Paul McCartney’s ballet for beginners

Sep 23, 2011

‘Ocean’s Kingdom’ is not what you’d expect from a rock god

PAUL MCCARTNEY’s first foray into ballet, Ocean’s Kingdom, an aquatic Romeo and Juliet tale with a happy ending, premiered in New York last night. Most reports were more concerned with spotting the former Beatle on the red carpet than with what was happening on stage, but those who bothered to review the production were mostly underwhelmed.
This was ballet for beginners, says Melissa Whitworth in the Daily Telegraph. The story, which McCartney helped create, was "childishly simplistic": boy meets girl, girl is kidnapped by a wicked queen, boy and girl are reunited in a finale. As well as writing the music, McCartney collaborated on the choreography, which was "perhaps where he should have left it to the experts".
His daughter Stella designed some "colourful, fluid costumes", but the whole thing, Whitworth concludes, had "something of a school play feel to it, despite the stellar performances from the members of one of the finest ballet companies in the country".

Well, Paul McCartney's approach was to make a piece that a ballet layman like himself would want to watch, says Will Gompertz on BBC News. McCartney has followed his instincts and produced "a traditional, romantic ballet".

The four-movement orchestral piece combining elements of Tchaikovsky and Gershwin, while coherent, is "more elegant than exciting". It’s not what we would expect from a rock god, Gompertz added, when he spoke on BBC Radio’s Today programme.

Wendy Perron, the editor-in-chief of Dance Magazine, was more positive, but hardly unequivocal in her praise when she tweeted shortly after the show: "Music FAB… scenery great… costumes stylish… choreo OK, but it’s HARD to create drama with a new fairytale."

As for McCartney’s score, music writer Alex Ross blogged simply: "He's not getting better".

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