2012 – Theatrical Highs (and one low point)

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The end of another year beckons and it falls to me to act as “old father time”, sans beard and to cast my gaze back over the last year and share my theatrical highs with you, and I’ll throw in a low too, just to be balanced.

inbasildon

So play of the year for me was the wonderful In Basildon by David Eldridge. It was funny, heartfelt and so refreshing to see a different political side being displayed on the Royal Court stage. I saw it in February and it set the standard for me for the year ahead and wasn’t beaten.

The Cleverly Created Carousel

The Cleverly Created Carousel

Best musical for me was Opera North’s great production of Carousel that came to London’s Barbican theatre this summer.

One of Gabriela Tylesova's Phenomenal Sets

One of Gabriela Tylesova’s Phenomenal Sets

The DVD release of the Melbourne version Love Never Dieswas another highlight, such a shame this version is on the other side of the world.

Jonathan Slinger - Prospero

Jonathan Slinger – Prospero

My most commented on posts have  been my reviews of The Tempest and Top Hat

Buy two copies one for you and one to give to a moanny actor

Buy two copies one for you and one to give to a moanny actor

Best book of the year goes to Andy Nyman’s Golden Rules of Acting .  Another peak of 2012 was interviewing Andy Nyman for Theatre Thoughts, if you’ve not read it, click here.

Constellations - the theatrical low point of 2012 for me.

Constellations – the theatrical low point of 2012 for me.

My only real low of the year was seeing Constellations and then being even more perplexed at the awards and rave reviews this drama school exercise being passed off as a play got. Hey ho.

fatal-distraction

Best entertainment goes to Chris Cox’s show Fatal Distraction.

An astounding performance from Alex Lawther as Blakemore

An astounding performance from Alex Lawther as Blakemore

Getting to see The Browning Version and with the added bonus of the stupendous new companion play South Downs was one of my favourite productions, Alex Lawther gets my “actor of the year” award.

 

Ten Out of Ten Poster

Finally the show that has stayed with me the most since seeing it and so gets my “Theatre Thoughts Award for Top Theatrical Moment 2012″ goes to Ten Out of Ten.

Thanks for all my readers, commentators and supporters over the last 12 months. Here’s to 2013!

  

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La Boheme – Royal Opera House – Review

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ROH La Boheme

I’ve had tickets booked for this since July. I’d chosen this wintry opera as my festive theatrical viewing this year.  It’s a score that I’m familiar with in parts but I’ve never seen it all the way through.

Opera is often a spectacular form of theatre, lavish sets, huge casts makes for a larger than life experience, however La Boheme is a much more intimate opera, and for me that was its real strength, it draws you into the lives of its protagonists Rodolfo and Mimi without any superfluous scenes or characters. This is why I think it is so effective emotionally as a piece too. There was not a dry eye in the house at the end, one person near us was actually sobbing at the end they were so moved.

Puccini’s score melodiously moves us along, and feels very much a complete score, some opera’s can feel quite disjointed musically, La Boheme, just flows through the entire length of the opera.

I was genuinely excited to see Mark Elder conducting the Royal Opera House Orchestra, as I ‘ve said before they are my favourite orchestra. Mark Elder in the recent  TV show Maestro used the Act II scene from La Boheme as one of the challenges for the celebrity conductors. It really is an amazing piece of opera with a huge amount of action happening on stage, Mark Elder at the baton, kept what could become a chaotic scene in harmonious order.

The multitasking Act II

The multitasking Act II

Rolando Villazon as Rodolfo was the highlight for me, I’m getting to the position now where I’ve seen enough opera to be able to compare and contrast productions and performers. Rolando Villazon’s performance is one of the best I’ve seen, what a voice. Puccini’s score gives him a chance to really show us the depth of feeling and power his voice has, an amazing performance, I’ll definitely make sure I see him in a future production at the Royal Opera House.

Rolando Villazon and Maija Kovalevska as Rodolfo and Mimi.

Rolando Villazon and Maija Kovalevska as Rodolfo and Mimi.

Maija Kovalevska as Mimi, moved us, her beautiful voice touched us all. As I said, people were in tears at the end and that is due to the fact she connected with us all. The chemistry between her and Rodolfo was just right.

Audun Iversen and Stefania Dovhan as tempestuous couple Marcello and Musetta, gave a great foil to Mimi and Rodolfo, comedic when needed and fiery, flirtatious lovers the rest of the time. Musetta’s seduction scene in Act II was great fun.

Stefania Dovhan as Musetta and Audun Iversen as Marcello

Stefania Dovhan as Musetta and Audun Iversen as Marcello

Act III’s wintry snow scene was a special moment for me,  but the final Act as I said moved me in a way few pieces of theatre have.

This has been one of the theatrical highs for 2012 for me, Puccini’s score is stunning, but I found it refreshing to be at an opera which spoke to the heart, engaged with our emotions and was about the characters on stage. Director John Copley is to be congratulated for chosing to focus on the heart of the piece and allowing us to be drawn into this tragically moving piece of theatre.

STARS : * * * * (and a half)

“We’re all looking for a happy ending” – Cinderella – Blind Tiger Theatre Company – Leicester Square Theatre – Review

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Cinderella_Official_Poster_Image_copy_large

Only the other week I was having a discussion with some friends about the esoteric symbolism of fairy tales (Snow White in particular). The original tales rather than the sanitized Disney versions, make for interesting and sometimes uncomfortable reading. As we enter pantomime season where these tales are used as little more than a backcloth to hang jokes, songs and “celebrities’ upon, it is refreshing to see a theatre company presenting a dark and emotive version of Cinderella.

The Leicester Square Theatre I never knew even existed until earlier this week, I love the fact that there are theatres everywhere in Central London. Its underground theatre was the perfect setting for this intimate telling of this story. The cast of 4 use their acting and storytelling skills to present this familiar story to us. However they bring a different emphasis and we see the struggles of the Prince, Cinderella and her Father in new ways.

The “evil” step-sisters are played superbly by one member of the cast and provide the needed comic relief and are wonderfully dismissed by the narrator as comic devices in the play. Cinderella is beautiful but has a fragile and delicate composure which means we sympathise with her and want her to succeed. The depressed, love forlorn Prince shows his heart of gold as the play continues. All superbly led by the dark and witty narrator who spins this yarn with aplomb.

The production is interspersed with music played by the talented cast. To me it really felt like I’d been transported back in time, and this band of wandering minstrels had turned up, and were regaling us with their cunning tales.

Forget your “he’s behind you” pantos, make the effort to see a true fairy tale brought gracefully alive before your eyes, skillfully embracing the inherent darkness of the original story.

STARS : * * * *

‘Tis the Season to Be Busy

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Hi,

I didn’t get to post last week, sorry.

I’m currently busy acting as Production Assistant for The Exorcism, which opens at the Miller Centre Theatre, Caterham on 3rd January 2013.

I’m also involved as producer for The Real Inspector Hound which opens at the Bridewell Theatre, London on February 20th. I’m also in that production playing the character Moon, so am busy learning my lines like crazy.

Added to this, my final college module starts in January, it’s entitled The Director’s Story, so I’ve been doing a bit of preliminary reading. (I’m also hoping to direct my first play in 2014, so this’ll module comes along at just the right time). I’m also in the process of getting my research area confirmed for my dissertation that begins next year too. So 2013 will be a “heads in the books” year for sure.

I am going to a few shows in December, so reviews will follow shortly.

I hope your Christmas preparations, be they familial or theatrical are going well.

Dominic