Saturday, April 20, 2013

'9 to 5' - the Dolly Parton musical

Dolly Parton - obviously a legend. I was already in possession of the Broadway soundtrack for this musical but that was mainly due to Megan Hilty and Stephanie J Block singing two of the leads rather than being a fan of the musical itself. Therefore I was not familiar with the plot but now, having seen it, I must say it was... interesting...

9 to 5 (UK tour) at Richmond Theatre
Performance: Friday 15th February 2013 at 19:30
Seat: Right rear stalls
Cast included: Mark Moraghan (Franklyn J Hart), Jackie Clune (Violet Newstead), Gemma Maclean (Judy Bernley u/s), Amy Lennox (Doralee Rhodes), Bonnie Langford (Roz Keith), Mark Willshire (Joe)

Plot summary: Judy starts a new job after her husband left her. Her office working skills aren't exactly as great as her CV suggested, however. In fact, she has never worked let alone worked in an office. However, Violet, one of her supervisors takes her under her wing and helps her out even if their boss, Hart, threatens to fire her. Violet and Hart's secretary, Doralee also discover their reasons to dislike Hart and the three women unite to stand up against their boss.
A few plot twists later, Hart is hanging above the bed in his own bedroom in a harness while Violet, Judy and Doralee ponder what to do with him and how to keep the office from noticing his absence.

So the show is very much about women getting their revenge, girl power, whatever you want to call it. Rather reminds me of my psychology teacher at college. She was very feminist. I think she would have loved this show. Anyway, the show made me laugh because many of the plot twists were unexpected or simply random. To an extent I can understand why the show didn't do well on Broadway (April '09-September '09) though and I don't think it would do brilliantly in the West End either if it ever decided to come into town: it isn't that great a story line and not all people laugh at pure randomness like I do. Even I didn't come out of the theatre thinking 'Wow! That was so much fun! I want to go again!' I suppose 9 to 5 could be compared to something like Mamma Mia! seeing as it is a feel-good, cheesy jukebox musical too but I felt that 9 to 5 was aimed mainly at adults rather than being a show for the whole family like Mamma Mia! very much is.

Original Broadway Cast. From left: Stephanie J Block, Allison Janney and Megan Hilty. (Source)

If I was to give one mention for the best performance, that would undoubtedly go to Bonnie Langford. For the information of my non-British readers, she is a famous stage actress over here. I had never seen her perform live before this despite the fact that she works at Richmond Theatre quite a lot. I did not expect her to be so petite - she was tiny! - nor did I expect her to be such a good dancer and in such a good shape for her age. Langford also won over my friend Christie who came to see the show with me and who was slightly doubtful to begin with.

9 to 5 would work as a straight play also as it is based on a film of the same name from 1980. It does not have that many musical numbers in it which made it come across a little bit like play with song and dance anyway. The plot is complicated (and weird) enough to be interesting on its own (where something like Mamma Mia! most definitely needs the umph provided by the musical theatre aspect). Having said this, I do love the perkiness of the soundtrack.

Lots of people hold the opinion that this one, Get Out and Stay Out, is the best song in the show. Just a little bit too long perhaps. Sung by Stephanie J Block here. Can I just say: she is pure brilliance. The way she builds this song with her voice and emotion is fantastic as is her breath control.

Personally I like the sound of the harmonies in this one, Shine Like the Sun, performed by Megan Hilty, Stephanie J Block and Allison Janney:

There are lots of 9 to 5 clips available to watch on YouTube if you want to find out more :)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Introducing: My motorbike

As people may recall, I bought myself a motorbike in December. For the time being it is only a small one as I have not taken the test for a full licence yet and so I currently ride with L plates.
To explain this to my readers in Finland and abroad (bear with me UK people), L-plates (or D-plates in Wales) are to be displayed on all learner (someone who has not yet passed their driving test) cars and motorcycles. In order to ride a scooter or a motorcycle up to 125cc, one has to pass a CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) which is more of a training day or two instead of a formal test. The certificate awarded from this is valid for two years and allows the person to ride freely with the above engine restrictions in mind as long as they display L-plates front and back. However, they are not allowed to carry passengers or go on motorways (which you wouldn't really prefer do anyway on a 125cc machine). Within these two years one can do the test for a full licence or they can simply take the CBT again after the two years is up. 

As my first bike I went for a black Yamaha YBR 125. My friend warmly recommended this particular make and model, which he had started off with himself too, as it is very easy to handle and it is fairly inexpensive. You don't want to be spending a fortune on your first bike if you know you want to replace it with a bigger one once you have a full licence (which I am aiming to do).
I bought it new as there is a dealer nearby and they had a good offer going on. I am glad I decided to go for a new bike because the guys at West London Yamaha have been subsequently very supportive and helped me out with, well, healing my bike when I have gone and wrecked something...
People keep saying it's really dangerous on a motorbike but so far I have been more dangerous to the bike than it has been to me. I have had the bike for nearly four months now and the throttle, wing mirror, rear tyre, clutch leaver, clutch cable and the rear light bulb have all been replaced once already...

My bike is called Brianna. I just referred to her as 'bikey' until someone pointed out it sounds like 'pikey' so I thought maybe she needs a proper name. I absolutely love driving around on her. Driving a bike to college and work takes half an hour less than undertaking the same journey on public transport. This is the case even in the morning traffic as on a bike I can filter past a large number of queues on my way. Around Greater London, you can usually park a motorbike for free as well so it is really an excellent way to get around. 

22nd December 2012: parked outside the house for the first time.
I can't wait for the warmer summer weathers. The engine and tyres work much nicer in the warmth and maybe then my fingers won't feel like icicles. I love my bike though! It gives me an enormous feeling of freedom and it has really made me enjoy driving again (by the time I passed my practical car test, I hated driving). I only regret not getting into bikes sooner.