Tuesday, August 20, 2013

3,5 hours in Copenhagen (with photos)

Seven hours between landing in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, and boarding on another plane to take me to London. I had never visited Denmark before so I decided to take the train to the city centre (the journey took less than 15 minutes!), walk through town to see the Little Mermaid statue located in the harbour on the other side of the city and then walk back and have a late lunch before returning to the airport. I was left with approximately 3,5 hours to spend in the city itself. 

The day was not ideal for taking photos due to the clouds and the rain but got a couple of nice pictures. Enjoy :) 



12:25 Outside of Amalienborg, the King's residence.

12:40 Look! I found Churchill! The Gefion Fountain in the background. 

12:45 Lovely landscape by the harbour.

12:50 The harbour.

There it is! The Little Mermaid.

Daily portion of animal photography.

Things to do while waiting for a connective flight:
Get a Japanese tourist to take a photo of you next to a famous statue.

13:15 Bikes everywhere! I think they may have missed the sign...

13:20 Statement.

13:25 I love all different kinds of mailboxes!
I ended up eating in a lovely restaurant near the train station. The waitress recommended a dish which she referred to as "chicken salad" but it turned out to be a salad with a bowl on the side filled with a sort of chicken stuffing and a bread basket. The stuffing was lovely though, and went really well with the bread! I drank a glass of the best homemade lemonade I have ever tasted. I would actually go back to Copenhagen just for another one of them even if the city had not been as gorgeous as it was and made me want to visit again. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

"We roll along... merrily, merrily..."

Poster for the 2013 London revival. (Source)
When I got round to booking tickets to see Merrily We Roll Along at the Menier Chocolate Factory, it was unfortunately already sold out so all I could hope for was a West End transfer and I am still over the moon that this actually took place and I got the opportunity to go and see another Sondheim.

Merrily We Roll Along at Harold Pinter Theatre, London
Performance: Wednesday 24th April 2013 at 19:45
Seat: Front row Circle
Cast included: Mark Umbers (Franklin Shepard), Jenna Russell (Mary Flynn), Damian Huntley (Charley Kringas), Clare Foster (Beth), Glyn Kerslake (Joe Josephson), Josefina Gabrielle (Gussie Carnegie)

Merrily We Roll Along was a very different kind of musical to anything I had seen before. The narrative flows backwards from the main character, Frank, now having a successful career to when he was young and inexperienced. It highlights the key moments in Frank's life explaining how he got to where he is. The show is to a great extent about the friendship between Frank, Charley and Mary and the way it has changed over time.

The first Broadway production of the musical, in 1981, did not do well despite the involvement of Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince. The reviews were bad and the production closed after 44 previews and 16 regular performances. Merrily is a fairly difficult one to put together and it's not your box standard Broadway musical so if you are looking to see lots of big, flashy ensemble dance numbers, this is not the show for you. The complexity of the narrative stems from the certain abstract element and the fact that it has been reversed makes it different to many other musicals. Personally I think Merrily could even be viewed as a play with singing rather than a musical in a similar way to Blood Brothers for instance.

The score is ingeniously woven together to connect the main characters and this made the whole production feel complete and because many of the songs sounded musically similar, it was easy to focus on the plot and the lyrics instead of getting carried away with the melody - something Sondheim does very well. In addition, I particularly liked the smooth scene changes which were accompanied by the ensemble singing a reprise of the title song. (I have a big problem with awkward/slow scene changes in general but in this show they were top notch on every possible scale.)

Trailer for the West End production:

I guess one of the big challenges with Merrily is that you have to find actors for the three leads who are able to play the characters at all ages. You can't choose anyone too young because they are unlikely to have the life experience to convincingly portray the character at an older age but on the other hand, you can't take it to the opposite extreme as that is likely to generate the opposite problem with the actors not necessarily being convincing as youngsters. I thought the casting overall was very successful. I was surprised to see Clare Foster walk on stage too. I did not realise she would be in this show. I saw her play the female lead in Crazy for You at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre in 2011 and really enjoyed her performance then. Seeing her now as Beth really made me appreciate her versatility as an actress as the two characters are very different.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

'Singin' in the Rain' - didn't get wet!

Trying to post some of these old reviews here...

This was my second visit to Singin' in the Rain and a very impromptu one for that matter. I found earlier on in the day that Charlotte Scott, the understudy for the female lead, would be playing Kathy Selden that night and of course I had to go and support Charlotte. For those of you who haven't read my blog before, Charlotte used to be one of the understudies for Glinda in Wicked and she is a phenomenal triple threat performer. This was my opportunity to see the show again as well which I had planned on doing because when I went to see it in August last year, I had a balcony seat and could see very little.

Singin' In The Rain
Singin' in the Rain at Palace Theatre, London
Performance: Tuesday 9th April 2013 at 19:30
Seat: Row F Stalls, bought just before the show for £25
Cast included: Matthew Malthouse (Don Lockwood, u/s), Stephane Anelli (Cosmo Brown), Charlotte Scott (Kathy Selden, u/s), Jennifer Ellison (Lina Lamont), Peter Forbes (R F Simpson)

This time round I had a brilliant seat which was just out of the catchment area of the splashes so I had great fun sitting and watching everyone in front of me getting wet (for those of you who don't know, this West End production has actual rain falling on stage and the actors enjoy kicking the water into the audience so if you sit in the first 3-4 rows, you tend to get wet). The tourists, to begin with blissfully unaware of what they had put themselves in for by sitting at the front, were the most entertaining.

Plot summary (the plot closely follows that of the 1952 film of the same name): Set in 1927, Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont are a famous on-screen couple during the silent film era in Hollywood. According to Don, their relationship is strictly professional despite Lina's objections and the wedding rumours circulated by fan magazines. Don bumps into Kathy Selden, an aspiring actress with both singing and dance talent, and falls for her, which Lina certainly is not pleased about. At the same time, the audiences are going crazy about the newest invention in the film industry, the 'talking picture'. Will Lockwood&Lamont, who have up to now been known for their looks alone, be able to continue satisfying their fans? And what about Kathy?

Poster for the West End production. (Source)
 Singin' in the Rain is in the style of a traditional Hollywood musical. Not only is the plot the same as in the film; the whole show is very, very similar. Personally I really enjoy the old-fashioned style for those long dance breaks in the music for grand ensemble numbers and the often featured tap dancing.

Charlotte did a wonderful job as Kathy. It was great to see and hear her performing again. She really does have an exceptionally beautiful voice and I have never seen her tap before so that was new. She and Matthew, who played Don, had a lovely chemistry between them. Stephane Anelli as Cosmo did an excellent, hilarious performance of Make 'em Laugh, one of my favourite songs from the show. Frankie Jenna's dance solo also deserves a mention as I was in total awe of her. In terms of Lina Lamont, I had really enjoyed Katherine Kingsley's portrayal of the character back in August and I knew topping that would be quite impossible. That is one difficult part to play, I must say. She is one of those unintentionally funny characters, funny without realising or thinking she is funny, so if you try to play her funny or over the top (which is also very easily done), it doesn't work. Katherine Kingsley, for me, found the perfect balance.

I do recommend this show both for those people who have seen the original film and for those who haven't. Seeing a musical live is an experience on a whole new level to just seeing something on a screen. Watching it rain inside is a surreal experience for a start. Singin' in the Rain is currently on a UK tour.