SPARE a thought for Liam Mower when he takes to the stage in the ballet version of Edward Scissorhands.
No doubt he’ll move with all the poise and grace of someone who made his name as a dancer in the title role of Billy Elliott – but he’ll be doing it in a full leather suit, wig, make-up… and with scissors for hands, of course.
“You’re placed into the leather suit and then you keep it on for the entire show,” he explains.
“You also wear the hands pretty much all the time, apart from a sequence where he goes into a dream state where he imagines what he could do without hands.
“It gets really hot, it’s full-on leather. When I first put it on in rehearsals it wasn’t worn in so it felt like a straitjacket! It was quite hard to move, but it’s softened up over time and now it moulds to my body.”
Liam does reassure theatregoers that, while his scissor hands may be awkward, they aren’t too dangerous. “It’s a leather glove and on each finger slot is a plastic scissor,” he says.
“I have broken them, because sometimes in the big group dances accidents do happen, but they’re designed to snap rather than hurt anyone.”
Liam says he has studied silent movie actors like Harold Lloyd and Charlie Chaplin to help him convey emotion while wearing such a restrictive costume.
“I wanted to see the way they moved and the way their body language portrayed their feelings, the way they were on camera,” he says, “their movements were quite wooden but were quite animated in the face.”
“I’m so used to being free on stage and telling the story through movement a lot of the time. What’s so different here is that you’re restricted by the costume but also the character.”
Edward Scissorhands is the bitter-sweet story – made famous in the Tim Burton film – of a boy created by a lonely inventor who dies, leaving him alone and unfinished.
Left with only scissors for hands, Edward must find his place in a strange suburban world where the well meaning community struggle to see past his appearance to the innocence and gentleness within.
“He starts from scratch,” explains Liam. “He has the mind of a baby at the start. He starts to learn the way of life during the show. He starts to copy people and their actions and what they do. But inevitably finds his own person eventually.”
The dancer says the ballet version, directed by Matthew Bourne, works well because people know the story and they can empathise with the main character.
“Everyone knows the movie and has that image of Edward in their mind. Anyone could draw you a picture of what he looks like,” he says. “There’s a lot of aspects of the show that are different but people understand and know exactly what’s going on.
“People can relate to Edward so much and what he goes through. Not literally of course, but there’s a lot of underlying issues and feelings.
“He’s a real outsider and it’s about learning and growing and becoming his own person, and then being respected and being loved and growing up.
“He’s restricted by his hands but it’s about being an outsider; everyone has felt like that at some point in their life, so people feel for him and understand what he’s going through. They are touched by the story and find it quite emotional.”
Liam is sharing the lead role with Dominic North, and they will alternate throughout the tour.