Thursday, December 5, 2013

Recent goings-on

I've started a number of posts lately but haven't managed to finish any; that usually means I should do a compilation instead – so that's what I've done.

A Little Night Music

I didn't get allocated to review this show, but I felt it was one worth writing about because of how much I enjoyed it, and how it fits into a bigger picture of my taste in musical theatre.

The core plot is about Fredrik Egerman, a lawyer, and Desiree Armfeltd, an actress – they have a past, which, when Fredrik and his young trophy wife (in the parlance of our times1) attend a performance of a play Desiree is performing in, becomes the present. Complicating this is – of course – Fredrik's wife, Anne, but also Count Carl-Magnus, Desiree's lover and his wife Charlotte. And then there's Fredrik's seemingly humourless, seminary student son Henrick; Anne's amorous maid Petra; Desiree's mother Madame Armdfeldt (a retired courtesan) and daughter Frederika2 and a handful of servants. Oh, and there's a wandering five-person chorus which opens the show and pops up from time to time, but they don't factor into the plot.

What it's about, then, is relationships. Complicated ones, mostly; Fredrik realises he's in love with Desiree and vice versa – but he's married to Anne and she's involved with Carl-Magnus. But it turns out Henrick's in love with Anne (who isn't in love with Fredrik, and – after some prompting, Carl-Magnus realises he's still in love with Charlotte. So, everyone ends up with the person they're supposed to be with.

Yes, it's a very lighthearted show - particularly compared to the last Sondheims I saw, namely Into the Woods and Sweeney Todd – but what it lacks in darkness it more than makes up for in wit and snark. It's the sort of show that I'd like to get the script for and read – not that common an occurrence, and certainly not for a musical.

This, of course, is what the show is on paper. That the Hills Musical Company have taken the elements and brought them together into a truly excellent production – great interpretation of the text and the music and a wonderfully talented cast including Rachel Rai (whose show, Homemade Fusion, I wrote about here); Fiona DeLaine and Rod Schultz, who were Sweeney and Mrs Lovett in HMC's 2012 production of Sweeney Todd; Adelaide stage legend Myfanwy May as Mme Armfeltd, her real-life daughter Brownen James as Desiree and granddaughter Georgia James as Frederica; and a host of other talented performers I wasn't familiar with. Oh, and in what is one of the most interesting pieces of casting I've seen, James Christopher Reed – who's been Angel in Rent, Chris in Miss Saigon and a great Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast, to name a few – in a non-singing role.

Interestingly enough, I had seen the show before, back in 2004 – but that production didn't have anywhere near as big an impact on me as this one did. I think I now rank this show amongst my favourite musicals.

1That, if you didn't get it, is a reference to The Big Lebowski. I couldn't do that in a proper review...
2Not, if you're wondering, a coincidence.

Supanova 2013

After a few years of being fascinated by the idea of a pop culture convention - and seeing lists of interesting people who've been guests at them – I decided that I was going to go to one when the opportunity arose; when they announced that Supanova would be hosting George RR Martin, author of A Song of Ice and Fire; Peter Dinklage, who plays one of Martin's best characters, Tyrion Lannister, in the tv adaption A Game of Thrones; the Tam siblings from Firefly and Serenity, Summer Glau and Sean Maher; and a whole bunch of other people, it sealed the deal.

It was a bit unfortunate that both Peter Dinklage and Summer Glau dropped out, but I'd bought my ticket by then.

Given that I'd bought a three-day pass – and that, because I now had rehearsal on Sunday afternoon (more on that later) I couldn't go Sunday, I decided to go to the opening session on Friday night straight after work; that way I could see the session with A Game of Thrones actors Mark Addy (the late King Robert Baratheon) and Jerome Flynn (Bronn the sellsword) and a talk on Tintin and his creator Hergé. Both were good. Flynn and Addy make a great team and had a lot of funny insights about the show. And the Tintin session was interesting, not the least because the guy presenting was dressed as the Belgian boy-reporter himself, right down to the hair.

Saturday I caught the bus into the city and another – after getting slightly confused about which one to catch – to the showgrounds. I went for a bit of a wander around the stalls where an astonishing array of items were for sale: comics, books, dvds, clothes (so many onesies!), weapons, toys, jewellery, artwork and truckloads of tie-in merchandise - pretty much everything you'd expect at such an event. Bumped into my friend Paul Briske, who was there in a stall for his company, BriskeArt. Ran into a bunch of others as well, including How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying musical director Emma Knights, and we headed off to see the team from Aussie comedy tv series Danger 5 do their presentation – and that was a blast; they were awesome.

I needed some food after that, so I hit the food court and wound up with a Cajun wrap which, while tasty, wasn't so well engineered because I ended up with more sauce on me than in me. Note to self: next year, either take food along or choose a less messy option.

Since for me the biggest draw was George RR Martin, I thought it worth the annoyance of standing in line for an extended period in order to get a good seat for his session, so I went to where people were gathering for that. Before too long the organiser people ushered us toward tables where they divested us of our mobile phones and cameras before sending us to one of the empty rooms in the pavilion – explaining, as they did, that it was necessary because...

I'm pausing for effect here.


I was okay with having to sit on the floor of dark room (heck, I do that at home) for however long it took for the start time to roll around if that would be at the end of it. It wasn't all bad, though; I ran into some friends and then Emma showed up again in time for us to get seats in the (I think) fourth row with a clear view of the stage and the table.

George came out and, as promised, read two chapters from the next book. And he's a pretty good narrator, too; he really brought the action to life. So, that was damn well worth the time, cost and effort I'd gone to.

After taking way too long to get our phones back – take note, organisers – we went and caught the last part of Sean Maher's (Dr Simon Tam from Firefly/Serenity and Don John in Joss Whedon's recent version of Much Ado About Nothing) session.

Then I was pretty much done. I wandered around the stalls a bit more – I was hoping there'd be some steampunk jewellery (earrings, specifically; and as a gift, not for me) but there wasn't – and I ran into my friend Justine, who I'd been hoping to see; she's a cosplayer and I knew she'd be dressed as Sif from the Thor films. Dressed as wrestler Eve Torres she won her category in the cosplay competition on Sunday – check out the photos here.

So, that was Supanova. Despite the dropouts, and the fact I missed a day – meaning I didn't get to see Lord of the Rings/Lost actor Dominic Monahan's session (I did see him around the place, though) or the more traditional session with George RR Martin, I had a great time – and will almost certainly go again next year. Fingers crossed there are more great guests, fewer dropouts and no clashes.

Forty Years of Love

I mentioned having to miss the Sunday of Supanova because of rehearsal; the reason why is that Marie Clark Musical Theatre, with whom I've done three shows (and will be doing a fourth – more on that later) are celebrating their fortieth year next year, so in order to celebrate that – and to raise some funds – they decided they'd put on a concert. Since I was in the last show, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, I was asked if I wanted to be involved. I said I did, and got asked to stage manage and perform in a few of the ensemble numbers.

After a handful of rehearsals over two weeks we bumped into the Goodwood Institute – somewhere I've only been audience for the last few years; the last time I was involved in a production there was when Burnside Players did Les Liaisons Dangereuses and I stage managed. I'd also performed there a couple of years before that in the stage adaptation of the Terry Pratchett Discworld novel Lords & Ladies.

Numbers came from shows like Pirates of Penzance, Oklahoma, Guys and Dolls, Miss Saigon, South Pacific, Jesus Christ Superstar, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Forbidden Broadway, The Boy from Oz, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Oliver!, Honk!3, A Chorus Line, Annie Get Your Gun, Kiss Me Kate and the upcoming productions Calamity Jane and Young Frankenstein.

So, apart from the two from H2$ (Coffee Break and Brotherhood of Man) I was in With Catlike Tread and When a Felon's Not Engaged (from Pirates of Penzance), Luck be a Lady (from Guys and Dolls) Seasons of Hype (a Rent parody from Forbidden Broadway) and What I Did For Love (from A Chorus Line). It was weird to only rehearse for two weeks and to do only three performances, but it was a lot of fun - I enjoyed the challenge of learning songs in such a short time (not that easy for me given I'm not that experienced a singer; I won't even talk about the choreography) and working with friends from shows past and a bunch of new people as well.

3Apparently shows with exclamation marks are popular with the company.

Calamity Jane

So, upthread I alluded to doing a fourth show with Marie Clark; to elaborate: next year I'll be in their production of Calamity Jane in the dual roles4 of Doc Pierce and the Army Colonel. I'm really looking forward to doing another lighthearted comedy musical with a few of the same people from H2$. Rehearsals should begin in late January – so stay tuned for updates as the show gets closer.

4Yes, I'm once again playing multiple characters – this is the third show in a row.

No comments:

Post a Comment