Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dancing (and Singing) Through Life - Challenge

So this is the challenge my lovely friend Lily Luna put on the table: Introduce your current musical theatre collection.
Since I subscribe to Spotify Unlimited, I generally only physically buy soundtracks if they are not available on there. Hence the slightly random CD collection.
Update 13.3.2012: New additions in green

Simply the Songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber
Chess in Concert
The Lord of the Rings: Original London Soundtrack
Les Misérables: 10th Anniversary Concert
Pinocchio (The Swedish Theatre in Helsinki)
Robin Hood (The Swedish Theatre in Helsinki)
Wicked - Die Hexen von Oz: Original German Soundtrack

Solo albums by musical theatre actors:
(Do these count? I decided to include them anyway)
Anthems - Kerry Ellis
Close Your Eyes - Annalene Beechey
I'll Bring You a Song - Shona White
The Journey Home - Mark Evans
Little Stories - Dianne Pilkington
Wish - Sutton Foster
You and I - Louise Dearman

Chess in Concert
Les Misérables: 25th anniversary concert
Moulin Rouge
My Fair Lady
The Phantom of the Opera: 25th anniversary concert
The Producers
Rent: Live on Broadway
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Vocal selections (i.e. sheet music books):
Jesus Christ Superstar
Legally Blonde
My Fair Lady
The Phantom of the Opera

Tickets and programmes that have survived:
After the Turn, The Courtyard Theatre, London (ticket + programme)
The Baker's Wife, Union Theatre, London (programme)
Billy Elliot, Victoria Palace Theatre, London (programme)
Blondi - Legally Blonde, Samppalinnan kesäteatteri, Turku (ticket + programme)
Crazy for You, Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, London (programme)
Ghost the Musical, Piccadilly Theatre, London (ticket + programme)
La Cage aux Folles, Helsinki City Theatre, Helsinki (ticket + programme)
Legally Blonde, Savoy Theatre, London (tickets + programme)
Les Misérables, Queen's Theatre, London (ticket + programme)
The Lord of the Rings, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London (ticket + programme)
Parade, Bernie Grant Arts Centre, London (ticket)
The Phantom of the Opera, Her Majesty's Theatre, London (ticket + programme)
Pippin, The Menier Chocolate Factory, London (ticket + programme)
The Secret Garden, Hampton Hill Playhouse, Hampton Hill (ticket)
The Three Musketeers, Rose Theatre, Kingston-upon-Thames (ticket + programme)
We Will Rock You, The Dominion Theatre, London (ticket + programme)
Wicked, Helsinki City Theatre, Helsinki (2 tickets + programme)
Wicked, Apollo Victoria Theatre, London (tickets + programmes)
Wicked, Circustheater, Den Haag (programme + souvenir book)
Mamma Mia! (x2)
The Phantom of the Opera: 25th anniversary concert

Annaleigh Ashford, Desmond Barrit, Gina Beck, Annalene Beechey, Katie Rose Clarke, Michael Crawford, Louise Dearman, Siobhan Dillon, Killian Donnelly, Kerry Ellis, Mark Evans, Nicole Faraday, Alice Fearn, America Ferrera, Lillie Flynn, Julian Forsyth, Sutton Foster, Alex Gaumond, Shimi Goodman, Ashleigh Gray, Joel Grey, Jill Halfpenny, Megan Hilty, Amanda Holden, Danielle Hope, Ramin Karimloo, Julie Legrand, Caissie Levy, Aoife Mulholland, Dianne Pilkington, Zoe Rainey, Carley Stenson, Oliver Tompsett, Rachel Tucker, Anna-Maija Tuokko, Matt Willis, Maria Ylipää.

Legally Blonde: 8x10" photo print with Sheridan Smith as Elle Woods
Stamp set featuring West End musical theatre posters
Wicked: green t-shirt which reads 'Defy Gravity'
Wicked: 8x10" photo print with Rachel Tucker as Elphaba
Wicked: Broadway cast-signed playbill

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Inadequate explanation of absence and update

So, I did not use this blog at all in the way I intended to. In fact, I did not end up using it at all.
What happened? I have no idea. Anyway, by this time, I have returned to live in the UK. Not because I did not like Finland (on the contrary, after getting over the initial problems, I ended up having an absolute ball) but rather because I felt the need to return. After all, I did have a university place waiting for me here in Nottingham.

Over the six months I spent in Finland, theatre became an even greater part of my life than it had been before.
I went to see the Finnish production of Wicked in March at the Helsinki City Theatre. I was already a fan of musical theatre and having seen several shows in London's West End, I went in with an embarrassingly prejudiced attitude: "There is no way a production in Finland will beat a West End show." (N.B. I had never seen Wicked in the West End and I did not know the story behind the musical even if I had heard some of the songs.) Already after the first act I could not contain my excitement. The show was one of the most fantastic things I had ever seen on stage.

Delving deeper into the world of Finnish theatre, I found that, despite being a country with a small population, there is a surprisingly large number of plays going on at a surprisingly large number of theatres, particularly in the capital. And, naturally, this would not be the case if there were not a significant number of people seeing them.
One cannot leave out the summer theatre culture, of course. All the big theatres are closed in the summer, giving the small open air theatres (not rarely located in the middle of nowhere) a chance to shine. And speaking of shining, the weather usually agrees with this tradition, which is lucky seeing as some of the theatres are completely uncovered. One might expect these productions to be cheap and amateur-made but this is so far off the truth that... I can't even come up with a piece of imagery to describe it. An expensive set or lots of special effects simply is not the point of summer theatre. That would be very much out of place, I think. Besides, the talent of the actors keeps the audience engaged. 

Interesting piece of trivia:
The Finnish production of the musical The Producers had translated Max's line, which originally read:
"I am the director who invented theatre in a square."
"I am the first director who put on summer theatre in the winter."

It is a shame tourists do not particularly get to be a part of the Finnish theatre culture due to the language issue. In addition, the budget of shows is rarely of a size allowing the sets and costumes to be particularly flashy like they tend to be in the West End or Broadway, so most of the time there is not even a visual element for tourists to follow. The best bet, if one does not speak Finnish would be to go and see one of the musicals at the Helsinki City Theatre (as far as I understand, the productions of Broadway musicals they put on there, are of high quality and very enjoyable to watch, especially if you know the story beforehand).

I have a feeling that my blog (which I will try to update regularly) will take a slightly more theatre and musical theatre orientated approach. But cultural differences are such a curious topic that it will certainly feature.