Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rehearsal: True Colours

Rehearsals for the next concert of the London Gay Men's Chorus on December 16 are well underway, but Tuesday evening I found myself rehearsing the song True Colours with the small group, that will be part of the show in the second act.

The first thing that struck me about the song was how much I didn't know it. Well I am not an expert on the Cindy Lauper canon, but I do know Time After Time much better.

Was it Show me a smile, you with the sad eyes don't you realise or was it You with the sad smile, show me your courage though I realise or was it You with the sad eyes, don't be unhappy can't remember when... I had no idea how two verses could sound so similar... But after a few lessons by rote I sort of got it... Lucky we have a few more rehearsals to go...

Hot news in London this week...

Won't somebody please think of the children?

Oh and Flickr user Dicksdaily has some great photos of London and worth checking out...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Hot news this week in London...


News headlines, originally uploaded by BillT.

He probably just needs a holiday...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Music: Music in 12 Parts

I am not quite sure what I was thinking when back in February I booked tickets to see Music in 12 Parts. Maybe it was the opportunity to see Philip Glass. Maybe it was the opportunity to hear a lot of his music (well at least during his minimalist phase). Whatever the reason, I wasn't prepared for four hours of music plus an hour and a half of breaks when I arrived at the Barbican Sunday. The piece is all about recurring musical structures that grow and change. I was entering the world of musical minimalism and wondering if I would ever escape. It didn't help either that I was surrounded by people with thick rimmed glasses and black turtlenecks. Is this a minimalist thing I wondered? I was glad that I wore a black shirt so I didn't stand out too much...

As for the music, well listening to the minimalist music has a way of creeping up on you and becoming a bit hypnotic. By the first hour I was into it. Suddenly things like gestures by the ensemble members to the onstage mixer became the performance. I found myself counting bleeps and shrieks. I started watching the audience for movement. I started thinking about what I was going to do during the dinner break. Then all of a sudden the music changed. The Guardian described the change as a tidal wave at sea, but for me it was like "Jeeeezuz you scare the shit out of me"...

The performance was broken up into four parts and by the final part most of the audience was still there. It was a hardcore group of Glass devotees. It was late. We had been sitting in the Barbican for way longer than anyone ever should. But we were still there. And you had to kind of admire the ensemble for being there too. It was a marathon for everyone but the end probably justified the means. By the time the performance concluded standing ovations ensued. You probably don't get the chance to see something like Music In 12 Parts performed every day so it was worth the sacrifice...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Idle Chatter Sunday

Paul: I got this text at 2am from this guy who had just arrived at Fire. I'd said earlier I might be there...
Adam: What? Who goes out at 2am unless they are on drugs?
Paul: Well you know what's good about guys on drugs?
Adam: They're easy...
Paul: Eeeexactly...

Scenes from Lambeth North Saturday evening


201020072672, originally uploaded by Paul-in-London.

Tried looking for it but couldn't find it...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Theatre: South Pacific


Source:www.ukproductions.co.uk

Friday I found myself in Wimbledon catching a touring production of South Pacific. I saw it not just because I was asked nicely to, and not just because I had never seen a production of it before, and not just because I had never been to the New Wimbledon Theatre before. I also went and saw it because there were loads of tits on show and frankly when the south pacific is this bare-chested, who can resist? Oh and some of the sailors didn't have shirts on either.

While I have never seen a production of South Pacific before, I felt like I intimately knew it anyway. Growing up I heard it regularly as the cast album was a favourite of mum's. Watching the show was like going back to growing up back home in Oz... I can credit mum for introducing me to Funny Girl and South Pacific at an early age (she also is a fan of Evita but we don't talk about that). For some reason this fact is a tad amusing when I tell people this. But anyway, I suspect mum would have liked the show. Helena Blackman as Nellie even was wearing her hair*...

South Pacific is actually a damn fine musical really... It was a great cast and a fun night out at the theatre... If you can get past the audience humming along to the tunes half the the time (sorry to those around me)...

*That is not Nellie in the poster btw...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Overheard at the Wimbledon Theatre Friday...

Man #1: Oh you wouldn't believe my weekend last. I picked up two women. One was 35 and had a 16 year old son, the other was 25 and had a nine year old daughter...
Man #2: Oh wow man, great...

Theatre: I Love You Because...



Not content with seeing just Hairspray this week, on Wednesday I went with John to see I Love You Because... at the Landor Theatre in Clapham. The Landor is a bit of an oasis in a cultural desert known as Landor road that is better known for the number of local youths with ASBOs and shops converted into bedsits. A pity since the show has been drawing in the crowds from across London that they have nowhere to spend their money before or after the show... Still it is my local theatre pub so the thought of seeing something that was really good at it was even more of a reason to get there...

The show is a quirky off-Broadway New York show that is actually pretty darn good. I have had the cast album for some months now, but hadn't given it much thought until Wednesday because let's face it, dramatic context helps. It helps allow for some of the more curious artistic choices (such as writing a song that prominently features a barista). The show charts the life and loves of the four central characters and being a sucker for any sort of character-driven show it held my undivided attention. It held the rest of the audience's attention too, particularly since the first song opens with a shower scene with the lead character. Alas there is no nudity as it is all just smoke, tight pants and a plastic shower curtain. Nevertheless the show was so entertaining and well acted that it was hard to be too disappointed by anything on offer... even the man boobs...

It finishes Saturday but hopefully it will have another life soon. Returning to the tube John and I were confronted with one of the locals on Landor road who has eschewed the need to beg and just started shouting at anybody who passed "GIMMAAHPUND!" and "AAAAH NEEDA PUND!" and "APUND! APUND!". Having recognised him in a previous street begging scenes across SW London I didn't think much of it, but John suggested to him he would need more than one pound to get good elocution lessons... We were leaving the Oasis indeed... Still, having seen a show where a rickshaw peddler picks up an actuary I was willing to belive anything was possible...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Theatre: Hairspray



Tuesday evening I found myself at the Shaftesbury theatre watching what has to be the most entertaining new show on the west end by a long shot: Hairspray (well I don't plan to see Bad Girls the musical but anyway). It is still only in its second week of previews but it there is so much energy and life on stage it was pretty overwhelming to the senses. Then again it is so well written, staged danced and acted and features some very lovable characters that it is hard not to like it, even if you think at times it gets a bit cheesy (or long)...

Michael Ball and Mel Smith receive top billing for the show. I hadn't seen Ball in anything before, and it didn't help that every musical theatre afficianado I knew kept telling me what an asshole he was. Maybe they had heard one too many renditions of "Love changes everything", but I figured anyone who gave such entertaining interviews to the Evening Standard can't be all that bad. And as for his peformance as Edna Turnblad, it was great. His duet with Mel Smith stopped the show in the second act.

Stars aside, the whole cast was a knockout. Ben James-Ellis who was a finalist in the reality tv show Any Dream Will Do must have been happy he didn't win since he got to play the lead in a real musical. Leanne Jones as Tracy Turnblad was great, Johnnie Fiori as Motormouth Maybelle stopped the show with "I know where I've been" and Adrian Hansel as Seaweed could sing over any loud noise generated in the pit...

All that heat generated on stage was almost enough to distract the rear stalls audience (where I was sitting) from the fact that there was no air in the theatre. Several of us ran gasping for the fire exits at intermission. Well the Shaftesbury probably isn't used to being home to a hit show that filled every seat... I suspect this show will be big and around for a long time, so here's hoping it will pay for an upgrade to the air con...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

News this week in London


Skunks attack London, originally uploaded by Kevglobal.

Skunk is conveniently on offer outside most tube stations... I hear in Camden Town they like it like that as it is better to frighten the weary tube travellers than the locals in their nice residential streets... Just tonight at Camden Town tube I was offered charlie, grass and skunk... I prefer raccoons though and they didn't have any of that on offer...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Coming up in December...

Overheard at a dodgy hotdog stand on the south bank


141020072666-revised, originally uploaded by Paul-in-London.

Rough looking woman cooking sausage like things in a large amount of oil: Now careful kids the plate's hot and it might spit
Adam: Eww... So might the woman cooking 'em

Scenes from the Tate Modern Sunday


141020072641, originally uploaded by Paul-in-London.

The thing to see this weekend was Doris's Crack. Everyone was there looking at it, putting their foot in it, some even got into it. I tried sniffing it... It was big and deep and reinforced... Outside Louise Bourgeois's giant spider is on show... It makes you wonder about those Tate curators...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Overheard at the gym today

Man #1: You see, if you make sure your (golf) swing is like this, then you aren't going to have any problems...
Man #2: But when I do that it hurts...
Man #1: Oh...

News this week in London


Swan Bites Dog, Hampstead, originally uploaded by Fin Fahey.

Hampstead is one tough part of London...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

In the news during the week


evening standard, originally uploaded by quarsan.

Crossrail, Spice Girls and another Maddy story. London has it all...

News: Doris's Crack on show at the Tate Modern

All the talk this week has been around Doris Salcedo's Shibboleth (otherwise known as Doris's crack) at the Tate Modern, which chops up the floor of the Turbine Hall to represent the great divide... This photo was taken by a Flickr visitor, but the story today was that two people fell into the crack at a private viewing... But were they pissed?

I was at the Tate on the weekend but the crack was under wraps. Now that is on show and people are falling over themselves to get into it, it is on the list of things to do...

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Theatre: Parade


Source: www.donmarwarehouse.com

I found myself having a discussion this week with a lady who suggested to me that Parade at the Donmar is the type of music theatre that young men go for. I was thinking about this all last night as I watched this great production. Is there something about (relative) youth that makes one enjoy a music piece about a Jewish factory owner who is accused of raping and murdering a young girl, found guilty and sentenced to death only to have his sentenced commuted but then lynched by an angry mob? Ok so it isn't the happiest night at the theatre but it was so well told, well sung and well staged you didn't mind the lynching and the preaching. You even had to look hard to see the trademark Donmar black brick wall.

Looking around the theatre there was an over-representation of young men there interspersed among the usual Donmar types. The story is based on the true story of Leo Frank and the press frenzy that was whipped up by the case. The show works best when it focusses on the two central characters of Leo and his wife Lucile (played by Bertie Carvel and Lara Pulver). Mind you, there was so much angst, agitation and other odd mannerisms the two expressed throughout the play. Toward the end of the show when the two climb into bed together I couldn't help but think "Eeeeeeeeeewwwwweeewww". It was like watching stick figures on heat and seemed a little forced (and not just because the characters had been apart for a year)...

Anyway, Jason Robert Brown's music is great and Alfred Uhry's book keeps things moving along. So while it is a depressing story, it is still one that is curiously enjoyable. Well if you are a young man perhaps... And it probably helps if you have younger buttocks to withstand those Donmar seats... Act one runs for almost 90 minutes... A cast recording of this production is due out soon and dare I say it is probably worth getting...

This week in the news


HOT WAX, originally uploaded by the_moog.

I hear she was a bit of a babe...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Hot news this week in London...

They may not be able to find her, but she is talking to the Evening Standard about her dad...