Cinderella on Ice

July 30, 2008 at 4:19 am | Posted in Show Review | 5 Comments
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I wasn’t sure what to expect, I had heard that it was not the classical story, but I enjoyed Swan Lake on Ice, so I thought that I would give the Imperial Ice Stars another go.

Warning: this review has plot details!

July 26, 2008 by


Show Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
Wellington
New Zealand

The Cinderella story has definitely been upgraded. The opening sequence introduces Cinderella beside her dead mother and also introduces her father. The rest of first 15 minutes were a little bit confusing, still I worked my way through it.

Cinderalla instead of being reduced to being a scullery maid in the family kitchen is actually in the corp de ballet of a company of which her stepsisters are principal dancers – not very good ones at that. So, when on opening night of Swan Lake, one of them falls and hurts herself, Cinderella’s talent is finally recognised and she thrust into the main part! This brings her to the attention of the ‘Prince’ character – who has to organise a ball to meet her. Cinderella is so mobbed by well wishers at the post performance party that her doesn’t actually get to meet her!! The rest of the story is pretty much as the classic version, even though the setting is more Regency than Queen Anne. The stepmother ended up as a mixture of ballet-mum and Mrs Collins (as in Pride and Prejudice).

The production went out of its way to emphasis the importance of midnight. I thought that this was the most innovative aspect of the production. Cast members dressed up as the numbers in a clock face – this allowed the use modern-dance choreography and costumes without it being out of place with the Regency period. Full marks for using a tissu performer to be the clock hands in one of these sequences.

The stepsisters lost some of their significance in the re-worked story, they are just there to give smore credence to the step-mother character – if cinderella is to be discriminated against, there must be someone(s) who are favoured unfairly ahead of her . The ‘prince’ character is slightly diminished – he is now the Lord Mayor’s son (Andrei Penkine). By not making him royalty, some of the shine goes off the character. The contribution to the story made by the fairy godmother character increases; there is almost a sense of a dual between the fairy godmother and the step-mother.

There are three main charaters: Cinderella (Olga Sharutenko), her father (Vadim Yarkov) and her stepmother (Olena Pyatash). There is a bit of a love triangle: the father for both of them, each for him, and Cinderella also seeks acceptance from her stepmother.

The ice skating is brilliant: energetic, but precise. The stage/ice is quite crowded with skaters and props – there is no room for error. There are one handed carries – with the female partner held above the man’s head with a straight arm !

The Ice Stars have a managed curtain call: at the end of the performance, two of the cast gets the crowd clapping madly and then cast members take turns doing tricks. This slightly artifical segment is well worth it, as the cast does spectacular tricks without having to worry about the story telling ! Just natural joy in having mastered difficult tricks.

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Rome the Musical

July 28, 2008 at 1:52 am | Posted in Musical Review, Show Review | Leave a comment
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I went to see Paul Jenden and Gareth Farr’s third in a series of musical inspired by historic events, on at Circa Theatre. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it looked worth a go. I didn’t go to Troy the Musical or The Monarch the Musical, but based on this work, I will try to catch them next time.

July 23, 2008 by


Musical Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
Wellington
New Zealand

This was really a modern opera – what is the difference between an opera and a musical anyway ?

The musical compresses the struggle to be Julius Ceaser’s successor into a single dinner – on the evening of 15th of March 44BC. There is a high body count – very high! The musical is historially accurate – as far as a I can tell from wikipedia after the show – with a few extra bodies thrown in at the end to lead into the political commentary finale. Otherwise the first 90% of the musical is about the struggle between Ceaser (Kingsford-Brown), Brutus (Wood), Mark Anthony (Kennedy), Octavian (Wilson), and Cleopatra (Cusiel). Most of the action is set after dinner; Ceaser’s wife, Calpurnia (Kinane) and a house slave (Solino), keeps the food and refreshments flowing while the bodies stack up!

I found the first 30 minutes hard to get into: lots of characters being introduced and me trying to integrate them into my fading knowledge of Roman history. It might have been better if I had had no knowledge of the Romans. I became more engaged when Cleopatra arrived – her solo gave me the zip I needed. Who can wrestle with the work at an intellectual level when you get lyrics like ‘I don’t look like Elisabeth Taylor” or “My tongue is my best appliance” being sung in lovely seductive voice! Not thinking about Roman history certainly made the last three quarters more enjoyable and accessible.

I kept wondering why the performers weren’t wearing togas. It was revealed at the end, when the general political commentary was revealed. Octavian is actually stands in for all of the charismatic democratic leaders down in the last 100 years. The set was very simple and the symbolism had a definite fascist feel to it – the Roman eagle was more symbolic that anatomically correct and the Roman courtyard had a Reichstag and Brandonberg Gate feel to it

The musical used live musicians, and cleverly introduced them in a parade at the beginning, before hiding them in a stoa; and placed the ‘voice over /commentary’ singer on stage as the soothsayer (Lineham) – who warns Ceaser about the Ides of March – to direct the muscians.

Overall, quite good: definitely worth going to. It was a very intellectual work, that engaged my analytical side more than my emotional side. I thought Lineham (the soothsayer) and Cusiel (Cleopatra) stood out in terms of the singing.

The best death scene award goes Lyndee-Jane Rutherford, who played Mark Antony’s wife, with a very exaggerated death flop.

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Mamma Mia

July 25, 2008 at 12:53 am | Posted in Film Review | 1 Comment
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Or rather Poppa Mia – since it is about a young women’s search for her true father.

I went to see the film of the stage musical Mamma Mia – which seems to re-use every ABBA song ever.

July 22, 2008 by


Film Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
Wellington
New Zealand

This film is a must see for ABBA fans; ABBA’s music is cleverly re-cast to tell the story of a young 20 year old woman – Sophie played by Amanda SiegFried – searching for herself. It is set on an incredibly picturesque Greek island – that must have been especially built by the Greek tourism commission.

Sophie is about to get married and after coming across one of her mother’s old diaries, she secretly invites the three men who could be her father to the wedding: Stellan Skarsgård, Pierce Brosnan, and Colin Firth duly turn up. I am not going to bother giving their characters’ names, because their star quality just powers through the plot!

This comes as a unwanted surprise to Sophie’s mother – played by Meryl Streep. Two of her old friends – played by Julie Walters and Christine Baranski – who have proper invitations help to balance out the sexual dynamics. Once again I won’t bother giving their characters’ names, because their star quality just shines through!

The storyline is appealing: young woman searching for her father, but really searching for herself. Minor threads include: single parenthood; love that lasts a 20 year separation; and being true to yourself.

The music was wonderful; the singing was patchy: the mum, aunts and dads were not great singers, but hey, it was sunny and it didn’t get in the way of the story being told.

The dancing was nice. As someone said to me afterwards: “It is a bollywood movie with white people!” Who can turn down the cygnet dance done by four men wearing flippers! Did Meryl Streep really do the cossack unassisted off the bed?

The flow of the movie was a little stilted – stop start – due to the need to work in or set up the lines of the next song. This is where the movie betrayed its beginnings as a stage musical. But it did not really matter – the music and scenery carried all before it!!

The only thing that did not work, for me, was the visual age of the dads, aunts and the mother. Amanda SiegFried looks 20, but for me the others looked more like six grandparents. Still good on them for putting themselves outside of their genres.

I think that between them Christine Baranski and Julie Walters nearly ‘stole’ the movie.

They must have really enjoyed themselves making the movie – imagine getting paid to hang around on a sunny Greek island.

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In some ways, this is long ad. for Mamma Mia the stage musical ! I will certainly go if given a chance !! I might even buy the sound track if it comes out.

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