DVD Review: South Pacific (2001)

“You can’t fix an egg when it ain’t quite good”

It’s funny where the gaps are for someone who was brought up on many a musical – I was obsessed with the film version of The Pirates of Penzance and so was nearly word-perfect on it from a small age, yet I never once saw or listened to South Pacific. Indeed, the first and only time I’ve seen it was from the gods at the Barbican back in 2011, an experience that did not leave me rushing to explore the show further. So it was with a little interest that I put on this 2001 TV film version, directed by Richard Pearce and executively produced by, among others, Glenn Close, who also took on the role of Nellie Forbush. 

And as I have so little connection to the musical, it’s been hugely fascinating to read just how up in arms some people got about the choices made in this version of South Pacific, showing how easy it is to swept up in expectation and emotion when talking about shows that you love and particularly, the way that they ‘should’ be done. So some were up in arms about Close being too old to play Nellie, others concerned about Rade Šerbedžija not being an operatic singer for Emile, songs being cut and rearranged sent many into apoplectic fits, and the rejigging of some of the supporting characters was the final straw for yet more. Continue reading “DVD Review: South Pacific (2001)”

Review: Lance Horne – First Things Last, Garrick

“What matters are the things you leave behind
And the echoes love can leave inside your mind
And the lights that last from random acts of kindness
Kind of simple, kind of not”

First Things Last celebrated the release of American musical theatre writer Lance Horne’s debut album at the Garrick Theatre, following two shows in New York earlier this month. The album features a host of highly talented stars from the West End and Broadway, so the concerts have had different line-ups reflecting people’s availability but this concert featured a line-up that read like a who’s who of the cream of British musical theatre and then some. The show was produced by those champions of new musical theatre Speckulation and lived up to expectations as a most stunning showcase for some seriously talented stars and a most engaging writer.

Picking a favourite moment from the event is a bit like my own version of Sophie’s Choice, but I was probably most looking forward to Meow Meow’s performance and she did not fail to deliver. Her song ‘January’, a regretful tale of a lost love, is like a 1960s black and white French film brought fully to life, her silkily sultry vocals perfectly matching the Jacques Brel feel of the song and I now could not be more excited for The Umbrellas of Cherbourg if I tried, it is going to be immense! Continue reading “Review: Lance Horne – First Things Last, Garrick”

Music Review: Julie Atherton – A Girl of Few Words & Simon Burke – Something About Always

Here’s a couple more CD reviews of two of my favourite theatrical performers and both cracking CDs which I recommend.

Julie Atherton – A Girl of Few Words

Possessed of one of the finest voices currently working in musical theatre if I say so myself, Julie Atherton captured my heart from the first time I saw Avenue Q and I’ve been under her spell ever since. This CD, featuring the songs of composer Charles Miller, marks her solo recording debut

I love most every song on here, but ‘If You Were Mine’ is particularly beautiful, the piano-led ‘Be Careful’ is excellent and the collaboration with Paul Spicer, ‘Someone Find Me’ is a fun duet, their friendship clear from the ease with which they harmonise and the final climbing chorus is just lovely. And if you’re lucky, there’s a nod to her most successful show, with a bonus track of ‘There’s A Fine Fine Line’ included, Continue reading “Music Review: Julie Atherton – A Girl of Few Words & Simon Burke – Something About Always”

Review: Holding the Man, Trafalgar Studios

“I may have killed the man I love”

Importing the two main leads and the director from the highly successful Australian production, Holding the Man makes its UK debut at the Trafalgar Studios. Written by Tommy Murphy but based on Tim Conigrave’s 1995 memoir of the same name, it is a love story charting the high and lows of the relationship between Tim and John Caleo, the captain of the football team at their high school no less, over 15 years. It has garnered much acclaim in its native country, but added to that with this transfer is the UK stage debut of comic genius Jane Turner, Kath out of Kath and Kim, as you will not have failed to notice if you’ve seen any of the advance publicity for this show!

I went to see this play without knowing anything about it or the circumstances in which it was written and so therefore, its impact on me was phenomenal. If you don’t know anything about it either, then I have to say I would recommend coming back here at a later date to read this review, but rest assured that this is probably the first stone-cold must-see play of the year. Continue reading “Review: Holding the Man, Trafalgar Studios”

fosterIAN awards 2009

 WinnerRunner-upOther nominees
Best Actress in a PlayRachel Weisz, A Streetcar Named DesirePhoebe Nicholls/Lisa Dillon, When the Rain Stops Falling; Chris Nietvelt, The Roman TragediesImelda Staunton, Entertaining Mr Sloane
Juliet Stevenson, Duet for One
Anna Chancellor, The Observer
Best Actor in a PlayHans Kesting, The Roman TragediesJude Law, Hamlet (Donmar)Dominic Rowan, The Spanish Tragedy
David Troughton, Inherit the Wind
Dan Stevens, Arcadia
Henry Goodman, Duet for One
Best Supporting Actress in a PlayRebecca Hall, The Winter’s Tale (Bridge Project)Kate Fleetwood, Life is a DreamJessie Cave, Arcadia
Michelle Dockery, Burnt By The Sun
Alexandra Gilbreath, Twelfth Night
Ruth Wilson, A Streetcar Named Desire
Best Supporting Actor in a PlayAndrew Scott, CockSimon Paisley-Day, Entertaining Mr SloaneMark Dexter, Inherit the Wind
Tom Goodman-Hill, Enron
Ethan Hawke, The Winter’s Tale (Bridge Project)
Barnaby Kay, A Streetcar Named Desire
Best Actress in a MusicalSamantha Spiro, Hello, Dolly!Julie Atherton, The Last Five YearsMelanie Chisholm, Blood Brothers
Donna King, Frank’s Closet
Patina Miller, Sister Act
Tamzin Outhwaite, Sweet Charity
Best Actor in a MusicalSimon Burke, La Cage aux FollesCarl Mullaney, Frank’s ClosetRoger Allam, La Cage aux Folles
Mark Umbers, Sweet Charity
Aneurin Barnard, Spring Awakening
Tony Sheldon, Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Best Supporting Actress in a MusicalJosefina Gabrielle, Hello, Dolly!Sheila Hancock, Sister ActJosefina Gabrielle, Sweet Charity
Tiffany Graves, Sweet Charity
The Lovely Debbie McGee, Frank’s Closet
Jodie Prenger, Oliver!
Best Supporting Actor in a MusicalOliver Thornton, Priscilla Queen of the DesertDaniel Crossley, Hello, Dolly!Rowan Atkinson, Oliver!
Clive Carter, Priscilla Queen of the Desert
John Marquez, Annie Get Your Gun
Jason Pennycooke, La Cage aux Folles

The first fosterIAN awards: a summary

So here we have it, the results of the first fosterIAN™ awards, themselves the fruit of a great year of theatre-going in which I rather suspect the fine line between passion and obsession has become somewhat blurred! Hey-ho, there’s 12 plays booked so far for January so I think I know which side is winning! Happy new year.

Best Play
The Roman Tragedies, Barbican

Best Fringe Play
Public Property, Trafalgar Studios 2

Best Actor in a Play
Hans Kesting, The Roman Tragedies

Best Actress in a Play
Rachel Weisz, A Streetcar Named Desire

Best Supporting Actor in a Play
Andrew Scott, Cock

Best Supporting Actress in a Play
Rebecca Hall, The Winter’s Tale

Best Musical
Hello, Dolly!

Best Actor in a Musical
Simon Burke, La Cage aux Folles

Best Actress in a Musical
Samantha Spiro, Hello, Dolly!

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical
Oliver Thornton, Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Josefina Gabrielle, Hello, Dolly!

Most versatile actor
Tie: Nancy Carroll, Arcadia + Twelfth Night and Simon Burke, When the Rain Stops Falling + La Cage aux Folles

Best success in the face of adversity
Helen Dallimore, Too Close To The Sun

Closest move to Damehood
Imelda Staunton

Leading man of the year
Elliot Cowan

2009 Best Actor in a Play/in a Musical

Best Actor in a Play

Hans Kesting, The Roman Tragedies
As Mark Antony in The Roman Tragedies, Hans Kesting was an intense revelation, a commanding leading man: passionate, rousing and above all virile, his explosive sexual chemistry with Cleopatra genuinely palpable. That he did all of this in Dutch with a newly broken leg, either from a wheelchair or with a crutch, just added to the frisson of excitement. To witness an actor throwing so much of himself into a role and committing so thoroughly was an absolute privilege and one that I truly hope to witness again, in Dutch, English or whatever language he chooses to speak!

Honourable mention: Jude Law, Hamlet
One’s first Hamlet should always be a special one, and I was lucky enough to have had the Talented Mr Law as mine. Having avoided ever seeing it before, I was finally tempted by the Donmar West End’s production. Roundly denounced as a piece of stunt casting long before the first performance and following on from David Tennant’s largely praised run earlier in the year, Jude Law proved his critics seriously wrong with a beautifully impassioned performance, incredibly dark, intense and even morbid at times, I finally understood why it is considered one of ‘the’ roles for an actor to play.

Dominic Rowan, The Spanish Tragedy
David Troughton, Inherit the Wind
Dan Stevens, Arcadia
Henry Goodman, Duet For One

 

Best Actor in a Play

Simon Burke, La Cage aux Folles
Playing against John Barrowman in anything might seem like an unenviable task, not least in this pinkest of shows, but Simon Burke was more than equal to the job in matching La Barrowman’s excesses and constantly reminding us of the warm heart beating beneath the feathers and the spangles of this show. Redefining the central relationship was a necessity due to the younger ages of this iteration of the cast and it was interesting to see the sexual dynamic between the two played up, there was no question who wore the trousers on top of this relationship though, Burke’s Georges was wickedly comic and flirtatious and ultimately highly watchable.

Honourable mention: Carl Mullaney, Frank’s Closet
Switching effortlessly between a fine selection of divas and belting out their classics may seem like a regular gig for many a drag act or gay karaoke night, but nowhere was it done with more panache than at the delightful Hoxton Hall in Frank’s Closet by Carl Mullaney. Lightning quick changes, a strong mellifluous voice, this was also an incredible demonstration of physical theatre in how he captured the different mannerisms and movements of each of the divas.

Roger Allam, La Cage aux Folles
Mark Umbers, Sweet Charity
Aneurin Barnard, Spring Awakening
Tony Sheldon, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

2009 Most versatile actor of the year

This late addition of a category came out of a couple of things: one a conversation over Christmas mainly about how many of the actors in Cranford I had seen onstage this year but in non-bonnety roles and the realisation whilst watching Twelfth Night that I had seen onstage more than once this year. Hence this award: it’s necessarily limited by the number of plays I’ve seen this year but is still a bit of fun.

Most versatile actor
Nancy Carroll,
Arcadia & Twelfth Night / Simon Burke, When The Rain Stops Falling & La Cage aux Folles

From the aristocratic Lady Croom in Arcadia to the convincingly boyish Viola in Twelfth Night, Nancy Carroll impressed me immensely with her range this year, playing flirtatious, upper-class hauteur with as much dexterity as Shakespeare’s ambiguous, lovelorn twin.
And in equal first, demonstrating just as much versatility is Simon Burke: the very essence of Australian heterosexual blokeishness in When the Rain Stops Falling, he was barely recognisable as the same actor singing his heart out and flirting with all the boys in La Cage aux Folles


Honourable mention
Toby Jones, Every Boy Deserves Good Favour & Parlour Song
From the tormented prisoner with an orchestra in his head to a suburban husband with a cheating wife, Toby Jones displayed a full array of dramtic skills, with a particularly delicious show of comic acting in the latter, with razor-sharp timing and bags full of charisma.

Joseph Millson, Judgment Day & The Priory
James Fleet, The Observer & Twelfth Night
Elliot Cowan,
A Streetcar Named Desire & Edmond
Samantha Spiro, Twelfth Night & Hello, Dolly!

The inaugural fosterIAN award nominations

fosterIAN (fos-tîr’ē-ən) – an award given for excellence in the theatre that I have witnessed.

For a long time, one of my life’s ambitions has been to get the word ‘fosterian’ into the lexicon. I always thought it would be an adjective, like Thatcherite or Marxist, but I’ve now come to realise it is actually a noun, and hence we have the first fosterIAN awards. (Basically, if it’s good enough for Lord Olivier, I can have my own awards too!) Nominations can be found below, and results will be announced early in the New Year.

Best Actor in a Play
Henry Goodman, Duet For One
Hans Kesting , The Roman Tragedies
Jude Law, Hamlet
Dominic Rowan, The SpanishTragedy
Dan Stevens, Arcadia
David Troughton, Inherit the Wind

Best Actress in a Play
Anna Chancellor, The Observer
Phoebe Nicholls/Lisa Dillon, When The Rain Stops Falling
Chris Nietvelt, The Roman Tragedies
Imelda Staunton, Entertaining Mr Sloane
Juliet Stevenson, Duet For One
Rachel Weisz, A Streetcar Named Desire Continue reading “The inaugural fosterIAN award nominations”