Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hot news this week in London

Don't mess with my tutu, originally uploaded by ian_fromblighty.

Flickr user captures Katie Price in Selfridges in a tutu... To publish some book... Nice Aussiebums though...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hot news this week in London

DOG POO MISERY, originally uploaded by the_moog.

It isn't just the swine flu... There is dog poo too...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Opera Opera (and more) Opera

It has been a a summer of opera for me. And a very enjoyable one as well. After catching Renée Flemming in La Traviata earlier in the season, I caught the opening night performance of The Barber of Seville. This production has to be a highlight of the year and one of the best productions I have seen. While Joyce DiDonato's fall in the first act gathered the headlines, what really was sensational about this production was how great the cast was. Particularly DiDonato, Pietro Spagnoli and of course, Juan Diego Flórez as the Count. Flórez in the final fifteen minutes of the opera was simply amazing, even more so after reading DiDonato's account on her blog, where he was holding her up... Literally. After his final aria, the audience couldn't stop cheering, stamping, hollering (you name it). It is moments like this that you remember why you go to the opera.

The other moment of high drama in this opera was when DiDonato fell in the first act. I thought it was those chunky shoes... They looked great but didn't seem that practical or sensible for a set that moved around a bit. Then when a man walked on stage before the start of the second act, I was bracing myself for bad news. Collectively the audience also held its breath. While we didn't realise that she must have been in excrutiating pain, we all cheered when he announced she was going to carry on (albeit with NHS issue crutch). It was taking suffering for art to a whole new level. And she still kept wearing those chunky shoes.

One trip to Corsica later I was back at the opera again. This time to see Tosca. This production of Tosca I was looking forward to a little more than usual. Deborah Voight was cast in it initially but had to drop out... To be replaced by Angela Gheorghiu, who originated the role in this production a few years back. At the time of the first run of this production I saw the B cast and missed her interpretation. And I will have to wait a little bit longer to see her interpretation as she missed the Thursday performance due to illness. Amanda Echalaz covered the role. Now while some commented Echalaz did an amazing job (and stepping in at short notice to cover an opera in a way is an amazing feat in its own right), it isn't quite the same. Still you can't help but want to root for someone who has been set such a task and come curtain call she got a huge cheer. I particularly liked how she missed her spot for the dramatic finale in the final act (which sent her dress shimmering perhaps a little more dramatically over the edge).

Finally I caught the opening night of Janáček's Káťa Kabanová at Holland Park opera. Not familiar with either the opera or the venue, I found both to be a real treat. The cast and orchestra sounded great and the staging quite effective, in this drama of doomed love and infidelity.

Some may have thought it was a pity there was an intermission as it disrupts the flow, but I was glad for the break. Not only as it gives you a chance to go to the bathroom (it can get a little chilly at Holland Park), it provided a break from the intense drama. Interval also enabled two drag queens to come up and say hello. Drag queens at the opera I thought was quite a novel thing. I hope it starts a trend in future on the proviso that the wigs don't look so cheap (girls you need real hair taken from impoverished Russian villages to look the part). A night at the opera. It can be cruel to cast an audiences... Káťa Kabanová runs until August 7.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Overheard at the gym Friday night...

Man #1: So we could have salad for dinner...
Man #2: Yeah like lettuce?
Man #1: Yeah like lettuce... Lettuce and... Chicken...

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Theatre: Forbidden Broadway

Initial impressions of Forbidden Broadway which is currently in preview but opens later this week at the Menier Chocolate Factory


It has been a while since I have been to the theatre and blogged about it. Sure I could have written about Frances Ruffelle's cabaret show at Madame Jo Jos saying it was good but after a long day rehearsing with the London Gay Men's Chorus, I wanted something funnier. I could have also written about opening night of La Traviata with Renée Fleming which was also fantastic (overlooking the first act and the over-egged production). But it was the sheer cheap laughs and silliness of Forbidden Broadway that is worth a blog update.

While it was a little short side, there were enough fresh barbs at the London theatre scene including Elaine Paige, the West End Whingers, audience members, and even Susan Boyle, along with with material previously performed from the off-Broadway review to keep everyone entertained. Well maybe everyone who is a little in the know about the world of musicals... It is a bit of a worrying sign to be amused so much by in-jokes about musical theatre. The opening number about an argument between two homosexuals could have been a scene from any conversation in the Dress Circle shop in Covent Garden. Maybe I am just more theatrically inclined than I think I am. Well that is something to ponder over Pride I suppose...

Anyway the cast of Anna-Jane Casey, Sophie-Louise Dann, Alasdair Harvey and Steven Kynman were all pretty darn funny and worked hard for the evening's entertainment as well.

After the show the gathering of bloggers and hangers on suggested to the creative team including creator Gerard Alessandrini that the show could do with taking the piss out of Sister Act. For no other reason than it is a big, obvious, target. The bizarre show using Michael Jackson's music, was also suggested as another candidate. Then again the humour in Forbidden Broadway has always been incisive rather than just sending up any old mediocre show. It is too bad that Plague Over England wasn't still running as I would have enjoyed a comedy routine about how a play set in a urinal passes for drama in the West End...

Anyway the show is well worth catching and is a refreshing injection of life into the theatre scene in London. Actually the theatre scene over the summer has looked a bit lifeless of late. Maybe it is the heat. Or the fact that it is summer. Fortunately during this time of high temperatures the Chocolate Factory is air conditioned... Well at least the theatre. The bar and restaurant is another story altogether...