Favorite Musical?

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Re: Favorite Musical?

Unread postby Liu Yuante » Sun Jul 06, 2014 3:09 am

Sun Fin wrote:I went to see a local production of 'A Sound of Music' tonight. It's probably illegal to say this but it's actually one of my least favourite musicals; however the little girl who was playing Gretel is a family friend and she was very cute!


I hate 'A Sound of Music' so you're safe from my goons, at least.
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Re: Favorite Musical?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sat Jan 03, 2015 5:45 pm

Saw the Prom production of Kiss Me, Kate with Ben Davis as lead/director Fred Graham, Alexandra Silber as leading leady Lilli Vanessi, Tony Yazbeck as the gambling Bill Calhoun and Louise Dearman as the flirty Lois Lane, John Wilson Orchestra providing the music. You may remember my thoughts on the Chris Hunt one

Due to being in the Albert Hall, only a few props like tables and no background but that isn't a problem and it allows them to play off the conductor once or twice. For TV, they have a great credit sequence but they use a similar technique to indicate a scene change and to set things up at the start, all fine (indeed most scene changes are done subtly) but in first five minutes, an explaining card seems to appear every minute. Good costumes, good dancers and it has the big songs.

I felt the song "Too Darn Hot" summed up the differences between the two productions: The Chris Hunt one was fell of sex, it sizzled as the men danced for the ladies, the words a cry of sex and frustration. It also seemed to be 650 verses long as it went well past it's sell by date. The Prom one never had that pace problem but, despite the words and the actions (this was a production that slapped bottoms), there was no sizzle or sex appeal. Or "Always True to You in My Fashion" as in the former, Nancy Kathryn Anderson played it with love, sex appeal and comedy, a twinkle in her eye but again, went on too long. Dearman managed to keep the pace right, it never had the wishing it was end feeling, indeed it was jolly and fun but on the other hand, it simply lacked the brilliance of Anderson's version.

Despite having the words, the bottom slapping and the actions, this felt like a production that had lost the sex and the innuendo. Pacing was far far better and it was a nice enough show, one and a half good romances (due to the females mostly), decent songs, fine cast, it jollied along. It was really lacking in comedy, the jokes never fired and only Silber ever felt funny, she couldn't do prop comedy, but her raging Katherine was amusing.

Of the main four, Ben Davies was a fairly decent romantic figure without having great chemistry with his leading lady, a good singer but lacked a comic touch. Silber needs to work on prop comedy but she was amusing (no Rachel York but still good), she had some strong romantic moments, a good singer but tended to go too high for my taste. Yazbeck is a good singer and dancer but, understandable given the surprisingly small role, didn't stand out otherwise. Dearman probably gave the best song with her sad "Why Can't You Behave?" and was a good singer, did the flirty bits reasonably well and made a jolly presence.

It was a nice enough production.
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Re: Favorite Musical?

Unread postby Ayame » Sat Jan 03, 2015 8:06 pm

Blues Brothers. It is a humorous musical with car chases.
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Re: Favorite Musical?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Wed Jan 07, 2015 6:56 pm

Saw a BBC special, an interview/show at Southbank, where Michael Parkinson interviews Tim Rice. Interview not that intresting and in terms of music... hit and miss. An orchestra that had a tendency to go too loud, great stuff from the likes of Alexander Armstrong (No Rhyme for Richard), Rob Brydon ("It's Easy for You"), Cynthia Erivo (Somebody Else's Story), the brilliant Julian Ovenden had my favourite with Anthem. On the other hand a mismatch in the eager Diana Vickers and the impressive James Fox for Whole New World, voices didn't mesh for that one and some dissapointing performances including two "interpretations"

Having a show about the lyrist does make one appreciate the lyrics and now really want to see: 1) Jesus Christ Superstar, 2) Chess
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Re: Favorite Musical?

Unread postby Sun Fin » Tue Jan 27, 2015 3:06 pm

Over Christmas my family and I went to see Dirty Rotten Scoundrels starring Robert Lindsay. It was very amusing and really worth seeing!
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Re: Favorite Musical?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu Jun 11, 2015 7:14 am

Watched Les Misérables in Concert: The 25th Anniversary with Alfie Boe as Jean Valjean and Norm Lewis as Javert, at the O2 arena. Having watched a few Les Mis, it does seem like a erratic musical with varying ways to do certain songs, struggles to quite fit everything in but flaws get covered by very good songs: toe tappers like Can you hear the People sing, romantic ones like A Heart full of love, comedy like Master of the House, tragic ones like I had a dream.

This production... It isn't a straight musical unlike the Albert Hall Phantom of the Opera, there are few props, next to no physical acting, it just moves from song to song. If you don't know the musical or the plot, you may get a bit confused "Why is it Javert talking of the mayor's feat of strength when he has done nothing?" sort of thing. The cast are limited in terms of what acting they can do without props or freedom to bounce off anything further then the next microphone. Well shot, good costumes (though Epinone is too clean cut) and lighting, this production fully embraces the religious aspect to characters, that this is a dark tale and does death very well through lighting or other ideas
The way Epinone walks away into the light as the rest mourn her, like a fading spirit or ghost
. The show better paces then the film and better casts, it was far more enjoyable and didn't drag, I enjoy a lot of their versions of the songs. Their main romance doesn't really work because Cossette is a relatively side figure, I got more out of Epinone.

Of the cast.
First half figures: Boe has operatic training and it shows with his powerful voice, he also well cast in terms of age and looks like a man who could be strong. Norm Lewis has a strong singing voice, he also really got to grips with intensity, seriousness and religiosity/devotion of Javert but when came to speak singing, delivery was odd for me and didn't like the way he did his last song. Sometime Disney singer Lea Salonga made a good Fantine though no Hathway, Matt Lucas had a good voice as Thénardier, a bit of charm but lacked the humour and bonhomie of other versions I have seen, Jenny Galloway fine but Madam Thénardier somewhat squeezed out. Earl Carpenter was good as the Bishop, Cameron Blakely with enjoyable flair as the cruel Bamatabois.

Second half: The main romance doesn't really fly, Cosette is just such a background figure despite a good performance from Katie Hall. Nick Jonas as Marius is a very good actor and has the appropriate youth, he is a good singer but the songs were hitting the limits of his ability. Samantha Barks was Epinone in the movie and was a star in that flagging second half, here there is less suck but she is still very good, she brought me to tears with her heart-broken performance of Heart full of love. Ramin Karimloo is a great phantom but here played Enjolras, his entire body and persona full of zeal, his eyes had fire as he roused his fellow students to revolt, this was a man who would either do great things or bring great death. Robert Madge played cockney Gavroche without making me hate the character.


A fun concert once one gets used to what it does and doesn't do. Good cast.
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Re: Favorite Musical?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Wed Jun 24, 2015 4:00 pm

Watched Love Never Dies aka the sequel to Phantom of the Opera, performed at Regent Theatre, Melbourne in 2011. Ben Lewis as the Phantom and Anna O'Byrne as Christine. Premise:
The Phantom escapes Paris and ten years later, running a freak show at Coney Island with Madame Giry (María Mercedes) as the public manager, he hears Christine is coming to do a rare performance in America....


First let me praise the Melbourne production team who made this, most of the problems are not their fault. Gabriela Tylesova's costumes were good, the sets were lovely and it was shot in such a way that one could forget it was a theatre. The cast were good singers and decent actors who didn't quite spark off each other but even had they the greatest cast ever assembled...it is not a good musical.

The songs are poor at first but eventually, some nice ones come along then dip at the end. Songs like
the songs I liked
"Look with Your Heart", the three or so Phantom/Christine duets in her apartment ("Beneath a Moonless Sky," "Once Upon Another Time,"), "Dear Old Friend", "The Beauty Underneath", "Why Does She Love Me?", "Devil Take the Hindmost", "Before the Performance", "Love Never Dies",
are... fine. 6, 6.5 type songs but there is nothing like Think of Me, Music of the Night, the Point of No Return, no great thumb tappers, romance, nothing with a bit of sizzle and power. Some with a bit of tweaking could be better but right now, there is no song I would put on a "best of" CD, nothing that would act as an advert for this musical.

The other problem is the writing and that at some points, I wondered if Andrew Lloyd Webber and the other writers hated their original musical Phantom of the Opera. With a sequel, you expect big characters to return (which they did), you perhaps expect some musical refrains from the first film to pop up (did once or twice but would have preferred more) and to acknowledge the previous film/musical/book/TV's storyline which this didn't. It seemed to pretty much rewrite the entire second half and ending to Phantom of the Opera. It ruins some decent songs which get marred becuase one is wondering "wait, what? When did the events they are talking about happen? This contradicts a lot of Phantom of the Opera.". One wonders why bother doing a sequel rather then a separate musical when it claims things like
Phantom and Christine slept with each other... then the Phantom left her. Not the whole he tried to kill a lot of people and she left him broken hearted, this seemed to have been forgotten. Nope they shacked up and he left the next morning...


It is a pity becuase had they acknowledged the first musical rather then fanfiction it, there were good idea's here that could have been built on
Meg's desperation for the Phantom's attention, all the dirt she has gone through which is hinted at. Raoul's decline, Christine's singing being suppressed. They could have simply gone with old spark when Christine had been under Phantom's thrall being reignited.
with more time. Was rather worried at first that Raoul would by a over the top puppy kicking villain but thankfully that changed. It didn't earn the ending it was going for, some key strands needed to better built and some of the ending felt silly
major spoilers
the lengths Meg had gone through had been only hinted at. The "nooooooo" at death and characters general reactions to event didn't feel right.


Of the cast: Ben Lewis is the one disappointment, a very good singer clearly but we only saw far too rare flashes of the old Phantom charisma and cruelty, the Phantom should be dominating, memorable figure. This one wasn't. Anna O'Byrne as Christine was a very good singer and a good actress but she didn't have a great romantic spark with anyone, she clicked with figures at times but only consistently with Gustav (Jack Lyall). María Mercedes didn't seem old enough to be Madame Giry, acting seemed better then her singing. Simon Gleeson made a good Raoul, a good singer and he got the arrogance, fury and falling apart of the role as an actor. Sharon Millerchip as Meg provided some zip to her songs and did really well at the end given the poor writing she had to work with, child actor Jack Lyall was really good as Gustav, very good singer and consistently bounced off others well
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Re: Favorite Musical?

Unread postby Shen Ai » Tue Jul 28, 2015 8:51 pm

Oliver! Fiddler on the Roof, and the Blues Brothers I suppose. I'm not a big fan of a lot of musicals really.
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Re: Favorite Musical?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Wed Jul 29, 2015 6:32 pm

Shen Ai wrote:Oliver! Fiddler on the Roof, and the Blues Brothers I suppose. I'm not a big fan of a lot of musicals really.


Boooo Oliver.

Why not a fan? Beyond you hate happiness and puppies :wink:
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Re: Favorite Musical?

Unread postby heapinfrimp » Wed Aug 05, 2015 8:15 pm

Dong Zhou wrote:Having a show about the lyrist does make one appreciate the lyrics and now really want to see: 1) Jesus Christ Superstar, 2) Chess

I have wanted to see Chess for a few years, but there is some messed up performance rights issue in the US due to the botched Broadway launch in the late 1980s, and since most of the stage musical money and fame is tied up with broadway, Chess remains mildly obscure and hard to track down perforances of. Supposedly the Danish cast album is the only complete version ever released in English!
I think it is great if you do not take it too seriously (as it generally goes with musicals) and are not bothered by the absence of a heroic character.
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