Well, of course Andrew came to this one. Why wouldn’t he? It’s based on one of his favourite film musicals, which, as it happens, he muddles up with another of his favourite musicals (unless it’s at the Young Vic with Jane Horrocks), Annie Get Your Gun. But then they both feature rootin’-tootin’ cowgirls as a central character. Phil’s been know to confuse his suede-clad, fringe accessorised heroines too. Read the rest of this entry »
Posts Tagged ‘off-West End’
If, like us, you’re of a certain age and/or have a cultural consciousness that includes the likes of David Geffen, Cloris Leachman, Doris Roberts, Mildred Pierce, Irene Sharaff and a working knowledge of Barbra Streisand this may be the show for you.
Buyer & Cellar (incidentally yesterday’s Sunday Times crossword used the same play on the word ‘cellar’ in one of its answers. Heard publican’s role in basement bar (4, 6)* ) stars Ugly Betty‘s Michael Urie as a struggling actor, Alex More, who is sacked from Disneyland for threatening to do something unspeakable with a churro to a rude child and finds employment working in Ms Streisand’s basement shopping mall. In fact he’s the only employee there, serving frozen yoghurt and selling her own extensive collection of collectables back to her as she haggles with him over the price.
Will he form a bond with her when she comes down to ‘play’ and will he ever be invited upstairs to her Malibu mansion? Sounds bizarre and crazy? It is. Read the rest of this entry »
Of course we were there for Sue Ellen.
Even Andrew was there for Sue Ellen. Actually that should probably just read “even Andrew was there”. You see, we’re of an age.
But if Linda Grey had not found her panto legs (she does – expect her in Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester or wherever next Christmas) as a stetson-toting, hip flask-swigging Fairy Godmother there was a very strong pit crew to see her through to the finishing line. Read the rest of this entry »
Goodness. It seems only yesterday that Phil first encountered Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s (book) Assassins at the Donmar.
That yesterday turns out to be 22 years ago. In between he saw it at the Union Theatre and had somehow forgotten that he’d also seen it at the Landor (Well, he thinks he saw it at the Union, it all sounded very familiar when he reread Andrew’s review, but apparently he wasn’t with Andrew).
But it’s not just Phil that forgets things. His younger companion (no, not Andrew) for the afternoon at the Menier thought she was seeing it for the first time, until she reached the “I am going to the Lordy” song which appears quite late in this 1 hour 45 minute piece.
This being the Menier’s Christmas show expectations are really rather high, especially with Jamie Lloyd directing, Soutra Gilmour designing, a cast that includes Catherine Tate, Andy Nyman, Phil’s favourite History Boy (Jamie Parker), Mike McShane, Whinger-approved Carly (Umbrellas of Cherbourg) Bawden, Aaron Tveit (a leading man from yer actual Broadway) and above all Richard Mawbey on the curling tongs. Read the rest of this entry »
The Whingers have something of a history with Forbidden Broadway.
They first saw it on the Broadway itself – or rather off the Broadway – in 2007 (it was already 25 years old then) as they were running out of things too see on yer actual Broadway due to a strike by Local One.
And we saw a revised version at the Menier 5 years ago when those clever people behind the show had us eating out of their hands by name-checking the Whingers in one of the songs. How we swooned.
Of course we would not get a mention now. That moment has passed, the joke has been done and our stock is depleted. But this show has sufficient allure that even Andrew brushed off his mothballs and dragged himself along for this one.
The biggest problem for Gerard Alessandrini’s send up of Broadway and West End shows – which is constantly updated according to which shows are currently running – was could it possibly live up to its previous incarnations? Read the rest of this entry »
There was really only one suitable person to accompany Phil to the Marc Bolan musical 20th Century Boy at the New Wimbledon Theatre (actually, Andrew was offered first dibs, but keep that to yourself) and that was one time glamster Paul. Paul’s Bolan fan credentials include a visit to the Barnes tree where the popster met an untimely end and dressing up as him for a fancy dress party to celebrate his own wedding (for the record Phil attended as Mr Spock). Read the rest of this entry »
Naughty Mike Bartlett.
This of course the same Mike Bartlett who once presented us with his Cock. Naturally we had a lot of fun with that title at the time and like childish schoolboys will always whip it out to play around with when the opportunity arises.
But it seems Bartlett is having even more fun with his “future history play”, King Charles III.
Accident or design?
The words “ABANDON HOPE ALL YE WHO ENTER HERE” are projected across the three sides of Es Devlin’s stylish box set for American Psycho with the words “ABANDON WHO” appearing alone together on one of the sections.
What ain’t we got? We ain’t got dames apparently.
Even if the principal boy is no longer played by a woman, we never see a slosh scene, health and safety prevents sweets being thrown into the auditorium and the song sheet seems to be generally lost to the past there is no danger of dame-flatlining here. Tradition is kept gloriously intact with an array of outrageous costumes and wigs inhabited by the wonderful Matthew Kelly, proving that there is nothing quite like a panto dame. Read the rest of this entry »
Phil’s 4th Candide, and if he had a better memory he would make comparisons. So a swift read up of the Whingers’ last one (at the ENO) reminded him that, in that case, it was long (3¼ hours), gimmicky and sometimes inaudible.
But that’s what can happen if you let opera companies have their wicked way with it. Thankfully this one is shorter (2 hours 40 mins), the often brilliant lyrics entirely audible and the staging traditional.
Well, one might say traditional if one were not a Whinger. The Menier’s production is off-puttingly staged in the round. But, and swallowing hard, Phil was forced reluctantly to admit that it works. Yes, occasionally there is the discomfort of a little Linda Blair-ish head swivelling to see the performers as they cavort around the auditorium (choreography Adam Cooper), but on the plus side you’re close enough to get a hooped skirt in your face and if seated in the front row may even find yourself becoming part of the show wearing a natty red titfer. Read the rest of this entry »
Phil is constantly surprised by life.
After experiencing his first earthquake and returning to his hotel room, he ran a forensic check on his bathroom’s grouting. How, when the whole building was quivering around him, did it survive intact without even the hint of a hairline crack? It wasn’t even flexible grouting. How do they do that?
And he shouldn’t really be surprised by the musicalisation of grim real-life events anymore but he is. After all he suffered Jean Seberg (which, if he remembers correctly – when he saw it – opened with the actress’s body discovered in the boot of a car after her suicide and also contained the jaw-dropping moment of a chorus line of tap dancing psychiatrists) then there was the equally memorable Too Close to the Sun (the last 24 hours in the life of Earnest Hemingway before he blew his brain out). The surprise in The Scottsboro Boys, concerning nine black teenage boys, falsely accused of rape in the Alabama of 1931, isn’t so much that the event was turned into a musical, but that – unlike those others – it actually works. Read the rest of this entry »
Q What does it take to get Andrew back inside a theatre?
A Flower arranging.
Andrew knows a thing or two about arranging dainty blooms and, like Phil, is old enough to have heard of Constance Spry. Well, we knew she was to flowers what Mary Berry is to cookery but we knew little else. Phil also thought she wrote short sentimental poems, but after an interval discussion and much rummaging around in the recesses of their memory banks (like a Much Ado About Nothing lead) decided he was confusing her with Patience Strong.
She also invented ‘Coronation Chicken’, which sadly, is only briefly alluded to in Storm in a Flower Vase, probably because there was so many other things going on in her life there just wasn’t time. Or perhaps she was embarrassed about concocting such a hideous assault on the taste buds? She should be. Read the rest of this entry »
One of Phil’s earliest memories is of being taken to Manchester’s Gaumont Cinema to see the film of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II‘s The Sound of Music (book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse) after it had just opened.
This family outing came with the added thrill of knowing that it would probably take up to a year to reach his local, The Vista, Westbury*. He’d never been to such a grand cinema before, tickets had been booked in advance and he recalls being fascinated by a fountain on the staircase up to the circle. As you never needed to book in advance at The Vista and its “circle” was only 2 steps higher than the stalls, it’s hardly surprising he was beside himself with excitement.
But above all he remembers becoming moist around the eyes as Maria got hitched to Captain Von Trapp. The scene came after the intermission (hands up if you’re old enough to remember films with intermissions) but Phil’s tears were of joy for Maria, despite her annexing a Captain with seven children. Now he’d be weeping for other reasons and looking forward to their appearance on The Jeremy Kyle Show. Read the rest of this entry »
Phil once stood in Tiananmen Square, not facing a tank obvs, but facing the body of Chairman Mao (or what’s said to be his body) in the Mao Mausoleum. He also played frisbee there (in the square that is, not the mausoleum, although it was certainly vast enough in to have flicked a bit of plastic around in front of the waxy-looking ‘body’).
7 years later the tanks that rolled in were stopped by an unknown man standing in front of them. He was captured on film in what was to become one of the most iconic images of the last century.
The gushing raves for Lucy Kirkwood‘s Chimerica (a co-production with Headlong) have ensured a sell-out at the Almeida (where it’s now in its last week), hardly surprising canny Sonia Friedman snapped it up for the West End where it’ll be at the Harold Pinter Theatre from August 6th.
It’s been three years since the Whingers tramped out to God-knows-where to see the site-specific, promenady Punchdrunk production The Duchess of Malfi where Andrew sighed,“It’s more of the same, really”. You would think we would learn. But it seems Andrew did learn something; he was having none of it this time round. And, of course, The Drowned Man is more of the same. Read the rest of this entry »