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Message in a Bottle at Birmingham Hippodrome

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by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
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Unmissable Modern Dance Show With Sting Music
Featuring a soundtrack of songs by Sting and The Police, this emotive dance show will be coming to Birmingham Hippodrome in 2021 after its tour was postponed due to Coronavirus. Here is why the production is a must for your theatre wish list.

Sting, Kate Prince, Message in a Bottle
Sting music features in the exceptional dance show Message In A Bottle

Combining hip hip, ballet and contemporary dance, Message In A Bottle has been created by choreographer and life-long Sting fan Kate Prince.

Although originally planned for Birmingham Hippodrome in 2020 it now heads to the venue over two days on Tuesday May 4 and Wednesday May 5 in 2021.

Prince is already known for her hip hop work as artistic director at ZooNation and her acclaimed work on productions Into the Hoods and Some Like It Hip Hop.

This latest dance production is just as slick but more topical, shining a light on the difficult journeys and experiences of refugees escaping war.

Message In A Bottle features 28 iconic hits by Sting, which he re-recorded with totally new arrangements to help them fit with the tone and mood of the plot. Music includes classics like Every Breath You Take, Roxanne, Walking On The Moon, Englishman In New York and Shape Of My Heart as never heard before.

While Wolverhampton-born Beverley Knight recorded new spine-tingling interpretations of Fields Of Gold, Invisible Sun and If You Love Somebody Set Them Free. There's even Lynval Golding, rhythm guitarist and vocalist from The Specials, appearing on track The Bed's Too Big Without You.

message in a bottle, kate prince, dance show
Visually enticing and thought-provoking moments in the show

The show follows three siblings as war erupts in their village and they have to flee, losing each other in the process. Their journeys feature tough themes from sexual violence to imprisonment in camps, portrayed purely through vibrant dance routines of hip hop, breakdance and contemporary dance.

Both despair and hope are in this impressive show that has an authenticity. That comes from Prince using documentaries and newspaper articles as background material, which she made the dancers look at too.

The realistic nature of the show paid off as Rania Mustafa Ali, who featured in a documentary Prince and the dancers had watched, came to see the opening night of Message In A Bottle and said it had been a moving experience for her.

Ali filmed her escape from Syria on a mobile phone, which was later aired by The Guardian as Rania's Odyssey.

Rania's story was the basis for the youngest sister's storyline in Message In A Bottle, so it meant a lot to the cast to hear her approval.

message in a bottle, kate prince, dance
Breakdance, ballet and contemporary dancing merge in the production

There's a large and talented young cast whose energy and dance moves on the stage are hugely impressive. The original performances included dancer Lukas McFarlane, who won Sky 1's Got To Dance in 2013 at the age of 19, and Tommy Franzen, a runner-up in So You Think You Can Dance and award-winner for his roles in Some Like It Hip Hop and The Rodin Project.

If they return for the 2021 tour, the audience will be treated to some exceptional performances once again.

You can't help but feel a personal bond with each of the siblings as you follow each one on a different journey with the music and lyrics conveying a message on another level.

Sting's biggest hit Every Breath You Take is saved for a heart-wrenching routine when the siblings are split apart while trying to flee to safety while Message In A Bottle is a stirring, energetic group number to take the audience into the interval.

Canadian McFarlane, who has worked as a music industry choreographer for Taylor Swift and Celine Dion, had one of the most memorable routines in The Bed's Too Big Without You, when he dances with digital shadows beamed on to his bed.

message in a bottle, kate prince dance show
The story revolves around siblings split apart by war

He's also was at his most emotive through songs Roxanne and So Lonely as his character battles with what has happened to his wife during the war.

Sting has described watching a workshop of the show with his music as "very emotional", adding that "there was something happening at a deeper level of understanding". Seeing the show, you can understand what he felt as it is hugely emotive and powerful, bringing you to or near tears at many points.

Mixing between a range of dance genres, there's a freshness and vibrancy on stage throughout the 1 hour 50 minute show.

The result is a compelling character-led story that is incredibly moving and lays bare the struggles of refugees - but with a optimistic, hopeful finale.

This show moves you to want to do more to help and that's why it's one of the most important dance shows that you will see.

It's a blessing that it has been able to reorganise its tour for May 2021 so Birmingham audiences don't get to miss out on this extraordinary show.

Message In A Bottle is brought to stage by Sadler's Wells and Universal Music UK with co-producers Birmingham Hippodrome and The Lowry.
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Why? Unmissable dance show about refugees with Sting music
When: May 4 - 5, 2021
Phone: 0844 338 5000
Where: Birmingham Hippodrome, Hurst Street, Birmingham, B5 4TB
Cost: Tickets from 15
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