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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

Chasing stars: Chasing Bono @Sohotheatre

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You’re never left doubting why Neil McCormick didn’t reach the mega stardom of his mate Bono from U2 in Chasing Bono. Bad luck and an endless search for that hit sound (rather than a unique one) seemed to mark his career. But in this contrived play you never really get the sense of his talent as a writer either. It’s current playing at Soho Theatre . The premise is that Neil (played by Niall McNamee) is kidnapped by a ganster Danny Machin (Denis Conway). Ganster Danny wants him to write some favourable stories, while being held on some remote Irish farm. While doing so he recounts in flashback his short life and how his quest for stardom led to failure. There’s not much insight into what makes a hit band here. Instead Neil comes across as a man obsessed by fame over anything else, including writing a decent song. Which makes it a bit difficult to care about the him or the story. And afterall if failure means you’re destined to become the chief music critic for a major national newspape