Life is a Cabaret

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to read a Black Static story last night, so instead I’ll tell you about my weekend, then sit back and watch the site stats plummet.

Saturday afternoon found Ms P and myself rolling up at the Theatre Royal in Norwich for a matinee performance of Hairspray. Ms P is a fanatic when it comes to musicals (in fact I believe she may be en route home from a trip to London to see Love Never Dies at this very minute) and had seen the show in London, but it was completely new territory for me, and I was rather pleasantly surprised by it all. I’d expected something set in a hairdressers and full of women complaining about their beehives. In the event, while the show had plenty of humour, there was a serious subtext which had heroine Tracy Turnblad tackling segregation in the 1960s by smuggling coloured teenagers onto the set of a live TV dance spectacular sponsored by a hairspray manufacturer. With its heart in the right place, plenty of vibrant costumes, an energetic cast and some great musical numbers it had the audience stamping their feet and cheering.

If only all social injustice could be vanquished with a song and dance routine – not Big Society, but High Society.

As Ms P had lent me a number of DVDs I decided to stay with the musical theme for the remainder of the weekend. Saturday evening I watched the Les Miserables: In Concert – 25th Anniversary Edition, which was simply magnificent (this is probably my favourite musical), both for the story that it tells with the fluctuating moods and themes, taking on war and peace, justice and revenge, romance and comedy, and for the superb songs, each one perfect for the scene in which it features, and finally for the fantastic cast, with some of the best singers from the West End and beyond on stage together (Subo eat your heart out – you wouldn’t have stood a chance with this lot). I saw the show in London back in the 80 s when it wasn’t quite the phenomenon that it is today, and loved every minute of this nearly three hour rendition.

Sunday afternoon I took in classic Singin’ in the Rain, starring Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds, a tale of the course to true love not running smooth set against the backdrop of Hollywood’s switchover to talkies. Again, some wonderful song and dance routines, especially Donald O’Connor’s “Make Em Laugh” and Kelly’s performance of the title number, while the fantasy sequence with the phenomenally leggy Cyd Charisse was pure sex appeal. According to one of my film books Kelly was hugely annoyed at having non-dancer Reynolds forced on him for the role, and blew his top at her when some chewing gum she’d left on the step of a ladder got tangled in his hair.

Finally, in the evening I viewed Mamma Mia!, and was quite surprised to find that I didn’t like it anywhere near as much as I had when it was on at the cinema. The story seemed rather forced and took a good while to warm up, while the absence of an audience determined to have a good time and singing along with every number left the shortcomings of the cast as vocalists totally exposed. I’d thought Pierce Brosnan was bad first time around, but now he was simply painful to hear, and Meryl Streep didn’t seem as good either. Still, there were some funny moments thanks to Barinski and Walters, and Abba tunes are just so damned catchy that eventually my curmudgeonly side was won over and I pretty much enjoyed the experience, albeit I’ve no desire to repeat it and really hope they don’t make a sequel.

So, four musicals over the course of two days. I’m thinking zombie movies next weekend…

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4 Responses to Life is a Cabaret

  1. I am officially allergic to Abba. But they make me tap my toes anyway – damn and blast them…

  2. I refused to watch Mamma Mia at the cinema, but the DVD slowly won me over through osmosis. I even ended up loving Pierce Brosnan’s singing. That’s what it sounds like when a real man sings…!

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