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Thursday, May 2, 2019

In Context: Pepperland

Photo: Mat Hayward

Mark Morris continues to redefine the relationship between music and movement in his homage to a monument of 20th-century art: The Beatles’ 1967 revolution in sound, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Commissioned by the City of Liverpool in celebration of the album’s 50th anniversary, Pepperland teases out the album’s colorfully avant-garde heart and omnivorous influences—from Bach to Stockhausen, music hall to raga—straining it through a theremin- and harpsichord-laced score by jazz composer Ethan Iverson, performed live by a remarkable seven-piece music ensemble. Morris’ company transforms the stage into a candy-colored kaleidoscope of modish 60s dance crazes and balletic intricacy that hovers, like its inspiration, between pop pleasure and exhilarating abstraction.

After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #pepperland.


Program Notes

Pepperland (PDF)


Read

Article
The Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’ Gets a 50th Birthday Festival in Liverpool (The New York Times)
Pepperland premiered as the opening to a celebration that featured 13 cross-disciplinary commissions inspired by the iconic album.

Blog
The Vibrant Colors and Surprisingly Conservative Cuts of the Costumes in Pepperland (BAM Blog)
Elizabeth Kurtzman, the show’s costume designer, looked to an earlier era for its fashion.

Blog
How a Jazz Composer Reinvented a Revolution in Sound (BAM Blog)
Composer Ethan Iverson discusses Pepperland’s instrumentation, the singer’s presentation, and how he incorporated different classical forms into the score.

Blog
Mark Morris: Mastery at BAM (BAM Blog)
A look back at some of the choreographer’s previous mastery at BAM.

Article
The Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’: The Story Behind Every Song (Rolling Stone)
A track-by-track guide to every tune on the landmark 1967 album, with links to articles corresponding to each song.

Now your turn...

What did you think? Tell us what's on your mind in the comments below and on social media using #pepperland.

© 2019 Brooklyn Academy of Music, Inc. All rights reserved.

22 comments:

  1. Such heart, musically, visually and kinesthetically!

    Mark Morris & the fabulous company have done it again!

    Was Lesley Harrison injured during the performance? We didn't see her in the last parts of the show tonight (5/8) nor the curtain call.

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  2. Neil Friedman May 2019
    Sense-ational. Many thanks to Everyone involved in the making of this extraordinary production.
    My wife and I were literally "blown away" !

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  3. Beautiful costumes and great dancing. If you are a Beatles fan looking to come for the music, however, this might not be for you. The musical score is reorchestrated pretty significantly to the fact that a lot times it's not recognizable. You'll see great dancers, but don't think you're going to be humming or singing along for most of it.

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    Replies
    1. agreed, dancing was fantastic and music was horrible

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  4. Spectacular! A festival of movement, color and music. Absolutely engaging from start to finish. I did not want it to end!!! Brilliant!

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  5. Amazing costumes, music, singing and, of course, dancing! Spectaculat choreography. One of the best dance performances I've ever seen.

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  6. Great costumes but no "Nutcracker Suite." Nor "Beatles Love."

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  7. The wonder and excitement of the original album that I found when I bought Sgt Pepper in 1967...Mark Morris and Company brought it all back to life in Pepperland!

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  8. the dancing was superb and mesmerizing!! the music however was awful and a total failure. wish i could see it again with a soundtrack of the actual beatles music and it would be unforgettable! what a missed opportunity because it really made it difficult to enjoy such great choreography

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  9. The choreography and dancers were first rate Mark Morris. However,both the performance of original music and the newly composed music were lacking. It's a risky venture to take an iconic score such as Sergeant Pepper and attempt to reinterpret it. Unfortunately, I don't feel the venture was a success.

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  10. What a delightful confection from Mark Morris! There is a Matthew Bourne influence here, but frankly, the more the better. The musical arrangements were gorgeous and added sophistication to these well-known songs. Pitch perfect dancing, costumes with colors that would jolt anyone to a high, and choreography that consistently evokes a smile from the audience and, undoubtedly, a grin from this treasure of a choreographer.

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  11. We enjoyed it very much. As always, Mark's choreography was wonderful and in-sync with the creative music arrangements. Although "Within You Without You" went on a little too long, "Penny Lane" and "A Day in the Life" were two of my favorites. Overall, a very entertaining and successful presentation.

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  12. Excellent! The music performance and arrangements were way more interesting than just dancing to the album. Added a lovely level of cleverness to the evening. The choreography really shone; the dancing exceptional; the costumes sensational; and the lighting changes reflecting off the crinkly stuff at the back of the stage augmented the show nicely. Specially happy Penny Lane was included! We've been following Mark since O Rangasayee blew us away decades ago. Pepperland is among his best work.

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  13. The dancing was fantastic, the music was a good indication of why Lennon and McCartney sold millions of records and these clowns couldn't sell one. Sorry to feel that out of tune and herky jerky rhythmic chaos for long, long, long stretches amount to much. Mark has done better when he's faced better music which culls his tendency towards over repeating a step and over staying a scene until it becomes almost tedious.

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  14. Brilliant! The spirit, the colors, the movement, the entire conceit were superb. The quality of the dancers amazes. And, the jazz transformation of the music is lovely. A privilege to have witnessed it!

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  15. It was fun eye candy, but a mere divertimento compared to Mark Morris' significant works. He is using old tropes, and far too literal in lyrical interpretation.
    Fun? You bet.
    But not the heights of dance art we've seen Morris deliver so many times before.

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  16. Great costumes, awful music (whoever thought they should rewrite the music of the Beatles...and do better) and pedestrian and disjointed choregraphy. Only one or two numbers stand out. No way to celebrate a 50th

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  17. Music was awful and the dancing only OK. Big swing and a miss for Mark Morris.

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  18. The show was fine, but our seats from the mezzanine were terrible. One of our seats got about half of the stage, the other had 3/4 or less. I have been to enough theaters to know these are unusually bad. We had seats from the orchestra here before were also bad, but not this bad. BAM should not sell these seats at all, or they should have marked them clearly as "obstructed view" and discounted them deeply so you would know what you were paying for. Very disappointed at BAM.

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  19. A piece of fluff, really. Kept wanting to like it more but this show never quite lives up to the subject's potential. Highlights were costumes and dancers. Low points monotone singing by soloist and general lack of emotional heft. This is the Beatles, for heaven's sake, make it something unforgettable. "Imagine" is how it might be better described.

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  20. Pure pleasure! For the eyes and the ears. The music, the musical arrangements, the costumes and of course the dancing and the dancers. Loved every minute! Thank you

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