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Belters and bohemians: Opera Locos @Sadlers_wells

At the start of the Opera Locos performance, the announcement says that they really are singing. You could be forgiven for wondering that, given the amplification turns up the backing track and the voices so loud that you can't always tell what's real. But this is a mostly harmless and slightly eccentric blend of opera classics fused with the occasional pop classic. However, recognising the pop tunes would help if you were over a certain age. The most recent of them dates back twenty years. It's currently playing at the Peacock Theatre .  Five performers play out a variety of archetype opera characters. There's the worn-out tenor (Jesús Álvarez), the macho baritone (Enrique Sánchez-Ramos), the eccentric counter-tenor (Michaël Kone), the dreamy soprano (María Rey-Joly) and the wild mezzo-soprano (Mayca Teba). Since my singing days, I haven't recognised these types of performers. However, once, I recall a conductor saying he wanted no mezzo-sopranos singing with the s
Musical: Acorn Antiques!

Caught Victoria Wood's Musical based on her popular (and very much loved) sketch-show last night at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.

Acorn Antiques the soap was about two sisters who ran an antique store in Manchesterford. Mrs Overall (who is working class and from Birmingham) is the help and makes the tea and macaroons while dealing with her osteo-arthritis. It was a parody of soaps full of bad acting, missed cues, ludicrous intrigue and all things awfully British...

Julie Walters plays Mrs Overall, Celia Imre, Duncan Preston, Josie Lawrence, Neil Morrissey and Sally Anne Triplett also star. And it was directed by Trevor Nunn.

The Musical picks up after the unceremonious axing of the show, after it was unable to compete with the likes of Celebrity Breast Implants From Hell. The principals have been reunited to turn the soap into a musical at the Enoch Powell Arts Centre in Sutton Coldfield. Their careers are in a tailspin so they resort to turning Acorn Antiques into an opera where the store is threatened by controlled parking zones and general urban decay. It is during the rehearsals when Julie Walter's character (who plays Mrs Overall) wins the lotto and uses her winnings to take it to the West End with a much happier storyline (Mrs Overall is the focus) - and more songs and dancing. So cue act two.

For a show that is almost two musicals in one it was hilarious - as funny as anything playing at the moment. Knowing some of the references from the sketch show would help, and at times it was like being in the audience of a sit-com with everyone breaking out into applause when the stars entered, but Julie Walters gives a star turn and it was worth seeing just alone for her amazing performance. She sings, she dances, wears a pinnie, has a hump and varicose veins and still manages to make the tea and macaroons.

While it has been a sellout (with a spare ticket here or there such as front row last night that I snapped up) it is a pity that it will close this month when Julie Walters contract runs out as they had trouble recasting. Perhaps it could return in the near future in a running time under three hours (and one musical rather than two)...

Then again, when the top price ticket is £65 (a new record for the West End) maybe the punters deserve quantity and quality for that price... Definitely a musical curiosity piece. Oh and at the box office you could also purchase Acorn Antiques rubber washing up gloves - aprons too - although no pinnies... Still a nice merchandising touch I thought...

And then...

Caught up with A after the show for drinks. A few hours later we were having a rather early vegetarian breakfast in Soho (I think it was 3am) and I attracted the attention of a passer-by and his friend. How I did this I am not quite sure as I had consumed a few Becks by this time. There seemed to be interest in either me or the grilled tomato, beans and toast, but they didn't join us for the meal. Later we saw him having coffee and a conversation ensued. It turned out the two were from Oxfordshire, in a relationship, and looking for a special guest star for the evening. I said that was lovely and wished them luck. So it all happens in Soho late at night... or doesn't... But it's always nice to meet strange and interesting new people...

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