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Member Since 24 Jun 2011
Offline Last Active Apr 15 2014 08:32 AM

#278248 West Side Story Uk Tour Cast Announced

Posted Cactus on 15 September 2013 - 05:53 PM

Well, including The Good Person of Szechwan in that argument is missing the entire point of Brecht. And it isn't really about nationality, it's about ethnic minorities that have roles specifically written for them (aka that aren't White Europeans or White Northern Americans etc.) and are then exluded from those roles. And sadly it's also about the age-old 'maybe they just cast the best person for the job' straw argument which is ignoring the reality of bias and institutionalised racism.

#278207 West Side Story Uk Tour Cast Announced

Posted Cactus on 15 September 2013 - 09:34 AM

Thanks, mrkringas, those were my thoughts, too.

View Postmusicals fan, on 15 September 2013 - 06:55 AM, said:

I dread full ethnic and / or national casting - Hamlet cast for Danes only? Macbeth for Scottish actors only?  Opera still blithely ignores ethnic considerations and concentrates on singing and star quality thank goodness. Drama is meant to be Universal and say something about the human condition - not propaganda for any particular brand of politics.
Yes, drama is meant to be universal. And not just limited to white performers who even get to play roles that were not written for them. I don't understand why you would dread full ethnic casting when it is done right. Plus, the issues we raised were not so much with the London cast but rather with the casting for the upcoming tour.

#277865 Candide At The Menier Chocolate Factory - Christmas 2013

Posted Cactus on 11 September 2013 - 07:05 PM

View PostMrBarnaby, on 11 September 2013 - 06:58 PM, said:

He should stick to Francis!
And you should stick to the topic...

#277038 Merrily We Roll Along To Get Digital Theatre Release?

Posted Cactus on 04 September 2013 - 07:18 AM

I wish the V&A performance archives would do something similar and make their recordings available for purchase.

#273829 Sam Barks As Velma

Posted Cactus on 30 July 2013 - 08:46 PM

I really wasn't a fan of Tveit's Enjolras but you can hardly compare a role like Enjolras who only ever exists in group scenes and whose name is hardly ever mentioned to a role like Eponine who fills the 'unrequited love' slot and who gets a massive and very well-known ballad which naturally stands out and showcases the performer. Samantha Barks, while not impressing me with her acting, certainly isn't untalented and she has simply been phenomenally lucky, plus she has enjoyed great support from the powers that be. It happens. Yes, there are others who would also deserve wide-spread recognition for their work and there are brilliant performers who will never reach (or want to reach) that kind of level of fame, but she's in the public eye now, she seems to be enjoying it... so let's see where it leads.

#272423 The Ongoing Les MisÚrables Discussion Thread

Posted Cactus on 15 July 2013 - 05:24 PM

View Postdjp, on 15 July 2013 - 04:14 PM, said:

Singing is  a matter of perspectives too  sometimes. I sometimes read someone sings beautifully, listen myself and think note perfect but bland and unconnected to the story. Sometimes you have  older singers singing younger roles  perfectly -  but who don't actually sound like their young characters. There's some great renditions  of On My Own that just couldn't be sung by Eponine.  Elsewhere you find people putting in soaring riffs and getting praise, and  I think what on earth has that to do with the lyrics or story. Someone else gets criticised for being breathy,  but I note they are dancing, or being chased by a madman, feeling angry,  or being  shot at, at the time.  ....  I think I would rather have the odd note go astray,  from someone who can act the lyrics convincingly,  than someone who sounds perfect but might as well be in any other show.
Bad breathing technique, being sharp or flat on notes or having bad diction is unrelated to that, though. I was talking about having the foundation to actually use your voice and act with your voice and do all the things you said - bring the lyrics and story to life through singing. If a performer struggles to actually hit the notes or keep up with the tempo or if they tend to swallow the words and can only focus on doing that then that's not emoting or acting, and it can damage the voice in the long run. Great performers will use their ability to control their voice for the character and the story.

#272378 The Ongoing Les MisÚrables Discussion Thread

Posted Cactus on 15 July 2013 - 09:20 AM

Yeah. I think training is more important with regards to singing rather than acting. Of course people can have a great voice without singing lessons and be up to a good standard but breathing technique, the right support, diction etc. don't come naturally.

#271091 The Ongoing Les MisÚrables Discussion Thread

Posted Cactus on 01 July 2013 - 09:13 PM

View Postmystifyre, on 01 July 2013 - 08:45 PM, said:

I agree. I think they should have some freedom when it comes to acting out the scene and letting it come naturally rather than forced. Surely that would make the acting more truthful. It's better having some variation every night rather than having this mechanical, almost robotical direction that makes the show quite predicable and perhaps a little tired, in a sense. Don't get me wrong, it's a fantastic musical, but I think the cast needs some freedom.
The thing is that a few years ago that kind of robotical direction definitely wasn't in place. The whole idea strikes me as odd, why would they would focus on superficial stuff like that?

#270988 West Side Story Uk Tour Cast Announced

Posted Cactus on 01 July 2013 - 11:48 AM

View Postsahunt, on 01 July 2013 - 11:41 AM, said:

There have been good examples of 'ideal casting' for example Evita in the west end recently, pretty sure that on thekenwright tour there were no complaints about Rachel Wooding playing the lead...
Considering Eva Perón's heritage is French I'd consider that to be a slightly different issue anyway.

edit: And the Les Mis argument is an unrelated issue that has never made sense to me - the characters are speaking in their native language and their thoughts and spoken word are fluently transferred to the equivalent in any other language, respectively.

#270857 West Side Story Uk Tour Cast Announced

Posted Cactus on 30 June 2013 - 11:34 AM

View PostMatthew Winn, on 30 June 2013 - 06:12 AM, said:

Are there many roles written for white performers? There are many roles where people are familiar with those roles being played by white performers, but that's not the same thing.
There are, actually, and you mentioned the second issue as well: people are familiar with roles that aren't specifically written as white being played by white performers and see them as 'white'. That is problematic. And now add to that the fact that white performers are also playing roles which are specifically written as NOT white as is the case here. It doesn't take a lot of effort to realise how privileged white performers already are.

View PostMatthew Winn, on 30 June 2013 - 06:12 AM, said:

I can think of only three circumstances where race (or appearance of race) matters:

(1) When it's implied or specified that two characters are the same race.
(2) When it's implied or specified that two characters are of different races.
(3) When the script explicitly mentions race.

And in (1) and (2) the actual race doesn't matter, so long as it matches up.
In West Side Story the script explicitly mentiones it: The Sharks are definitely Puerto Rican, it's addressed lots and lots of times, they comment on how the 'Americans' aren't 'truly' Americans but Polish and criticise their own status as 'foreigners' and how 'one look' at them will make people 'judge twice'. National and ethnical identity are issues.

#270809 West Side Story Uk Tour Cast Announced

Posted Cactus on 30 June 2013 - 04:17 AM

View Postdjp, on 29 June 2013 - 11:56 PM, said:

If we can have Eponine's who are a different colour to their  parents, and Fantine's who are different again to their child, there's no problem with non hispanic Marias. All you need are people who look like gang members. and in any, conceivably casted, gang on a UK stage show, if you worry about race at all ,  one hispanic is going to look out of place if they are the only one there.

There's a bizarre logic applied here too. At one level how can it be fine to have brits playing Americans, or all sorts of  Europeans, but not hispanics?   On another level,  Puerto Ricans are Puerto Ricans and proud of it. They are not acme generic Hispanics - as if anyone from Portugal or Brazil or Mexico or New Mexico would do. I am still trying to work out the logic of employing Philppinos as Vietnamese for Miss Saigon - it must look odd to the Vietnamese who have territorial disputes with the Philippines,  and when the Philipinnes deployed troops on the US side in the war. I don't think we need to scour the UK for a Puerto Rican who can  actually sing Maria too.
The problem is that most roles in musical theatre already call for white actors and actresses and casting parts that have specifically been written for non-white performers without respecting that is whitewashing. Lea Salonga said it best: 'There are so many roles already written for white [actors], written for Caucasians; so it’s like, the ones written for us, let us play them.' (source)

#270766 West Side Story Uk Tour Cast Announced

Posted Cactus on 29 June 2013 - 06:03 PM

View PostTitan, on 29 June 2013 - 05:52 PM, said:

i dont think its as big a deal in the uk as latino actresses are in far shorter supply.

while race is a small factor in the show it isnt really about race, its the gang warfare and the show loses none of its power

the late 90s uk tour and west end transfer had katie knight adams as maria and anna jane casey as anita

im just glad the leads are a vast improvement on the last tour
The Sharks are Puerto Rican and that actually does matter a lot - when they sing 'one look at us and they judge twice' that's one of the many foundations for their desperate situation and the gang warfare that results from it. While it's true that there are a lot less Hispanic or Latino performers in the UK than in the US, Maria, Anita and the others are iconic roles. There are many, many parts for young white sopranos and this simply isn't one of them. The fact that they did it in the 90s doesn't mean they should continue it.

#270761 West Side Story Uk Tour Cast Announced

Posted Cactus on 29 June 2013 - 05:45 PM

View PostCathyFromLex, on 29 June 2013 - 03:00 PM, said:

A major production in the US would take heavy flack for not casting a Latina as Maria.  I'm sure Katie will sing the role beautifully, but just saying.
Agreed. I was quite shocked when I heard, it's such an iconic part and shouldn't be whitewashed.

#270226 Merrily We Roll Along @ Menier & Pinter

Posted Cactus on 25 June 2013 - 07:39 PM

View PostKevinUK, on 25 June 2013 - 07:22 PM, said:

You know, I did see it. It's not special, it's not clever and it's certainly not heartbreaking. They might have had some more optimism at the end than at the start, but optimism isn't character development, and going backwards isn't clever - after the first scene you've already worked out everything you need to know, and getting from there to the end happens without any twists or shocking revelations.
That is what you took away from it but that doesn't make it an objective fact. It was heartbreaking and clever when I saw it. Life isn't just about knowing what happens at the end. I loved it and most people seem to love it. It's about the human experience. Saying that you know everything after the first scene is nonsense, all you see are the bitter, shallow existences of people you automatically dislike before you get to know them. Nobody said that optimism was character development - I've already said that it's about judging people before we learn about the background of their decisions. There were plenty of revelations throughout the entire plot - just take the use of 'Not A Day Goes By' for example. I'm not saying it's the concept of going backwards that is clever, it's how it was carried out. Fair enough, you didn't pick up on it and you didn't take anything away from it. I'm sorry that's the case and that you feel like you wasted an evening but that doesn't mean the show is rubbish or that we're just pretending to see its cleverness or pretending to feel heartbroken after watching it.

#270221 Merrily We Roll Along @ Menier & Pinter

Posted Cactus on 25 June 2013 - 06:36 PM

View PostKevinUK, on 25 June 2013 - 06:17 PM, said:

I didn't see anything special about it.
There are dozens of references to what happens earlier in their lives and later in the show in the lyrics, score and plot. We meet people who are broken and whose relationships are broken and watch how they fell apart by seeing their lives unravel. We see the consequences before seeing the actions and the hopes and objectives behind their actions, and we judge them before we know what even happened. At the very end we see the start of everything and we experience people who have no idea what's about to happen to them, who share things with each other they'll use against each other and who set out to do things that will eventually destroy them with the best intentions. It may not have been the right show for you personally for some reason but it is special, it's incredibly clever and heartbreaking and the vast majority of people whose reactions I've heard were deeply touched by the current production.