John Cranko: Pineapple Poll / The Lady and the Fool

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John Cranko’s Pineapple Poll is one of those delightful comedy ballets often performed by final year students as well as by professional ballet companies. Thoroughly family-friendly, it tells the nonsense tale of a sweet bumboat girl, Poll, who falls in love with the ever-so dashing Captain Belaye, along with every other woman in town. Meanwhile, potboy Jasper is in love with Poll and when Poll disappears he goes in search of her on board Belaye’s ship. But Belaye has a sweetheart of his own and… well, comic chaos ensues, but everyone lives happily ever after!

The Lady and the Fool is a bittersweet satire on the plight of society’s outcasts with La Capricciosa danced by Svetlana Beriosova in the year she became Prima Ballerina at Sadler’s Wells. It is an intimate work that transfers well to the television studio setting, and the roles of the clowns Moondog and Bootface are touchingly danced by Ray Powell and Ronald Hynd.

These two recordings are rare studio performances from the BBC’s earliest television archives. They are also the only commercially available recordings of these ballets and, indeed, the only works by John Cranko available on DVD (yes, we are still waiting for Cranko’s gorgeous full-length ballet Onegin to be made available).

Although the archival nature of the recordings necessarily limits the appeal of this DVD to the wider ballet-going public, this release is a must for anyone interested in the fine ballets of John Cranko and the Royal Ballet’s early years.

Lady and the Fool, Broadcast 3 May 1959, 45 minutes
Music by Guiseppe Verdi, arr. Charles Mackerras
Designs by Guy Sheppard, costumes by Jane Scrase-Dickins

La Capricciosa – Svetlana Beriosova
Moondog – Ronald Hynd
Bootface – Ray Powell
Signor Midas – David Shields
Capitano Adoncino – Bob Stevenson
The Prince of Arroganza – Peter Wright
Footman – Norman Pixon
Coachman – Graham McCormack

Pineapple Poll, Broadcast on 1 November 1959, 45 minutes
Music by Arthur Sullivan, arr. Charles Mackerras
Designs by Osbert Lancaster

Poll, a flower-seller – Merle Park
Captain Belaye – David Blair
Jasper, the pot boy – Stanley Holden
Blanche, Captain Belaye’s fiancé – Brenda Taylor
Mrs Dimple, her aunt – Gerd Larsen

Region Code: 0
Format & Aspect Ratio: NTSC, B&W 4:3
Number of discs: 1
Run time: 90 minutes
Studio: ICA Classics
Release date: 2011