South Pacific info night
Because I've been assistant webmonkey1 for the ATG, I've been seeing all the audition notices for upcoming shows; one that I was particularly interested in was for The Met's production of South Pacific.
All of the shows I've involved in recently – as cast or crew – have tended toward the serious (while Arsenic & Old Lace and The Tempest were both comedies, I played the least funny roles in both of them; Jonathan Brewster and Alonso respectively) and I'm thinking that it's time I did something lighter – either a musical or a (proper) comedy.
South Pacific has the advantage of needing a large cast of guys, and working with The Met has the advantage of rehearsing not all that far from where I live – one of the two locations is literally a five-minute walk from my house; the other a (maybe) ten-minute drive. So it certainly had a lot going for it.
So, I went along to the info night. Unfortunately, it didn't take long for me to realise there were some stumbling blocks, with the most insurmountable being the timing – the show itself is on in May and rehearsals start in early February; this is a huge problem for me, given that I need half of both February and March free for Fringesanity2 – and probably a week or so after that to recover. I've also got the 2012 Global Atheist Conference to go to in mid-April, which would probably mean missing at least one rehearsal.
The other major problem is that I'm just not prepared for an audition. It's been a couple of years since I sang, so I'd definitely want at least a couple of refresher sessions with a singing teacher, and I don't even have a standard audition number that I do – in the past I've gotten in without needing one because it wasn't required.
And let's not even talk about my fear of choreography. The only way I got through the last show I did was to absolutely work my ass off in every spare moment at rehearsals to get it right; I suspect I drove a few of the other cast members up the wall with my frequent requests for guidance.
So, no South Pacific for me – at least not this time around; however, it's one of those shows that shows up every few years, so I may get another chance. However, going along has served an important purpose, which is to remind me of exactly what's needed for a musical audition, and that if I am going to try out, I'm going to have to do my homework and be ready well in advance.
1By which I mean I've been doing a lot of the uploading of audition notices and reviews and so forth.
2My term for the Adelaide festival season, which consists of the Fringe Festival and, in alternate years (though it's becoming annual sometime soon), the Festival of the Arts; there are also other unaffiliated events happening. You can read my posts about it here, here, here and here.
I hadn't actually heard about this film before it came out – which is in itself a bit strange, given the subject matter: it's based on the idea that Shakespeare's plays were actually written by Edward DeVere, Duke of Oxford. But that's only half the story; the other half is about the politics of the last years of Elizabeth I's reign.
There's been some kerfuffle about the idea that someone other than Shakespeare wrote the play – purists are 'up in arms', apparently – but I don't have much of an issue with that, since even if it were the case, it wouldn't change what's truly important: the plays themselves.
One of the oddest things about it was that it was directed by Roland Emmerich, whose previous films include The Day After Tomorrow and 20122; he's obviously trying his hand at something a little different.
Anyway, it was an entertaining film, if nothing spectacular. They did a lot of work recreating the theatres of the period, and the performance scenes were great – the bit in Henry V where the audience got so filled with patriotic fervour they attacked the actors playing French soldiers in particular. The real Shakespeare was portrayed as an boozy, barely-literate thug, which I couldn't help but find a little funny.
Worth a look if you're a fan of Shakespeare and/or history – though they have taken a few liberties with the facts.
2I haven't seen it, but I've only heard negative things about it – other than how it did at the box office, which was rather ridiculously well.
The Flaming Lips
At first I was annoyed the Harvest festival wasn't coming to Adelaide, but when a few of the bands announced they were doing sideshows, I felt a little less irritated – especially when the first band to do so was The Flaming Lips.
I've seen them before, at the 2004 Big Day Out and since I rate it as one of the best BDO gigs I saw, I was very keen to see them again; at the time I remember lead singer Wayne Coyne saying it wouldn't be long before they'd be back – and even though it's now been seven and a half years, I was still keen to go. And my friend Miriam, who's also a fan, wanted in, so we got tickets pretty much as soon as they went on sale.
To say they have a reputation for wackiness would be an understatement, and they certainly lived up to that: Wayne Coyne coming on stage in a huge inflatable clear plastic ball and then crowd surfing in it; a big video screen with wacky looped clips on it2; dozens of massive balloons and confetti cannons, Wayne donning a giant pair of hands with lasers in the palms, which he reflected off the mirrorball into the audience.
Obviously there were some great songs as well: She Don't Use Jelly, The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (part 1), Do You Realise, and two Pink Floyd covers from Dark Side of the Moon – Brain Damage and Eclipse.
You can see the full setlist here. A crazy fun night indeed.
3Of which a disturbing number featured one or more topless women dancing.
Mercury Rev & Portishead
Two of the other bands doing Harvest sideshows were Mercury Rev and Portishead – neither of which I'd ever seen live before. When it was announced the former would be the support for the latter I got in straight away to get my ticket.
Not long after this was announced, The Flaming Lips announced their gig for the night before – meaning I'd have two gigs to go to in two nights, both at Thebarton Theatre. I asked a few people if they were interested in going, but no-one seemed keen; I then remembered that ex-flatmate Dan was a fan – specifically because he owns the Live in NYC dvd – and he said he'd come.
We got there a little after Mercury Rev started their set but managed to catch most of it, including Holes and Goddess on a Hiway; they also did a great cover of Peter Gabriel's Solsbury Hill.
Then it was time for Portishead. Here's a picture:
The played all of their big songs: Mysterons, Sour Times, a truly epic version of Wandering Star – a reminder of exactly why Beth Gibbons' voice is considered one of the best in the business – and (of course) Glory Box and Roads (which made Dan happy). They also played some of their more recent stuff, which wasn't as good; it's a lot more electronic with less singing.
Full setlist here.
Very, very glad I went – and it means that, having gone to Massive Attack last year, I've now added both the big two Bristol trip-hop acts off my 'seen live' list.