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Sergei Polunin to dance in Peter Schaufuss’ Midnight Express

Posted on December 12, 2012


Sergei Polunin, who so dramatically resigned from The Royal Ballet earlier this year, is to take the lead role in the UK premiere of Peter Schaufuss’ dance production of Midnight Express at the London Coliseum in April 2013.

Adapted from the book by Billy Hayes that later became an Academy Award-winning film directed by Alan Parker and starring Brad Davis, the dance version of Midnight Express will also feature Igor Zelensky, star of the Maryinsky Ballet and director of Moscow’s Stanislavsky Ballet, and mark the return to the stage of Wayne Eagling, former artistic director of English National Ballet, who will play the role of the father.

Polunin, talking about his participation in the production, said: “I’m proud to be returning to the UK in a show I can genuinely say I believe in. What Peter, inspired by Billy Hayes’ book, has created is beautiful, compelling and brave – it’s exactly the kind of work I want to be making, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”

Schaufuss’ Midnight Express has the support of the book’s author, who says: “When Midnight Express, the book I wrote in 1976, was made into a Hollywood film I was truly amazed. Now, all these years later, to be involved in a ballet production of my story at the London Coliseum in the West End is very exciting and more than I could have imagined – life really is stranger than fiction.”

Schaufuss, who choreographed Midnight Express on the Schaufuss Ballet in 2000, reveals that, “What motivates me is making powerful works’ which manage to speak to both dance audiences and people who normally would not go to the theatre. I am very proud to be working closely with Billy Hayes, who will be helping with the staging of his sensational book, whilst presenting Sergei Polunin, the world’s most talented young male dancer, superstar Igor Zelensky and multi-talented Wayne Eagling in this production.”

Midnight Express runs at the London Coliseum from April 9 to 14, with a charity gala held on April 10. Tickets go on sale from December 12. Call the box office of the London Coliseum on 020 7845 9300 (booking fee applies), or visit

Pictured above, by Frederika Davis, is Sergei Polunin in The Royal Ballet’s production of Manon.

Jonathan Gray is editor of Dancing Times. He studied at The Royal Ballet School, Leicester Polytechnic, and Wimbledon School of Art where he graduated with a BA Hons in Theatre Design. For 16 years he was a member of the curatorial department of the Theatre Museum, London, assisting on a number of dance-related exhibitions, and helping with the recreation of original designs for a number of The Royal Ballet’s productions including Danses concertantes, Daphnis and Chloë, and The Sleeping Beauty. He has also contributed to the Financial Times, written programme articles for The Royal Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet, and is co-author of the book Unleashing Britain: Theatre gets real 1955-64, published in 2005.

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