Saturday 25 July 2015

After a day working in the garden...

I feel the Jungle Lord's pain...
( From Jungle Action no. 15, May 1975  -  by Don McGregor, Billy Graham and Dan Green )

Saturday 11 July 2015

Nights at the theatre

I've never been a regular theatre-goer but, because our daughter Sophie has been training for a career in musical theatre, we've spent some time sampling the ubiquitous smell of the greasepaint and roar of the crowd in recent years. Prior to that my only theatre experiences have been limited to a few pantomimes, school trips to Shakespeare plays, two performances of The Rocky Horror Show and falling asleep during Cats. Last year we saw Sophie's dance school The Big Act do a very brief performance at the Bristol Hippodrome  as part of the city's Cary Grant Centenary celebrations. Since then she's also appeared in two Big Act shows at Bristol's Alma Tavern and one at Bath's Rondo Theatre. ( Wow! I've gone link-crazy in this post! ) The Bath show was particularly impressive  -  an off-Broadway musical called I Love You Because...  -  a New York-set comedy of relationships with some cracking tunes, which showed off Sophie's talents really well, especially when she brought the house down with the funniest ( and rudest! ) line in the script.
All this was a prelude to the grand finale of her year with The Big Act, a performance of the Queen musical We Will Rock You at the Hippodrome. This charity performance, in aid of The Mercury Phoenix Trust, was produced after only 48 hours' rehearsal, a huge challenge for the cast who are used to weeks and weeks of rehearsals for most other shows. In support of this show The Big Act also performed a half-hour showcase of song and dance, which Sophie also choreographed. No pressure! :-)
( That's Sophie at the bottom right of the above photo with her fellow Big Act students Joe, Edd and Jess. )
To add a little offstage drama, Sophie suffered an injury whilst rehearsing and ended up in A&E the night before the show, and was advised by doctors not to dance. Did that stop her? Hell no!
( "Determined" is her middle name. Well, only metaphorically speaking... actually it's "Jasmine". )
The show itself was a great success, with a packed-out Hippodrome watching over 100 local performers singing, dancing and acting their socks off. Although I'm not a great fan of musical theatre, I thought We Will Rock You was fantastic -  a little cheesy but great fun, with the added bonus of all those wonderful Queen songs and Ben Elton's often very funny script. The principal cast were all excellent. It's hard to believe they weren't professionals! They all gave 100% and more than earned the standing ovation they received. For Sophie and her friends it was a dream come true to perform on the famous Hippodrome stage and a fitting end to their time with The Big Act. Now the big, wide world beckons!
Below are Sophie and co. at their very last ballet lesson:
Also on the subject of musicals, I meant to write a post last year about another show we went to, but never got round to doing it. ( Like so many other things...) This was a trip last March with our friends Helen and Shaun to Cheltenham's Everyman Theatre to see Fiddler On The Roof, starring the legendary Paul Michael Glaser. The actor that I will forever think of as Starsky was returning to the story he starred in way back in 1971, when he had played the student Perchik in the Norman Jewison movie version. This time around, however, the 70-year old was of an age to portray the iconic milkman ( there can't be many of those ), the  long-suffering patriarch Tevye.
This version of Fiddler was an absolute triumph with a highly-talented cast playing multiple roles, singing, dancing and playing instruments, all with passion and enthusiasm. The cast even shifted the intricate, multi-purpose sets themselves! Glaser was fantastic as Reb Tevye, the hard working man trying to keep his family together amid various disasters, but always retaining his sly wit and keeping up his humorous ( one-sided ) dialogues with God. Full of a startling energy for a man of his age, with a strong singing voice and charisma virtually oozing out of every pore, Paul Michael Glaser was a pleasure to watch and his performance certainly stands up against the definitive take by the great Topol. ( Interestingly, Topol was only in his thirties when he starred in the film but was made up to look older. ) It was a lovely night out with some good friends. What more could you want?
OK, so I'll never be a "luvvie" but, every now and then, a trip to the theatre can be something special.
L'chaim! To life!

Saturday 4 July 2015


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