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#295161 Stephen Ward - The Musical

Posted wickedgrin on 05 March 2014 - 09:16 AM

Hysterical overheard conversations between two elderly women at yesterdays Tuesday matinee.

Woman 1 "do you think the ceiling is going to fall in"
Women 2 " it would be more exciting than the show wouldn't it"

Woman 1 "I'm glad Gladys didn't come she would not have liked the swearing"

Woman 1 "There's nothing scandalous about it now is there...."
Woman 2 "Ooooh no, I bet it's all going on today, it's just that we don't know about it, and wont do for another 30 years or whatever, the establishment - they're all still at it"!
Woman 1 "Yes look at that Patrick Rock"
Woman 2 "Who dear?"

Woman 1" Do you think that they (the cast) give their all when they know it's closing in a few weeks?
Woman 2 "Well that Christine Keeler gave it her all (cackles) but I suppose they hope to be picked up for something else - they never know who's watching"

Woman 1 "There are some nice songs aren't there... it's a pity he did not write them for a different show"
Woman 2 " But then it would have been a different show wouldn't it"

#294907 King Lear - Nt

Posted peggs on 02 March 2014 - 07:13 PM

Went with the lowest of expectations on basis of mixed reviews and that awful trailer and then rather liked it. I don't think this is SRB's finest hour, I always like him best when he is doing vulnerable, so i liked his quieter moments, i believed his 'let me not be mad' and i was doing that intense frowning  thing i do when i am moved by then end. I wasn't wild about the direction, surely it can't have been entirely Anna Maxwell Martin's idea to make Regan so shouty? She is so much more of an actress than this and ironically made Goneril's reactions seem more reasonible if only because they were quieter. Unlike TheatreSquirrel i have felt sympathy for these two before, Lear clearly has been a difficult father to live with and whilst it doesn't condone what then happens that he's not up for any father of the year awards is hardly unsurprising. I really liked Kate Fleetwood, you could see every insult hit and I thought Olivia Vinall worked well as Cordeila which is a part with very little to actually do.

Normally loathe the fool and the look at this fool had made me more fearful but he actually made more sense that other fools i've seen and i liked how he ended up. Stanley Townsend good at Kent with that great voice of his and liked this interpretation of Edgar. Edmund weak I thought, seemed neither particularly scheming or attractive as a man.

Am not sure how much this 'Stalinesque' approach bought to it, in the Olivier having actual knights makes sense, you've got the space and it illustrates and backs up the sisters' complaints and also i suppose helps to show how everyone goes to lear Lear alone (almost). Satisfying eye gounging, as in it was suitably awful and rather a lot of fake blood sloshing around the place but fair enough.

I don't know, how likeable is Lear meant to be? He is a king and as such to some extent his followers (Kent, Gloucestor) surely follow as  their duty rather than because they 'like' him or agree with his rule? Ian Holm's lear changed my view of what he should be, it blew out of the water the whole it's just a man who makes one mistake that school would have had be believe. Still I think the whole dictatorship feel is over done and probably distances Lear from the audience which won't help everyone.

#294614 The Book Of Mormon

Posted Adrianics on 28 February 2014 - 09:13 AM

Wasn't that always the theory? There was that rumour flying around that two British actors were cast only for it to be nixed by Parker and Stone at the last second (I kept hearing it was Evans and Daniel McKinley), so as a result Evans was cast in the US Tour to get him acustomed to the role before taking over in London and McKinley was cast as the alternate.

I've only seen Evans in Ghost, and I have to say that lovely voice aside his acting really wasn't up to scratch, then again the material was pretty shoddy so maybe he's a lot better in BOM.

Creel and Gertner are both utterly amazing in their roles and for me more or less the definitive performances of the characters, so I kind of pity whoever replaces them because they have a lot to live up to!

#294610 Why Is Webber Crucified Whilst Sondheim Revered?

Posted Orchestrator on 28 February 2014 - 08:38 AM

Which is entirely your prerogative, jaqs. What is fascinating and frustrating about theatre, completely exemplified on these discussion boards, is that there are not only different opinions about plays and musicals but everyone has a different way of appreciating theatre. The idea that the shows, taken as pieces of writing, of Sondheim and ALW are comparable in any way is incomprehensible to me. But obviously to you they inhabit the same world and can be judged equally, with, as you say, some pieces of each writer succeeding and some not. I think I get that on theatrical or showmanship terms but if we are talking about the relative artistic and intellectual challenges of the music and lyrics of the two corpuses of work then they are in different leagues.

#294421 Urinetown

Posted Althea on 26 February 2014 - 02:40 PM

I too saw this last night and thought it was brilliant.  Very strong cast and the direction was on point and tight.  They utilise the very talented ensemble and the leads Fleeshman and Russell are excellent.  Staging is superb - although i would echo that you should avoid the front row - we were in the second row and had to do a lot of looking up - although we didn't miss any of the action.

The piece itself is a surprise - cleverly satirical and very funny and in some parts shocking.  Book of Mormon has a lot to thank this show for paving the way in 2001.  If you love musicals you really should check it out as it offers a very different and refreshing night at the theatre.  The St James has definitely come back from the debacle that was Tell Me on a Sunday (one of the shoddiest and cheaply put together productions I've ever seen) and hopefully this will set the standard for this brilliant venue.

#294184 Why Is Webber Crucified Whilst Sondheim Revered?

Posted paplazaroo on 25 February 2014 - 12:31 AM

How many times do we need to have this argument? I'm a little bit sick of having to stand up for Sondheim in the face of ALW lovers calling me a snob for doing so. Lloyd Webber composed some decent, very memorable and succesful scores that have made way more money than Sondheim FACT. Sondheim composes music AND lyrics that are very intelligent and fit an overall feeling/idea that operates on less of a superficial level. That is why his backers say he is more intelligent because frankly he is, it's the difference between a Beckett play and an episode of Modern Family, both are difficult to write but only one taps into the soul in a visceral and powerful way. These guys are cheese and chalk, I love a lot of ALW shows and I love most of Sondheims work, let's just accept they're different beasts and get along.

#293871 The One - Soho Theatre

Posted steveatplays on 22 February 2014 - 10:04 PM

Steve Martin explained that genuinely funny people speak punch lines with an assuredness that inspires absolute confidence. The audience know they are going to laugh before the line is spoken. If Mark Rylance or Simon Russell Beale have a funny line, you feel the anticipation of a good laugh before they speak it, and you know and thus do laugh louder than if anyone else had the same line. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is that kind of actor. She is hilariously funny delivering a joke.

In Hayfever, Fleabag and Mydidae, Waller-Bridge was flawless delivering laughs.

In Mydidae, directed by Waller-Bridge's DryWrite theatre company partner, a play where two couples in a bathroom verbally flayed each other until violence broke out, Waller-Bridge's humour became an instrument of cruelty, so it was hard in some scenes to know whether to laugh, gasp or cry. However, the play itself was never cruel, as the cruelty sprang from self-hatred and guilt.

But "The One" (written and directed by Vicky Jones) is much crueller than Mydidae, and is more disturbing, as the cruelty in this play has at it's root sociopathy and sensation-seeking.

The central sado-masochistic relationship is between Jo (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) and her former English Professor, Harry (played by Rufus Wright, who was David Cameron in The Audience). In fantasy, they see themselves as monsters, and the theme song of their love is "Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera, which Harry sings to Jo more than once.

The play is a three hander, and Lu Corfield plays Kerry, who genuinely loves Harry. The question for Harry is "Who is The One for him?" The girl who loves him, or the girl who loves to torture him?

During the course of the play, I went from laughing my head off to being very disturbed. I'm all for healthy sado-masochistic relationships, where power exchange is a mutual expression of love through play acting. But Jo and Harry get off the most when they are genuinely hurting each other, or at least Jo does. This is a seriously unhealthy relationship, and a horrifying critique of selfish sensation-seeking.

I will watch Phoebe Waller-Bridge in anything, but I do hope her projects with Vicky Jones prove not to be all as sadistic and sociopathic as this one, as my laughlines were replaced with a great big frown. Intermittently hilarious, exciting, illuminating and unpleasant. 3 and a half stars.

#293471 Rapture, Blister, Burn - Hampstead Theatre

Posted Latecomer on 19 February 2014 - 07:50 PM

Well this was enjoyable. Adam James was great as the boy-man who refuses to effectively grow up and needs a woman to nag him into things....but his smile is so cute you can see how he appeals to them! And so many points raised in the play....I tried to explain it all to my other half (including the history of horror films) and he just sat there a bit stunned. I didn't mind the slightly lecturey tone and was genuinely interested to see how it turned out. The mother and the teenager were the best characters and Shannon Tarbet was excellent - I couldn't take my eyes off her.
A mass and jumble of ideas.....messy....a bit like life!
I liked the ending too!

#293467 A Taste Of Honey

Posted steveatplays on 19 February 2014 - 06:35 PM

This definitely feels like the prototype of Coronation Street, without the curse of having a hundred different writers and a plot that never ends. There is that balance of comedy and drama, which you don't see in Eastenders. Indeed, for fans and ex-fans of Corrie, this is Audrey and Gail as they must have been when Gail was 18, a mother and daughter who start every conversation with comic whinges about how each other looks, how they want to get the weight off their feet, who will make a cup of tea, putting each other down with petty moans and both demanding and expecting independence from the other, while harbouring deeply hidden affection.

This is all about character, similar to Wesker's Roots in it's focus on a mother and daughter, but the relationship here is the polar opposite. In the Wesker, the women are very different and try to attract each other to their respective positions. In this, both are instrinsically the same, and like two positively charged sides of a magnet, repel the other away with feisty shows of independence.

These women are not friendly Facebook types, but they are ostentatious twitter types, who seek followers rather than friends. They do things their own way, and expect others to take it or leave it. Indeed, I have no doubt if these two working class women were alive today, they would each accumulate thousands of followers on twitter, and have next to no Facebook friends.

And like Wesker's Roots, the plot wheels turn slowly: mum moves out with a fancy man, girl gets pregnant and gets a gay friend to take care of her. That's it for close to three hours, minus ten minutes. So if you want a Ferrari of a plot, forget this, which is like taking the bus in rush hour.

But if like me, you like your character based comedy drama, where the comedy is as much an engine as the drama, this is fantastic. Both Lesley Sharp and Kate O'Flynn are unforgettable, pitching their self-obsessed comic needling and buoyant independent spirits just perfectly for the whole running time. The singing and dancing interludes emphasise the resilience of these characters, who despite trying circumstances will never be victims. As a sympathetic portrait of two very powerful very selfish and independent women who spar, yet have wells of barely admitted affection for each other, I loved this.

All 3 male supporting characters are great, Eric Kofi Abrefa is so smooth, it's like he's a dream. Dean Lennox Kelly is like a monied version of David Thewlis' wretched drunk on Shameless. And Harry Hepple is more caring mum than either of the women.

The Lyttelton is definitely too big, and I admire Hildegarde Bechtler's design for decorating the redundant left side of the stage with such picture postcard charm that the chasm of unused space is not distracting. But even in the front row, I felt like I was in the worst spot at the Royal Court Upstairs, a space that would have truly heightened the intimacy of a piece like this. On the plus side, at least a huge amount of people will get to see this rarely produced gem. 4 stars. :)

#293121 Candide At The Menier Chocolate Factory - Christmas 2013

Posted AddisonMizner on 16 February 2014 - 11:25 AM

I saw the matinee performance of CANDIDE yesterday (15th February) and absolutely loved it! The Chocolate Factory was totally transformed and it was like stepping into another world. I adored the in-the-round staging –it was innovative and intelligent, making great use of the Menier’s space.

The cast offer THE best singing I have heard in a musical in a LONG time, and really bring this gorgeous score to life. Scarlett Strallen did a stonking job with “Glitter and Be Gay”, delivering the coloratura with aplomb. The chorus singing was particularly fine – “Make Our Garden Grow”, to my mind one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, was spine-tingling and well worth the price of admission on its own.

I would love to see this again, but can’t see it transferring to another theatre after the Menier run. It would need to be totally redirected and it would perhaps lose some of the magic that it currently has.

#292442 Candide At The Menier Chocolate Factory - Christmas 2013

Posted Reich on 11 February 2014 - 02:38 PM

I got to see this again at the weekend, I was sat next to a lovely lady who had travelled from the Isle of Man to see it for a second time. This really is the best production and version of Candide I’ve seen so far. I haven’t listened to any other music since seeing it initially at the end of Jan

I miss Quiet and We are Woman. Plus I like My Love to feature Maximilian in drag! Scenes could be cut to make it clearer such as the Anabaptist, Candide as an actor etc … But I really like the rejigging of the songs for Venice as it has a much greater and dramatic impact … Candide as a stage production is such a puzzle so I’ll always have a little moan about what to include plus I’ll moan more if everything is included!

James Dreyfus, is the weak link in the production. He is the only person who has made the main part appear superfluous! … Interesting how the chorus take a lot of his lines. Also he is not in the show for the final week. I wonder why?...

But putting Martin’s professional pessimism aside, this is one of my favourite Chocolate Factory productions. I wish it was getting recorded.

#291351 Coriolanus

Posted EmiCardiff on 01 February 2014 - 11:33 AM

Agree about the production being brilliant, particularly in solution to what is a mix of 'big' moments (battle scenes, the big public scenes) and much 'smaller' or 'intimate' scenes.

I've seen it (ahem) 3 times now. (including the NT live broadcast) the first time I was really underwhelmed by Hiddleston, but impressed with the production and the virtually flawless rest of the company. The second time, whether I was in a better mood or whether he was just better I was more impressed with Hiddleston, however he still doesn't wow me. I don't think it's a problem with his acting ability more a combination of this not being "his" part or that the amount of hype surrounding him that skewed my expectations (I have several friends who are somewhat devoted fangirls)

Personally my highlight was Gatiss, as a big fan of his I was nervous to see how he'd fare in Shakespeare (I think I'm right it's his first professional Shakespeare) but he really wowed me, and I'm not one to be wowed just because I like an actor in fact I'm generally more critical! His and Findlay's performances made this production for me.

I do agree with the comment about Hiddleston in particular performing for the cameras on the broadcast-first time I've noticed actors doing so in an NT live too. Shame.

#291245 Dating A Musical Theatre Lover...

Posted Andromeda Dench on 31 January 2014 - 11:56 AM

:lol:  I love this thread and you people so much!

View Postmallardo, on 30 January 2014 - 04:25 PM, said:

Not just Croatia, I stood in a day seat line a week ago with two funny charming girls from Slovenia who were staying in a West End hostel while they prowled around town seeing shows.

I must admit I don't know many Slovenians or their theatre preferences, but I do remember seeing a very decent Slovenian production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Didn't understand a word, but still enjoyed it. And since Slovenia was also a part of Austro-Hungarian empire before WW1, and as such exposed to their operetta tradition, my theory why Croatia (and Slovenia) have good MT, while the rest of us ex-Yugoslav republics, which spent 500 years under decidedly anti-MT Ottoman occupation, don't have a clue, still stands. :)
Some more ramblings on this: I've asked for my mum's opinion on why MT has never really taken root in Belgrade (she's also an avid theatre-goer and both she and my dad visited London regularly to see shows during the affluent 70s and 80s) and, in her opinion, MT was always regarded as a lesser theatre form for ''unsophisticated working classes''. (Perhaps, something like Music Halls?) If you considered yourself an intellectual, you'd avoid it like a plague. Only ''edgy'' new shows, like Hair, were considered acceptable and would get staged at non-musical theatre venues.Then again, considering what passed as MT over here in those days (60s,70s,80s), I'm not sure I'd go and watch any of it either. However, Zagreb and their main MT venue Kazalište Komedija have always been a whole different story.


As to your adventures with passport control - M16 indeed - I think there's the makings of a story: international woman of mystery smuggling top secret information in and out of the UK using a theatre fixation as an unusual but (for that reason) plausible rationale for her travel. But then her genuine love for theatre takes over making her unreliable as a spy and dangerous to her handlers. She takes refuge in the arms of an actor who must now be as heroic in life as he is on the stage.  Take it from there.

:lol: If I ever write that script and flog it to a Hollywood studio, we're sharing the profits (and using them to buy more theatre tickets - only premium seats + champagne in the interval + a weekend with cast members we fancy).

View PostJohn_Rebus, on 30 January 2014 - 04:42 PM, said:

Andromeda Dench, I've read your post several times, but still haven't found any weird behaviour. Actually, I think you're behaving perfectly rational :)

Aww, it's comforting to hear I'm not alone. But sometimes, when I think about it, it does seem a bit like an addiction - A trip to London is so bloody expensive, I've figured out I could spend a month backpacking around Portugal or Spain, and it would still cost me less than a week in London (on a budget), plus I'd be spared filling in 50 pages of the visa application form, answering questions along the lines of ''Have you ever belonged to any terrorist organisations and if so, which ones?'' (Oh, and it costs 100 EUR just to apply). Yet I still choose London...

View Posttheatremonkey.com, on 31 January 2014 - 09:06 AM, said:

"In order to avoid getting strange looks from people around me, I often just lie and tell them I'm going somewhere else."

Isn’t that odd, and a brilliant point about how theatre fans are seen.

Struck me that it’s perfectly acceptable for me to say “I’m going to Las Vegas to watch Amir Khan fight, then on to New York to see the Packers play the Jets” (I really am a fan of both boxing and American football); yet if I said “Going to see “Spiderman the Musical” and “King Kong the Musical” in the same places, the funny looks start (and not just from musical theatre aficionados...).

Indeed! Telling people that I'm off to Barcelona or Amsterdam or some other place I don't particularly want to visit but is generally regarded as ''fun'', is always met with enthusiastic reactions. But ''I'm going to London to try and get in the NT's 50th anniversary celebration'' didn't go down so well. So I keep going to Barcelona. The problem occurs when someone wants to see pictures or hear how it was. My sister, who actually visited Barcelona, had to give me a briefing on what I saw and what I liked in case someone really insists on details... Sometimes, all that sneakiness makes me feel like I'm doing something shameful or illegal!

#291136 Dating A Musical Theatre Lover...

Posted Andromeda Dench on 30 January 2014 - 01:54 PM

Oh dear. Well, my situation looks like this: I work two jobs (a full-time clerical one and moonlight as a pilates instructor), have a self-imposed moratorium on buying new clothes and other pretty but ultimately unnecessary things, won't rent a flat but live in a room at my granddad's - just so that I could save enough money for travelling. Which wouldn't be all that strange except that by travelling I mostly mean ''going to London to see theatre shows every year'' (and sometimes to Vienna to see operas). In order to avoid getting strange looks from people around me, I often just lie and tell them I'm going somewhere else. :wacko: And I don't even want to know what British embassy employees dealing with my tourist visa applications which all invariably say ''Reason for visit: theatre/musicals'', think. I also have to repeat that at the airport passport controls. I bet MI6 has a file on me.
With such weird behavioural patterns, it's very difficult to find a partner, I must say.
At home, I mostly go to theatre with an actress friend or my sister. When they're not available, I go on my own, which is also considered a very strange thing to do over here for some reason. Oh yes - and real Balkan macho men wouldn't be caught dead at theatre shows - 80% of audiences over here are made up of women. The 20% accounts for sulking husbands/boyfriends who had to come but wish they were at home watching football. At opera, if you see a male audience member, he's either gay or an opera singer or both.

Something totally unrelated but interesting (well, to me) - people in the neighbouring Croatia actually have traditional appreciation for musical theatre. That probably explains the fact that some of Croatian MT performers have made it to West End (Zrinka Cvitešić and Jasna Ivir come to mind). I think it must be due to Austro-Hungarian influence as opposed to our Ottoman one, lol.

#291109 Dating A Musical Theatre Lover...

Posted paplazaroo on 30 January 2014 - 09:47 AM

There should totally be a forum social night in a pub! The WOS outings are all over day seat price so I never go plus I reckon it would just be better to meet in a pub. Although as an aspiring playwright I'd totally blow my cover and thus lose my daydream of one of my plays being the subject of a thread on this board as I shill the hell out of it :P