Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Scenes from an office fig Tuesday 11.29

Monday, July 30, 2007

Scenes from Waterloo Sunday

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Concert: Carmen Jones


Source: Carmen Jones publicity artwork http://southbankcentre.co.uk

I had been warned that Carmen Jones was a bit of a dated show. It is afterall a "modern" 1943 reworking of Bizet's opera Carmen into a musical. Given that piece of advice (and that I was still probably jet lagged) I figured the cheap seats at Royal Festival Hall would suffice to see this new production of the show. If it were a bit dull then I figured I could always have a sleep (especially during the overlong first half). Of course I forgot that the cheap seats means that you are surrounded by cheap people. In this instance it was cheap people with body odour problems, weak bladders, and noisy crisp packets. For the first half I was detracted by the cheap people around me who felt that the people's palace meant it was their living room. I was half expecting belching and farting since there was every other noise... Well that's where socialist idealism gets you in the twenty-first century...

By the second half I had moved myself to one of the empty seats closer to the stage and closer to where Fliss and Chris were sitting. They didn't want to have any part of my theatre economics so booked separately. The move it was a noticeable improvement on everything but the acoustics... While the London Philharmonic sounded fantastic, it was a bit hard to hear the dialogue and the singing and I suspect that wasn't the fault of the performers... I also had to contend with a largish glass of white wine to consume which for a lightweight such as me guaranteed that I was going to have a good time no matter what in the second half...

Anyway it turns out Carmen Jones isn't that bad of a show. This fully staged concert version with a great cast had a lot going for it (when you could hear it) and was visually pleasing from time to time as well (which is not always the case with concert productions). At times you get the feeling that Oscar Hammerstein II had more fun conceiving this Carmen than you actually get from watching it, but modern translations of operas abound nowadays. And I certainly can appreciate the fact that "dats our man, the man with the wallop, hotter than a firecracker" is a great line to be sung by a chorus...

Soundtracks: Hairspray

After Friday night's jet-lag cure I had to go and pick up the Hairspray soundtrack on Saturday. Movie soundtracks used to be crap compared to original cast albums (I believe this is the correct terminology for afficianados out there) but Hairspray follows the more recent tradition of being pretty darn good. It was refreshing to be back in a music shop that didn't just offer Michael Buble as its specialities.

Mind you I did raise the point that the shop did not stock a lot of the new Australian musical titles that I heard while I was down under. After describing songs about shaving your balls and a musical about a gay love triangle set in a fun fair there was general concensus that some CDs are best left in the antipodes (or to be more accurate, in Melbourne)...

Overheard at Clapham Sainsburys Sunday

Man: I took the number 35 bus last night and ended up falling asleep and waking up at Liverpool Street...
Woman: Oh no...
Man: Yeah but I found some mates nearby so it was still a great night...

Scenes from Soho Saturday


280720071940, originally uploaded by Paul-in-London.
Old Condom Street is quiet... Soho pride is Sunday...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Movies: Hairspray


"Hairspray" movie poster, originally uploaded by knoopie.

To get over jetlag, I thought that an early session of Hairspray would do the trick. It did. There was so much energy on screen that it was impossible to fall asleep. And besides the prospect of seeing a movie with Michelle Pfieffer singing (and in a conga line), John Travolta dancing as a woman, Queen Latifah as a blond and Christopher Walken as a lovestruck husband was simply too good to sleep through.

All the musical numbers were pretty impressive showstoppers and pulled off with enough homage to John Waters to avoid it being a sanitised version of his original movie. It seemed so appropriate that Waters has a cameo as the flasher in the opening number as well. And while at times the story seems a little earnest, it was clear that the movie had its heart in the right place.

It has already had the biggest weekend opening of a musical, I hope it kicks Grease off its pedestal as the most successful movie musical in the last 30 years. Besides, unlike Olivia the lead Nikki Blonsky didn't need the others to dance around her (despite the bingo wings)... Oh and the music is so much better... Will be interesting to see how the West End production fares when it (finally) opens October this year...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Scenes from the tube Wednesday 16:23


, originally uploaded by Paul-in-London.

Back to the usual...

Travel: Nearly there...

Actually... I am in Singapore so I am not nearly back in London... I did manage to leave Brisbane last night and was not arrested by Federal Police... Then again I don't keep a diary that can be edited by anyone else, nor do I loan out my SIM cards... Oh and I am a white male (albeit a pasty one) so life isn't that tough... Now to catch that flight and get the hell out of this transit lounge in Singapore with the hippy pipe music and free wifi...