The Sound of Music @OfficialALW #TheShowMustGoOn #YouTube #OnlineEvent #VirtualTheatre #Review #Musicals #TheSoundOfMusic

The Sound of Music
By Andrew Lloyd Webber and Rodgers and Hammerstein
Rated: 4 stars ****
Available on You Tube Now
until later on Sunday

The Sound of Music

“Raindrops on roses” certainly goes with the weather today. Perhaps battered roses where I am with the ferocity of of the wind and rain. It’s a good day for staying indoors and watching a bit of online theatre instead of to “Climb Every Mountain”, that can wait until things are safe again to protect each other and ourselves and the NHS. So, hopefully everyone is well and able to keep dry and can enjoy that aforementioned song and many others.

It is as the film is, jolly and upbeat, but with the dark undertones of war brewing and the Nazis wanting to occupy Austria. The film still rules, but the stage version has pretty good performances too and when you know all the songs like Doh-Re-Mi to learn your scales and the fun I am Sixteen Going on Seventeen and the emotional Eidelweiss, they’ll be sure to cheer up the day, at least for a little while and see if you too can enjoy some “Favourite Things”. On that note I’ll bid you “So long, Farewell” for now until a book review on Sunday about a book that everyone is finding hard to put down, it is that good.

For now you can find The Sound of Music on You Tube on The Show Must Go On channel. It is available from now until some time on Sunday.

By Jeeves by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Alan Aykbourn @OfficialALW @Ayckbourn #ByJeeves #JeevesWooster #PGWodehouse #Musical #Farce #VirtualTheatre #Theatre #Stage

By Jeeves
By Andrew Lloyd Webber
And Alan Ayckbourn

Rated: ****

I just love theatre and I’ve wanted to see By Jeeves for a long time now, based around the characters of the famous P.G Wodehouse books – Jeeves and Wooster. This is a Musical/Play and it is jolly entertaining. The music was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and directed by Alan Aykbourn, both who are masters at their craft. Andrew LLoyd Webber with his music and Alan Ayckbourn with his plays/farces.
The cast includes Martin Jarvis and all the cast play their parts splendidly well. You can buy it on DVD, listen to the soundtrack and see small previews on You Tube. It’s worth a watch. Below you will see the synopsis and review.

By Jeeves cover

Synopsis

At a benefit gala to raise money for a new church steeple, Bertram “Bertie” Wooster is preparing to take the stage. The banjo-playing star is thrown for a loop when he finds his banjo has been stolen! Bertie’s faithful manservant, Jeeves, suggests Bertie tell the story of his adventure to Tot leigh Towers to entertain the impatient audience. Bertie recounts to the audience how he became embroiled in the romances of several dim-witted members of the privileged class. With mistaken identities, romantic entanglement, and the adventures of the upper class, By Jeeves is the quintessential British musical farce.

Review

I just had to write about this play because it simply won’t leave me alone. I have had the song “Half a Moment” stuck in my head for a couple of days now. Anymore and I’ll have to play it on Spotify or play it on my keyboard, since I have the music for it. It is actually a really good song though, as are all the songs in this musical.

This musical, perhaps because it also has Alan Ayckbourn, who is a playwright and an incredibly skilled one at that, is partly play and partly musical. The two mediums meet together and actually rather well. It makes this unique in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s body of work to date as it isn’t song after song to convey the story. It is the spoken word with some background music and songs within it, which together, masterfully tell the story which is based on the books of Jeeves and Wooster by PG Wodehouse. It is very funny, and I do hope one day it will be revived and do a proper UK tour. It’s a play within a play (if you’ve been following my blog recently, you’ll see there’s perhaps a bit of a trend in that here. It does seem to work very well). I feel it would do well to be on tour, when the virus is over and all is safe (it will be one day), as we have The Play That Goes Wrong, which has now got quite a body of work that is incredibly successful and By Jeeves, which came long before that team, is a bit like that, but with all the Jeeves and Wooster humour within it.

There’s fun with props in a clever way and songs that are memorable – more than just Half A Moment. There are clever lines and musically, notes brilliantly forged together, as you would expect. It is all in all feel-good and entertaining as there’s mistaken identities and romance all on a fun adventure that is also done so well with parts addressed directly to the audience. It’s a farce that is done well, so I have absolutely no idea why on earth it should have been a flop when it opened in London, except slightly over long, but not by much. Perhaps it should have toured and could have been more of a success that way with different audiences, or perhaps it was to do with timing, who knows, but what I do know, is it is jolly good and quite simply spiffing.

I watched this online. There are tracks on Spotify and some previews around on YouTube. Do watch out for Cats on You Tube via The Show Must Go On. It is free, but you can donate money to the actors’ fund if you so wish as they are all totally out of paid work at the moment. This is a kind thing Andrew Lloyd Webber is doing to help us stay at home or to stay alert, depending on which part of the country you are in and to help actors too.

I thank Andrew Lloyd Webber and the cast and production team for putting this on and for introducing new people, like myself who had never seen it before and always wanted to, to have that opportunity to watch it and for keeping little snippets of it around. It is also available to buy on DVD.

Andrew Lloyd Webber is working on a new musical – Cinderella and is busy writing the orchestrations of it, as well and his team doing a marvellous job entertaining us all and keeping us all informed on Twitter – @OfficialALW is where he and his team can be found.

 

Love Never Dies by Andrew Lloyd Webber @OfficialALW #BenElton #LoveNeverDies #AndrewLLoydWebber #FrederickForsyth #GlennSlater #Theatre #Review #VirtualTheatre #Musicals #Books

Love Never Dies
By Andrew Lloyd Webber
Rated 5 stars *****

Love Never Dies

Today I present a review of the sensational follow up to Phantom of the Opera – Love Never Dies by Andrew Lloyd Webber. This was a virtual event. Like most musicals, there was also a book produced too. This is however primarily a theatre review, but would give you an idea too as music, lyrics and the written words in a book collide for both art forms.

Composer – Andrew Lloyd Webber

Lyrics – Glenn Slater

Book written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Ben Elton and Frederick Forsyth.

Synopsis

The year is 1907. It is 10 years after his disappearance from the Paris Opera House and the Phantom has escaped to a new life in New York where he lives amongst the screaming joy rides and freak-shows of Coney Island. In this new electrically-charged world, he has finally found a place for his music to soar. All that is missing is his love – Christine Daaé.

Christine is struggling in an ailing marriage to Raoul. She accepts an invitation to travel to New York and perform at a renowned opera house. In a final bid to win back her love, the Phantom lures Christine, her husband, and their young son Gustave from Manhattan; to the glittering and glorious world of Coney Island, not knowing what is in store for them…

Review

A couple of weeks ago I watched Love Never Dies by Andrew Lloyd Webber on You Tube. It is the sequel of Phantom of the Opera and is every bit as stunning and attention grabbing as The Phantom of the Opera. It got some bad press, but certainly would not from me. It is set on Coney Island. For those who do not know – Coney Island is near New York and was a place that gained a reputation for fun fairs, circuses, and freak shows. Today, this doesn’t really exist quite in that form, but there does seem to be a fun fair and eateries.

The Phantom has moved from Paris to Coney Island and seems to be controlling it with all its glitz and mystique, but still has an obsession with Christine. The singing is beautiful, the music and lyrics works so well for the story that is being told. There are bits of music and song reminiscent of the times in the opera house in Paris in the first musical about the phantom, but there are plenty of terrific original songs to whet your appetite and really get into as well. The musical is full of life when showing the circus. The set is always sumptuous and at times has an element of fun to it, although always dark. The atmosphere that is created fits every mood and absolutely fits with the storytelling.

There’s shocks and surprises and some almost edge of your seat scenes. This is a musical that swept me away with it and grabbed me and took me into every dark corner, every bit of romance and every bit of emotion. If this is ever on stage, when things return to normal (which they will someday), it would be absolutely be quite the spectacle to see.

I was slow off the mark writing about this. Other life things took over, so it is not available on YouTube anymore, but there are previews and it is available on DVD. So, not all is lost. That is the positive, that you can indeed still watch this spectacular musical.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, every Friday for 48 hours has got creative and kind and is putting on You Tube many of his musicals and concerts under The Show Must Goes On. Pay or do not pay into the actors’ fund, that is up to you. It looks like Cats is the next musical to be streamed.

Review of the Outstanding – The Habit of Art By Alan Bennett #AlanBennett #TheHabitofArt @OriginalTheatre #MatthewKelly #DavidYelland #Theatre #VirtualTheatre #VirtualEvent #Review

The Habit of Art
By Alan Bennett
Rated: 5 Stars *****
Available now online

The Habit of Art Poster.jpg

I have been watching some online theatre because I’ve been missing theatre performances and stage doors. The Habit of Art by Alan Bennett is one of the terrific plays I have seen being streamed and you can too.This production marks the first ever revival of the play and I am so pleased it has been revived. On the poster it says “La
It is with great thanks to Alan Bennett for giving permission to stream his play that should have been touring and to The Original Theatre Company and cast and all those behind the scenes for also allowing this to happen. I only hope that one day theatres will re-open and that proceedings will be normal someday in the not too distant future and touring will re-commence.
I have a link after my short review.

The Playwright and Cast


Alan Bennett      Matthew Kelly    David Yelland
Alan Bennett                Matthew Kelly                       David Yelland

Playwright – Alan Bennett is one our greatest and most celebrated playwrights, with a cavalcade of stage and screen blockbusters including The History Boys, The Lady in the Van, The Madness of King George and Talking Heads. He is applauded as a genius for his sharp character observations and treasured for the way he beautifully balances wit, wistfulness and compassion.
Director – Philip Franks

Matthew Kelly – Olivier Award Winning (Of Mice and MenToast and Pride and Prejudice)
David Yelland (Chariots of Fire and The Crown)
Veronica Roberts (Tenko, Peak Practice)
Robert Mountford (Anita and Me)
John Wark (Dead Sheep)
Jessica Dennis (Henry Vand The Tempest, Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre)
Benjamin Chandler (Passing From The Third Floor Back).

Synopsis

In The Habit of Art, Bennett gives us a play about a meeting between the poet WH Auden and the composer Benjamin Britten.

Exploring friendship, rivalry and heartache this multi layered masterpiece examines the joy, pain and emotional cost of creativity.

Review

Wow!!! Alan Bennett is a clever, genius playwright as lots of people will know. This play is absolutely brilliant. It is actually incredibly funny and poignant, even more so than what I first thought it would be. It is also thought-provoking at times as it explores life. I was going to see this in Edinburgh, but it got cancelled as lockdown occurred. I thank The Original Theatre Company for putting it online.

Matthew Kelly gives an outstanding performance in what is a play within a play as does David Yelland as WH Auden and Benjamin Britten as they portray the relationships between them and their lives. This is however also a play within a play, as I’ve said and so, this is where it also gets very funny because this is what they’re trying to do, is rehearse to get the play about these 2 men to its showtime stage. So, there’s the trying to get the lines just so and the little squabbles about things and the silent relenting to directions and the trying to get points across. So, it’s as much about the relationships between the cast and behind the scenes people as it is the actual poet and musician they are trying to portray. It all sounds more high brow than it actually is.

The emotion, the relationships of different kinds, the pain and the rivalries are captured tremendously in every word, in every nuance in the tones of voices. There’s the real sense of WH Auden and Benjamin Britten still wanting to produce great works like in their real heydays and the need to work together. I’ll leave it to viewers to watch to see if they manage to collaborate or not. 

There’s also the emotion and sometimes the frustrations of backstage people too as they try to get things just so for the actors and direct and so and so forth. Some of this is really poignant too, as well has having some humour, as you get a glimpse into that part of life.

 The actual play and the rehearsal go seamlessly together because the timings and the writing is also so outstanding. I will say that what you absolutely have to remember is to forget present day sensibilities, WH Auden and Benjamin Britten lived in very different times. I honestly cannot praise this play enough. I had a fabulous time watching it and I am sure many others will too. I hope one day it will be able to tour up to Scotland again. 

Just below is the link that will direct you to the page of the play itself. This is a paid performance whereby you pay whatever you can. Actors, backstage and front of house are all out of work just now and I must say this play is definitely worth paying some money for the privilege to watch it. It really doesn’t have to break the bank. You will get more directions online as to how to watch.

You can also watch The Croft too, all under that one payment. It comes directly afterwards. I will review this too. At the time of writing this review, I am yet to see it. I must say that it does sound very good too and very different in contrast to The Habit of Art.

Click Here For The Play

The Habit of Art Poster

Reece’s Pieces – Actor Reece Dinsdale – A Write-up From an Online Event @reece_dinsdale #VirtualEvent #OnlineEvent #Actor

A Write up of Reece’s Pieces
Hosted by Actor Reece Dinsdale

So, I take a look to see what Reece Dinsdale is tweeting about from time to time. He seems to come with a good reputation for being a nice guy. He recently decided to do some online chats on Thursdays around 3:30pm via Twitter. So, I thought I would write up some of his chats from the past couple of events. They are really interesting. You will seen an insight into Reece’s acting and directing, as well as moments he was starstruck, what he is doing now and a little more.

Who is Reece Alan Dinsdale and Where You May Have Seen Him Before?

I attended an online chat that was with successful actor and director Reece Dinsdale. He is from Yorkshire, moved to London and now is back in Yorkshire. 

Some may more notably know him from playing opposite John Thaw in Home to Roost, others may remember him from Coronation Street and is currently in Emmerdale. He has a fruitful career that seems to be ever changing with having opportunities he has grasped from theatre, films, dramas, soaps and directing. 

He has directed a couple of episodes of Emmerdale, which he currently stars in. He is, it turns out talented and and most notably for very successfully directing the Moving On series (currently can be seen on the BBC Iplayer) as it won Best Day Time Drama. I must say, it is an excellent series with great storylines and casts. I catch it on the Iplayer. Each story is complete within each episode and all are under the theme, Moving On. He’s also played guest leads in Life on Mars, Spooks, Silent Witness and more… It sounds like an amazing career, that still continues to this day.

Stage

He loves stage work and has done loads in the last decade. He sounds so enthused by it. He’s not a fan of the audition process though. When he is directing he tries hard to look after his actors.

Opportunities into Acting and Directing

Reece was press ganged at 12 into a school play. He realised he was good at it and acting was going to be his thing. He sounded like he had determination and had parents who backed him to the hilt. They were not in the business themselves. He got into drama school and was very driven. It wasn’t something people did in his town at the time (around 1977).

When and how he became a tv director. He didn’t aspire to, but got an opportunity on Moving On to do this. He started off acting in one and the producer reckoned he should direct some episodes. He was nervous during the first one and created story-boards and he got great advice from someone in the business himself. He then kept getting asked back.

The 3 key things he looks for in an actor is they have to fit the image for the role. He takes a script somewhere quiet and reads them with a blank mind and pictures his version of the story. The writing is everything, but it is a blueprint that becomes the director’s film and he starts to think of actors and how to bring the characters to life. He works by instinct. If the actor isn’t free who is his first choice, he can be flexible. He looks for someone who can really lift the words off the page and makes the characters feel fresh and alive. He looks for a certain nouse.

Home to Roost

He played in Home to Roost – a sitcom in the 1970s. They were looking for someone who was 17 to match John Thaw. At the time, Reece Dinsdale was in a play called Red Saturday that was funny and poignant and basically he was noticed. Reece Dinsdale almost didn’t do it, but it was a two-hander with John Thaw, who he did a screen test with and hit it off together. He was 25 when he started rehearsals and John Thaw was 43 playing a bit older. By 29 Reece was still playing a teenager. He talked of working with John Thaw, being an education and a joy working with him. This, I thought was amazing and great that there was only ever 1 cross word in 4 and half years of working with each other and it sounds like it got resolved pretty quickly. Reece thinks he was a shy/private man and you had to get his trust, but he was his own man. They didn’t stay in contact much after, but did a little while.
He would love to return to Home to Roost as being the dad and perhaps with a daughter, but isn’t a big enough tv hitter anymore to turn the heads of executives. He is however in Emmerdale, so his profile is heightening.

The Soaps/Continuing Drama

Reece Dinsdale, as mentioned previously, can be seen in Emmerdale. If I remember correctly, he did a bit of directing and is now acting in it. The episodes were of course filmed before Covid 19 struck. He sounds like he has been enjoying it. Prior to this, he had been in Coronation Street.

Coronation Street is something he watched religiously from a kid. He bumped into the exec producer of the time. It used to be that “serious actors” didn’t do soaps, but then trends started to change and he relented. He did at least 18 months. He says it’s different from doing a play because you know the arc of the story, start to finish, but in a soap you don’t know this. He found that and the speed of the work strange at that time. He still enjoys the show, but watches it less and he was fine about leaving as the timing felt right. He played Joe, one of Gail’s husbands who was killed off. He interestingly talked about his last scenes. In minus 4 temperatures, in the dead of night, he had to go into water to swim to a yacht. It sounded quite a precarious situation. He said it was a glorious time though.

Building a Character

He was in ID and says building a character is interesting. He had to do the most method acting for the role in this. It was about one man’s journey and psychological journey. He wrote a booklet on his character and picked a house where he may live at and worked with Phil Davis to get the character together and build him up. He had to really immerse himself in the character, so had to stay in character, including accent, wherever he went. He writes everything that’s said in a character, what the opinion is that comes from the text. He almost didn’t get the role however as big names were asked and Reece was seen as a “lightweight actor”. He hadn’t got a name for making hardhitting roles. Finally he got a chance to show people what he had got.

Starstruck

He has been starstruck with Kenneth Brannagh when he was in Hamlet. Everybody was in it and he was starstruck as there were great stalwarts like Richard Briers, Charleton Heston and suddenly he is talking to them. He was in a film with David Bowie too and you may be pleased to know that it seemed like he was a good guy.

Life After CoronaVirus

He is looking forward to meeting up with his friends for a pint and perhaps a pub quiz.

Reece Dinsdale is thankful for all the keyworkers.

He loves Florence and Venice. Just like everyone else, he has had to change his plans.

If he could change anything, he would give everybody an empathy pill if he could change anything at all.

He is hoping one day to return to the theatre.

“Always come from different places, keep coming from different corners”
is what John Thaw says that Reece Dinsdale stands by. I personally think this is a great quote and great advice.

 

What to expect on the blog #blog #amreading #bookish #theatre

I have many more great sounding books in my To be Read pile. Some by very established authors, some not quite so, but are starting out. All look good!
A thud after the swing of the letterbox usually signals the post is more exciting than a bill. A huge thud that sounds like it is going to go through the floor means its a hardback book. Most are paperback and that too is fine and still sounds more exciting than a bill.

I have children’s books, young adult books and adult books. During February and March, there will be reviews of children’s books that promote the eco-system, take children on an adventure, show children interesting and fun characters.

For Young Adult, there will be coming-of-age and fantasy.

For Adult, there is Crime Fiction, Biography, Humour in Fiction, Families in Fiction, Historical Fiction and more…

I have also been to the theatre recently, so you can expect a review on a terrifically cast play by Alan Aykbourn.

Thanks for following my blog.