Ballet and great drama on the way

Club Scene with Sam Cherry

Ballet from Russia and one of the great plays of the early part of the 21st century will begin the 2011 programme at Chichester Festival Theatre.

Moscow City Ballet return next week with two of the most popular of classical dance stories, and The History Boys will have a two-week run at the end of January.

The Moscow company will stage Swan Lake, pictured, from January 4-6 and The Nutcracker from January 7-9, both with music by Tchaikovsky played by the company's own orchestra.

Moscow City Ballet has performed worldwide for more than 20 years, winning renown for its accomplished soloists, stunning sets and opulent costumes, since being founded by a former Bolshoi Ballet soloist and choreographer.

It is now one of Russia's most successful international ballet companies. Swan Lake, a story of good versus evil and doomed romance, remains one of the most famous and loved productions in the ballet repertoire.

At its heart is the double role of Odette – the swan maiden who is the prince's true love, and Odile, the imposter who tricks him to win his affection.

The Nutcracker tells of a doll who comes alive on Christmas Eve to rescue a little girl from the clutches of the Mouse King and his army.

The History Boys, which won the Best Amateur Drama Production trophy for CCADS at the Guide Awards in November, was itself winner of 30 major awards for writer Alan Bennett in 2004.

It is a funny and poignant play about a group of sixth-formers attempting to gain entrance to Oxford or Cambridge amid the distractions of sport and sex.

The headmaster has his eye on the league tables but the endearingly eccentric English teacher, Hector, has very different ideas about how the boys should be prepared for exams and for life. Taking them through an eclectic timetable encompassing everything from the great poets to Edith Piaf, Hector insists that learning is for life, not just for the exam room.

When the headmaster brings in Irwin, a bright junior master, to coach the boys, their allegiances are divided.

The role of Hector is now taken by Philip Franks, a familiar figure as associate director at CFT and well-known as an actor for Art and Noises Off on stage and for The Darling Buds Of May and Heartbeat on TV.

n The History Boys runs from January 19-29.

CFT tickets: (01243) 781312 or cft.org.uk

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