Heads Up: The Most Incredible Thing

Cometh the hour, cometh the Pet Shop Boys' ballet
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The Independent Culture

What are we talking about?

A new ballet, based on a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, and the brainchild of electro-pop duo the Pet Shop Boys.

Elevator Pitch

"West End Girls" meet "The Little Match Girl".

Prime Movers

Olivier Award-winner Javier de Frutos is in charge of direction and choreography. Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe – aka Pet Shop Boys – composed the score. Playwright and director Matthew Dunster adapted Andersen's tale.

The Stars

Former Royal Ballet principal Ivan Putrov is a soloist, alongside Aaron Sillis and Clemmie Sveaas. Sillis is no stranger to disco: he's danced for the likes of Kylie, Cheryl Cole and the PSBs themselves.

The Early Buzz

Website Slate comments: "There's nothing wrong with JLS, but whatever else you can say about them, they're unlikely to ever perform a song about the Russian revolution, or write the score for a ballet. For that kind of pop thrill we turn to the Pet Shop Boys ... [the ballet's] themes of sacrifice, redemption and justice are very much typical of the subject matter Neil Tennant usually deals in."

Insider Knowledge

While it's their first foray into ballet, the PSBs are known for their cross-media projects: see also their 2001 musical Closer to Heaven, written with playwright Jonathan Harvey; their 2005 soundtrack for Eisenstein's film classic Battleship Potemkin, and their music for David Almond's play My Dad's a Birdman, at the Young Vic last year.

It's great that...

The project came about so serendipitously. Four years ago, Putrov rang Tennant and asked him to write a piece of dance music for him; two days later, Lowe called Tennant and said he'd been reading this Andersen story about a poor man who makes a magnificent clock.

It's a shame that...

After De Frutos's ballet Eternal Damnation to Sancho and Sanchez was pulled from BBC schedules because it was deemed to be too scandalous (it featured a deformed pope abusing a pregnant nun), TV bosses have presumably steered clear this time and there are currently no plans to broadcast the show.

Hit potential

Likely to pull in dance audiences, theatregoers and pop-music fans. And while it's billed as a family friendly piece, those au fait with De Frutos's work may still hope to sniff out a scandal.

The details

The Most Incredible Thing is at Sadler's Wells, London EC1 (sadlerswells.com), 22 to 26 March.