And you're fat, you're lazy, you're single, and you're gonna die!
Friday, July 11, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
It might all depend on where you sat, but sitting in the north transept there were some startling moments of clarity and subtlety amongst the great forces at play (big choirs, huge orchestra, big soloists and gigantic cathedral). But there was also a lot of soupy ones... At the end of both the first and second movements, the audience stayed transfixed on the dome... We were all watching the music bounce around and around until it went up to God.
The last time I saw Mahler's 8th I was in it as part of the chorus. The then Prime Minister of Australia bored the audience with his knowledge about the piece. The things that stick in my mind about this performance were that the choir benches collapsing (and too much noise was coming from the orchestra for anyone to notice) and the clumsy way it was staged made it a struggle to stay together. By the end of it we were all exhausted (particularly those who had to squat after their benches collapsed). Watching tonight's performance I was still exhausted, and it wasn't just due to the flashbacks. Listening to it or performing it, it is still a big piece...
All told there was only polite applause at the end... But I think we were all too exhausted by watching these large forces in an epic struggle - life versus love, Gergiev versus St Paul's... Either that or we weren't quite sure what God thought of it...
The concert is available on BBC Radio3 for the next week, and although it does miss out on capturing the music bouncing around the dome, it makes up for it with much better clarity than it sounded sitting there... Well done to the sound engineers...
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Sunday, July 06, 2008
After all the excitement of the weekend where one was part of the London Gay Men's Chorus performing their summer concert at Cadogan Hall, it was nice to unwind with a quiet movie at the Odeon Leicester Square Sunday evening. Well not quite quiet... It was Mamma Mia! And a special Gaydarnation preview for Pride weekend so a lot of the audience was gay, drunk, coming down whatever they took from last night, or all of the above.
All the stops were pulled out for tonight's preview, including organ player as pre-show entertainment, free lollipops and a souvenir brochure which made the exorbitant admission price for this exclusive preview week worth it (which was almost the cost of a theatre ticket - albeit not one to see Mamma Mia in the West End). The Odeon is still decked out in the cladding from Friday's premiere (above) as well so that was a nice touch too...
I have yet to see the stage musical after being put off by the awful cast recording of the show which I can only assume drained the show of its energy and exuberance, but I was not alone as most of the audience tonight had not seen it. So I got Mark who has seen it quite a few times to come along to see how much it was like the show. Well it turns out it is pretty much like the show and still rather fabulous, if just a little bit silly. Given the encouragement we were given to shout out and dance in the aisles that is probably not such a bad thing. There may not have been dancing in the aisles but there was dancing and grooving in the rows... I suspect given the state of the audience anything more vigorous was out of the question...
Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski and Julie Walters were all great and kept the laughs coming. Many of the musical numbers were also quite well put together... As for the plot, well while it has elements of farce about it, it also reminded me of the Southpark episode Cartman's Mom is Still A Dirty Slut which lasted right up to the conclusion of the film when some person yelled out, "Never mind all that, who's the bloody dad?!!" Well I suspect by this point nobody really cares...
This is a great night out at the movies, assuming you don't mind ABBA music and silly stories and chick flicks for older chicks. If you can get a group of ten or so people together, have a few drinks beforehand, then hit the cinema, it will be a great night. Well... That was the mix that sure worked well tonight... The film opens from Friday.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Sunday, June 29, 2008
It isn't every time when you go to the theatre that there is a deathly silence at the end of the show... Only to be broken by somebody in the audience sighing and exclaiming, "Well... THAT was interesting..." But such was the case Sunday afternoon at the
- The actors had been rehearsing this show for many weeks
- Concert-like body mics and deafening sound to match it
- Half a taxi-cab appearing on stage
- Some weird woman in the audience who cackled every few minutes (I was half-expecting one of the actors would shout out, "Would you keep it down mum?")
Large portions of this play Samuel Oatley was parading around in pants. Which was not bad. After Julian Ovenden in his boxers on Friday, the gays in Clapham Saturday and Oatley in his briefs on Sunday it has been quite a pants weekend. I think that is something I can live with. As for the show... It lives on in Youtube thanks to West End Live (if you can put up with the poor camera work and overbearing sax).
The fact that the show is selling tickets for as little as £12.50 suggests that the economy is hurting the West End, the punters don't want to see a show updating the story of La Traviata or Camille to occupied France, or both... I suspect it is both.
This is a pity as there is a fabulous cast headed by Ruthie Henshaw and Julian Ovenden (pictured left) as the two lovers Marguerite and Armand. I was last distracted seeing Ovenden in Grand Hotel and here he gets to play a bit of jazz, run around in boxer shorts and get into a bad temper... I challenge anyone not to go "Phwwwwoaaar" at that... For Henshaw fans apart from her great range and fabulous outfits, you also get to see a bit of her nipple.
The production looks gorgeous as well. The only problem is that the material that everyone has to work with... It feels like it could do with another workshop. The show starts off well enough (not counting the dull opening number) but just as the story should be getting interesting it loses interest in the central characters and we are inflicted with choruses and marches. Marguerite and Armand start making mad passionate love after a bomb goes off in her front garden and blows out her French doors... And then its all downhill from there... There is so much doom and gloom from that point onwards as they sing in minor keys about the peril that lies ahead that I wondered why they ever bothered. I also pitied the cast that had to sing what seemed like scales and glissandos and sustain difficult vowels eight shows a week.
I lost count the number of times Marguerite gets slapped about, had her crotch grabbed or spat upon. Not to mention having the nipple shown. Maybe that's what they mean by a musical for grown ups. If the show is aiming to be a musical for grown ups, it was a pity they didn't think about going for a bit of subtlety. The whole German occupation and French collaboration felt like a history lesson spelled out and shoved down your throat. The creative team (including many who were responsible for that Les Mis show) seemed more interested in history lessons than providing an evening's entertainment. Even Les Misérables had comic relief amongs all that moaning about stolen bread... This show at two hours felt like a descent into depression and by the end I was just glad it was all over. A few small changes (maybe more songs by the three principals and a few less chorus reprisals of that awful song "Day By Day") could make this something a little better than it currently is.
Still for the price, and if you're a Henshaw / Ovenden fan it is still worth catching... Quickly... It may not last...
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Saturday the London Gay Men's Chorus took part in West End Live in Leicester Square. Not only was it a preview of the upcoming show Songs of Innocence and Experience at Cadogan Hall (July 4 and 5), but it was a chance to show off the new chorus uniform of coloured shirt... And chinos... Tickets on sale now for our concert and West End Live continues Sunday...
West End Live is a great showcase for what's currently on stage and well worth checking out... The rather fit cast from High School Musical on stage preceded our Saturday afternoon slot certainly got our attention...