You know a musical is made out of special stuff when it turns a source of misery – namely, a thundering relentless downpour – into something of total undiluted delight.
Singin’ In The Rain is one of my favourite films, let alone musicals, of all time, and it’s with some trepidation that I approach any stage adaptation of MGM’s glorious Gene Kelly vehicle. So I’m happy to report that Lunchbox Productions’ version of the Chichester Theatre revival, which plays in Hong Kong until 25 October 2015, is a dazzling shot of endorphins straight to the heart.
Posted in Culture, Hong Kong, Theatre
Tagged Andrew Wright, best musical, Bethany Dickson, Chicester Festival, Duane Alexander, HKAPA, Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, Jonathan Church, Lunchbox Productions, Mila De Biaggi, musical theatre, review, Singin' In The Rain, Singin' In The Rain HK, Singin' In the Rain Hong Kong, Singing In The Rain Hong Kong, Steven Van Wyk, Taryn Lee-Hudson, theatre
I sit typing this review slumped in bed… and if it’s a good day, slumped in bed is exactly where I’ll stay!
However, a night at La Soirée – the Olivier award-winning, Edinburgh Fringe alumni of a show that’s in Hong Kong for just eight performances – was a reminder of just how amazing the human body can be… you know, when it’s not slumped in bed watching old episodes of The Apprentice and stuffing Oreos into its mouth.
A raucous blend of circus and cabaret, the show features around a dozen acts all with different specialities, from comedy to contortionism and just about everything in-between – with the overall effect being something like the Royal Variety Show as presided over by Graham Norton (now there’s a TV show idea!).
Posted in Culture, Theatre
Tagged Asher Treleaven, Bath Boy, best cabaret show, best circus show, cabaret, Captain Frodo, Circus, David O’ Mer, Edinburgh Fringe, Hamish McCann, HKAPA, Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, La Clique, La Soiree, La Soiree Hong Kong, La Soiree review, Lunchbox Productions, review, The English Gents, theatre
I stopped recapping Australia’s Next Top Model when I hit Season 7; after re-watching it recently, I remembered why – it was boring.
Yes, the show had its most successful winner ever in the shape of the stunning Montana “Monty” Cox – who has since walked for the likes of Chanel, Dior, Givenchy and Tom Ford at London, Paris and Milan Fashion Weeks (*waves happily at awful Season 4 winner Demelza Reveley, last spotted advertising Ferrero Rocher*). That’s her up above managing to rock having no eyebrows in a Dubai desert by the way. And her managing to rock a ridiculous beehive and sweltering winter clothes in summer down below. Goddess.
But a cast of beautiful girls does not necessarily great television make, and given the fact that Season 7 didn’t include:
• Girl forced to repeat the phrase “I am a power pussy” down the phone to her mum
• Model shagging member of the crew, who had to be escorted off-set
• Batshit-crazy constestant having meltdown over someone speaking too loudly in a taxi
• Massive bullying scandal and the host not turning up for the finale
• Punching of walls, swearing on catwalks and stealing of lines in a commercial
• The wrong winner being announced
It was substantially less good than any of the seasons of AusNTM that preceded it. Hell, there weren’t even any proper meltdowns at makeover. Is that not the main reason for makeovers?
Posted in Culture, Pretty Things, Television
Tagged Alex Perry, AusNTM, AusNTM Cycle 7, Australia's Next Top Model, Australia's Next Top Model Cycle 7, Caroline Austin, Charlotte Dawson, couture shoot, Dubai shoot, fashion photography, funny quotes, Georges Antoni, Izzy Vesey, Jez Smith, Liz Braithwaite, Montana Cox, Neo Yakuac, Nick Leary, Paris couture shoot, photography, photoshoot, Pretty Things, Sarah Murdoch, Simone Holtznagel, swimwear shoot, tribal shoot
The hills are alive…!
When it comes to the opening lyrics of musical numbers, I’m not sure there are any quite as stirring as those of The Sound Of Music. Come on, you’re singing it already aren’t you?
Landing in Hong Kong for a month-long run, Lunchbox Productions’ version of The Sound Of Music is a pretty faithful retelling of the Rodgers-Hammerstein stage musical turned Julie Andrews-starring movie classic. However, it’s worth remembering that this is a staging of the original theatre script (specifically Andrew Lloyd Webber and David Ian’s 2006 revival where the role of Maria was cast on a BBC TV reality show) and not the movie – although it has been rejigged to include two numbers written especially for the film, I Have Confidence and Something Good. In comparison to the nearly three-hour long film, the script’s pacing does feel a little uneven – dragging when it comes to the songs by Max and The Countess that were excised from the movie, rushed when it comes to the speedy second act where love, marriage, Nazis and the Von Trapps’ escape are all dealt with in swift and rather abrupt fashion.
Nevertheless, Carmen Pretorius makes for a fantastic Maria; in the wrong hands, this character can easily become a saccharine-sweet goody-two-shoes but Pretorius brings a warmth, fun and sense of mischief to the part – and all with the most beautiful voice that rings through the Lyric Theatre as clear and perfect as the bells at Maria’s abbey. I was less convinced by Mark Rayment’s Captain Von Trapp – he felt a little bland and unyieldingly stiff to me and I didn’t detect much chemistry between the two leads either.
But the children, a rotating cast selected from local schools, more than make up for it. They’re uniformly excellent, executing the musical’s sharp choreography and layered harmonies flawlessly, and making complicated numbers like So Long Farewell, The Lonely Goatherd and show highlight Do-Re-Mi an absolute joy. I also enjoyed Hugh Osbourne as wily music impresario Max Detweiler; providing the show’s more humorous moments, he manages to convey the character’s spineless scheming nature whilst remaining likeable too.
Posted in Culture, Theatre
Tagged Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Carmen Pretorius, David Ian, HKAPA, Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, Janelle Visagie, Lunchbox Productions, Mark Rayment, musical, musical theatre, review, The Sound Of Music, The Sound Of Music HK, The Sound Of Music Hong Kong, The Sound of Music Hong Kong review, The Sound Of Music review
If you like laughing and you like musicals (in which case, hey, we should be friends!), then you need to go see Showstopper! The Improvised Musical stat.
Much like a round of Catchphrase, it’s pretty much say what you see regarding the show’s premise – a whole new musical improvised every night based on suggestions from the audience, encompassing everything from the setting, title and plot to musical theatre genres and song styles. Think Whose Line Is It Anyway meets one of those Andrew Lloyd Webber reality TV competitions and you’re almost there… except even funnier.
Posted in Culture, Theatre
Tagged ABA Productions, best musicals, comedy, Edinburgh Fringe, HKAPA, Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, improvisation, musical, musical theatre, Nell Mooney, review, Ruth Bratt, Showstopper The Improvised Musical, Showstopper The Improvised Musical Hong Kong, Showstopper The Improvised Musical review, The Showstoppers, The Showstoppers review, theatre
Of all the museums in the city, I seem to find myself back at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum the most often (somewhat annoying, given it’s probably the one that’s also the furthest away from me!), and the latest exhibition to entice me over to the Shing Mun River was Studio Ghibli Layout Designs: Understanding the Secrets of Takahata and Miyazaki Animation. I can’t claim to be a devoted Hayao Miyazaki fan – but like everyone else, I love Spirited Away and think Totoro is really cute, so why not?!
Spirited Away room, from news.gov.hk
The Studio Ghibli Layout Designs exhibition comprises over 1,300 drawings from the animation process behind the films of Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki – from their earliest works on television shows like Heidi: A Girl Of The Alps and Sherlock Hound, right through to the studio’s latest film releases The Wind Rises (Miyazaki’s last film) and The Tale of The Princess Kaguya.
Unlike many animation houses, Studio Ghibli continues to make all its films using traditional hand-drawn methods; rather than cute character studies, the works shown are more the backgrounds of scenes (layouts are regarded as blueprints for the film and are vital for its continuity), displaying the director’s ideas on colour, perspective, motion and other camera effects – and these sketches are practically artworks in themselves.
Posted in Culture, Exhibitions, Film, Hong Kong
Tagged animation, best art exhibitions Hong Kong, best museums Hong Kong, drawings, film-making, Hayao Miyazaki, Heritage Museum HK, Hong Kong Heritage Museum, Howl's Moving Castle, Isao Takahata, layout designs, My Neighbour Totoro, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, Princess Mononoke, review, Spirited Away, Studio Ghibli exhibition, Studio Ghibli exhibition HK, Studio Ghibli exhibition Hong Kong, Studio Ghibli Hong Kong, Studio Ghibli Hong Kong Heritage Museum, Studio Ghibli Layout Designs: Understanding the Secrets of Takahata and Miyazaki Animation, things to do in Hong Kong, things to do in New Territories, things to do in Sha Tin
Call it a childhood spent watching far too many MGM musicals, but the sound of tap dancing does something strange to me inside. No, not that kind of strange (get your minds out the gutter, people!), but there’s just something somehow stirring about the pitter-patter of tap shoes that I just can’t get enough of.
Well, there are pitter-patters in abundance at Tap Dogs, the award-winning show by Australian choreographer Dein Perry, which has been going strong for 20 years and has now arrived at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts. Except forget “pitter-patters” and think more “bloody massive stomps”, because this is tap dancing with the testosterone factor.
Posted in Culture, Theatre
Tagged Chaise Rossiello, dance, Dein Perry's Tap Dogs, Douglas Mills, HKAPA, Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, James Doubtfire, Lunchbox Productions, Nathaniel Hancock, review, Richie Miller, Sheldon Perry, Tap Dogs, Tap Dogs HK, Tap Dogs Hong Kong, Tap Dogs Singapore, Tap Dogs touring production, theatre