Saturday, 23 February 2013

Shrek the Musical


Whenever I hear that a musical is closing, I just can not resist to go and check it out. Even if it had never occurred to me to go and watch it beforehand. There's something about the finality of it and the fact, it may never return to the stage. And so it was with Shrek which is closing tomorrow after two years in the West End. Despite knowing that this is actually going on tour around the UK afterwards, I knew that I wouldn't bother to travel to it so couldn't help but go and check it out at Drury lane last night in one of its final performances.

To be honest, I think there is a reason that it had never entered my head to go before now because it is very very aimed towards children. It had farting and burping and bickering and some very obvious jokes that the children in the audience absolutely adored. There were some nods to the parents as well though with some quite sexual connotations in some of the jokes that would have been well over the children's heads (luckily) but made us adults giggle as it seemed so out of place in a kid's story. Donkey and Lord Farquaad also had some really hilarious moments.

What I really enjoyed, as a complete theatre geek, was the nod to many other musicals which it gave. That made me laugh a lot, because they popped up in wonderfully abstract locations that somehow made sense within the production. Whether it was a tiny bit of music, a spoken well known phrase, or even a prop/costume in some cases. It was perfect for people like me and reasonably clever.

I think if I was 8-10 years younger, I would enjoy the musical a whole lot more, in the same way that I adored the film back then. It was very faithful to the film and the songs were fittingly upbeat for the children at whom it was mostly aimed. I was very very impressed with the sets and special effects that were some of the best I have seen, moving smoothly from scene to scene without a hitch despite the frequent changes and complicated-ness of the sets. Finally I wanted to say a massive thumbs up to the actor playing Lord Farquaad, Neil McDermott whose knees must be killing him.

Despite my reservations, I can't say that I didn't have a great evening it's just that I would not necessarily pay to see it again. And that's always the tell tale sign of a great musical.

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Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Dublin


Good morning and top of te morning to ya.
Oh Dublin how I love you and how I wish I could afford to live in you and just sit in pubs all the time. It seems like the perfect laidback life where no one has any worries. It was literally so good to get away from university life and go into a very different world. And I may have only spent a weekend there but I felt utterly relaxed in this vibrant city.

In those three days we did cram in a lot of touristy things - we were on one of those awful tourist buses that you see zooming around London all the time. And I am proud to say I was one of the most stereotypical of the bunch, sitting on the open top deck and clicking my camera at everything. We visited Trinity College, St Patrick's Cathedral, Phoenix Park, Kilmainham Gaol (who my housemate was convinced that it was pronounced goal), Guinness Storehouse, Connaught Road and of course, the Temple Bar area. I only had three aims as well: to have a proper Irish Coffee (so yum - I am going to start drinking all my coffees like that); hear a traditional Irish Band (I heard several, they were all amazing. And I drunkenly danced to Galway Girl. Evening was made) and to get with an Irish man (I had to - I just melt when they speak to me, however good looking they are). And I achieved all those aims, so I was happy.

I wasn't expecting to have that much time sober to be honest, but we did fit in quite a bit. And we had a huge laugh. I love the place and I want to go back. And that's all really - if only England was just as friendly.

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Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Billy Elliot

 
I realised the other day that my blog has a huge risk of starting to sound completely repetitive. And also, that I would make the worst critic in the world. My problem is that I just am too easily impressed. Recently I have been to quite a few West End musicals and I just can't stop marvelling at how much I enjoy them. Every single one has a slightly different charm, whatever the story, and I seem to like every single one of them.

Billy Elliot is my latest obsession and, honestly, I didn't think I was going to like it as much as I actually did. It was one of my favourite films when I was a kid but I really had no idea how they were going to transfer that well to the stage. I didn't know any of the music at all and was pretty amazed at the result. 

Billy Elliot is the most realistic musical that I have seen - all the rest have been set in a fictional place whereas this was placed up in a very grim northern village. Where obviously it was not very socially acceptable to be the incredible dancer that the title character is. It's not only the fictional boy that is intensely talented though. I was completely overwhelmed by the ability of the young actor as well. His singing voice did need a little more training but his northern accent and his acting were pretty spot on. And his dancing was just something else. In Billy Elliot there are a number of long solo dance sequences that include a mixture of modern, tap, stage and ballet as well as a huge amount of others with the rest of the company. He has to be proficient in all of these, and this young child was definitely more than that. He was truly superb from beginning to end and I have never been more depressed that I will never be to the same standard.

The rest of the cast must be congratulated as well - it was just perfection all the way through. It is not exactly what you would call a cheery story, considering the majority of it is about hardship but there were some really funny moments and the ending was just the right amount of poignancy to make this musical something truly special. I, for one, was blubbing like a baby in the final song, and I never cry in public. So that is an achievement in itself. The songs were fantastic and it was all brilliantly acted with believable emotions from everyone involved. Just perfection. Now go and vote for it to be on the shortlist for the Olivier Awards 2013.

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Monday, 11 February 2013

Wicked

 
It is safe to say that I have been a fan of Wicked for a long time. Despite the fact that I only saw it a couple of weeks ago, I have owned the soundtrack for around 5-6 years and throughout that whole period, have been listening to it and becoming slightly obsessive over it.  Therefore the expectations were running quite high and even I wasn’t sure that it would actually be able to live up to them. But I was wrong – Wicked was everything that I had wished it to be and more besides.

Wicked is always one of those musicals that people tell you that you HAVE to see. And that it is a real showstopper and none of the others can quite live up to it.  I can now see what they mean. There is a reason why it is the bestselling musical in the country with sell out shows to over 2000 audience members, 8 times a week.

For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past 10 years or so, Wicked is the prequel to the Wizard of Oz, telling the story of Glinda the Good and Elphaba (more commonly known as The Wicked Witch of the West) while they were at university. And you will be surprised to note that they were actually best friends. But not only does it tell the story of those two characters, it also explains how the Tinman lost his heart, why the Scarecrow had no brain and why the Lion was cowardly.

I don’t think I can praise this musical enough.  The acting, singing, dancing and special effects are all perfect and it is literally impossible for you to get the tunes out of your head.  I found myself mouthing along to every single word, much to my companion’s amusement, but I wasn’t the only one, which only adds to the proof of how popular the musical is.  The story seems so realistic in comparison to The Wizard of Oz, with not only gently humorous moments but really poignant ones as well. It includes very human emotions, allowing you to sympathise with the characters in a much deeper way than many other fantastical stories.  So much so that by the end, you actually understand why the witch becomes wicked.  All in all, you would be crazy to miss this but if you can’t afford to go and see it yet, I wouldn’t worry.  This showstopper isn’t going anywhere.
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Tuesday, 5 February 2013

London and Bath

I have been a very busy bee recently and been running around all over the country - this is what I tend to do with my time instead of my uni work...it is far more fun, I can tell you. And this means I have exciting events to tell my beautiful readers all about. So it's a win win really.

So what have I been up to? Well. on the 30th January I headed over to London town which is only about half an hour from my uni yay. I definitely take advantage of this as I love the city with all my heart. I think growing up in the countryside has urbanised me, as I definitely will not be happy anywhere else. It is absolutely buzzing and I love it. All the noise and the hustle and bustle. The general unfriendliness of everyone, the pollution, the culture, the museums, the attractions - I love it all. Good and bad. Today I was in my capital, not only to catch up with my friend and my brother (which I did and twas great) but also to be very sophisticated and visit some of the attractions I have not yet seen.

Therefore first of all I visited the Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221b Baker Street. I don't know what made it suddenly pop into my head but I just fancied visiting the place. To be honest, it is very overpriced for what it is and it did strike me half way round, that I was looking round the museum of a fictional character. Someone who did not even exist. But I am a huge fan of the stories and the house was pretty cool. So I am glad that I did it.

What was a lot more satisfying and infinitely more interesting was the art gallery I visited - the Stephen Wiltishire gallery. For anyone who has not heard of this artist - go and look him up now. He is incredible. I did an assignment on him last year so know a stalker-ish amount of information on him but his detailed city scapes of London's scenery are absolutely amazing. You can spend hours gazing at the drawings and notice different things. Plus his use of colour (or lack of) is extremely interesting and gave me hundreds of words analysing why he chose to emphasise certain aspect of his drawings with colour. A truly talented man.

I rounded off my day with the best bit - seeing Wicked in the theatre. I have been looking forward to this for so so long, it is insane. Have literally owned the soundtrack for about 5 or 6 years and now having finally seen it, knows why everyone obsesses over it. It's absolutely perfect and have not had a better evening in such a long time - a full review will be coming soon. A very positive one.


Then on the 2nd February, I had my second cultured day of the week in Bath. I had forgotten how much I love this city. So so different from London, especially in its beauty and the fact that it does not feel like a city at all! It's another place that I could see myself living in. I just love it and that is all.

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