The English National Ballet has announced a two week run of dance and music spectacular Strictly Gershwin at the Royal Albert Hall in June. The company of 64 dancers will be joined in its celebration of musical legend George Gershwin by international guest stars, a 50-piece jazz orchestra, international pianist Jonathan Scott and Broadway legend Barbara Cook.
A journey through ballet, tap and ballroom, Strictly Gershwin aims to recreate the opulent era of big bands, the glamour of Hollywood musical motion pictures, and the style and panache of Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. As an added twist, the journey through the Gershwin songbook is performed in the round.
The work of Gershwin was last seen in London on a major scale when Trevor Nunn brought a new production of Porgy And Bess to the Savoy in 2006. The most famous song from this folk opera, Summertime, is included in Strictly Gershwin alongside other tracks including Fascinatin’ Rhythm, Lady Be Good, The Man I Love, An American In Paris and Rhapsody In Blue.
Cook’s last West End outing came in 2004, when the veteran Broadway performer brought her solo show Barbara Cook’s Broadway to the Gielgud. During the 1950s and 1960s Cook took leading roles in Broadway productions such as Flahooley, Candide, She Loves Me and The Music Man, a performance which was honoured with a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress In A Musical.
Strictly Gershwin plays at the Royal Albert Hall between 13 and 22 June.