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Edward Scissorhands: Matthew Malthouse Interview

Author: Darryn King
Monday, 2 June 2008
He’s everyone’s favourite Tim Burton character – in fact, he’s the favourite of Tim Burton himself. Now Edward Scissorhands has undergone a new incarnation and will be brought to life in a new dance production, the work of renowned choreographer Matthew Bourne. Darryn King spoke to the new man with the scissors, dancer Matthew Malthouse.

So I guess the make-up process must be rigorous…
The make up process takes approximately one hour – the majority of the time is spent putting on latex eyebrows, which need to be glued, and applying the solution for the scars. It’s actually quite nice to be forced to sit down and relax before the show – it gives you time to concentrate and not be distracted.

What’s your own experience as a dancer, and how did you come into contact with Matthew Bourne-
Before joining the New Adventures Company I performed in musicals in London. I was in the original cast of Mary Poppins in London which Matthew directed and choreographed. Although I first met him years before when I danced in a show which Adam Cooper choreographed and Adam introduced us.

Why do you think Matthew Bourne chose Edward Scissorhands in particular to turn into a dance production-
Two reasons really stick out: Danny Elfman’s music in the movie is tremendous and paints the scenes so well; and the second is that Edward is almost a mute character in the movie. He conveys most of his emotions through is body and eyes which obviously suits Matthew’s work perfectly.

Some ballet connoisseurs skeptical of Matthew Bourne’s work – why do you think that is-
With Matthew’s shows the story and the characters are the most important thing, whilst in other dance companies the technical aspect of dance is more important. We can’t all do six perfect turns and leaps – but we can move in the style of different characters, and act whilst we dance. Neither is right or wrong, it’s just different takes on dance.

It’s hard to imagine of John Williams’s scores getting this treatment… What is it about Danny Elfman’s music that makes it so perfect for ballet-

You could definitely use John Williams’s music, although I’m not sure how Indiana Jones would work as a dance piece… Danny Elfman’s music works so well because it is full of emotion and is designed to create moods for the film. Everybody remembers the signature tracks but some of the stuff for the suburban scenes is excellent.

How close do you keep to the story of the original film-
There are laughs and tears in our production. We relate very closely to the film: the biggest change is the families have been expanded: where before the religious woman was alone before, now she has a husband and children – this is the same for most of the characters. But the main story is the same.

Edward Scissorhands himself seems like a character made for the stage – how thrilling has it been to take on that character-

It’s been an honour to be asked to do the part, I loved the film growing up and the character of Edward is one I can really relate to. I think it’s a great show and am proud to be involved.

How difficult is it to wield those ‘scissorhands’, especially while dancing-
The scissors can prove a problem and I have struck quite a few cast members. They’re about the same as a bag of sugar each hand – which isn’t too bad, as your arm muscles get used it. The biggest problem is the increased wingspan which throws your weight everywhere.

Johnny Depp and Tim Burton have both seen the production and given it their blessing – did you meet either of them-
Tim seemed very moved and said he enjoyed it. Johnny came with his family and really enjoyed it and stayed behind after the show and chatted to the cast for about an hour, telling stories of the filming of the movie.

What’s next for Matthew Bourne and yourself- Is there another movie adaptation you’d like to collaborate on with him-
Next for Matthew is Dorian Gray at the Edinburgh Festival – for me, who knows- That’s the nature of working in theatre. I will just enjoy this and wait and see.
I always thought One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest would make a great dance piece. With all those interesting characters and you could do an excellent scene with the electric shock treatment. I could ask John Williams for some music!