Paul McCartney's ballet stumbles with critics

Fri Sep 23, 2011 7:21pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Paul McCartney's ballet debut writing an orchestral score and tale of love about an ocean dwelling princess received poor, early reviews on Friday that called his music agreeable but the story and staging bland.

McCartney, 69, posed for photos and fans with fiancee Nancy Shevell, 51, along with fashion designer daughter Stella McCartney and stars such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Naomi Watts and Alec Baldwin at a packed house at the New York City Ballet premiere held on Thursday for "Ocean's Kingdom."

But the work McCartney created with the company's ballet master-in-chief Peter Martins, who choreographed the work and admitted in media interviews the crowd was there for McCartney rather than the 50 minute-long ballet itself, was met with a mainly negative response in early reviews posted on Friday.

The New York Times said McCartney's score contained "plenty of color and melody" and was "never less than agreeable," but "in no way an important addition to the corpus of ballet music," and the show ultimately deserved better staging.

"'Ocean's Kingdom' isn't offensive: it's just harmless, forgettable, bland, thin and occasionally incompetent," the review said.

The Times blamed a "trite" scenario created by McCartney, as well as cliched costumes. Still, the reviewer believed the show could have been saved by better choreography, but failed.

"I hope someone else choreographs this score before long: it has many more dance opportunities -- especially in its finale -- than Mr. Martins has chosen to realize," the review said.

The Los Angeles Times called McCartney's score at its best a "competent Hollywood soundtrack to fairy-tale themed film," but also said it was let down by the action on stage.

Britain's The Telegraph said the music "certainly wasn't an embarrassment. A sparse string interlude was moving in its delicacy," but, noting McCartney had a hand in the story and choreography, the review added "As the lights dimmed and the dancing started, it was clear that the performance was ballet for beginners."   Continued...

<p>Former Beatle Paul McCartney and his fiancee, New York heiress Nancy Shevell, arrive for the world premiere of his ballet &ldquo;Ocean&rsquo;s Kingdom&rdquo; in New York September 22, 2011. REUTERS/Kena Betancur</p>