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Showing posts from April, 2022

Sing from the heart: Liza Pulman - The Heart of It @riversidelondon

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Liza Pulman is on this week at the Riverside Studios . It’s in keeping with the series of shows that we should have seen two years ago or things that we should have been doing two years ago (if it weren’t for that pesky global pandemic). Her show is called The Heart of It , and there’s a lot of heart in it. Watching Pulman sing a series of classic and perhaps overlooked songs of the past feels like we’re all picking up where we left off. The songs she sings are part of a timeless series of classic standards by the likes of Irving Berlin and Fats Waller. Songs about love, loss and revelation all fit into the category of easy listening, and with her sublime vocals, they are easy on the ear. And they may not be songs for the young, but they are songs for the young at heart. Liza Pulman comes from a show business family. Her father was screenwriter Jack Pulman, and her mother was an actress. Growing up, she sang in a close harmony duo with her sister. She would then train as an opera singe

Cure for all ills: The Paradis Files @graeae

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The Paradis Files takes you back to the salons of 18 century Vienna. Albeit briefly There, Maria Theresia von Paradis is a star composer and pianist. World-famous in Europe, a pupil of the composer Salieri and possible lover of Mozart, if one believes the gossip. And there was one other thing about her. She lost her eyesight at a young age.  This new chamber opera by Errollyn Wallen uses opera to convey the story of Paradis, both her triumphs and humiliations. She was an object of desire and experimentation. This short piece sets out clearly that she had a colourful life. Being the daughter of Joseph Anton von Paradis, Imperial Secretary of Commerce and Court Councillor to Empress Maria Theresa, undoubtedly helped. But as the family sought to remedy her blindness, she was subject to various “cures” by quack doctors.   Wallen doesn't confine the musical style to any particular period. There are elements of classical music mixed with jazz and percussion. And as a chamber opera, there

Bleak house: SAD @OmnibusTheatre

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I get home from seeing SAD at the Omnibus Theatre on the weekend, and a friend is over. "What did you see?" She asked. "Well, I saw a play about a woman who locked herself away in an attic after accidentally killing her mother over Christmas with an overcooked turkey. Meanwhile, the neighbour comes through the skylight for unsatisfying booty calls, and her husband brings up ham sandwiches." I guess sometimes you really can make things up. Victoria Willing's new work weaves together four characters searching for life and meaning as they realise life has passed them by so far despite a series of challenging events.  It's challenging to work out is a black comedy or just a very depressing story about life in London in January. That's the time of the year when the days are short, the parties are over, and the only thing to keep people motivated is some pointless New Years' resolution. But if you have a warped sense of humour, you'll probably enjoy th

Colour and Light: Anyone Can Whistle @swkplay

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What’s hard is simple. What’s natural comes hard, so the lyrics in the title song, Anyone Can Whistle. But this production,  currently playing at the Southwark Playhouse , takes one of the more challenging Sondheim musicals and makes it seem effortless and straightforward to enjoy. And they deliver it with endless enthusiasm and panache. It’s a bonkers story about a town that comes up with a miracle to attract tourists and improve its prospects. Up to this point, the only thing going for it was its sanitarium for the socially pressured (otherwise known as the Cookie Jar). These people, known as the cookies, are non-conformists. Yet they seem to be happier than anyone else in the town. But as the show progresses, its none too subtle digs at religion, authority, politics, and conformism can make your head spin about what institution it is taking on.  The best thing is to let much of the absurdist story fly over your head. After all, even Sondheim critiqued it for being too clever . But t