Swan Lake

Adventures in Motion Pictures’

extraordinary interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet Swan Lake has made history as the longest running ballet ever in London’s West End, and as almost certainly the only commercially successful one since Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in 1921.

Establishing itself as one of the most successful musical theatre productions of all time, Matthew Bourne’s dynamic choreography brilliantly transforms this traditional masterpiece into a hugely entertaining, contemporary tale.

The essence of the original story remaining intact alongside his re-telling, Bourne’s concern for the score is clearly shown by the way in which his new choreography always springs from the music, and never imposes itself upon it.

Rowland was involved in this project almost from its inception, as Matthew Bourne, to his great credit, was particularly anxious that his version of the ballet should use a score which restored the traditional cuts and removed the extra music added after the composer's death, returning to a version of the score which was as close as possible to Tchaikovsy's original. Consequently Matthew and Rowland spent several days poring over manuscripts, listening to several recordings and debating what the original performance tempi might have been before the demands of principal ballerinas had imposed various 'performance practice' distortions upon the score. Rowland had previously re-orchestrated The Nutcracker for AMP, reducing the number of musicians required from around 70 to a more commercially viable 24. Following the success of that venture, AMP commissioned a reduced orchestration of Swan Lake (for 25 musicians) from Rowland, and in this version it has played to packed houses all over the world, with two seasons in London. Only in New York was a further reduced version (by David Caddick) used, as the Theatre's orchestra pit was not large enough for 25 musicians.


Society of West End Theatres OLIVIER AWARD Best New Dance Production 1996

AMP - Special Achievement for West End Season of SWAN LAKE

THE MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS AWARD for Best Touring Dance Production 1996

GAY TIMES READERS POLL 1996 Outstanding Live Performance

PINK PAPER READERS AWARD 1996 Best Live Performance


A performance of such breathtaking power and originality it will haunt you forever". (The Sunday Express)

"A triumphant Swan Lake…one of the most gripping, funny and profoundly moving dance works I’ve seen" (The Guardian)

"A Swan Lake for the new age… and a truly audacious spectacle" (The LA Times)

"A miracle" (Time Out, New York).

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Libretto: Omar Okai and Simon James Collier, Based on the book by Simon James Collier. Lyrics: Omar Okai. Music: Ilmar Olbrei.

The Merlin Theatre, Frome, Somerset, October 1996. 

With Joseph Collis, Louise Davidson, Colin Duncan, Glyn Fussell, Ann Micklethwaite, Steven Morgan, Andrea Sadler. Piano/musical direction/arrangements: Rowland Lee. Directors: Omar F. Okai & Steven Morgan. Producer: Simon James Collier.                                                                                                                                                                             

Go to Okai Collier homesite



Music and libretto: Stephen Sondheim.

The Bridewell Theatre, Bride Lane, London, December 1996 – January 1997

With Rebecca Front, Clive Carter. Piano/musical direction, Rowland Lee. Directed by Clive Paget. Choreographed by Louise Davidson. A Bridewell Theatre Company Production.





Book and Lyrics: Michael Ashton, based on Ben Travers' play 'Rookery Nook'. Music: David Heneker and John Addison

The Electric Theatre, Guildford, 1997.

With Helena Martin, Jo Napthine, Stewart Nicholls, Mark Holliday, Richard Costello, Sally Ann Landick. Orchestrations/Musical direction, Rowland Lee. Reconstructed libretto/choreography/direction, Stewart Nicholls. David Heneker said that Rowland’s orchestrations were “better that the (lost) West End originals”. Stewart and Rowland’s reconstructed version of this previously 'lost' musical is to be published by Warner/Chappell Music Ltd.

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Book, Music and Lyrics: NoŽl Coward

Rhoda McGaw Theatre, Woking, 1998
With: Cristianne Slade, Alexandra Turchyn & Richard Costello.

Restored and directed, with choreography and dance arrangements also, by Stewart Nicholls.
For the production, Rowland helped to reconstruct, with Stewart, Musical Director Damian le Gassick and others, arrangements, orchestrations (and harmonies and melodies) from original source material and some recordings, and also played piano in the orchestra for performances. Since then, Rowland has re-reorchestrated the sections of the score that he had not previously tackled, and Stewart and Rowland’s reconstructed and restored version of NoŽl Coward’s forgotten musical is to be published shortly by Warner/Chappell Music Ltd.

Orchestrations created by Rowland were used in the NoŽl Coward Centenary performance at Carnegie Hall, New York, 1999 starring Elaine Stritch.


Book and Lyrics: Philip Glassborow, Music: David Rhind-Tutt.

The Bridewell Theatre, Bride Lane, London, 1998.

With Karen Clegg, Elizabeth Counsell, Brian Greene. Arrangements/piano, Rowland Lee. Directed by Angela Hardcastle.



Book and Lyrics: Peter Myers, Alec Grahame & David Climie, based on  'Little Women' and 'Good Wives' by Louisa M. Alcott. Music: John Pritchett, Additional Music: Stanley Myers.

19th - 21st March 2000 at The Theatre Museum, Covent Garden, London.

With Lorraine Graham, Su Chandler, Kareena Dainty, Samantha Shimbart, Josephine Gordon, Michael Cotton, Reg Eppey and Patricia Lancaster- the widow of composer John Pritchett - as Marmee. Piano/musical direction: Rowland Lee. Revised and directed by Stewart Nicholls. Producer: Rex Bunnett.

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Music: Julian Slade, Book and lyrics: Dorothy Reynolds and Julian Slade.

16th-18th April 2000 at The Theatre Museum, Covent Garden, London.                

With Leigh Jones, Rosie Jenkins, Richard Owens, Carolyn Allen, Reg Eppey, and Marion Grimaldi, who flew over from retirement in the US to recreate her original role of Cora Miskin. Piano/musical direction: Rowland Lee. Director: Stewart Nicholls. Producer: Rex Bunnett.

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7th May 2000 at The Theatre Museum, Covent Garden, London.

Hosted by Kit Hesketh-Harvey, with Nicola Fulljames, Lisa Bowerman, Edward Baker-Duly, Christopher Dickins and Rowland Lee (piano/musical direction). Staged by Stewart Nicholls.

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Music: George Posford, Book and lyrics: Eric Maschwitz. 29th April – 2nd May 2001 at The Theatre Museum, Covent Garden, London.

With Gavin Lee, Zoe Curlett, Louise Davidson, Andrew Halliday, Alison Carter, Richard Owens, Brian Greene & Richard Gofton.  Piano/Musical direction, Rowland Lee. Sound by Alex Russell. Directed by Stewart Nicholls. Prod. by Rex Bunnett.

CD available: go to Discography

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Music: Julian Slade, Book and lyrics: Robin Miller.

27th May – 31st May 2001 at The Theatre Museum, Covent Garden, London.      

With Suzy Bloom, Rosie Jenkins, Josephine Gordon, Nicholas Charters, Andrew Halliday, Tim Freeman, Rex Doyle, John Lyons and James Spilling. Piano/Musical direction/Vocal arrangements: Rowland Lee. Sound: Alex Russell.

A revival of the original 1960 production with new songs and a new libretto, directed by Stewart Nicholls, Produced by Rex Bunnett and presented as part of the Covent Garden Festival.

CD available: go to Discography

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  ELEGIES for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens.

Music: Janet Hood, Lyrics and Libretto: Bill Russell.

19th  June – 7th  July 2001 at the Bridewell Theatre, Bride Lane, London.

A cast of 30 - the largest ever to have been assembled at the Bridewell - presented this acclaimed collection of poems and songs celebrating just a few of those who have lived, died and been affected by the AIDS epidemic. Using material inspired by the legendary Names Project Quilt and the Edgar Lee Masters “Spoon River Anthologies”, Elegies taps into great resources of courage and creativity in the face of terrible suffering.

Piano/Musical direction, Rowland Lee. Directed by Omar Okai.

CD available: go to Discography

Go to Okai Collier homesite


Written by Richard Sterling, music by NoŽl Coward, Rodgers & Hart, Harry Woods, Sam Coslow, George Posford and others.

4th November – 7th December 2001 at The Jermyn Street Theatre, London.

The story of Jessie Matthews, brought to the stage for the first time and to great acclaim. With Anne Rodgers, Suzy Bloom, Rosie Jenkins, Andrew Halliday, Ben Stock, Daniel Fine, Stephen Carlile & Duncan Wisby. Arrangements/vocal arrangements/musical direction Rowland Lee, directed and choreographed by Stewart Nicholls.

Listen to part of BBC 4 transmission  (Loose Ends)

CD available March 2002: go to discography




The UK premiere of this 10-year old American farcical musical (which launched the career of Britney Spears) will be at Stratford Circus, East London, in October 2002. Musical direction by Rowland Lee, directed by Omar Okai.

Go to Okai Collier homesite

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