come from third-hand productions of Cabaret: lots of stocking tops and strutting.

The first lot of Nazi officers are a camp caricature, wiggling bottoms and pouty lips. Then we get a hamfisted evocation of the horrors of war. Helmeted men lug women across the stage, through the dry ice. Meanwhile, poor Marlene crawls about, while the backdrop shows a city in ruins.

Schaufuss's staging is astonishingly inept. It never occurs to him that his dancing Nazis look silly, or that it's cheap to bring them on in Grim Reaper outfits. Even his set design is poorly planned. The divas appear on a raised platform (from the stalls, it's hard to see their feet), leaving the corps doing their best on a narrow strip of stage. The costumes, also designed by Schaufuss, are clichés.

Schaufuss's choreography recycles the same steps for Garland and Piaf. Women are always being bent double. The corps women turn cartwheels in one finale, but the timing is hiccupy, losing all momentum. Throughout, the dancers are enthusiastic but untidy. Bending into penchée arabesque, they conscientiously get their heads to their knees, but the lifted legs are all at different angles.

The Russian ballerina Irina Kolesnikova appears as Garland, but Schaufuss has no idea what to do with his guest star. He drops in a few Swan Lake poses and fouettes, but spends more time choreographing bland gestures for her partner. It's hard to see coherent planning in any part of Divas.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

    Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

    In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
    Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

    How has your club fared in summer sales?

    Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
    Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

    'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

    Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
    The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

    The best swim shorts for men

    Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup