Thursday, November 30, 2006

Theatre: Little Shop of Horrors


Paul Keating plays Seymour... Hello! Suddenly Seymour he purified everyone...

Tonight I caught Little Shop of Horrors at the Menier Chocolate Factory near London Bridge. Again it is another fantastic production that doesn't put a foot wrong. I have never seen a stage production of this show but this musical has been a long-time favourite of mine... There's a talking plant, a sadomasochistic dentist, a sweet girl and a nerdy boy. Throw in the late Howard Ashman's witty book and lyrics and Alan Menken's music and you have a very entertaining show. I knew almost every lyric in this show and found myself still laughing at the jokes... They still seem fresh and funny even though the show is approaching 25 years of age...

My excitement over Little Shop of Horrors surprised Mk who I went with. He likes the show too and normally we have rather different tastes in musical theatre. For instance he has seen Mamma Mia ten times and I just can't bring myself to seeing it yet... He also liked Cabaret which we kept arguing about all over dinner beforehand... It was somewhat of a relief that we could both agree that we enjoyed this production.

The show kept faithful to the original production (ignoring the changes made for the 1986 movie) and it was so well put together. It helped with a terrific cast which included Sheridan Smith as Audrey and Paul Keating (pictured above in an earlier role) as the nerdy Seymour. I mentioned to Mk that I did think PK was a bit of a looker and he thought I was daft. I think he couldn't get past the brown hair dye that had been inflicted on PK. Granted brown hair dye isn't a good look on anybody who is pasty white) but I was looking past that... Judging by photos on the internet of his previous acting jobs this was probably a sensible choice...

And as for Audrey II, that mean green mother came to life as a talking pitcher plant. Also of merit were the girl chorus who helped give the show its humour and lift. It was great stuff and although it has only just opened surely looks destined to transfer to the West End at some point next year... Particularly if the reaction of tonight's audience is any gauge of things...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

News: Cabbies have it tough

In news that doesn't feature polonium 210, we learned this week that London cabbies have the most stressful job in the UK. Poor things they have a hell of a time earning all that money and having to refuse fares if they take them to places they don't want to go (like South London)...

Everytime I have caught one it has been a rather enjoyable and efficient experience so I could be missing out on the stress and everything...

Then again in September I did see at Cambridge Circus one driver get out and shout to a pedestrian who punched his window (after the driver went through a red light no less), "Come back and do that again you little cunt!" so I guess there could be some anger management issues for drivers...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Music: Dreamgirls (revisited)

As a sometime fan of Dreamgirls since discovering it after the concert recording that was made in 2001 featuring Audra McDonald, I was chuffed to find out that the original Broadway cast recording has been remastered with a few additional tracks included ahead of the movie release (in February in the UK). It arrived today and I have been giving my colleagues a drip-feed on the musical brilliance of this show. This special edition also includes orchestral versions that could become... Karaoke versions... I can just see after a few work drinks me trying to lead everyone in a version of "And I'm telling you, I'm not going".

As for the movie soundtrack... That's out December 11, but thanks to the wonders of YouTube you can see just what Beyonce is like in the movie with the song "Listen" (below). Beyonce performed this last week on Oprah and the copyright lawyers haven't spotted this infringement yet... This movie is going to be huge... It's release is being covered by dreamgirlsfans.blogspot.com...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Scenes from Piccadilly Sunday



All the talk this week has been about polonium-210 so A and I went to Piccadilly to find out what all the fuss was about... The sushi was definitely off the menu so we went elsewhere for a bite...

Meanwhile the police have reportedly updated their investigation from an "unexplained death" to a "suspicious death". Polonium-210 poisoning does sound a bit suspicious as I don't think its a normal filling in a California Roll... It would bring a new meaning to "Asian fusion" cooking if it did...

The Economist this week offers helpful advice for dissident Russians living abroad: for longevity don't investigate the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, the mysterious Russian apartment bombings in 1999, or the embezzlement of funds for Chechnya reconstruction. These subjects could soon find you loosing your hair too...

Friday, November 24, 2006

News: Russians and Polonium-210

The death of a Russian ex-spy this week in London from radiation poisoning is causing a bit of a stir given that three London locations have found traces of the radioactive substance...

Tonight the Met reports that "Traces of Polonium-210 have been found at the Itsu sushi restaurant in Piccadilly, the Millennium Hotel, Grosvenor Square, and at Mr Litvinenko's home in Muswell Hill, London (not prepared to discuss further [whatever that means - Paul]). The sushi restaurant is currently closed, and parts of the Millennium Hotel have been closed while examinations continue."

Itsu Restaurant has been at pains to point out that the poisoning didn't occur from dodgy fish, but dodgy Russians... And to date there are no special deals at the Millennium Hotel for anti-static rooms...

Oh for the days when people were just stabbed with umbrellas or found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge...

Scenes from the Tate Modern Friday 13:59


As part of a team building half-day away day I suggested that we try out the slides by Carsten Höller at the Tate Modern. Well actually, the away day was fashioned around the desire to go on these monster slides but never mind that...

I tried both slides in the foreground. Starting with the one on the top level I found it to be a bumpy ride that was only improved after yelling a four-letter expletive for the entire journey down. The lower one was more fun and I managed to even enjoy it a little... There was a shorter slide that I even managed to make "wheee" noises for... By that point I had become a slide pro...

The slides will be around until April next year. By then I may try the slide from level four that has you going at speeds of up to 30mph... But not today... Höller may be onto something when he suggests that slides should be incorporated into new buildings as an interesting way of getting about... It would be more reliable than the tube...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Film: Borat - Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan


I luv Borat, originally uploaded by Crystal Pistol.

Finally caught the Borat movie tonight which has been playing for the last month here. The above scene was mild compared to the nude wrestling with a large fat hairy man that happens halfway through the film. Watching it with M she didn't appreciate the finer comic points of a large fat man's hairy ass... Not all the set pieces seemed to work (especially the one making fun of the US national anthem - at a Rodeo in Texas). But a film with frat boys talking about dominating women, hookers at social gatherings and a bear in an ice cream van is my kind of movie...

Overheard at the cafe Wednesday...

Man #1: I'm just bored with it all...
Man #2: Well I know a guy who can get you cheap Viagra...
Man #1: I don't need Viagra, I just need better looking talent...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Film: Physique er Casino Royale


Casino Royale, originally uploaded by peter-noster.

Tuesday night I managed to catch Casino Royale at the Odeon at Leicester Square. It is a big cinema with a big screen and every inch of screen counts with this Bond outing. There are explosions, there are chases, there is a fantastic free-running stunt and there are those swimming trunks. You need a big screen to take all of that in...

I have to say I was very impressed with this Bond flick. Sure the script had some pretty bad dialogue at times and the direction wasn't always slick, but as a package it all hung together very well. It helps with Daniel Craig in the lead as someone who can act and fight too. This film has set him up very nicely to set Bond in a new direction (if that's what the punters end up wanting).

I have never read any of the Ian Flemming novels and I understand that the film version is fairly faithful to the book as it explains how Bond gets his double-o status. It is what is referred to as a "reboot" of a franchise. Well after all the special effects overkill of Die Another Day it was good to get back to some great stunts and great set pieces.

Ultimately Casino Royale surely has to be remembered primarily as a series of fighting and action scenes held together by lingering shots of Daniel Craig's muscular physique. This physique was on show naked, partially naked, or wearing those swimming trunks throughout the film. Actually even when he was clothed you could still tell which side he dressed, but I lost count the number of times his shirt was ripped off to reveal his ripped torso... Then there was the testicle torture scene (don't ask) which showed off his very well-developed hamstrings and glutes (among other body parts)... And then there were the beach scenes which showed off his lats, his pectorals and well you get the picture... The Bond girls couldn't compete with this physical perfection. They were flat-chested without tone and had to wear bizarre gowns that looked inspired by some sixties futurist/modernist movement.

And as for those James Bond swimming trunks, apparently only Selfridges in London sell the £55 Grigio Perla trunks Craig wears (twice) in the film and reportedly are close to selling out of them as WAGS snap them up. Pity that it is too cold to be wearing them here... Perhaps next summer every beach will have a few James Bond wannabes on them... Here's hoping by then they will have the body to match. It is definitely a Bond for our times... The time when the metrosexual gym bunny reigns supreme... I can't wait to see what they do next time... But lets hope it isn't "Pumping Iron 3: the Bond Flick"...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Scenes from Clapham High Street Sunday 02:25


DSC04004, originally uploaded by Pauly_.
The messy end of the evening... No vomit, but plenty of fat...

This is the second drunk girl that I have encountered this weekend. The first required two ambulances Friday night after too much white wine. Before they whisked her away she managed to throw up in a jug of cosmopolitan... Well that cocktail was so five years ago anyway...

This one I just tripped over on the way out of an establishment... She wasn't moving for anybody...

Overheard on my footpath Saturday evening...

Girl #1: Aye think aye need a belt for thees dreess...
Girl #2: Aww aye think aye need a belt for meyne too...

Scenes from Carnaby Street Saturday 14:57


DSC03997, originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Christmas shopping in full swing... And rather annoying when you are trying to get into Soho quickly...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Scenes from North London Wednesday 22:57



Quiet night in N4... Only the noise of the traffic and the whir of the CCTV camera could be heard...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

News: Bond premiere


Daniel Craig as Bond!, originally uploaded by yahoo_movies_uk.


The new James Bond movie Casino Royale had its premiere tonight in Leicester Square. The early reviews are saying this "reboot" of the series is a good one... But really all the talk is about this particular scene of Daniel Craig emerging from the water... Hmm bit of an upper body workout happenin' there...

(And ok it was a cheap excuse for a bit of flesh on the blog site...)

Cults and wardrobe malfunctions 101

My Monday's have been a lot busier since I joined the London Gay Men's Chorus. Actually I should correct that. My Monday's, Wednesday's, occasional Thursday's and Weekends have been a lot busier. We are preparing for a Christmas concert, but joining a choir is like joining a cult as it takes up all your life...

But it has been fun singing in a community choir. With the exception of tonight. Tonight after some tricky choreography there was a wardrobe malfunction: my trousers split. Not the best of looks in this particular choir. The trousers look like jeans and have been a little controversial in the office as denim is forbidden. Every time I wear them to work I usually end up having to argue that they are not jeans but a "leisure pant". Well anyway, not anymore... They are also a little on the "form fitting" side which probably didn't help things tonight.

There was a fortunate end to the story (and no it wasn't that I was wearing the Aussiebum's). It was warm enough to tie a sweater around one's split leisure pant and carry on. Although it was a bit drafty on the walk home from the tube...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Scenes from Regent Street Sunday 19:29


DSC03968, originally uploaded by Pauly_.
The Christmas (not to be confused for winter) lights for the year...

Scenes from the South Circular Saturday 13:36


DSC03953
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Best if you leaf it...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Movie: The History Boys


The History Boys
Originally uploaded by Jo Salmon.


I finally caught the film version of The History Boys. When I saw it staged at the National in April 2005 (with the original cast now in the film version) I thought it was one of the best plays I had ever seen. The best thing about this film is the amazing performances by Richard Griffiths, Frances de la Tour and the boys including Samuel Barnett and Dominic Cooper are on film.

Set in 1983, it tells the story of eight boys in Sheffield who are preparing to take the entrance exam that could see them get into Oxford or Cambridge. From this premise themes of the purpose of education, sexual and emotional freedom are explored. Above all a series of characters emerge so real and genuine. Their virtues and their fears and limitations are all on display.

For instance, Richard Griffith's character Hector inspires the boys with "general studies". But he also likes to grope the boys if he gets the chance when giving them rides home on his motorcycle. For somebody who went to a high school and observed some inspiring teachers organise sexual liaisons in their spare time with selected students this scenario seemed all too believable.

Alan Bennett's play already felt cinematic when I saw it on stage. Scene changes included video segments projected above the set to drive the story along. The film has expanded the setting of the story and adding more female characters. The soundtrack includes some great eighties music, and Rufus Wainwright has a song over the end credits as well.

Unfortunately due to the nature of the medium, a lot has been cut from the original. I would have been happier with a longer film with maybe a few of the scenes extended a little. Also, the film wasn't shot in a very beautiful way. This may have been intentional but at times it feels distracting, especially during scenes that are a little more intimate between characters.

All told these are probably minor quibbles and it is great to see this very entertaining story on film. Left in is the songs sung by Samuel Barnett and Frances de la Tour gets to say the word (when describing one boy's sexual appetite) as "cunt-struck". It opens in the US from 21 November and has been playing in the UK since mid October. Pass it on. History may be "just one fucking thing after another", but this film is worth catching.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Theatre: Bent



Today I was mentioning to colleagues how I was going to the theatre tonight to see Bent and they were a little surprised with my excitement in seeing a revival of a play set in Dachau about two gay men. Well Martin Sherman's play is still well regarded, and the reviews from this new revival with Alan Cumming at the Trafalgar Studios have been good. I was also seeing it with A who insisted that we sit up close to appreciate the show, and its full-frontal nudity, without having to rely on opera glasses.

It was not a light night out at the theatre however... Not that it wasn't watchable, but the full-frontal nudity gave soon gave way to blood-spattered walls and trashed apartments. The play opens in Berlin on the "Night of the Long Knives" when Hitler executed Ernst Röhm and his gay stormtroopers. Suddenly it wasn't good to be gay in Nazi Germany. The play then follows, step by squeamish step, the fate of the three main characters.

The first half was a bit distracting with over the top performances by the supporting cast playing naughty Nazi stormtroopers and odd theatrical effects that included a fire that was blindingly bright for a few seconds... Although Richard Bremmer performs a great new song in drag written for the play by Chris Lowe (of Pet Shop Boys fame) and Sherman, by the time intermission came around, with all the blood, fireballs and other balls on display I needed a G&T...

The second half of the play set in the concentration camp is when I found the story becoming particularly involving and the relationship that developed between Cumming's character Max and Horst, who he meets on the train to Dachau. Horst was played by Chris New and there was a wonderful chemistry between him and Cumming and it gave the play the heart that it needed. Here's hoping there is more of Chris New in the West End and beyond soon as he delivered an incredible performance.

Still, no play on a subject matter like this is going to make you do a conga line out of the theatre. As an antidote, I suggested we go to a nearby bar for mojitos. Finally relaxing over sensible cocktails A suggested the next thing we see should be The Sound of Music as something a bit lighter. Fortunately I wasn't that drunk to agree to seeing that...

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Scenes from the Southbank Saturday 18:47


Scenes from the Southbank Saturday 18:47
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

News: Climate protest goes mainstream


P1010231
Originally uploaded by pink_ego_b0x.

Trafalgar Square today was packed with people all waving placards and flags urging for a global treaty to cap global warming. It wasn't just the usual suspects of young impressionable revolutionaries but hoards of what the media are calling a 'mainstream protest'. One wonders if these are the same mainstream people who are enjoying the bonfires and fireworks all this weekend to coincide with Guy Fawkes Day...

Best placard was the one lampooning George Bush (does anybody in London respect that man?). Although it was a little startling to be walking around a find George Bush's head bobbing along right beside you (as above)... Like YIKES!

Overheard at the gym Friday

Brazilian: Do you take Viagra?
Man: No...
Brazilian: How do you expect to keep a boyfriend if you don't take Viagra?
Man: Oh...