Monday, August 27, 2012

Co-op Opera: Don Giovanni

In a week when Prince Harry's buttocks and a rowdy party were the topic of discussion, the opportunity to see young opera performers in an English modernisation of Don Giovanni cavort and brag about conquests seemed rather relevant. This Don Giovanni may not be royalty but he is a bit of a lad and the women he seeks look like they could be found at a Vegas pool party. It is probably a little too faithful to the Mozart's original which does tend to be confusing, but things move along at a pace you find yourself not minding it too much.

Helping things is the energy and enthusiasm coming from the cast of young opera singers. The Co-Opera Company is made up of members and associate members who wish to pass on their expertise to the next generation of performers. The company exists to provide aspiring artists a start in their career on stage, in the orchestra or behind the scenes. They are into their fourth season and they manage to do with no outside funding.

While perhaps after a long week of workshops and training the performances did tire a few of them by Friday evening's performance, there was still much to admire in both the performances and the philosophy behind the company. And it is great to see yet another outlet for young singers to develop their skills.

This minimalistic and stylish production generally worked although there were a few odd moments such as a food fight towards the end that seemed out of place in such a smart-looking show. Still things were brought back into focus for the finale where the voices, music and production came together rather well and highlighted some fine music-making.

The Co-Opera Company is about to set out on a UK tour in September starting at the Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton. Don Giovanni is one of three productions that are part of the tour, with the others being Hansel and Gretel and The Magic Flute. Check local papers or view more details on their website.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Hot August Nights: Drag Divas

If you have been wondering where you could see a live all-singing all-dancing tribute show to the worlds greatest divas performed by a bunch of blokes, then you could do with catching Drag Divas, which is having a short run at the Arts Theatre in Leicester Square. It has been always a bit difficult to see a drag show in central London as the local punters don't seem to go for that sort of thing... But it is great to see there is at least for the moment a place in the West End where you can go for a late night camp fix that doesn't take itself too seriously and gives a touch of hoary glamour to theatreland this summer.

The show is billed as being "Fierce. Fabulous. Fearless" and this could apply to both the divas and the drag performers as they come out and sing live in front of an audience that has already had a drink or three and has been warmed up by drag compere Mrs Moore. But what they may lack in the vocal department, they make up for with some impressive costumes and great performances that managed to channel the idiosyncracies of the star divas.

The cast includes Anthony Poore performing as Madonna and Dusty Springfield, Leo Loren performing as Amy Winehouse and Cher, Chris Dennis as Shirley Bassey and Liza Minnelli and Rob Tucker as Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross and Tina Turner. And they are accompanied by two rather flexible singer-dancers Scott Bishop and Ashley Martin, who managed to thrill the audience with a few splits and gyrating manouvres.

At an hour fifteen it isn't a taxing diversion and feels like the sort of show anyone with some spare time after a day of sightseeing or drinking could do with. Just make sure that you have something to keep cool as the Arts Theatre is not the coolest of venues on a hot August night. The performers on stage won't be the only ones that are dripping with perspiration.

Drag Divas continues tonight and then Wednesday 22nd – Saturday 25th August 2012 at 10.15pm. Look for offers as for this week, tickets are two for one. Also keep you eyes out for the boys handing out fliers in Soho too...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Life in London: Olympic bubbles and musings

The Olympics have finished and for those who stayed in London it was a dream. The city was quiet, traffic was minimal, the tube seemed empty when I needed it and people were in a jolly mood. There was some seriously good sport to watch and so in a break from theatre I took the chance to see what drama was on offer of the muscle, sweat and lycra kind.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Art: Yoko Ono smiles and light reflections

The Serpentine Gallery is currently showing Yoko Ono's To the Light. It is an opportunity to view new installations and films from Ono and escape what has been a busy summer period of sports. One of the things that keeps recurring as a theme is the role of the artist and the viewer, along with perspectives on peace, war and happiness.

It is hard not to like an exhibition that makes you take your shoes off and get lost in a maze to the amusement of others in the gallery, or watch a collection of smooth and hairy bottoms move about.

As the above video clip notes, technology has finally caught up with many of Yoko Ono's more ambitious ideas and this one is to capture the smiling face shot of everyone in the world. You are invited to sit down and have a photo taken and then it will be posted onto the Flickr page for #smilesfilm. It is bound to have you leave the gallery smiling, unless you are horrified by the results of your mug shot blown up on a giant video screen by the door.

The exhibition continues until 9 September and for those not in London you can find a variety of technological solutions to send your smiling mug into the #smilesfilm global collaboration via the website, app, social media et cetera...