Sadler’s Wells and Universal Music UK today announce the cast and creative team for Message In A Bottle, a new dance theatre production by Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Kate Prince, set to the music of 17-time Grammy Award-winning artist Sting.
Message In A Bottle receives its world première at Sadler’s Wells’ West End theatre, The Peacock, from Thursday 6 February — Saturday 21 March 2020, followed by a UK and international tour. Gravity-defying lyrical hip hop dance and breath-taking music combine in an uplifting story of humanity and hope. This is the first time Sadler’s Wells and Universal Music have collaborated to produce a show.
Message In A Bottle sees a village alive with joyous celebrations suddenly come under siege. In the chaos, three siblings, Leto, Mati and Tana are separated from their parents; they undertake a perilous journey to new lands and set out on their own extraordinary adventures. Songs include Every Breath You Take, Roxanne, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, Walking On The Moon, Englishman in New York, Shape of My Heart and Fields of Gold.
The production features exceptional dancers from ZooNation: The Kate Prince Company, who come from all over the UK and from Mexico, Canada, Australia, Japan, Sweden and Holland. In featured roles are Lukas McFarlane as Leto – winner of Sky 1’s Got to Dance (2013); Tommy Franzen as Mati – BBC One’s So You Think You Can Dance (2010) and the Tom Hooper-directed CATS, in cinemas winter 2019; and Natasha Gooden – Blak Whyte Gray (Boy Blue) and Strictly Come Dancing – as Tana.
We speak exclusively to Tommy Frazen about his role in the highly anticipated production.
How did you first get into dance?
A guy called David Johnson from California opened a dance school in Sweden and my sister Elena was taking classes there. One day I was watching them both in a rehearsal for a show and I was caught copying them doing the robot. It was the first time I had seen any kind of hip hop dance and it must’ve struck a chord with me. David suggested that day that maybe I should try out a class. In the first class I was freaked out about how exposed I felt standing in front of the mirrors thinking how bad a looked. I told my dad and Elena that I never wanted to go back again and, with their shocked faces, they said that I was the best one in the class. Apparently, that’s all I needed to change my mind and I never looked back again.
What is your role in Message In A Bottle?
I’m an Assistant Choreographer alongside Lizzie Gough and also playing the role of Mati.
How do you switch from choreographing to performing?
In some rehearsal sessions I’m mainly concentrating on my role, but in some I’m helping Kate with a particular part of choreography for another character or for a group section. When I’m making up a solo bit for myself, I always need to feel what the movement feels like before I judge how it looks. If I’m choreographing on other people, I often have to choreograph it in third person in my head so I’m looking at it from the front.
Can you give us some insight into Kate Prince’s choreographic process of creating hip hop dance theatre to Sting’s music?
This show is a real mix of hip hop dance styles and contemporary. Kate has written a story that utilises a lot of Sting’s songs and weaves them effectively into the narrative. There is a lot of narrative in the choreography as well, without sacrificing making it impressive, beautiful and impactful. The way Kate has managed to marry hip hop dance styles to Sting’s music is beautiful.
Who’s your favourite hip hop artist and why?
This is a difficult one. I love funk music and I like a lot of old school artists. Out of the current artists I’d say Bruno Mars, as he is an ultimate performer. My favourites songs of his are the ones with an old school sound.
What can we expect to see and feel as an audience in Message In A Bottle?
It will be a rollercoaster of emotions, from happiness and joy to compassion. You might fight back a few tears, but you can expect to feel joyful by the finale.
Visually, the show will be both beautiful and impressive. Expect dancing to a world class level in both hip hop dance and contemporary. The talent of both dancers and creative team is amazing and it will definitely be a show to remember for a long time.
What’s next for you?
After this I’m taking a bit of time off to train, particularly in acting and singing. There are a few projects lurking about in 2020 and 2021, but nothing confirmed as of yet. Hopefully I’ll be choreographing on Strictly again next year. I rarely know this far in advance what I’m doing next.
6 February — 21 March 2020 — The Peacock, London
26 — 28 March — Theatre de la Ville Luxembourg
1 — 4 April — The Lowry, Salford
7 — 11 April — Birmingham Hippodrome
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