By Lois Jeary
LONDON (Reuters) - British electro-pop duo the Pet Shop Boys have turned their talents to ballet for the first time, setting Danish author Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale "The Most Incredible Thing" to music.
To many critics, the venture is a natural progression for an act which has thrived on filling the dance floors with catchy tunes like "West End Girls" and "It's a Sin" often backed by orchestral-style synthesized sounds.
Neil Tennant, who with Chris Lowe boasts 22 top 10 hits, three BRIT awards and record sales of over 100 million, agreed that The Most Incredible Thing was an extension of what the pair had done throughout their 30-year collaboration.
"I would regard this project as part of a long career of putting pop music in a theatrical context," Tennant told Reuters in an interview ahead of a preview of the work at London's Sadler's Wells Theater on Thursday.
The official opening night is March 22.
"Our first ever tour Derek Jarman directed, our second tour was directed by two people from the English National Opera, our latest tour which we did at Glastonbury last year was directed by a theater designer called Es Devlin.
"We've always liked this thing of putting pop music in a theatrical context, really to make it more enjoyable. The theory is not very complicated: (it) is to make it more enjoyable and maybe to make you think about it slightly differently."
The Pet Shop Boys are teaming up with choreographer Javier De Frutos to create the work, with playwright Matthew Dunster adapting the original story.
Featuring former Royal Ballet star Ivan Putrov, the fairytale centers around a competition to produce "the most incredible thing," with a prize of half the kingdom and marriage to the princess at stake.
The ballet partly came about as a result of a happy coincidence, Tennant said.
He and Lowe were asked by Putrov to consider writing a short piece for him at the same time that Lowe happened to be reading The Most Incredible Thing. The result was a full-length ballet performed by a cast of 16 and a 26-piece orchestra.
The ballet runs until March 26. The score for The Most Incredible Thing has also been released on the EMI record label.
(Writing by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Steve Addison)