Friday, June 29, 2007

And now for some time out...

A hold on updates to this blog while I am on vacation in Australia... I'll be back in London at the end of the July, but my news continues at http://paulincognito.blogspot.com.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Scenes from Brewer Street Sunday 14:43


24062007920, originally uploaded by Paul-in-London.
People watching in the afternoon...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Scenes from West End Live Saturday 15:30


23062007894, originally uploaded by Paul-in-London.
As the London Gay Mens Chorus prepares to go on stage for its half hour set as part of West End Live, there was time for topping up on the fluids... Well those lights and all... By the way despite appearances above, it isn't essential to be bald to be a member of the chorus...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Life in London: Manshear '07


Bears of the city will be delighted to know that the annual Manshear event takes place near Liverpool Street Station tomorrow... Apart from shearing body hair by trained shearers from New Zealand, there will be give-aways and fundraising for charity... Oh and anyone with body hair can sign up. It all happens in London...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Theatre: Into the Woods


source http://esales.roh.org.uk/

Upon arrival Tuesday evening to the Opera House studio to see the current production of Into The Woods, I couldn't help but notice the over-representation of gay men. Ok musical theatre is known for its over-representation of gay men, but this was ridiculous. Then I began to wonder, has Into the Woods become the new Wizard of Oz? Sure there is no Dorothy and no rainbow. But there is the baker who has unresolved issues with his father, the princes who keep looking for the next best thing, a wolf with an incredible sexual appetite and a wicked witch. It all seemed rather like another night on Old Compton Street. Oh and not to mention a set that looked like parts of Hampstead Heath. This all could explain why it is sold out and barely a straight person in the audience (although there was a family sitting beside me but I was in the cheap seats).

Into the Woods weaves the stories of several fairy tales together and then proceeds to tell what happens after they lived happily ever after in a very entertaining (and often hilarious) fashion. The story gets dark as it proceeds to tell a tale about the consequences of actions and responsibility but it is all a bit fun if you get past the extended second act full of angst. I saw it with my flatmate. He is not a fan of musical theatre (nor the men who go to it) so I did expect him to blurt out at any point, "This is ridiculous what am I doing here I am in the wrong gay scene?" Fortunately he didn't so I took that to be a ringing endorsement of it...

As for what I thought of it, well I thought it was a straight-forward yet classy production. It also used some opera-trained actors along with a few stars from television and theatre which mixed things up a little. Hopefully as its short run continues, the actors will be able to keep in time with the music and find all the notes in Sondheim's score. They may not have been to blame as much as the technology because the sound didn't quite seem right at various times. Anyway it is a great production of a great show. Pity you won't be able to get a ticket since all those gays probably have snapped 'em all up...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Scenes from SW8 Sunday 11:40

Hmm cawfee...

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Overheard at the Savoy Friday night

Woman: I had my wedding reception here...
Man: Your first, second or third wedding?
Woman: Oh first. After that who can be bothered with all that?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Theatre: Fiddler on the Roof

Friday evening I found myself in a packed and warm theatre to watch Fiddler on the Roof. I figured now was as good as any time to catch a production of this classic musical. The last thing I saw at the Savoy was Porgy and Bess and looking at the set before it began, I noticed it was all rough wooden planks. I thought I was still on Catfish Row. I had no idea a shtetl looked so similar to a South Carolina slum.

As the show began, the set was so big, hideous and imposing, that it kept distracting me from the rest of the show... Watching it spin, things pop up, things got added to it. Only when the pogrom began towards the end of the first act (with real fire), did my spirits lift... Perhaps they would burn the silly thing to the ground? Darn, those cossacks just set a picture and a wooden box alight. Oh and they threw a pillow about. Hmm... Some pogrom...

Sets aside, Fiddler is a great musical with its core story of a family and a community. The production managed to keep life in the old numbers such as "Tradition", "Matchmaker" and "If I were a Rich Man" and keep attention while the first act clocks up nearly two hours. The second half is where the songs are not as memorable, but to be fair, it must have been hard for Jerry Bock to write a catchy tune about Siberia or oppression.

I wasn't so rapt with Henry Goodman as Tevye as the rest of the audience (who gave him a standing ovation for mugging his way through the show), but I did enjoy Sue Kelvin as Goldie. Goodman's reactions to when she yelled surely wasn't acting. The woman sure can bellow, I wouldn't want to be in the path of that...

The production also must set a record for me for the number of fake beards I have seen on stage at any one time. Just as well I don't suffer from pognophobia. Oh and beware of the flying cast member... I guess it is during the dream sequence but still the wires and harness were in clear view...

Overheard between Waterloo and Kennington Thursday evening

Man #1: You know what a cucumber is good for?
Man #2: Nah...
Man #1: You know what?
Man #2: Nah what?
Man #1: Water. Purest water there is. Best thing you know...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Scenes from a flatshare Wednesday 23:29

After reading my blog this week, housemate Fr was disappointed he didn't feature. So to correct this glaring omission, here are his feet with socks.

It also is an opportunity to highlight one of the more controversial pieces of furniture in the flat... The glass coffee table. Personally I glass coffee tables are a major no-no as it gives people the wrong impression (despite Mark Oaten saying for the record he never used them)...

Oh and if there are any gentlemen out there wanting to see more of my housemate, I'm sure that could be arranged if you leave a comment...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Overheard near Leicester Square Tube Wednesday Evening

Man: Yeah it was great...
Woman: But just how many dates have you been on?

Fringe: Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

I think crap musicals are best seen out of the West End. You don't feel as pissed off if you saw a show with a lousy book and score if you pay £12 as opposed to £50. I think this is a sensible position to take after seeing a very lively and energetic production Tuesday night of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas at the Landor Theatre in Clapham North.

The musical (as it is written) is a bit of a dud. The songs aren't very good, there are enough hoary subplots in the first act so they don't have to worry about characterisation, and the whole show ends as a bit of a downer. For the movie version at least Dolly rewrote the final song. Still it is a musical about whores with hearts of gold so it is probably not worth getting too worked up about it. It's a very likeable show and this production was very entertaining and engaging. I guess that was because of the great cast and a production that has made the most of er what it is...

The Landor is a very small space. I arrived at the theatre pub late after the usual action-packed day in work and flopped down in front row seat just before it began. There are only three rows in the theatre anyway and regardless of where you sit, you are close to the stage. But it only dawned on me after rummaging around for my glasses that a woman wearing next to nothing was standing less than a metre away watching the whole thing with bemusement. Yikes I wasn't expecting that! Then I realised... I am at a musical about a whorehouse so I should expect some whores. Well the costumes must have been cheap to get since there wasn't much of them. The ladies playing whores weren't all petite little things either. Some of them were big-ass whores and boy when they started to sing you could sure as hell feel it. I won't even mention what it was like when they started to high kick.

Sitting in the front row made you feel a part of the production. With those high kicks, full frontal male nudity, dancers with their zippers down, actors sweat and odour it was just all so happening and overwhelming all of the senses. And just like the rest of the audience, I couldn't get enough of it. My only queries about the show are why did they make Suzie Chard (who played Miss Mona) look like Dolly Parton in drag? And who decided that Richard Swerrun (who played the camp investigative journalist) would be funnier with silly teeth? Perhaps these like many questions in fringe theatre (like why do you have unreserved seats?), are best left unanswered.

As a footnote I should probably get to the Landor more often, since it is only a ten minute walk away from where I live. The motivation this time was to see a show with the word "whore" in it as it is such a great word... Now if only their next show was called... Oh never mind...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Concert: Deborah Voigt



Messing about on the river aside, Saturday night provided the opportunity to see Deborah Voigt in recital at the Barbican. It was the first time she had performed in London since being dumped from a Royal Opera production for being too fat to fit into the costumes. She acknowledged during an encore that she was a little bit nervous about coming back. The audience broke into applause at this point. All seemed forgiven on both sides.

Well perhaps London hasn't forgiven her entirely since the Barbican Hall wasn't exactly full. But her absence and the lack of a full house is London's loss. Now a few years later she has slimmed down (thanks to much publicised surgery) and sounding great. Tonight's concert was a marvelous programme with songs by Mozart, Verdi and Strauss in the first half and then American composers Beach and Bernstein in the second. This gave her the opportunity to cut loose a bit. For an encore she even tackled Berlin's "I Love a Piano" before sitting down with her accompanist Brian Zeger to help belt out the melody. It bought the house down.

It's great to see one of the leading dramatic sopranos show a bit of their own personality in recitals... She will be appearing at the Royal Opera House next season. Here's hoping we can see her in concert again soon too... The concert was something everyone in the hall wanted to hear again...

Scenes from Soho Square Saturday 16:46


09062007826, originally uploaded by Paul-in-London.


Nothing like a bit of sun to get the men to take their shirts off... Even if we would be all better off if they left them on... Nobody needs to see a back covered in blemishes particularly while you're drinking...

Well I guess it could have been worse... Just around the corner there was the naked bike ride (although that was for a cause rather than an excuse to get one's kit off right??)...

Scenes from the Thames Friday 22:20

As the floating chorus made its way to being in front of Royal Festival Hall, you could help but notice the people on the banks and on the bridges as there were loads of them... The punters were out. Not sure if they liked the music. At one point some rotten little kid yelled out "Are you finished yet?" Then again it was late...

The trip wasn't without a little bit of drama. At one point, a strong burning smell was noticed by all. It turned out somebody had put their handbag up against one of the lights. The smell of burning leatherette pervaded for the rest of the cruise...

Friday, June 08, 2007

Scenes from the Thames Thursday 21:20

Messing about on the river as part of the rehearsal for tonight's Overture programme. It is on Friday and Saturday evenings from dusk to celebrate the reopening of Royal Festival Hall.

Singing on a barge with no shelter from wind is certainly an interesting experience... Trapped for two hours but at least we can sing...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Scenes from an office lunch Monday...

When caterers make lunch with their feet...

Monday, June 04, 2007

Scenes from Clapham Common Sunday 20:02

After one fine day on the common...

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Scenes from Waterloo Bridge Saturday 12:40


02062007627, originally uploaded by Paul-in-London.
Singing Bulgarian folk music first thing on a Saturday morning is not the best thing for a hangover, but I am sure by next Friday when the Overture starts on the South Bank it will sound all rather sensible... Well as sensible as a few hundred people singing on a boat going up the river can sound...

After rehearsals it became a bit of a task to avoid the free runners. The brutalist buildings at the South Bank Centre are proving ever popular for this sort of thing...

Friday, June 01, 2007

Theatre: Rose and other adventures...

In the month it took to get my internet put up I did get up to the following:
  • Caught The Rose Tattoo with Zoe Wanamaker. Great play and well worth the £10 tix. It is great to see more Tennessee Williams plays in London and here is hoping that the fashion for reviving his work continues... It wasn't hard to resist doing ones best impersonation of Sicilian impersonator with colleague AW. It sort of goes, "Naw naw naw naw naw... Naht mah Rrrrose!" Perhaps it was the fine wine, but after the play AW and I photographed the grass on the theatre and groped a cast iron statue on Waterloo Bridge... It was a great night...
  • Saw Pelléas et Mélisande (translated: Pelléas and Mélisande) at the Royal Opera. I had been warned that the opera was boring so sat in the cheap seats but it turned out to be all rather exciting and dramatic. Sure it all ends in tears but what a way to go... The champagne at interval cost more than the ticket but it was all rather worth it... Particularly when Sir Simon Rattle was conducting...
  • Performed in London Gay Mens Chorus concerts in Edinburgh and Glasgow. It was music for bad boys that included Relax (don't do it) and the march and chorus from Carmen. I had a reading to do from Larry Kramer's lovely novel Faggots which went down like a treat too. Maybe it was in the intonation, my lovely dulcet tones, I just don't know. The choir will not be so much under the influence of Irn-Bru as well... I relied on it to get through the weekend concerts (particularly after arriving in Edinburgh having had not much sleep)...I won't be in the concert when it gets to London's Cadogan Hall in July but it is well worth booking for asap as it should sell out...

Office Banter

Colleague (offering a mint): Paul, do you like soft mints?
Paul: I like them soft, I like them hard, but my favourites are curiously strong...