Dick Whittington, Panto, Winter ’16/’17

theatre misc

 

So. panto.

Yes, I liked it. Loved the stage presence that is JB. Loved him singing Dreamers together with Jodie Prenger. Loved him doing the 13 days of xmas again. Loved him singing two more songs with the ensemble dancers. Loved In the Navy. (JB wore tight tight tight white shorts with possibly something under them but if so, it was barely visible. Loved him drool over a cool „audience member“ who then did a brilliant stunt on the balcony to have him quip „he’s not the first one to fall head over heels“ and „My husband’s only due tomorrow“. Loved him drooling over the Sultan (who was scantily clad and very buff indeed) and was glad when he stopped mimicking the man’s speech pattern.

Loved the wonderful costumes (and boy, can tights be tight… and knickers can betray you so hard… got an eyeful when JB „slipped“ with wee Kranky in the 12 days of xmas)

Started to really like comedian Matt Slack whose name I never heard before. He’s apparently impersonating loads of local VIPs – the only one I recognised was Len Goodman – ah the joy of being a foreigner. Didn’t help at all that he was talking with a heavy heavy brummie accent.

Hated Slack when he interacted with 4 kids – he was eye rolling and generally making fun of them when they didn’t respond the way he wanted them to. I guess that’s funny in an unkind way, but I wasn’t liking that. He only had 3 goodie bags, too, and tricked the last kid with a bell which  didn’t ring to summon the fairy. ( he was totally lost and not handling it at all when in one performance a boy with a goodie bag came back on stage to give the devastated kid without one HIS!!!!) As you can see, this local hero was on stage entirely too often together with the Dame – his mom – played by Andrew Ryan whom I don’t know. And they did another wordplay where the Dame tells her story about last night’s date, just this time not with chocolates, but with dvds. Funny, but old.

Funny, but old – the Krankies. I like them both. They are nice and hard working and fun and all that. But their act hasn’t changed in all the years that I’ve seen it. Not one bit. „Picking on me“ I can’t hear it any longer. Ditto material girl from MacDonna or the dreadful „Funny Boy“ …

Again a scene in two bed chambers with ghosties and ghoolies  coming out and the same jokes like every year between JB and the Krankies.

Jodie Prenger. Barely on stage. Two songs, brilliantly done. I would’ve really loved to see more of her.

The Cat. Twice on stage. No contribution to the story that was chopped up heavily to fit yet another scetch, yet another scene in.

Alice – the love interest. Twice on stage, so that Matt Slack joked: She’s not even on the poster. The marriage won’t last – they met twice.

The Panto was not a story told – it was a bunch of scenes, strung along a bunch of solos for Slack, the rat king, (both locals) and the Dame. JB was not enough on this time and having seen him in other pantos I do understand that he takes it easier this time – it’s just a bit of a let down.

The tech stuff:

A huge (half) rat that came out in the audience on a large black iron arm. Really well done, too.

A sleigh with JB in it, with Rudolf the Reindeer in front, that came out in the audience on a large black iron arm. made a weird upside down roll to show what that black iron arm can do.

Also some 3-D-stuff when they are “drowning”. Not very impressive.

++++

stage door – as always, John shone! how he does it, I don’t know. I also don’t understand why ppl barely listen to him. He asks for a bit more room, ppl come closer. I wish they’d understand that this is not something included in the ticket price. stage door is a privilege, not a given.

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Cinderella – Panto Jan. 2nd to 4th, 2015

theatre misc

So, Panto. I so hope I remember everything vital. Not just I’m all about that bass… LOL

It starts off with the magnificent Fairy godmother (Melanie Masson), who flies onto the stage sitting on a glittery moon, singing and being all around gorgeous and lovely. (Plus: a huge bonus: she has a wonderful voice and is a joy to listen to)

We are all netted into helping her and her girl Cinderella (Rachel Flynn) to find happiness and love, and we love it. Then we get introduced to Cinders‘ two ugly sisters (or almost sisters as the marriage has not yet taken place) – and we hate them – they’re awful bullies. But they are singing Born This Way and I have to admit: great voices as well! (Graham Hoadley and Wayne Fitzsimmons who took the part when Pete Gallagher wasn’t able to perform with only a week of rehearsal) They treat Cinderella, their sister to be, like their maid or worse and walk away leaving the poor girl in tears; she wanted to go to the Prince’s ball where Charming is supposed to find a wife. The ugly sisters hope it’s one of them. We know it’s not. Oh no, it’s not…

In the meantime Baron Hardup (Ian Krankie) o fHardup Hall (and yes, there were jokes…) and Buttons‘ wee brother Zip (Jeannette Krankie) – with zips all over his jacket and cap – explain, that the marriage is a must as Baron Hardup is skint. They go off in search of Buttons.

It’s then the elusive Buttons (John Barrowman) shows up – in a GRAND entrance – he’s in a hot air balloon, slowly descending and singing Happy – much better than Pharrell Williams ever could. It turns out that he is in loooooove with Cinders but doesn’t dare tell her, so he’d bought her a present even though Hardup pays him only buttons. He puts it in a corner and we’re roped in to alert him if/when anyone comes too close. First it’s the ugly sisters, then it’s Zip – and hilarity ensues as the wee lad can’t reach to high five Buttons. He low fives him onto the `nads.

In the meantime we meet the gorgeous Prince Charming (young Lawrence Robb), who was summoned home to pick a wife, and his suave servant/bodyguard/swordpartnerDandini (Gregor Stewart… yes, thankyou, soooo much eye candy) – over a playfight with swords they discuss the Prince’s frustration about having to marry – until Charming comes up with a plan: Dandini should be impersonating him on a last trip to the village so that he, Charming, would be able to maybe find a girl who’d love him for who he is, not for what he is.

Then Cinders sees the „package“ (yes, he’s packed his package for her) and Buttons tries to woo her with a song (Listen to the Music) but to no avail. She has to rush off into the woods.

In the woods the ugly sisters are out hunting for a Prince, but Charming’s plan works – both sisters dressed in bags (Zenga in a handbag, and „what’s that tartan (tart in)“? – Sadie in a tartan golfbag) go for the fake prince and run after Dandini. And it’s now that the real Prince meets Cinderella for the first time – and it’s loooooove. He invites her as Dandini to the ball and she accepts but only if he, Dandini, is going to be there – she’s not hot for the prince at all…

So Charming – as Dandini – sings to Cinders, while sitting on a wall (Everything I do, I do it for you) as Buttons comes back – and he is appalled – HIS Cinders duetting with a stranger. He tries to sabotage the wooing by popping up between and under them, then topples Charming off the wall, then gets toppled off, pushes Cinders, the Prince, it’s a hilarious stint that has everyone in stitches. And all the while all three keep singing, without missing a beat or a note.

Charming keeps his word – he delivers invitations to the Hardup household – and is once again confronted with the ugly sisters who race him to have a practice run for their marriage with the Prince (Dandini) . Buttons delivers the invitation to Cinders, but the ugly sisters force the poor girl to tear it up (while being booed by the audience of course) and all Buttons can do i scheer her up (You to me are Everything).

But now the Fairy godmother comes into play: (One night only) she givesCinders another invitation, a dress, a coach, a coachman (Buttons), sparkly slippers and a curfew – midnight. And to The Power of Love the white coach takes to the air thanks to a white winged horse and off to the Prince’s castle.

Snow is falling onto the audience and everyone goes awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

Intermission

Meanwhile at the ball Dandini and Charming both hope Cinders will show up, even though she’s not a lady (it’s a man??? Dandini asks flabberghasted, no, just not a titled lady) – to the rhythm of We Danced All Night. The ugly sisters show up, dressed in chandeliers. (yes, they’re the entertainment – the light entertainment) and Baron Hardup as well.

And then finally Princess Starlight enters (yes, it’s our Cinders) and she goes straight to Dandini (Charming) who opens the dance with her. He has a lot to explain…

Then the „light entertainment“ starts and it is over the top hilarious. Both ugly sisters and Buttons (who wanted to go to the ball with Zip – undercover) show up in teeny tiny skirts (Buttons‘ had a wonky zipper and kept almost falling down) and paper mache tops with huuuuuuge fringed boobs. They sing I’m All About that Bass and from the second refrain on … the boobs sing too. It’s indescribably awesome. This leads to Buttons flirting with Dandini. Then Zip shows up as Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball singing I Wrecked The Ball.

And just as the Prince declares hislove for Cinderella it’s midnight and Cinders runs.

With her slipper in hand he sings A Moment Like This.

Back by public demand: the twelve nights of christmas. I think I peed myself there. I know I hurt my cheeks. Last show: John threw the loo-rolls towards his husband Scott and then forced him under his kilt to kiss his crotch. „That was my husband, it’s nothing he hasn’t seen before…“

Cinders is devastated she had to run and Buttons tries to cheer her up by finally giving her his package – it’s an ubercute Teddy Bear (song: Power of Love) but she rejects him – she loves Buttons, but as a brother. So he claims his Teddy again (on a loooooong note of let’s face the music and daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaance)

But Buttons is so very sad – together with his Teddy he sings When You Tell Me that You Love Me and uses the ubercute bear as a kind of glove puppet, so that the stuffed cutie interacts with him. Awwwwwwwww

Meanwhile the mean ugly sisters kidnap Cinders (who has possession oft he other glittery shoe left!) and hide her in the cellar with Boris (a gigantinormous Spider) as her guard to get her out of the way as the Prince comes to try HIS find, the second glittery shoe, on every maid in town, to discover his future bride.

Needless to say that we tell Buttons where to find Cinders and he saves her. Just in time!

The Prince has already handed over the shoe to Zenga – no fit just stinky feet and a looooong stocking, and to Sadie – and it FITS Sadie!!! But it fits on an artificial leg, as Dandini finds out, and soon Sadie is „legless again“. With the help of the Fairy Buttons and Cinderella are saved from the locked wobbly wardrobe (which is the secret walkway to the cellar) and Cinders is able to try on the shoe. Awwwwwwwwww

So at least for Cinders and Charming there’s a happily ever after. Buttons – despite flirting outrageously with Dandini AGAIN – is left sad and lonely. But the Fairy tells him that he’ll find happiness soon – Somewhere Over The Rainbow.

And then it ends and it’s over and we’re all sad. But we, the audience, collected more than 25.000 pounds for a down syndrom charity, which is brilliant!

Stage door: as always The Barrowman was patient and professional and taking the time to sign and selfie with everyone. But everyone else was just as charming and sweet and patient! The only „problem“ were the ugly sisters – we didn’t really recognise them because of their hideous make-up which took 90 mins to apply. Lol

Especially sweet: Dandini and Prince Charming who was obviously enjoying the interaction with a bunch of crazy ladies with sharpies. LOL

Many thanks to Gabe and Katrin for their invaluable input. XXX

Dick McWhittington – Panto Dec. 14th, ’13

theatre misc

Awwww, it’s like coming home for Christmas. Yet another year in Glasgow having a Panto-Fest with John Barrowman as the lead, Pete Gallagher as the baddie – in this case the Rat King – and the Krankies instead of the Dame. Only the key elements survived the adaption of Dick Whittington, the (true) story of the young man who is called by the churchbells to become the Lord Mayor of London, said bells being one of the casualties, to make the story fit John Barrowman and his home town Glasgow. Instead there are lots of hugely funny scenes like the haunted bedrooms (this time with two beds and almost the same dialogue like the years before between Ian, Jeanette and John) that lend spice to the old story. Sadly those funny scenes seem to lack a common thread and that makes the story seem a bit thrown together with unmotivated singing numbers added to showcase the main man. (and yes, he’s really good at them and a joy to watch. they just don’t fit into the story and don’t make much sense).

The high energy Pantomime is fuelled by Barrowman’s obvious joy to be on stage, a brilliant musical number – proud (or happy? correct me, please) to be your best friend – is done all Fred-Astaire-Style with John in a black Tailcoat complete with an elegant walking stick to swirl around and it blew my mind. To imagine him in Top Hat or any real Musical – I’d go and watch it! 😉

Act one shows us how Dick gets acquainted with Councillor Krankie and wee Jimmy – and of course Ailsa, the beautiful daughter of Krankie. He and his faithful tomcat TomTom (and yes, there is a sat nav joke being made later on) win the first round against the rats that inhabit the City of Glasgow and defeat the Rat King. But at night King Rat – almost drowned out by boos and hisses – breaks into the safe and slips Ailsa’s birthday present – a diamond necklace – into Dick’s bundle. Dick is expelled, but comes back at night as he has no place to sleep – awwwwwwww – and is allowed to rest with wee Jimmie. But they don’t get much sleep as there’s no alarmclock so they have to blow the trumpet (who’s blowing the trumpet at two in the morning????? It’s two in the morning then….!) and then they’re surprised by ghosties and ghoolies (and yes, that joke “I don’t wanna be grabbed by the ghosties… was utilized again). So it is morning and the Councillor decides to go to Morocco where Sultan Vinegar will buy his last remaining cookies.

There’s also a lavish sing and dance number at the end of act one, with Barrowman in a tableau with the dancers at the end, in the midst of a wide, golden and red coat train that dazzles everyone. Why this number is there, is not explained though and it feels a bit unmotivated again.

The second act is a bit disjointed but doesn’t lose the drive and energy of the first half. First we have Dick and Ailsa reunited on the deck of the Saucy Sally with a little help of the good fairy Aurora, then the Rat King arrives and sinks the ship with the help of a giant octopus – this is where they are separated and we see Dick and Jimmie swimming, high up in the rafters, dangling from hopefully strong cords – a huge achievement for Jeanette I thought!

Ailsa – after a solo singing number that just seemed to showcase her inability to hold a tune – gets kidnapped by King Rat, (Pete unfortunately doesn’t have a big singing number this year, which is quite a shame as he has a wonderful voice, but as always he’s a reliable and brilliant baddy in this panto) who is going to sell her to Sultan Vinegar’s harem.

To save her, Dick, TomTom and the councillor have to sneak into the sultan’s castle – this is where 3-D-glasses come into play again. It’s a rough ride filled with spiders, snakes, grabbing hands and bone heads that brings them to the Sultan, yet considerably shorter than in previous years and with no new features as well. There we are treated to a strange march of the sultan’s slaves, complete with an elephant (don’t ask me, I didn’t get it either) and a cool singing number by Sultan Vinegar (Aaron Romano) that then turns into a bollywood ballet – and no, I didn’t understand that one as well….. Vinegar will not part with Ailsa, no matter what she says. And not even wee Jimmy as Madonna (living in a miniature world – and very brilliant) can change his mind. But then the first rats appear and Dick and TomTom come to the rescue, so Vinegar gives Dick gold and – the hand of Ailsa. Huge kiss, the auditorium goes awwwwwwww and bleurgh given their age 😉

Now comes the big number by the Krankies, not changed at all from the last years. It’s what people want to see, I get told and I believe it, yet…

It gives the cast the chance to change into the glittery costumes they need for the last number and bows, which are quite awesome – the costumes, that is. Even though they seemed to have been nicked from other pantos  for this one – there is a tableau of playing cards, and another one in black and white geometrical lines and both have no connection whatsoever with the play at all. But they do look amazing. And Barrowman in midnight blue tights – is always a sight to behold! (it takes a better woman than me to avert the eyes from them…)

And then it’s over and the kids in the audience are still wired and on a sugar rush from all the candies and that is a good thing just before christmas. (and after, as this panto continues till Jan. 6th). Me, I loved the innuendo laden dialogues between John and the Krankies, even though we have heard some of the jokes in other pantos of theirs before. I did miss the Bells (the calling back to Glasgow was in this case done by the audience), Pete’s song-number and of course that there were no kids on stage. I also had the feeling that it was a bit shorter than the last few times. But all in all it’s still  family fun with a cool leading man who I’d want to see in something more … “fleshed out” than pantomime.

****

Unfortunately as it is with Panto with John Barrowman, the fans get increasingly undisciplined the further the show proceeds. I do realise that they all want their signature and their photos taken but:

I don’t understand why certain ppl have to come back for more EVERY night while we were there, why certain ppl keep whining when J. tries to get out of the rain and the cold in order to stay healthy for the show and why certain ppl don’t even have the decency to leave his husband alone – who snuck into the car without being seen as he acc to John “feels weird” about being asked for an autograph or a photo. Last night certain ppl banged against the car windows to force him out for a picture. And then seemed to claim that S. actually LIKES that and comes to THEM during concerts etc. Yeah, right. pull another one…

Panto – Jack and the Beanstalk Dec.15th,’12

theatre misc

It is FUN in capital letters, or as my friend Bev said: organised mayhem on stage. It is the perfect way to introduce children and even grown-ups to theatre magic, even though the jokes are sometimes well known and therefore well loved. It is an endearing story, made even more lovable by the sheer exhausting efforts of John Barrowman who owns the stage the minute he’s on it and eclipses most of his co-actors (with the exception of Ashley Grey as the marvellous Fairy Firefly and Pete Gallagher as the most brilliant bad guy ever to grace a stage). Princess Apricot doesn’t stand a chance (both in the acting as well as in the singing department she is clearly the weakest link in this production but she is improving nicely as the shows continue so I am more than happy to give her credit for working on her skills. her voice is still not very strong though, I am afraid), her father, King Crumble, has some clownish appearances (he is hard of hearing and misinterprets stuff in the most hilarious way) that would have been even more awesome hadn’t Barrowman already covered that basis with his own antics. And John even managesto reduce the Krankies to feeding him cues in some of the scenes – which is not a bad thing at times.

The story is set with the entrance of the Villain, Pete Gallagher at his best, named Fleshcreep – he is servant to Giant Blunderbore who lives in Cloudland and oppresses the people of  Inverweedge: even though they have no more money, they must pay him tribute or hand over their cattle to survive.  But Fairy Firefly, speaking in rhyme and forcing Fleshcreep into her rhythm as well, announces that the reign of the evil Giant will soon be over: a young hero named Jack Trott will kill him and save the people of Inverweedge from him. Fleshcreep highly doubts that (in rhyme).

Enter the townspeople and Princess Apricot. She has fallen in love but doesn’t say who the guy is to whom she’s lost her heart.

She doesn’t have to, though. Jack Trott comes on stage – with a jetpack he sails down from above, all in blue leather and with “Let me Entertain you!” (and all the women in the audience silently or not so silently screaming: yes, please) he strips off his leather pants (the hormone levels in the audience spike for the first, certainly not for the last time) and his leather gloves.

He’s also fallen in love – the princess is his chosen! There are the usual hint hint, nudge nudge jokes that have the audience in stitches and then everybody prepares for the fair. there the king declares that whoever is going to kill Giant Blunderbore will get the princess’ hand in marriage. Fleshcreep utters threats and everybody runs, only Jack stays – he confides in Jimmie Krankie that he’ll go and fight the Giant in order to win Apricot’s hand. But when he finally faces her, he is tonguetied and him trying to kiss her is interrupted by Fairy Firefly and ends in merciless ribbing from his brother wee Jimmie. The fair is in full swing when the Giant makes himself heard and everybody runs.

Jack prepares for his adventure – he comes back on stage – prepare yourselves – on HORSEBACK!!! He’s a beautiful golden gelding and very clever too – he even lies down to go to bed – helped by loads of treats from Jack of course, and then just lies there happily munching carrots and listening to a beautiful lullaby sung by John.

Meanwhile at the Trott’s farm money is tight. In order to survive they need to sell their only cow, Day-zee – a rapping cow! It is Jack’s duty to prepare the loved animal for selling (“If you leave me (C)now”) which is accompanied by much crying on both parts. But then Jack seems to be in luck: he meets a rich stranger who gives him gold for the cow – unfortunately it turns out to be Fleshcreep who abducts Day-zee and gives Jack beans instead of gold nuggets. When father Trott (Ian Krankie) finds that out, he throws the beans out. There follows a hilarious scene in the bedroom of the family starting with “behave yourselves – we don’t want to end up in the papers like last year” from Ian Krankie!

Fairy Firefly tries to help Jack on his quest and puts a spell on the beans – they grow fast and high till they reach Cloudland. In the meantime, Princess Apricot is abducted by Fleshcreed as an offering to the Giant. So the next morning Jack and Jimmie climb the huge beanstalk to face the Giant and save Apricot. (There’s a very funny yet moving exchange about Jeanette Krankie never again falling off a beanstalk – it’s been eight years since she had her aweful accident in another production of Jack and the Beanstalk).

Intermission

Cloudland is introduced to us with a brillant rock number by Fleshcreep who “Can’t be tamed” – and it’s a brilliant number indeed – Gallagher knows his rock’n’roll! Btw: I asked Pete Gallagher (who is very approachable and sweet and patient with his fans!) where that song came from and he says it’s a Miley Cyrus pop song! they just “rocked it up” to fit his voice!! they – and he – does an incredible job – I really have to try very hard to see him in a musical as soon as possible!)

In Cloudland not only Jack and Jimmie, but also the Fairy and father Trott arrive on top of the beanstalk. now they have to disguise themselves to pass the Giant’s guards. Now this is the moment when the Trotts don hideous huge red wigs and kilts and create the plan to enter the castle posing as Scottish carol singers. and to rehearse for that, they and Fairy Firefly start “the twelve days of christmas”.

What now follows, can not be described. There are water pistols involved (and therefore water. lots of water – so much water the musicians were given umbrellas on the second day to protect themselves). And five rolls of toilet paper that inevitably find their way into the audience. Twice!! And “A fairy at the top of the Tree” – now guess who that fairy is in all twelve stanzas – and he even curtseys prettily. I swear, I will  NEVER EVER be able to hear this carol without starting to giggle uncontrollably. Oh, and John wears tighty whities under the kilt who almost gleam when he rolls on the stage with Jeanette and Ian Krankie.

We have 3-D tricks coming now – and they get better every year. Finally they detect the princess in her cage in the kitchen of the cruel Giant and rescue her. Together with cow Day-zee they make it back to the beanstalk, while Fairy Firefly distracts Fleshcreep – they have a brilliant duett together.

And after they arrive back on their farm, Jack cuts the Beanstalk and the Giant hopefully falls to his death. a life and death fight with Fleshcreep ensues (I love the swordfights between John and Pete) and Fleshcreep loses. What are we going to do with him? Kill him!!! We can’t kill anyone in Pantomime…!

So Fleshcreep is sentenced to pamper Day-zee – a chore he doesn’t enjoy at all. Even less so as Princess Apricot and Jack Trott are soon going to be happily married and finally allowed to kiss!

Then the Krankies come back and instead of their usual number they’re celebrating the Scottish success at the 2012 Olympics. And the audience is happily participating. It’s a great end that gives the rest of the cast a chance to change dresses for the great finale – even though nobody wants it to end yet.

Now I already talked about the main cast – and I mentioned the beautiful gelding Charlie who hasn’t left anything behind in the two first shows 😉

So it is time to talk about the dancers: the boys are a sight for sore eyes – with James Titchener probably being John’s favorite in all his blond, sleek glory, and Jamal Crawford clearly the audiences first choice. Crawford is still so taken by his fame at the stagedoor, it’s very endearing – also he is an incredibly fit and physical guy, so it’s no surprise he has to sign autographs after each performance 😉 the whole group is very well trained and incredibly precise on stage and a joy to watch.

Also: I think the “broken” toe John suffered was because of Charlie but I could be wrong.

Also: At some point John is CRAWLING through the rows to follow his wayward toilet rolls. Believe me, he does wear underwear under that kilt of his. As some men can vouch for as he was hovering on the armrests of the seats over them.

Also: At the stagedoor – everybody is VERY friendly, VERY patient and VERY helpful. please do not take this for granted.  They are not paid to be that way. it’s just who they are, so be grateful and respectful, please!

Also: if you are a young soldier, coming back from Afghanistan, and confiding to John that his music had helped him through this experience, prepare to be flirted at, patted and allowed to lift John up for a photo op!

Also: you are really lucky when a couple of schools are attending the matinee. We had so much fun, surrounded by kids from 5 to 10 at the most. we saw a very different show but it was incredibly funny to see how the puns were adjusted to the age group and how caring John told the kids they would be safe with Jack and the Gang. Bonus: of course the grown ups got the brunt of the water battle – and yes, we got wet!!! And we also were lucky enough to sit front row and had Fleshcreep shamelessly flirt with us. absolutely amazing!

song list:

I’m horrifically bad at this, but trying, I’m trying

Let me Entertain you (John, coming with a jetpack)

love song (by princess, no idea which)

I’m missing a song of Firefly – sorry, I can’t remember the title

I’m a believer (John and princess – plus she sings: I thought love was more or less a given thing – means the more I gave the MORE i get and I think the correct text is the more I gave the LESS I got…)

lullaby (Jack to horse charlie)

If you leave me COW (Jack to Day-zee the cow)

I’m on the edge (John, climbing the beanstalk)

I can’t be tamed (Pete Gallagher/Fleshcreep)

Gangnam style (very short, by Jeannette – hilarious and during the kids’ matinee all the wee ones got up and danced with her!!! John was overwhelmed!!!! loved it!!!)

Daddy I’m falling for the monster (Fairy Firefly and Fleshcreep – and god, it’s brilliant – awesome acting on both parts, great voices as well!!!)

pick pick picking on me (Jeanette)

Mull of Kintyre (Jack and father Trott)

The twelve days of christmas (which I will never ever be able to hear without breaking out in the giggles)

more after the next shows!

Robinson Crusoe and the Caribbean Pirates Dec.17th, ’11

Christmastime is pantotime! And  Panto with John Barrowman always makes for good fun and two hours of laughter and hilarity. Despite the very formulaic and strict frame of all Panto stories there’s enough leeway not only for a lot of extra laughter, but also for  extemporisation and banter between the actors themselves and the actors and the audience.

Last year, while we were freezing in icy Glasgow, John Barrowman promised us Barbados – little did we know (copyright Bev) he meant on stage…

Because this year’s Panto is Robinson Crusoe and the Caribbean Pirates, cleverly starting off in Glasgow, where lucky Robinson (in red  pants and a red and golden sleeveless vest) has found a treasure map under deck of his ship. Now he, his father Captain Krankie and his identical twin brother wee Jimmy (“if Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito could pull it off so can we!”) are looking for a crew to find the treasure and be able to reign over Glasgow, over Scotland and even … Paisley!! Unfortunately they are not alone in this quest: There’s the pirate Captain Blackheart (the incomparable Pete Gallagher in wig and make-up as Captain Jack – “Wait!!! there’s only one Captain Jack!!” – Sparrow, or Captain J. Depp…) who has searched for the map for years and in the end found a mermaid (the woman who had rejected his proposal and therefore found herself with a fish tail – only to become a maiden again by true love’s kiss) who inadvertedly spilled the beans. He “offers” his help and becomes part of the crew.

The ship soon is on its way to the Caribbean, when Blackheart finally reveals that he is the pirate everyone was so afraid of. Though Robinson hadn’t shown him the map (Blackheart: “The map, the map the map, he has the map…” to an improvised belly dance, to which Robinson says: “Nothing escapes you, no?”) Blackheart now casts a spell and creates a storm that has Robinson’s ship sinking – so that he can grab the map.

Lucky for Robinson the magical mermaid is there to the rescue – not only is she in love with the Glaswegian, she doesn’t realise that Robinson has fallen for her, too. So out of love she has Robinson – in a hilarious red and white swimsuit from the 20ies, a yellow floating tyre and flippers – breathing and talking under the sea. The normally tight swimsuit is just loose enough to be decent, and John milks the scene with the huge tyre till everybody is crying with laughter. Now the new 3-D-effects start and they are even better than last year’s. We get bubbles and stone-explosions, an enormous squid, terrifying fish, crabs and finally a shark that had me flinch every time it emerged!

Then Robinson is finally swept ashore and – “be quiet, this is my big fainting scene!!” – lies there in the sand while the mermaid summons Man Friday (Jeremy Fontanet) to guide Robinson to the treasure before Blackheart has the chance to rob it. Robinson wakes up  and – “MAN if that’s Friday, I’d love to know what Saturday looks like!” – drools just as much over the half naked built actor as every female in the audience. He even fails to recognise the mermaid 😉

With Friday he’s on his way to the treasure,they have to fight a last obstacle – a huge Krakken, a sea monster of epic proportions that seems to fly into the audience and breathes fire! in a duet (John said it was planned as another solo for him, but he had to change costumes again, so Jeremy sings part of it) Robinson and Friday fight the monster (and John’s voice is absolutely marvellous, soaring over the orchestra and clear as a victorious trumpet) and Robinson slays the beast.

Meanwhile the Krankies emerge from the sea – they have survived, too. Thanks to the friendly natives led by Friday they all rest for the night (while acrobats “the Acromaniacs” show off their skills) in Friday’s house. The villa is yet another Panto-speciality with its revolving doors and closets that open with ghosties and ghoulies in them…

What ensues now is the most hilarious threesome I have ever had the pleasure to see. Some ppl have deemed this scene improper for children – BEFORE they had even seen it, mind you! I needed new make-up after that, I cried so hard with laughter. Wee Jimmy sees all the scary ghosts, Robinson – in superman pajamas –  is in the closet (“You never were in the closet!” “Shut up, we’re in enough trouble as it is!”), Jimmy and Robinson are in the same bed, when another ghost chases them out of it, (to much screaming of the audience) and they hide in Captain Krankie’s bed. Jimmy’s the last one to clamber onto the bed (humming “Memoriiiies” while straddling her husband) and falls onto Robinson (“Fantasiiiiies!”) in his attempt to find the middle spot of the bed. As Jimmy’s hungry he dives under the covers to find something to eat – and finds a banana. (Captain: “that’s mine!!” Robinson: “if you find a salami, that’s mine!”) and indeed Jimmy waves with a huuuuge slab of sausage which causes first the Captain and then Robinson to fall out of the bed. When they finally are able to rest someone poops and the twins run away.

The next day finds the three together with Friday as they  start their trip through 3-D-ghosts and spiders to find the treasure. There is a run in with a scary ogre in a magical forest and finally the only obstacle left is Pirate Blackheart who gets deterred by Wee Jimmy masked as Beyonce with a growing belly! the young audience (I sat between 5 year olds at one time) loves that kind of humor – they were screaming and singing along and laughing. Unfortunately there is yet another run in with Blackheart with a hilarious sword fighting scene with Robinson – but again Wee Jimmy (this time as Spider Man) saves the day and Blackheart is banned to …Paisley!  Now a child from the audience gets to come up the stage to unlock the treasure trove. And then all draws to an end – but wait!! What about the magical mermaid?

Indeed – and thankfully Friday is not jealous (“Don’t flatter yourself!”) – there still is work to be done: Robinson, who has fallen for the mermaid, too, finds her resting on a boulder, and his kiss (to the chanting of excited kids: KISS HER KISS HER!!) breaks the spell. A lovely girl again, she says yes when he proposes!

After a final part from the Krankies (which gives everyone time to change costumes again) there’s the final curtain. And nobody has actually realised it has been two and a half hours of brilliant, innuendo laden, fun, clean, laughable, traditional Panto. Everyone leaves with a smile on their faces, after a great – often first – night at the theatre.

Much has been said about the “unfortunate” interview the Krankies gave just as their Panto started – that they were swingers in the swinging 70ies… well, they incorporate the interview into their jokes when the audience doesn’t consist of children only 😉 and it’s absolutely hilarious. John is his naughty, fun loving self who is able to crack up in the middle of the scene, bringing the audience with him in helpless laughter. It’s just fabulous family entertainment along the lines of traditional panto. And it’s great!

 

addendum from January

one of the tiny guests, Adam, was absolutely hilarious – the wee one answered to “what did you get for christmas?” with: A fishtank and.. jammies” and the look on his face when he said jammies was absolutely priceless. John was basically breaking down on the stage. he then asked, “so what about the fish in the fishtank” to which the boy said: they were all sick….” John flat on the floor and Man Friday barely holding up and having to hide his face. John, laboriously coming up for air: “They’re all dead?” in broad scottish to which the boy sagely nodded. John: “Get the boy some more fish!!!”

 

That said I have two tiny complaints with this year’s panto:

Whilst I really like the Krankies – they are a hilarious pair and I’m happy that they got under contract with Gavin Barker Associates! – I was a bit disappointed that their big last number was basically the same as last year. Now I do realise that very few people are as obses… determined as I am to see more than one show of the same panto per year, but for me it was a bit of a let down – most of all because I think that the Krankies are not a one-act-act… And as soon as I post I learn (thank you, Stephen) that this is their “signature” piece that people would feel cheated out of if the Krankies didn’t do it. They’d done it for 40 years and it is part of their act. I’m very grateful for the explanation!

The second bit I was not too keen about: this time acrobats were hired, four men doing a brilliant show with a trampoline, a chest used in acrobatics and a mattress. It was really awesome, their mastery of their bodies amazing. What it had to do with the show though, will forever be beyond me.  I learned that an acrobatic number was a must in traditional panto, so I understand why they were there, but as much as I admire their skills, the act left me rather unimpressed. But that’s just me of course. I thought this part and the identical Krankie number made the second act a bit slower than the pulsing and mad-dash of the first part that had us all breathless from all that happened on stage and from laughter.

The song list (as I keep telling my lovely readers, I am LOUSY at the song lists)

Hey Ho, we’re pirates till the end

Sondheim’s Putting it together

Celebration

That special moment

the duet during the Krakken fight that was written especially for Panto last year

a brilliant solo for Pete Gallagher

All the single ladies

dirrrty wee boy

but you love me Daddy

and John has at least two solo numbers but I can’t remember them right now, sigh. help is greatly appreciated.

oh and this time there’s one other thing:  Do not reproduce this review or parts of it without asking. If you have something to say, comment and I’ll answer. thank you

John Barrowman Concert Tour 2011

It’s autumn and with the falling of leaves there also comes the shedding of inhibitions for fans when they embark on a trip with Entertainer John Barrowman during one of his shows.

And as John certainly knows his fans (and his demographic, it appears) he feeds our every need. There’s stories about his childhood again, lots of pictures to document and prove the hilarious tidbits he gives away, and enough innuendo to fill three two-hour shows and not just one. And that is a VERY good thing, believe me.

But there is also his incredible energy that sweeps the audience off their feet, clapping, singing along and cheering when he starts off in a sparkly blue suit with a medley of all new songs that set the tone for the evening. It’s indeed all about entertaining. The J4 have their moments in the spotlight, well deserved, with a solo number (to give John the time to don yet another of his four – blue, green, purple and red  – outfits) and they do sing well and dance even better, and raised the estrogen level among the (mostly) female audience when ripping their clothes off.

Jodie Prenger is a firecracker who’s on stage in the first half with two songs and in the second half  with two more songs, a very bluesy rendition of the hit Umbrella amongst it, until she’s reunited with John to do  So Close. And as much as I’d have liked to see someone new on stage together with John, I loved every second of Jodie on stage.

Also John’s parents make an appearance  in the midst of hilarious stories (probably very well made up) about their private lives, dressed as a construction worker and a sexy police woman – so the logical conclusion was to perform YMCA from the Village People.

One of the highlights of the show – well, for me at least – was an absolutely amazing medley of Eurovision Song Contest winning songs, and a Hollywood medley accompanied by pictures of him with Bob Hope and with Petula Clark whose Downtown started this segment… where John had all the audience singing along.

And then the show was almost over and a last change into a brilliant black suit with sparkly sequins adorned to back and arms and its pink lapels was on the menue, in which John then performed the last few songs that had us all giving standing ovations – which clearly moved him. And when the show finally ended with his anthem I am what I am everybody was VERY happy and in the best of moods.

stage door:

no such thing. it’s already too cold after the shows, John had a bit of a sore throat and made it out the back door to his car, where his parents and Scott were already at the ready. He drove off while standing up, waving through the open roof and to the cheers of the waiting fans. A wonderful evening, a marvellous memory.

But please don’t expect John to sign after the show – at all three shows I saw he just tried to get home / to a hotel as quickly as possible. He does have his parents with him as they are part of his show, so it’s understandable that he doesn’t want to keep them waiting.

***

Unfortunately not a great venue was Brentwood – which I actually refuse to call a proper venue and the concert started 20 minutes late. It was a sports hall, where people in the wings were unable to see much of John, the acoustics were a challenge and the security – all tough guys with microphones clasped to their ears just as they saw it on US-TV shows – did NOTHING when a nutty woman walked all the way down to the front of the stage where John was singing to take pictures. John was dealing with the situation admirably, but he shouldn’t have had to deal with this at all. Security btw watched the drama unfold and kept standing at the corners of the so called stage, looking the other way.(the crazy woman fell on her way back to her place, btw – so she was probably drunk, too)

The “venue” was indeed that bad that John felt the need to apologize via twitter afterwards – but it was definitely not his fault at all.

***

What a difference a day made: I had the pleasure of seeing the third concert, too! This time in the renowned corn exchange in Cambridge, a tried and tested venue with fantastic acoustics and an intimate feel to it that made the show a very special event, indeed. the only mishap that had us all in stitches with laughter though: the fog machine run amok right at the beginning of the show and produced greyness to last the venue a lifetime. Which made John play “Foghorn” while the smoke was slowly vanishing again. hilarious doesn’t even start to cover it.

 

***

 

addendum – the London concert – it was a true joy to watch – the orchestra and John and the J4s were on fire and working together like a well oiled perfected machine, the venue, the renowned Palladium theatre, added to the wonderful “feel” of a masterpiece concert. that the whole gig was also a fun fan convention where people who only met on twitter and via the lists finally came together and had fun was an added bonus. And everybody wanted to be a fly on the wall of the Green Room, a bar in the Palladium, where after the show John continued to entertain his guests, Kai Owen among them.

 

***

 

addendum . Cardiff –

Cardiff is always “special”, the fans learned years ago. it’s “home” to John and he seems to enjoy his time on stage there even more than anywhere else. That said it’s no surprise he filled the huge venue almost to the last seat. The audience was going strong from the beginning, and John once again was on fire, performing and just plainly having fun. Eve Myles was in the audience and recognised immediately by the fans (there was a rumor that Gareth David Lloyd was attending too, but I didn’t spot him at any point, nor did the audience, who immediately crowded around Eve who let them take pictures).

John’s parents milked their scenes until there wasn’t a dry eye in the audience, adlibbing until even John himself broke down in helpless laughter (” I think I peed myself a bit”) which didn’t help…

But the real treat was when some stage hand brought Scott Gill on stage, who at first seemed a bit taken aback by the enthusiasm of the audience, but relaxed as soon as John was holding his hand (together now: awwwwwwwwwwwwww). And then the band started to play Rhinestone Cowboy and the incomparable Mr Gill was “forced” to sing along. It was a brilliant rendering of the song, showing off Scott’s deep voice even tho the first few bars were a bit… a tiny bit off key, but endearingly so. John joined immediately as the “choir” and all went absolutely brilliant and perfect (and obviously rehearsed, even tho they made as if John had just plotted right now) – “now work the audience” and John led Scott to the sides of the stage to woo the audience there – until he finally held the note to which Scott kept on singing. Perfect! Standing Ovation for Scott! and  a last send off from John “He’s gonna kill me for that tonight!” LOL

 

Stage door – we waited. sigh. for hhhoooourrrs it seemed! LOL but we saw Eve and family come out and Gavin leave – they had all been at the small reception held in the venue. Then finally John came out – happy, content but – and that was a  new one – absolutely knackered and thanked us for being there and supporting him etc. it was marvellous and I loved every second. So happy I was able to see Cardiff this year…

 

The set list – well, I’m notoriously bad at that and grateful for any input. that’s what I recalled so far

Celebration (as the intro)

firework

and thanks to the wonderful Jo Julier:

Holiday medley

Hollywood (Buble)

Listen to the music

Mandy

Eurovision medley: Kisses for Me, Boombangabang, Making your mind up (J4s) Waterloo

Tonight’s the Night

Greatest Day by Take That

You Raise Me Up from Josh Groban

I owe it all to you

And I love you so

the winner takes it all

what about us

Downtown

YMCA

So Close with Jodie

I am what I am

Aladdin – last two performances, Jan.9th, 2011

As always the last matinee of a Pantomime is the one show you do not want to miss – it’s the show where the mishaps are deliberately created by the actors to derail them. It’s hilarious. If you’ve seen a “normal” performance before, that is…

When the curtain goes up to the very first song, not only were all the male dancers without shirts – and yummie they looked! -,  John’s dresser Finlay was also still on stage and fiddling with John’s black pants. I asked him later if there was a hole or something, but he just laughed and replied, “no, John was just being very naughty again!”.

The half naked dancers had a nice effect on John, though. By the end of “Let’s get this party started” he slipped out of his jerkin and started to pull his white shirt out of his pants. and was gone from the stage before flesh showed!

Then the script made an appearance on stage again during the first dialogue of the Krankies ( oh, look, not opened…) and clearly it was John whose finger pointed to parts of the scripted jokes! But this time toilet paper was rolling onto the stage and unravelling!

During the song 500 miles John grabbed one of the dancer’s butt, but his retaliation came fast:

During the scene where Churchill appears on top of a box  (“product placement!”) there was banging to be heard – and as Greg Barrowman had told us that John would be VERY surprised we assumed he was in the box trying to get out!

The hypnosis scene was spiced up by yet another half naked dancer massaging John’s shoulders, and then Pete came with a big white ostrich feather and tickled him with it, trying to get him to giggle and give up his pose, but even though he teased him in places unmentionable John kept his posture and so the play commenced.

At the cave – when all the bats are flying out – John had previously added a line to his usual “I feel like I’m in Twilight!” but neither I nor Iris understood him -till during intermission our American friends stopped by and told us it was GERMAN! So I asked him at the stage door and he said “yeah, I wanted to say I’m in Twilight, and kept looking at you guys but you just were: hhhh (his face one big questionmark)! Oh, great, they understand my English, but not their own German, so how do you say ‘I’m in Twilight’?” “ich bin in Twilight” – “oh, well, I was close, then…” When the scene came again, he said “Ich bin in Twilight!” and we clapped and cheered!!

But the best thing happened on the last show:
The little boy they were calling up to the stage was talking about his christmas
gifts and that he’d put cookies out for Santa. So John asks what would happen if
Santa ate everybody’s cookies – he’d get too fat to come through the chimney.
(his punchline usually being “tell your parents to open up the front door next
christmas!”)
But then the little boy, not intimidated at all by John’s silver outfit with all
the diamonds and silver stitching, says “But he can do it – he’s magic!”; he is so cute, everybody is awwwwing. John smiles and says “Oh you’re right. I love
magical people – they sparkle, you know!”

To which the child says all earnest: “You sparkle!”
I had to bite back tears. (John was speechless for once and the audience cheered
and clapped madly!)

This child in his innocence had summed it up perfectly.
John actually sparkles, whatever he does.

And for the very last scene John came on stage alone, with a Chinese Lion’s head on – looked very smashing! And he got a standing ovation for that last show!
It was absolutely amazing – and I’ll probably need another year to recover. But then it’s Panto-time again and that is Fantastic, Fantastic, Fantastic – to borrow a Barrowman phrase!