10 questions for 10 years – Mary Grace Nguyen

Trendfem may be no more but ex-blogger of opera and theatre Mary Grace Nguyen still has plenty to say in the 10 questions for 10 years challenge

  • Where were you 10 years ago?

    I was in New York. I left my English teaching job in Japan, after two years of singing, playing games and jumping around in a classroom. I randomly decided to travel to the States before growing up and properly ‘adulting’. Back then, WordPress had just come out and bloggers were posting on Google blogger, Tumblr and Live Journal. This was also the first time I started a blog and began writing, sharing my travel experiences in Japan and New York with friends and family. However, as much as I should say I am proud of this, I am thoroughly embarrassed about this blog and shall not reveal the url here. Nonetheless, the lessons learnt was my realisation in loving to write, about anything and everything.

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News: Creatives and company for Broadway Classics in Concert

Manhattan Concert Productions (MCP) is pleased to announce the following creative team for Broadway Classics in Concert, on TuesdayFebruary 208:00 p.m., in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall.

Don StephensonStage Director
Kevin StitesMusic Director/Conductor
Christopher AshProjection & Video
Jason LyonsLighting
Dave HorowitzSound
Gary MickelsonStage Manager
Telsey + Company / Craig Burns, CSACasting

MCP also welcomes Nikki Renée Daniels who will be joining the outstanding alumni cast for Broadway Classics in Concert.

The full alumni cast includes Michael Arden (Ragtime, Hunchback of Notre Dame)Sierra Boggess (The Secret Garden)Carolee Carmello (Broadway Classics 2013)Allan Corduner(Titanic)Nikki Renée Daniels (The Secret Garden)Quentin Earl Darrington (The Secret Garden)Ramin Karimloo (Parade, The Secret Garden)Norm Lewis (Ragtime)Laura Osnes(Crazy For You)Lea Salonga (Ragtime)Ryan Silverman (Titanic) and Tony Yazbeck (Crazy For You). Continue reading “News: Creatives and company for Broadway Classics in Concert”

Album Review: Lea Salonga – Blurred Lines

“I’m on your magical mystery ride”

Recorded during her Feinstein’s/54 Below residency last year, Lea Salonga’s live album Blurred Lines is a sometimes surprising but always classy affair indeed. Effortlessly mixing standards with contemporary pop songs, devising interesting new song pairings and encapsulating her varied stage career in medleys, this was clearly a very well put-together show and thankfully, much of its magic has translated onto disc. 

Accompanied by Jack Cavari on guitar and musical director Lawrence Yurman on piano, there’s a real beauty in just luxuriating in Salonga’s interpretation of her material. She’s a singer in full control of every aspect and colour of her voice and that comes across in the gorgeous restraint and considered intelligence of her readings. She can riff like the bolshiest of Broadway divas but knows full well that she doesn’t need to. Continue reading “Album Review: Lea Salonga – Blurred Lines”

CD Review: Scott Alan Live

“And there it is…”
 
For a composer who hasn’t had a major show on over here, Scott Alan inspires an amazing amount of evangelical joy from his fans. This has come from a series of albums and concerts in which his songwriting has been showcased by a wide-ranging collection of Broadway and West End stars, culminating in a rapturously received residency at the St James Theatre a couple of months ago. I like his work, having previously reviewed a couple of his albums, but I haven’t been as ecstatic as some about it so I thought I’d go back to the ones I hadn’t listened to. 
 
His double album Live offers reworkings of many of his songs and mixes things up further by retaining many of his frequent collaborators but letting them loose on different songs, even switching up genders on some of them. It’s a great move – Natalie Weiss smashes the joyful ‘I’m A Star’, Laura Osnes wraps her delicate voice beautifully around ‘Now’ and Jeremy Jordan is charming as ever on ‘Please Don’t Let Me Go’ and that’s all in the opening five songs. The slightly indulgent length of the album means we don’t always maintain such intense quality over both discs plus bonus tracks.

Continue reading “CD Review: Scott Alan Live”

CD Review: Love on 42nd Street

“Lost myself in the night”

Love on 42nd Street is an album of new music by composer duo Daniel and Laura Curtis, recorded by a stellar line-up of West End and Broadway performer, all in aid of raising money for the BBC’s Children in Need campaign. As performers, the Curtises are noted for their interpretations of Ivor Novello‘s works and the Great American Songbook, and these influences are plain to see in the set of eight songs that make up this collection.

Written specifically for these performers, the composers have deliberately chosen to span a range of genres but the feel is always reflective. Song construction, melody lines, string arrangements are relatively traditional, frequently stirring and soaring though rarely superlative. Part of the problem lies in its professionalism, several of the songs are presented with a radio-friendly polished sheen which lacks the passionate theatrical edge that would really make them stand out. Continue reading “CD Review: Love on 42nd Street”

DVD Review: Hey Mr Producer

“Do something special, anything special…”

This charity shop malarkey is proving to be a veritable treasure trove of theatrical goodies, of variable quality I should stress, but after the delights of Ms Paige – which will be continued shortly with an upcoming DVD review – I was given this DVD of the 1998 Cameron Mackintosh extravaganza Hey Mr Producer which cost a whole 99p from a British Heart Foundation shop in north west London. A benefit concert ostensibly put together for the RNIB but also honouring and celebrating the work of producer Mackintosh (although oddly he was involved in putting the show together – honouring himself…) by bringing together excerpts from many of the most famous shows he has been involved in and pulling together an extraordinary cast of the musical theatre glitterati, many of whom originated the roles, the like of which has rarely been seen since.

And it really does come across as something special, at times a little frustrating but it is often the way with concerts like these that tantalise with little glimpses of shows and when the calibre of performer is such as it is here, one barely minds as there is much pleasure to be had. It is impressive how much was packed into the single evening, multi-song sections from shows were interspersed with single songs from others meaning that over 20 shows were showcased here. Whether it was shows I love – Little Shop of Horrors, Oliver!, Les Mis, ones I’m ok with – Phantom of the Opera, Company or even ones I’ve never actually seen – My Fair Lady, Miss Saigon, Martin Guerre, Carousel – the sequences that had more than one song worked surprisingly well, getting across something of the flavour of the shows even with the rapid pace and semi-staging. I would have loved to have seen and heard more from Anything Goes, Godspell and The Boyfriend and for Salad Days, Mackintosh’s favourite show apparently, to have gotten a proper treatment, but then I guess the three hour show would have gone on for days. Continue reading “DVD Review: Hey Mr Producer”

DVD Review: Les Misérables in concert

“There’s a reckoning to be reckoned”

Forming the culmination of the 25th Anniversary celebrations of Les Misérables was a pair of concert versions of the show taking place at the O2 centre in Greenwich which brought together the company of companies, over 500 actors and musicians joining forces to pay tribute to this enduing classic of a show. The cast and companies of the touring production and the West End production joined with a massive choir and orchestra and a hand-picked international cast performed the lead roles in this concert presentation which was also relayed live into cinemas and later released on DVD to be enjoyed by those who chose not to go (or couldn’t get tickets).

Concert versions of shows are always a bit funny, performers singing songs to each other but looking straight out at audiences and limited opportunity for acting so they can often feel a little constrained in their presentation. Here, the cast were in full costume and projections and clips from the show used to fill in some of the gaps that the songs could not fill. And it is all really rather good if not quite the self-proclaimed “musical event of a lifetime”. Continue reading “DVD Review: Les Misérables in concert”