Works: 1950s

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Midsummer Watch

10th June 1951, Ballet Workshop, Mercury Theatre, London

Peter Darrell's first ballet, for Ballet Workshop and the Festival of Britain. The story of Zoe, Phoebe and the Shepherds in a charmingly rural setting.

Composer: Hugo Alfven
Designer: Kenneth Aadams (Kenneth MacMillan)
Casting: Peter Darrell, Sonia Hana, Tony Matteuz, Maureen Swanson

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18th May 1952, Ballet Workshop, Mercury Theatre, London

Divertissement based on the theme of love and relationships.

Composer: Jean Francaix (String Trio)
Designer: Hugh Stevenson
Casting: Julia Arnold, Jerry Burr, Domini Callaghan, Joy Carter, Dudley Davies, Rosina Gay, Anne Lascelles, Norman MacDowell, Grahame McCormack, Edward Monson, Diana Payne, Kenneth Smith

The Telltale Heart

8th June 1952, Ballet Workshop, Mercury Theatre, London

An adaptation of a story by Edgar Allan Poe. The tale of a youth who, maddened by an old man's filmy eye, resolves to kill him, hiding the body beneath the floorboards. When the police investigate he is completely at ease, until his overwrought senses seem to hear the still-beating heart of the murdered man. He confesses his crime.

Composer: Michael Hobson (for Piano, Harp and Cello)
Designer: Kenneth Aadams (Kenneth MacMillan)
Story spoken by: Derek Prowse
Casting: lain Gordon, Michel de Lutry, Peter Wright, Ronald Yerrell


26th December 1952, London Festival Ballet Royal Festival Hall, London

Composer: Riccardo Drigo
Designer: Kenneth Aadams (Kenneth MacMillan)
Casting: Belinda Wright, John Gilpin, Walter Burgess, Geoffrey Davidson, Philippe Perrottet, Noel Rosanna, Vassilie Trunoff, Geoffrey Webb

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Les Chimères

10th May 1953, Ballet Workshop, Mercury Theatre, London

A ballet on the theme of hunters falling in love with the hunted.

Composer: Michael Hobson (for Soprano offstage. Harp, Flute, Percussion and Piano)
Designer: Douglas Smith
Singer: Roxanne Houston
Casting: Estaban Cerda, Max Collis, Rosina Gay, Norman Morrice, Yvonne Olena, Ray Pointer, Noreen Sopwith


7th June 1953, Ballet Workshop, Mercury Theatre, London

A classical pas de trois.

Composer: Antonio Vivaldi
Designer: Honor Frost
Casting: Beryl Goldwyn, Noreen Sopwith, Alexander Bennett


7th June 1953, Ballet Workshop, Mercury Theatre, London

Two couples and the tricks of love.

Composer: Serge Lancen (Piano Suite)
Designer: Tom Lingwood
Casting: Estaban Cerda, Hermione Harvey, Lana Kassinova, Graham Smith


15th November 1953, Ballet Workshop, Mercury Theatre, London

The work is a mixture of mime and ballet. A magic show with a moral theme - the intervention of fate into the affairs of man.

Composer: Michael Hobson
Designer: Kenneth Rowell
Mime sequences: Victor Azaria
Casting: Victor Azaria, Deborah Dering, Norman Dixon, Anne Lascelles, Ray Pointer, Noreen Sopwith

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April 1954, Ballet Comique of London, Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool

The theme is love - the realistic represented by two couples of human lovers, and the symbolic perpetuated in the sculptured figures of the fountain.

Composer: Gabriel Faure
Designer: George Kirsta
Casting: Domini Callaghan, Norman McDowell, Derek Westlake, Stanley Williams

Celeste and Celestinha

2nd September 1954. Commissioned by London City Ballet Society. Toynbee Hall, London. Revived June 1957, Western Theatre Ballet Dartington Hall, Devon

A delightful character ballet of two sisters, one tall, one short, and Vasco a Portuguese fisherman who returns to his village after several years absence.

Composer: Carlos Seixas (17th Century Portugese composer)
Designer: Douglas Smith
Casting: Jeanne Artois, Harry Cordwell, Jeanne Lusby, Philippe Perrottet (London City Ballet Society) Peter Darrell, Anne Hyde, Brenda Last, Hazel Merry, Suzanne Musitz, Jeffery Taylor, Oliver Symons (Western Theatre Ballet)

Thea ou la Fée aux Fleurs

7th November 1954, Oxford University Ballet Club Playhouse, Oxford

A pastiche of a classical grand pas de deux.

Composer: Gioacchino Rossini
Casting: Herida May, Peter Darrell

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Balleto da Camera

13th March 1955, Ballet Workshop Mercury Theatre, London

A semi-abstract pas de trois, stemming from "Designs with Strings" with the programme note: "Ever let the fancy roam Pleasure never is at home".

Composer: Antonio Vivaldi
Designer: Jack Coutou
Casting: Peter Brownlee, Dorothy Buttery, Robert Harrold, Herida May, Kenneth Melville, Noel Rossana

The Gift

30th September 1955, London Ballet Circle Fortune Theatre, London

A father and mother, incompatible and quarrelling, affect the sense of security of their young daughter. Flirtations with friends worsen the situation, and the advent of two brothers and their wives further complicates matters.

Composer: Gabriel Fauré
Designer: Lucas
Casting: Julia Farron, Susan Salaman, Gilbert Vernon

The Farce of Love

Circa 1955/6. The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London

A new musical comedy pastiche. The action takes place on the walls of Troy.

Composer: Nicholas Smith
Book and lyrics: Charles Robinson
Devised and directed by: Tristram Jellinek
Casting: Michael Ashton, Colin Barnes, Keith Baxter Wright, Caroline Blakiston, John Blarney, Richard Briers, Albert Finney, John Gray, Tristram Jellinek, Julie Nicholls, Daphne Wetton, Susan Westerby and company

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Jubilee Girl (Musical)

5th March 1956, Hippodrome Theatre, Bristol

The show was set in the summer of 1887, mixing period and pageantry with a standard story of love between the classes.

Devised by: Robin Fordyce and David Rogers
Composer: Alexander Kevin
Designer: Loudon Sainthill
Directors: Bert Stimmel / Leslie Bricuse and Frederick Raphael / George Hall and Caspar Wrede
Choreography: Bert Stimmel / Alfred Rodrigues / Peter Darrell
Musical director: Leonard Morris
Casting: George Benson, Joyce Carpenter, Patricia Cree, Tom Criddle, Betty Evans, Fenella Fielding, Michael Foster, Kim Grant, Irene Handl, Wendy Harcourt-Brown, Michael Hart, Vilma Ann Leslie, Marie Löhr, Kenneth Mason, Julie Musgrove, Paddy Nolan, Janet Page, Gillian Webb, Rusty Whitman, Lizbeth Webb and members of the company

Tatiana (Operetta)

9th April 1956, Romacofr Association Toynbee Hall Theatre, London

Book, music and lyrics: Colin Graham
Designer: Diana Voet
The gypsy dance: Peter Darrell
Casting: Barbara Viner, John Howe
The gypsy violin: Olive Zorian

Grand Valse Finale

Part of a Soirée de Ballet.

22nd May 1956, Leas Cliff Hall, Folkestone

Composer: Alexander Glazunov
Casting: Peter Darrell, Maryon Lane, Margarita Tate, Pirmin Trecu

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Horoscope - Gemini Valse

7th April 1957, BBC Television

Part of a programme with the BBC Concert Orchestra produced by Margaret Dale.

Presenter: George R. Foa
Casting: Anya Linden, David Blair

The prisonersThe Prisoners

24th June 1957, Western Theatre Ballet. Dartington Hall, Devon (Inaugural Tour); 1970 Northern Dance Theatre; 1975 Irish National Ballet; 1977 West Australian Ballet; 1982 The Scottish Ballet

Two convicts escape from prison, one to his death, the other to life enslavement to his friend's wife.

Composer: Bela Bartok (Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste)
Designer: Barry Kay (Western Theatre Ballet); Peter Cazalet (Northern Dance Theatre); Patrick Murray (Irish National Ballet); David Jones (West Australian Ballet); Nicholas Ullyott (The Scottish Ballet)
Casting: Suzanne Musitz, Barry Salt, Erling Sunde and dancers of Western Theatre Ballet

Non Stop

25th July 1957, Western Theatre Ballet Arts Theatre Club, London

A satirical ballet to a jazz score written around Hazel Merry who was seen by Peter Darrell jiving at a first night party. On the surface, an amusing piece, but in the real cool way the pony-tailed redhead uses her hair to finish off one partner when another arrives, it has a delicate ambiguity and underlying frisson that was to be a feature of many of Peter Darrell's ballets.

Composers: Williams and Palmer
Jazz score: Dizzy Gillespie and Roy Eldridge
Designer: Barry Kay, lan Spurling (1963)
Casting: Hazel Merry, Oliver Symons, Jeffery Taylor

Cool for Cats

1957-1960, BBC Television

A weekly jazz programme - one of the most choreographically demanding of all dance programmes of its time, calling for speed in conception, wit, originality and versatility.

Amster Tea

1957-1960, BBC Television, Cardiff

Numbers choreographed by: Peter Darrell
Casting: David Hepburn, Brenda Last, Hazel Merry, Oliver Symons

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (Pantomime)

26th December 1957, Theatre Royal, Bristol

Composer: David King
Decor: Patrick Robertson
Costumes: Rosemary Vercoe
Musical numbers arranged by: Peter Darrell
Director: John Moody
Musical direction: Courtney Kenny
Casting: Sheila Alien, Bernard Behrens, Susan Engel, John Floyd, Valerie Gearon, Wendy Hutchinson, David King, Emrys James, Peter Jeffrey, Robert Lang, Raymond Llewellyn, Peter O'Toole, 'Sooty', Angela Sturdy, Wendy Williams, Barry Wilshire, Hazel Wright and dancers of Western Theatre Ballet

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18th June 1958, Western Theatre Ballet Theatre Royal, Bristol

"An essay in the macabre or a comment upon human and social behaviour - depending on personal interpretation." It captures the horror and cruelty of the Dracula tale. Originally conceived to Debussy's Rhapsody for Saxophone and Orchestra, permission to use the score was withheld. It was decided to go ahead with musique concrete. Hobson composed the score to fit the already rehearsed choreography.

Composer: Michael Hobson (Musique Concrète)
Designer: Una Collins
Casting: Basil Pattison and students from the Bristol Old Vie and Bristol School of Dancing

The Unicorn, the Gorgon and the Manticore

22nd July 1958, New Opera Company Sadler's Wells Theatre, London; 28th June 1962 revised version by Western Theatre Ballet Theatre Royal, Bristol

The piece tells the tale of a man who does not conform, with humour, fantasy and pathos. He lives in a castle with his unicorn, gorgon and manticore, whom he leads to town on Sundays. When he no longer appears the citizens, believing the man has killed them, march to the castle only to find him dying.

Composer: Gian Carlo Menotti
Designer: Barry Kay
Casting: Ronald Emblen, Brenda Last, Hazel Merry, Laverne Meyer, Oliver Symons, Jeffery Taylor and dancers of Western Theatre Ballet

The Enchanted Rose Garden

12th August, 1958, Western Theatre Ballet Lyric Opera House, Hammersmith, London

The story of a love-sick lady and an indifferent youth, for whom she has to transform herself to gain his interest, is told in the tradition of romantic grand pas de deux.

Composer: Alexander Glazunov (Excerpts from Raymonda)
Designer: Derek West
Casting: David Hepburn, Anne Hyde, Brenda Last, Jeffery Taylor


12th August 1958, Western Theatre Ballet Lyric Opera House, Hammersmith, London

A group of people find themselves trapped in a labyrinth from which there appears to be no way out. It becomes evident that whoever is to survive will do so because he has keen able to preserve some spark of human feeling.

Composer: Michael Hobson
Designer: Ronald Fouracre
Casting: David Hepburn, Hazel Merry, Suzanne Musitz, Erling Sunde, Oliver Symons, Sylvia Wellman

The Sleeping Beauty (Pantomime)

December 1958, Hippodrome Theatre, Bristol

Musical numbers arranged by: Peter Darrell

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The Lilac Domino (Musical)

May 1959, Chiswick Empire, London

The company sold itself as a "package" as a feature in this musical comedy.

Composers: Gatti and Jenbach
Musical numbers arranged by: Peter Darrell
Casting: Brenda Last, Laverne Meyer and dancers of Western Theatre Ballet

The Land of Smiles (Operetta)

9th July 1959, Sadler's Wells Opera Coliseum Theatre, London

Composer: Franz Lehár
Designer: Berkeley Sutcliffe
Musical numbers arranged by: Peter Darrell
Director: Charles Hickman
Casting: Peter Bayliss, Stanley Beedle, June Bronhill, Rachel Conway, Charles Craig, Denis Dowling, Elizabeth Fretwell, Peter Grant, Barbara Howitt, June Johnstone, Gwilym Jones, Cynthia Morey, Alfred Oldridge, Frederick Sharp, Suzanne Steele, Deirdre Thurlow and dancers of Sadler's Wells Opera Ballet


18th November 1959, Western Theatre Ballet Théâtre de la Monnaie, Brussels; 1963 Royal Winnipeg Ballet

A series of dance impressions of the light and shade in human behaviour.

Composer: Darius Milhaud (Saudades do Brasil)
Designer: Barry Kay; Peter Cazalet (Western Theatre Ballet)
Decor: Roy Izen (Royal Winnipeg Ballet)
Costumes: Grant Marshall (Royal Winnipeg Ballet)
Casting: Dennis Griffith, Anne Hyde, Brenda Last, Hazel Merry, Laverne Meyer, Richard Morris

Quatre Quartiers

November 1959, Western Theatre Ballet and Béjart Ballet Brussels Théâtre de la Monnaie, Brussels

A jazz ballet in four parts.

Composer: Willy Albimoor
Designer: Jacques Van Nerom
Casting: Jeannine Berdel, Jean de Cock, Francine Cramer, Roland Dimitri, Jeannine Festraet, Nicole Floris, Anne Hyde, Josiane Janvier, Dolores Laga, Brenda Last, André Leclair, Mouette Loza, Coletter Ludo, Andrée Marlière, Liliane Merry, Madeleine Middegaels, Richard Morris, Arnold Poels, Anna Price, Michèle Rimbold, Paule Scamp, Jacques Sausin, Cornell Senechal, Jane Simons, Oliver Symons, Vivianne Varetti, Sylvia Wellman, Jeannine Wisniewsky

Bal de la Victoire

November 1959, Western Theatre Ballet and Béjart Ballet. Théâtre de la Monnaie, Brussels; Filmed for BBC "Music for You", shown 27th April 1960; 8th May 1960, Western Theatre Ballet. Royal Court Theatre, London

A Victory Ball circa 1800. Flirtatious encounters by fair maidens and gallant officers.

Composers: Friedrich Kuhlau and Hans Christian Lumbye
Designer: Barry Kay
Casting: Jean de Cock, Roland Dimitri, Dennis Griffith, Anne Hyde, Dolores Laga, Brenda Last, Andrée Marlière, Hazel Merry, Liliane Merry, Laverne Meyer, Richard Morris, Serge Mrakoff, Suzanne Musitz, Arnold Poels, Anna Price, Jacques Sausin, Cornell Senechal, Eriing Sunde, Oliver Symons. Viviane Varetti, Sylvia Wellman

Tannhaüser (Opera)

9th December 1959, Sadler's Wells Opera Sadler's Wells Theatre, London

The Opera was given in the original Dresden version.

Composer: Richard Wagner
Designer: Motley
Director: Anthony Besch
Casting: Harold Blackburn, Marie Collier, Ronald Dowd, Gwyn Griffiths, Raimund Herincx, Iris Kells, Joseph Powell, Joan Stuart, Tom Swift, David Ward and dancers of Western Theatre Ballet

Humpty Dumpty (Pantomime)

December 1959, London Palladium

Composer: Park/Croft/Ornadel
Decor: Tod Kingman and Edward Delaney
Costumes: St John Roper
Musical numbers arranged by: Peter Darrell
Director: Robert Nesbitt
Casting: Roy Castle, Hazel Coppen, Samy Curtis, David Davenport, Jack and Manny Francois, Dave Jackley, Michael Kilgarriff, Alfred Marks, Gary Miller, Paddy O'Neil, J. Max Russell, Harry Secombe, Marina Svetlova, Stephanie Voss

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