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The Scorpion

Member Since 13 Feb 2007
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#286085 Stephen Ward - The Musical

Posted The Scorpion on 07 December 2013 - 10:50 AM

View PostRL1, on 05 December 2013 - 08:34 AM, said:

What do you mean? At the end of the original novel, the Phantom dies, and a notice with the words "ERIK IS DEAD" is published in the newspaper. I haven't read the novel in some time, but I've read a few things over the years to suggest that maybe Leroux could have played with it so he could have written another story. I'm sure if he'd wanted he could have found a way to have done it? (There was actually a story although I believe it was a joke that Leroux saw the original silent movie and started writing a sequel in which the Phantom returned and Christine was now an opera singer in Madrid.) Bottom line, of course, Leroux wrote no such sequel, but if he had... Who knows?

The story that Leroux saw the silent film and started writing a film is not actually true. It was a sham story that Universal, which made the silent film, concocted when they were planning to their own sequel -- which never really quite worked out and sort of morphed into another project which ended up being a film called The Climax starring Boris Karloff and Susanna Foster (who played Christine in the 1943 Phantom).

It's quite clear that Leroux never intended a sequel for the Phantom - I know this, because I've seen his notes and the original manuscript for his novel, and one of the ideas he was most fascinated by was the idea of having a skeleton lying beneath the Opéra. Ergo, Erik had to die at the end of the novel. The only kind of "continuation" Leroux envisaged was in terms of theme -- not story -- which he ended up doing in a novel called Le Fauteuil hanté.

I think ALW realises now that no-one really wanted a sequel to Phantom and that the story doesn't lend itself to one. Pity his yes-men didn't tell him that at the time. The reason he plunged into the project was because he was dying to write a musical but had run out of story ideas.

Seeing Ward the night after opening night. I liked the 'Human Sacrifice' song but haven't been enthralled by anything else I've heard. Some of these comments have me a little worried...

#260134 ALW ITV Specials

Posted The Scorpion on 27 March 2013 - 08:22 AM

Nicole Scherzinger singing Don't Cry For Me, Argentina? No thanks.

#251724 Les Mis Movie

Posted The Scorpion on 12 January 2013 - 11:09 PM

I really wanted to love it, especially since it's getting so much attention and hype, but I ultimately came away thinking it was just average and that the hype wasn't deserved. I didn't think it was bad but I don't think the direction was that great (I got serious close-up fatigue) and I think the pacing was rather off, so I actually got a bit bored at several places and started looking at my watch, which is never a good sign. Some of the direction choices seemed inconsistent, e.g. some songs are a lot more muted and toned down, which I understand, but then we have Samantha Barks belting out 'On My Own' and then I start to feel like the piece is uneven. I think the film also brought out some of the flaws of the material, e.g. underdeveloped characterisation, that weren't necessarily so evident on the stage. Some of the messing around with the placement of songs worked (e.g. 'I Dreamed a Dream'), some of them IMHO really didn't ('On My Own').

There was something lacking that didn't make the show come to life for me. None of the songs had any momentum, sometimes because the keys were lowered so drastically as to take all the power out of the material, sometimes because of the casting issues (Russell Crowe - he seems to have concentrated so much on singing by numbers that he forgot to act too). I thought the cast wouldn't be a problem as it's an ensemble piece, but it does throw off the dynamics a bit. I thought orchestra(tions) severely lacking too for a big motion picture adaptation. At times I felt it would have been much better as a straight Les Mis film (especially when everyone seemed to come a bit more to life when there was just spoken dialogue rather than recitative), which kind of defeats the point I guess.

I thought it was to the film's disadvantage that it lacked a sense of red-blooded French flair. The whole thing felt very, very Anglicised, especially with the profusion of British Isles accents, be they RP, cockney, Scottish, Irish or otherwise. This is probably an issue with the stage production but it felt even more so on screen, especially when they're asking an audience to believe that a set which is a well-known part of London is really pre-Haussmann Paris.

As for the cast, Eddie Redmayne, Anne Hathaway and Samantha Barks came across very well. Hugh was OK but it doesn't help that his voice isn't particularly well suited to a lot of the songs and is not the most pleasant of things to listen to, and at some points I found his acting choices cheesy. Amanda Seyfried was not nearly as bad as I was expecting, but she may have been a little out of her depth vocally. But Cosette has had her part so brutally cut down over the years that it didn't really matter.  Would someone care to enlighten me which accent Sacha Baron Cohen was trying to do? It sounded like a weird Irish-Jewish-Russian hybrid. At some points he seemed to be channelling Topol. I didn't like his performance; I actually found it worse than Crowe's. Sadly Aaron Tveit just didn't register. There didn't seem to be enough conviction, soul or charisma coming from him that I would expect to come from Enjolras.

I would probably see it again, but not at the cinema - on DVD. A 3 out of 5 from me. I remain unconvinced that musicals work on film. It's not a Phantom-type disaster by any means, but it's not the next King's Speech. I even thought Sweeney Todd made a substantially better transition to the screen than this did, despite the amount of material that was cut out of it.

Audience reception seemed positive, although there were a few titters at lines that weren't intentionally funny, either because of silly lyrics or because of the way they were delivered. I don't think the new song went down too well (and it was unnecessary). There was a very brief moment of applause at the end from one part of the audience.

#250864 Jesus Christ Superstar

Posted The Scorpion on 03 January 2013 - 09:43 PM

View PostKathryn2, on 02 January 2013 - 08:43 AM, said:

I know ALW was all 'this is how it was meant to be, it's a rock-opera', but...

If there's something I've learnt over the years, it's that ALW uses this line *so* often that it's meaningless. He's said this about every single production of Superstar since the original Broadway production, which was the one he didn't like. He said it about the Lyceum production (i.e. that this is how it was always meant to be, no other production before this has realised my vision), he said it about the Broadway millenium revival, he said it about the recent Broadway revival from Canada and he's said it about this. It means nothing. This and his "this is the best thing I've ever done and this is the best libretto/design/production/choreography/whatever I've ever had" are his two most overused phrases that are devoid of any genuine meaning. His PR teams probably encourage him to use these clichéd superlatives because the media will run them as headlines, which, RUG hopes, will translate into big advanced sales.

It's when he starts saying that that I worry. Let's not forget, he claimed Glenn Slater's lyrics for "beautiful beautiful beautiful beautiful beautiful" Paint Never Dries were the best thing he had ever had lyrically since Tim Rice (LOL!) and he even had the audacity to claim that he always wanted the Phantom "to have a rock-and-roll edge" to try and justify Gerard Butler's appalling singing in the Phantom film (which of course makes no sense, otherwise he wouldn't have fired Steve Harley and hired Michael Crawford for the role in the stage production).

This whole Superstar arena tour sounded promising when I first heard the idea, but as soon as I heard it was taking the reality TV route in spite of Tim Rice's objections, that it was going to be directed by Laurence Connor and that the cast was not an April Fool, I relied on my gut instinct to stay away. Based on this thread, I'm glad I did. :-/ Not planning to buy the DVD either.

#250050 Les Mis Movie

Posted The Scorpion on 26 December 2012 - 12:09 AM

View PostBricabrac, on 25 December 2012 - 10:50 AM, said:

I think he's a lot better qualified for Les Mis than Gerard Butler was for the Phantom movie---but I guess that isn't saying a lot.

Yeeeah ...To be fair, it's not a lot to say that any movie is better than the Phantom movie.

I haven't yet seen the Les Mis film, but if it's good as the reviews say and does well at the Oscars, I hope ALW seethes with rage as he watches the film of the show he detested back in 1985 and called Cameron Mackintosh a "catastrophic idiot" for pursuing trounce the p*ss-poor effort of his and Joel Schumacher's 8 years ago. In terms of posterity, ALW has not laid a very good path for himself. People will wonder in years to come what on earth the fuss was about with regard to Phantom if all they had to go on was that film.

#243681 Love Never Dies In Copenhagen

Posted The Scorpion on 03 November 2012 - 07:45 PM

No surprises the criticisms hit at the basic material (PLOT!) again. This show just doesn't work using the characters from a completely different show and forcing the two together such that they become unrecognisable and the majesty of the original is reduced to the pedestrian here is never going to set the world alight.

I'm a little saddened the wonderful Tomas A. Kofod is playing the lead part in this, if only because this show goes completely against his interpretation of the character of Raoul in the original, which I had the great pleasure of seeing him play a few years ago at the same theatre and he is by far one of the best Raouls to have emerged during the history of the show. But his interpretation of the Vicomte as truly, deeply, madly in love with Christine to a very selfless extent really doesn't gel with how this character is mutilated in this show. It'd be interested to know what he thinks of how that character has been handled by this show. I suppose he has to eat, though.

#238254 Jesus Christ Superstar

Posted The Scorpion on 24 September 2012 - 11:05 PM

View PostTitan, on 22 September 2012 - 02:11 PM, said:

it depends which tour you are talking about. The last tour was different, however ghe lyceum production did tour after closing in london, i still have the brochure. it may have had tweaks but it was basically the same production

The Lyceum production NEVER toured. Gale Edwards was the director of what toured shortly afterwards but it was an entirely reconceived production with a new concept, sets and direction that were vastly inferior. What toured is what went to Broadway and what was filmed for video release. That is not what the Lyceum production was at all.

Sad that modern audiences don't get to see ALW's works in a good light these days. The way Cameron and Andrew have been treating their best products recently, I wouldn't be surprise to see audiences wonder what all the fuss was about originally. Les Mis has been butchered musically in the West End, both in terms of the score and the orchestration; the new tour of Phantom is done on the cheap with the same hack director as this concert tour, and ALW in particular seems to insist on parasitically savaging his past glories to make a little more money for his pension (so little thought and care gone into this arena tour, so little professionalism compared to the standards RUG and Cameron Mackintosh used to set). The whole world has gone Kenwright. It's sad.

#224669 Phantom Cast Change

Posted The Scorpion on 14 June 2012 - 09:42 AM

View PostSquirrel, on 14 June 2012 - 07:06 AM, said:

This was an interesting read and is one of the reasons I never really air my opinions on Twitter. If I criticise a performer or performance I find it very important to back it up with why I came to the conclusion I came to - and 140 characters is just not enough for that, so you end up saying "I didn't like that person." and that just sounds uneducated and badly thought out.

To cut Sofia a bit of slack, we don't know what sort of day she'd had when she saw that tweet and while I agree that the whole farce was quite unprofessional on her part, it might have just been one of many small things and it was just the final straw and she took it out on that Tweet without really realising the uproar that would follow, you know? When you just have "one of those days" and you lash out at the smallest of things. Obviously that's not necessarily the case, but she is only human and what you can overlook and shrug off one day can hit you really hard the next day.

I do think saying "I can't stand Sofia" is an incredibly rude way of wording an opinion but then at the same time, I'm aware that it wasn't meant for Sofia to see. I think it's important to remember anything said on Twitter is in public domain and that anyone can read it and that often a little thought into how something is worded can prevent reactions such as these - I doubt the same reaction would have been had if the wording was "I'm not a fan of Sofia's performance." as it immediately differentiates between her as a performer rather than her as a person.

Still - quite an over reaction. If she'd have left it at the "can't stand you either ;)" tweet I think that would have been fine - as without the addition of the rest of the tweets that one on its own sounds to me quite light hearted and a small reminder that anyone can read any tweet.

If she'd had "one of those days", as it were, then I would suggest that actively searching for yourself on Twitter is NOT a good way to make the day better.

I was feeling quite a bit of sympathy for Ms Escobar last night as the backlash tweets started appearing following the publication of the ES article, but that dwindled as soon as I saw that, rather than not discussing it or offering an apology/truce, she sent "thank you - I agree"-type tweets to those fans of hers who said that SHk should be "ashamed of herself".