The Commitments July 20th, 2014

london west end

 

Another great evening – the Palace Theatre, we were quite close to the stage and a bunch of soul music. The story of a couple of friends from Dublin who want to be in a band is light entertainment and fun to watch – fascinating for me was that they had their own orchestra on the stage – as the piano player, the drummer, the sax and the trumpet player were actors who were also great with their musical instruments. But the backstory takes a back seat to the soul songs we hear. Deco (I’ll have to look up the actor, we had the stand in and he was really good) is an irish arse, but has a great voice, the piano player studies medicine, the sax player is learning how to play as they go along, the trumpet player is the only already famous artist, but he’s a quitter. The three girls are an ex-prostitute and her two pals, they have a skinhead/punk as a drummer and a softhearted lad as guitarrist. the only one really passionate about the whole project is Derek who holds them together time and again to form a band called the Commitments (because we are committed to soul! and to the working class people!)

When they finally have their first gigs and start to have success they also can’t stand each other any longer. Everything falls apart, but now it is Derek’s father who calls everone to organise a reunion. They still can’t stand each other in true Dublin fashion, but they also can’t be without each other. And so they play their soul music again.

The musical lives and breathes only through its cast. And the male vocalist was really outstanding.

Mustang Sally

Try a Little Tenderness

The Dark End of the Street
Take Me to the River
I Can’t Stand the Rain
Too Many Fish in the Sea
Treat Her Right
In the Midnight Hour
I Never Loved a Man
Chain of Fools
Mr. Pitiful
Show Me
Bring It On Home to Me
Hard to Handle
Bye Bye Baby
Slip Away
Nowhere to Run
Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa
Ain’t Nothing You Can Do

Some Kind of Wonderful

Get Ready
and that’s only part of the numbers played. by the end the whole audience was standing and clapping and singing along and dancing with the performers, despite it being 100 °C and humid like hell. it was marvellous. And at the stage door everyone chatted and signed and posed for pictures.  It was great fun!

 

Richard III July 19th, 2014

london west end

 

So this was THE Richard III with Martin Freeman of The Hobbit and Sherlock fame. I heard some truly disturbing things beforehand – that hysterical fans were applauding as soon as Freeman hits the stage, that they come for the gore and the blood splatter, that there’s mayhem at the stage door. Well, it turned out to be much less so.

First and foremost, the Trafalgar Studios once again managed to do a brilliant job in delivering an outstanding production with all of the cast shining in their parts – it’s such a joy to witness great actors doing what they love best!

Director Jamie Lloyd transported the play into a current war room, complete with old office desks and chairs and ugly lamps, and it was stunning and fear  inducing to realize how easily Shakespeare’s words held their own in this day and age, with the Lords of the Realm turning into PR-managers, generals and go to guys. It was  flawless performances by all, down to the last “soldier” and an intense study of a classical performance given by Freeman who turned the “winter of our discontent” into a press announcement (as well as Richmond delivering his speech in front of the ever present TV-camera while live broadcasting it to his countrymen). And yes, there was quite a lot of gore – all the deaths are very bloody ones, even Clarence’s drowning turned into a spectacle and the poor fishies in the aquarium were swimming in a red soup for a while (no, they were absolutely fine and not harmed…)

The play itself should be too well known for a summary – it’s all about the rise and fall of Richard of York who without any conscious at all follows his ambition to reign instead of his older, already sick brother Edward. Despite his deformaty – or perhaps because of it – he is able to manipulate everyone to do his bidding, sweet talk Lady Anne at the deathbed of her murdered husband into marrying him (even though the “blood (of the fatal wound) starts falling again”, a kind of judgement of god in those days) and kill his brothers, nephews, until Edward finally succumbs to his illness and makes way for the new king. And that is also the end of Richard. In the night before the battle against Richmond, Richard dreams of all the people he has killed, spectres of their souls visit him in his restless sleep and predict his death. His “A horse, a horse…” sounds like a sarcastic afterthought just before Richmond shoots him unceremoniously in the chest.

Now, the stage itself was much smaller than usual – six rows were added at the back of it for more people to watch the show – Gabe and I were in the second row there and only once or twice were the actors actually with their backs to us. The war room, two elevators, and the infamous aquarium were all that was needed to create the whole play. And yes, there was blood splattering but we weren’t hit for once ;) – standing ovations of course for all the cast, thankfully not just for Freeman. Oh, Freeman: aside from being brilliant: there were two women sitting in front of us, probably mother and daughter. 15 minutes into the play the younger one whispered something to the older and they both left – never to be seen again. Very obviously she hadn’t recognised the Hobbit or Watson in bearded Freeman… :)

***

stage door: we were waiting together with a huge crowd of Sherlock-t-shirted girls and got nice autographs from some of the actors. but Freeman (clever boy) had run for the hills through the main entrance of the theatre for some party. good for him… ;)

 

 

Pam Ann April 30th, 2014

theatre misc

 

I was so looking forward to this – and I wasn’t disappointed (much) – Pam Ann’s jokes were filthy, funny and fabulous as always. And that’s probably what wasn’t so great on this show. I had thought she’d have a new program ready for this tour, but unfortunately – even though she did update her gig due to recent events like the malaysia air crash close to Australia – it was the same show I already saw some time ago. I loved it then, I loved it again, but I would have appreciated a bit more new stuff.

She still showed the same clip from the TV show Pan Am, customized to suit her, she still had the same Sound of Music stuff she did last time. It was fun, it was good, but it wasn’t as outstanding as then, as I knew two thirds of it already. A shame, really.

Trevor Ashley Star*Struck Apr.23rd, May 9th ’14

theatre misc

 

 

So I was at the premiere of Trevor Ashley’s Star*Struck in Vienna. And it was a scream and a hoot, just as I’d expected. Trevor donned wig after wig and was absolutely awesome as every Diva under the sun – starting out with Shre erm Cher, going on to Bette Midler and an incredibly naughty, brilliant joke involving flowers from a boyfriend and legs in the air that had me rolling on the floor but was “lost in translation” for many others, and even touching Whitney Houston’s drug problems when lighting a crack pipe on stage to climb the high notes of “I will always love you” (hell now I feel like a bath…) and I was screaming with laughter again. It ended (too soon, much too soon) with a brilliant depiction of Susan Boyle complete with vacant stare and strong voice. I am so very glad I see this a second time!!!
oh and I was The Wind – I was in charge of the wind machine to make a dress billow during Total Eclipse of the Heart. The brilliant things that happen when you sit front row smack dab in the middle! LOLOLOL

 

I went to Trevor’s second show as well, and I’m so glad I did. First of all, I really liked the program. But it was also the fact that he changed parts of it, leaving stuff he remembered went over the heads of his audience out of it, adding stuff that had us all on the floor laughing again. There was a couple sitting next to me who obviously hadn’t seen him before – and by halftime they were his biggest fans. By the end I guess only I was more enthusiastic! LOL

I was The Wind again! “Ingrid, reprise your part from last time!” yes, of course (I had the same seat! The joys of booking the instant the tickets went up LOL) oh and this time, as it was Friday and I had the weekend off, I waited at the stage door (which conveniently was a bar, so Prosecco was had as well) and I can report that Trevor is a truly lovely guy, patient with fans, naughty, open and fun. Me happy!

Himmel, Hölle, Haider Apr.5th, ’14

theatre misc

 

I was “doing theatre” last night! In Vienna! Again! ;) With the very talented Alfons Haider who is an allround entertainer in Austria. He presents both the famous Opernball and the equally famous Life Ball. He also was Zaza in La Cage and the king in Becket, just to give you a glimps of his versatility. His political cabaret is really funny and to the point and had me laughing so hard. Especially the sequence where he – as an openly out gay man – is evoking sexual feelings in an asexual angel… hilarious!

He also poked fun at our crooked politicians, of which we have more than just our fair share, I must admit. The Cabaret’s theme was: He died because his manager killed him in a parking lot. Now he is on a waiting cloud trying to make sense of what happened to him and what his future will bring – if there is any future. Sadly, the heavens aren’t that much different to good old earth and there’s just as much bureaucracy, meddling, backstabbing and fighting of office wars going on as everywhere else. Just without the cursing. a curse means thunder and lightning. And – in the long run – demoting of the angel in charge (Martin Oberhauser and really hilarious as the half blind fan of the … wrong entertainer).

The only drawback was the truly hideous theatre itself. It looks more like a large gathering hall. Which means all in all it was a great evening! ;) Must see his new show in October.

Ladies Night March 28th, ’14

theatre misc

 

well, my waning respect for Viennese theatre is slowly restoring itself. Ladies Night – better known as the movie The Full Monty – is indeed incredibly funny, for once the translation into a mild Viennese dialect didn’t kill the jokes and the actors were clearly having fun with their parts – in a lovable, self depricating way that made them very sweet and hilarious. The play Ladies Night is from New Zealand writer Stephen Sinclair and pal Anthony McCarten, also NZ, who made it into the biggest success NZ’s theatre had ever had. And it is truly understandable why that is.

The story: Three mates, all without jobs since the mines closed, have no outlook on life other than being criminals or forever in debt. When their wives go to see the Chippendales, their fearless leader Craig (Alexander Pschill of Kommissar Rex fame) plans on just such an endeavour – even though neither he nor his pals are even remotely built like one of the Chippendales. But: They will bare it all… and thus of course be a success and cash in on all the money they get.

And even though the odds are against them, they get together, find their motivation, fight their depression and … do it!

So first we have Craig with a plan for everything, just not for getting back visiting rights to his young son. We have Norman, who even after a whole year hasn’t told his wife that he got sacked, and Graham, who ignores the fact that his wife already has another lover. Add to this mix Gavin, the flamboyant tree hugger who is on a quest to find himself, gifted with a huuuge … and finally Wesely who is the only real dancer of the group and what you get is hilarity and fun and lots of laughs (not for everyone though. The stuffy audience of Kammerspiele wasn’t that enthusiastic – two at least left during intermission. how ridiculous is that??)

When they first casually take off their clothes – if you can’t do it in front of each other in the rehearsal room how will you manage it in front of 400 women, after all – their knickers alone are a hoot and chosen so that everyone can have a good laugh. Then they get their tiny tiny stripper “fig leaves” and Gavin (not Kevin, with a G! ) looks at it and says – that won’t fit.

All five men grow up and mature and face their problems head on during the course of their rehearsals of their shared project, but it is Gavin who comes furthest. Not only does he lose his till then sole reference to life when his mother dies, he also admits to being gay and hopelessly in love with straight Wesely, who loves him back, just not that way. The way the guys deal with the news goes from cringeworthy to awkward to accepting and normal in the span of a couple of minutes, till it’s not interesting any longer as there are more important things to consider. This almost casual acceptance (admittedly after a couple of half told gay jokes) is actually quite refreshing as it shows that there is more to everybody than their sexual orientation…

So now I have a huge respect for Pschill, who is a firecracker on stage and not that tall at all! (and oh so much better than on TV, but I know, TV pays the bills,…) and for everyone else who took to the stage and made us all laugh and cry out and laugh again. The play itself stops after the boys’ line up does the “Full Monty” – so it’s not explained if the gang of troupers actually accomplished anything with their daring performance. But I admit I never had hoped more fervently that they did, they so deserved it!

take a look at this to check out the boys… (click on Szenenfotos)

Blithe Spirit March 22nd, ’14

london west end

 

It’s Angela Lansbury. She’s 88. She has more charisma on stage than most people I ever saw. She is amazing. And she is (sorry, Stratford/Ontario) the best damn medium Madame Arcati I have ever seen and will ever see. And it’s not her clothes and wig and the lines she has to say (those are theatre magic, available to everybody) – it’s the way she summons her “spirit guide” with all encompassing arms and winks and come hither looks while dancing through the room that is hysterical. And the way her eyes get all huge when she’s surprised by something. and the way she is unabashedly, deliriously happy when she realises that she has indeed brought Elvira, her host’s deceased first wife, back from the dead. Or has she?

Introducing Charles Edwards (Downton Abbey), who plays author Charles Condomine who suffers from writer’s block and who is less than thrilled when Elvira makes her big entrance – only to try and kill him so that they can be together in the afterlife. Too bad she only succeeds to kill his second wife. Edwards is the perfect English gentleman – even in the throes of madness and it is hilarious to watch him become unravelled by his visions of Elvira.

It’s a great play (it IS Noel Coward after all), it’s a great cast and Ms Lansbury is incredible as the gin guzzling cooky medium – she seems to have at least as much fun as her audience who of course gives her standing ovations after every show, and deservedly so. I wish I could see it again and soon!