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Belters and bohemians: Opera Locos @Sadlers_wells

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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

Donkeys have fun too: My Son Pinocchio Jr @SWKPlay

The British Theatre Academy, which provides theatre training and performance opportunities for young people is back at the Southwark Playhouse for the summer for a series of shows, including My Son Pinocchio Jr. It’s a condensed version of the 2006 musical, My Son Pinocchio: Geppetto’s Musical Tale. This was based on a television movie musical Geppetto.

The show is a retelling of the Pinocchio but from Geppetto’s perspective. It opens with the ever cheery Blue Fairy telling everyone that she is going to celebrate the story of one of her wishes that came out perfectly lovely. Only for Geppetto to appear and say he wants her to take him back. 


It turns out that Pinocchio wasn’t all that lovely after all. And not what he expected. Mainly because he did boy things like ask the wrong questions, gets in a fight at school and then runs away to a puppet show. Which is fair enough, but then again Geppetto was forcing Pinocchio to be a toy-maker rather than a train driver. The story in its shorter format focuses on the expectations of parents and how adults in general can be intimidating for them (and a bit creepy when wearing masks). As a kid you just want to have fun, even if it does mean you turn into a donkey.

This particular version is intended to be performed by children. Composer Stephen Schwartz doesn’t make it any easier for young people since many of the songs require sustaining high notes. But the cast of young and very young people attack the material with endless enthusiasm and look like they’re having a great time, particularly when they have to play animals. And at around an hour-long, it’s an enjoyable summertime diversion for little (or not so little) people with short attention spans. 

Directed by Séimí Campbell, My Son Pinocchio Jr is at Southwark Playhouse until 14 August. Once On This Island is next. Along with Dogfight (more on that later in the month). 

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Photos by Eliza Wilmot

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