Within the last two weeks 2018 has come into full swing. There’s been so many news bulletins from the opera, theatre and the classical music world that I’ve decided to break down the theatre news into one blog post and bring you opera and classical music news tomorrow in another post. Enjoy!
The Other Palace Theatre has transformed its stage to the cosmic and intergalactic new production Eugenius!, which sends audiences back into the dreamy 80’s. For the oldies, like myself, it’s as if I never left. For anyone who wants to celebrate their childhood love of Thunder Cats, HeMan or 80’s movies, with the likes of Star Wars, Freddie Krueger or E.T., Eugenius! is the one to watch, but be prepared for heaps of cheese, 80’s fashion and cringe.
The Other Palace Theatre has just turned one year’s old and Eugenius! kick-starts its 2018 with an all-round inspiring and feel-good musical, directed by Sir Ian Talbot. Ben Adams (songwriter and producer for artists including Craig David and Alexander Burke) and Chris Wilkins (songwriter and voiceover artist) wrote Eugenius!, which was first showcased in the UK in 2016 at the London Palladium. Multi-talented actor and singer Liam Forde is the show’s comic book geek Eugene and Laura Baldwin performs as Eugene’s friend zoned pal Janey who is just as nerdy as he is but glows with extra sassiness. While Daniel Buckley truly impresses the audience with his moonwalking, rapping, vocal harmony and charm, putting the cool kids to shame with his courage and freaky naughtiness.
I saw The Play That Goes Wrong at the Duchess Theatre for the first time in 2014 (read my LDNCARD review here). I have some unforgettable memories laughing and giggling, so hard my facial muscles hurt, and that doesn’t happen often. It was so good I preferred it more than that musical that won multiple Tony Awards – The Book of Mormon – (believe it or not) and came back to see it again after a year or so.
The Mischief Theatre team are the creative geniuses behind the comedy, and they’re an energetic bunch. They’re crafty and bonkers, all, at the same time. Don’t believe me? Then go see them in action for yourself. Their show, The Play That Goes Wrong is still going strong at the Duchess Theatre. They also have a new play, which was released in 2017, The Comedy About A Bank Robbery showing now at the Criterion Theatre.
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The number of likes and followers you make on social media may make you seem popular, but does that really mean you’re getting genuine likes and authentic followers? I had a eureka moment this morning when I managed to find a couple of unfollow apps. I learnt a few insightful things about my Twitter and Instagram followers.
I have been cultivating my Instagram (@nguyenuk11) account for a year now and have invested almost four years on my Twitter (@marygnguyen) account. As I cleaned through my ‘following’ lists, I realised that many of them:
a) don’t follow me,
b) are bots and are not managed by people,
c) hardly interact with me,
d) don’t spread content related to my interests, usually because they are spam, or
e) are redundant accounts, or were shut down by social media.
It was only two weeks ago that I saw Jonathan Kent’s ninth revival of Tosca at the Royal Opera House with Joseph Calleja, Gerald Finley and Adrianne Pieczonka (my thoughts here). Now I’m reporting about another production of Tosca based in a different continent. One cannot deny how Puccini’s music enraptures us and that’s one of the major reasons why Tosca has remained a repertoire staple for many international opera houses.
The Met HD live performance of Tosca was like a Super Bowl event. This Saturday, Sonya Yoncheva headlined the lead role in her first ever performance of Puccini’s Tosca. Vittorio Grigolo also made his debut and melted our hearts with a photograph of him as the shepherd boy with Pavarotti, as Cavaradossi, in Mauro Bolognini’s production, taken almost 30 years ago.
The opera broadcast streamed to 900 cinemas and figures, confirmed on Sunday night, claimed it had grossed $2 million at the box office. It’s a proud figure for the Met Opera, but it raises questions about the price of the cinema tickets. Watching it from the capital, Londoners paid between £30-37 for Met HD tickets, which is more than its sister opera house across the pond at London’s Covent Garden, showcasing live ballet and opera performances for £20-23.
The hashtags #Metoo and #TimesUp originate from the rise of sexual allegations and harassment cases revealed within the wider theatre, film and entertainment industries since the latter part of 2018. After media outlets announced the sexual allegations claims made against Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein, more claims of sexual abuse, rape and harassment came out about other notable figures, including ex-artistic director of London’s Old Vic theatre and actor Kevin Spacey. He was accused of misconduct and inappropriate behaviour by 20 members of the Old Vic as artistic director from 2004-2015. Actor Anthony Rapp also accused Spacey of making sexual advances towards him when he was 14 years old.
The Stage’s Special Report on Harassment in Theatre was published on January 25th. Having read it I thought I’d share some sections, quotes and statistics from The Stage’s findings. (The actual report can be found here. You need to be a subscriber to read all seven pages of it online.)
Welcome! Here’s a roundup of news, posts, bits and pieces I’ve been sharing on Social Media from the second week of January. That includes Bridge Theatre’s PR email blunders, Devoted and Disgruntled’s 13th event, and lots of interviews and reviews.
TrendFem – My blog posts
I shared some of my thoughts of the opening night of #ROHTosca with Joseph Calleja, Gerald Finley and Adrianne Pieczonka. It’s the ninth revival of Jonathan Kent’s production. (Click here.)
Come and get a history lesson at the @gatetheatre with @NinaB0wers ‘s captivating performance #Twilight1992 (here) focusing on the riots of Los Angeles in 1992.
It was National Popcorn Day on Friday 19th, so I sent out a post I wrote in 2016 discussing the effects that cinema live screen events have had on converting new audiences to opera (here).
It was the opening night of David McVicar’s revival production of Salome with Malin Bystrom and Michael Volle. I wrote about their tremendous performance here.
There were six days of rioting in Los Angeles in 1992. 63 people died and over 2000 people were injured. The riots were sparked by crimes of racial injustice.
Rodney King — an African-American taxi driver — was brutally beaten by several white police officers. The incident was videotaped by an eyewitness and televised to the world by a local news station. Four of these officers were charged with assault while three were acquitted of all charges. Two weeks later Latasha Harlins — an African-American 15-year-old girl — was shot dead by a South Korean convenience shop owner. Her sentence was a $500 fine.
26 years on, we’re sitting in Nottinghill’s Gate Theatre watching female actor Nina Bowers perform Anna Deavere Smith’s verbatim drama Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992. First staged in 1993, the play takes us back to 1992 with a plethora of strong, polarising views and a downward spiral of fears and hopes shared by interviewees involved in the Rodney King and Latasha Harlin cases. Smith researched and interviewed 300 people about the riots and condensed them into 19. Bowers portrays them vividly in Ola Ince’s production.
A first night with mixed reactions
Back in 2013, the Canadian baritone Gerald Finley said in an interview, ‘if there is a Scarpia out there somewhere I’d be happy to do that.’ Come four years later and he is doing exactly that. On Monday night at the Royal Opera House, his Scarpia had long hair, a burnished rich vocal tone and menacing demeanour in Jonathan Kent’s ninth revival of Puccini’s Tosca. For a first-timer, Finley gave a distinctively refreshing portrayal of Scarpia that I shan’t forget.
The production began 12 years ago with set designs based on the Napoleonic era. I’ve seen it twice before and this version is my favourite. This is mainly due to the tremendous cast, which includes Finley, his fellow Canadian Adrianne Pieczonka and Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja. These international artists have a huge following and if it wasn’t for their sensational voices and breadth of experience, I probably wouldn’t have bothered seeing the production at all.
I met Christian Slater last night. Let me say that again, ‘I met Christian Slater last night’. It was one of those chance occasions where one minute you’re doing what you usually do (for someone like me that’s going to the theatre) and then, all the sudden, the moment becomes an event – one that you’ll never forget. Yes, I was completely star struck and I have no shame in telling anyone that, why? Guess what? It’s not always about looks. I admit Slater, who is now 48 years old, is still ‘hot’, but given his rip-roaring performance last night, I am convinced he is as great a stage actor as he is a film actor.
The Playhouse theatre is currently showing David Mamet’s 1984 Pulitzer price-winning play Glengarry Glen Ross. It describes the lives of four real estate salesmen in Chicago, hustling hard and shoving their egos at anyone who likes the sound of a juicy deal. Glengarry Glen Ross was transformed into a Hollywood blockbuster in 1992. Al Pacino, Alec Baldwin and Ed Harris were the few to headline the movie. It became one of the most highly-recommended films for sales training.