Friday, 4 December 2009

November....what a slow month it was!

Basically, I've just finished my mock GCSE exams (scary), so haven't watched any films since seeing An Education at the cinema. But, Nine comes out in exactly two weeks, which conincidentally is the last day of term, so hopefully I will get to see it then. I am looking forward to it so much - I've never seen a musical film (I'm not counting Mamma Mia) at the cinema before, and I absolutely love all the actresses, except maybe Kate Hudson and Fergie, and of course Daniel Day-Lewis. And of course it's directed by Rob Marshall, the reincarnation of Bob Fosse (in my humble opinion).

Near the beginning of the month I finally became a Renthead. I saw a really good amateur production of Rent, it was the best amateur production I've ever seen - it was very proffesional and looked so close to the Broadway show. The way a couple of the characters were played was annoying, but apart from that, it was thoroughly enjoyable. Great value for money, too! I wish that someone would revive Rent in the West End. Maybe one day I will.

Also at the theatre, this month I saw the revival of Annie Get Your Gun at the Young Vic in London. I'm now going to post a slightly shorter copy of my review:

Annie Get Your Gun Review:

The story of Annie Get Your Gun is based on the real life of Annie Oakley. Quote of the evening, however, from the woman in front, showed her lack of knowledge. “This is a stupid story, isn’t it?” I absolutely love quotes like this, my all time favourite being the couple having a full on argument with the usher at Mamma Mia about why Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan weren’t in the show, or “They should put this on stage, it would be really good,” heard at the end of Sweeney Todd by a dear friend of mine in the cinema. If only they knew. This was a similar example here. Annie Oakley was a real person, and the majority of the events in the show were true, and occurred in her life, so that person had just effectively insulted an awesome historical figure.

Anyway, moving on. We arrived at the Young Vic at 6 o’clock, an hour and a half before the performance, because there was that wonderful thing in operation, known as unreserved seating. We were second in the queue to get into the auditorium, behind three relatively old ladies, so managed to grab some great seats, right in the middle and five rows from the front. The actual theatre was really nice and modern, and the restaurant/bar area had a really nice vibe.

The musical was composed by Irving Berlin in the 1940s. I’ll own up to it, before now I had never seen a musical composed before the 1980s, though I was born in the 1990s, so it’s excusable. This proves that Berlin’s scores are timeless, especially with White Christmas playing up North this season. I adore the score, there are so many classics in it that some people may not realise actually come from the musical. It’s like old films – you can’t beat them. EDIT: Just listenied to Razzle Dazzle, and realised that Chicago was first performed in the 1970s, so was therefore composed before 1980. Then, however, I realised that no one considers Chicago to be a classic musical anyway. Not classic in the classic sense. I think I’ll just stop with the Broadway history and get on with the review now.

The score had been rearranged by Jason Carr, who has a multitude of credits. I was a tad worried when I spotted that the orchestra would be made up of four pianos, but as the show progressed I realised how good the simple arrangement of the score sounded and how it suited the type of production. I would still like to hear it played by a full orchestra, though.

The direction was rather good. No, it was very good. For once the humour was not forced and it all seemed natural – consistency had been achieved across the actors. The stage was set very well, using video, holograms and even an ingenious extra stage area above the main stage, which was, you guessed it, a bedroom. There were some really great pieces of set, for instance a conveyer belt which the poor stagehands had to sit on stage loading and unloading scenery onto to signify a train journey, and a door which slid on to split the stage up for a multitude of situations. Back to the direction. I felt like the entrances and exits were always done very well, and the way the characters moved and utilised the space was very good. The interpretation of the characters was great, and a special mention must go here for the quality of the American accents from everyone.

Jane Horrocks. I will confess I knew little about her before seeing the show, other than that she lead the original production and subsequently the film version of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice. Within that role she obviously impersonated Ethel Merman, who happened to originate the role of Annie Oakley on Broadway. So far, so good. Her performance was entertaining and her vocals fit well, although at the beginning I had to adjust to her character voice. Richard Gere in Chicago gives character voices a bad name, but here Jane altered her voice as her character changed, suggesting a good understanding of the character and vocal ability. Her acting was good, and her comic timing perfect. Considering she is 45, she pulled off the role remarkably well.

Julian has still got it. It’s hard to believe that almost a year and a half ago I was seeing him in Marguerite. I can’t decide which performance I prefer, obviously Armand is a more challenging role than Frank, but unfortunately, as is often the case in musical theatre, both roles are second fiddle to the female lead. Julian gave the best acting performance, and, even if all else had failed, he would still have had his natural good looks and charm to fall back on. Not that Julian’s presence in the show had anything to do with me being there, of course.

All of the rest of the cast were excellent in their roles, but for me there were no particular standouts other than the two leads mentioned above. Overall, the stage musical is better than the film because there are almost three times the musical numbers, of which the interpretations are a lot better – in the film Betty Hutton seems to holler “Anything You Can Do” as opposed to singing. The show is also more engaging and stimulates the imagination more.

To conclude, it is now common knowledge that La Cage Aux Folles with fulfil its West End run then head to Broadway. This means that the Palace Theatre will be empty from 9th January, the exact day Annie Get Your Gun closes at the Young Vic. Now instead of picking up a boring jukebox musical (Dreamboats and Petticoats), wouldn’t it be nicer if Annie Get Your Gun could move to the Palace for the West End run it deserves?

So, that's my review. It's quite long, really, but I do enjoy writing them. Not much else theatrey/filmy happened to me this month, although I did vote for the theatregoer's choice awards. Seems like the annoying revival of Oliver has everything (undeservedly) in the bag. Disapointed not to see Katie Rowley-Jones nominated for best supporting actress in a musical, but the other performances nominated were really deserving too.

Tonight I'm hopefully going to watch a film (finally).

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