Friday, March 30, 2007

With a sinking heart I have noticed the trailers for competing shows ANY DREAM WILL DO on the BBC and GREASE IS THE WORD on ITV.

As you can guess the first is to find a 'Joseph' for an upcoming revival of you know what and the second is upping the ante in locating both 'Danny' and 'Sandy' for the production due to open at the Piccadilly Theatre in July.

All this on the back of the news last week that Connie Fisher - The People's Maria - is now utilising a click-track to 'augment' her vocals after shagging her vocal chords attempting to sing with a throat infection.

Does the West End REALLY need these two shows revived again? Or is it that these musicals are perfect for the bozoids who will be watching these?

On a better note...Two nights ago Vanessa Redgrave opened on Broadway to excellent personal reviews in a one-woman show THE YEAR OF WISHFUL THINKING written by Joan Didion adapting her best-selling memoir. Vanessa is looking great and was supported on her opening night by sister Lynn, daughter Joely, son Carlo, neice Daisy and among the star-studded audience was her activist friend and co-star Jane Fonda.
I would dearly love to see this - especially as HECUBA, the last production I saw her in was so woeful. Her last appearance on Broadway with Brian Dennehy in LONG DAYS JOURNEY INTO NIGHT never made it to the West End despite them both winning Tony Awards.

I am praying this will transfer... providing there is a theatre not occupied by cynically-revived crap musicals.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

May I just say I am beginning to tire of the woolly liberal blanket coverage of the 200th anniversary of the Abolition Of The Slave Trade Act? Apologise my arse.

How's about Tony Blair and the Archbeardy of Canterbury offering an apology to the people of Ireland for being complicit in the Irish Famine a mere 162 years ago?

A previous famine in 1782 was alleviated somewhat by the closure of ports to Irish food exports to England, this did not happen in the disasterous 1845-1849 one and indeed the food exports increased during it under armed guard. Figures for deaths related to this famine range from 50,000 to over a million and the knock-on immigration of Irish refugees numbered 2 million.

Okay your turn... pick your own human injustice. First Nation Americans anyone?

I type this as the ITV spews out Elton John's 60th birthday concert filmed at Madison Square Garden. Sweet Jesu... I cannot abide it. The assembled talking heads - the usual oxygen-thieves: Kylie Minogue, Paul 'thumbzup' Macca, Rod Stewart, Michael Parkinson, the vile Osbourns, Billy Connolly are yakking on about how timeless he is... they obviously were not at the concert. He was huffing his way through his back catalogue like Vic Reeves' Pub Singer.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Michelle Pfeiffer recently photographed at a screening of the film of HAIRSPRAY: THE MUSICAL - yep the film of the stage show of the film - in which she plays Mrs. Van Tussle.

Lookin' good Miss Thing.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Last night I did the WHO'S IN YOUR RECORD BAG for the first time in a squillion years... so long in fact that there has been a regime change and Rob is no longer Mein Host.
Anyhoo Owen and I got there at 7.30pm and the place was Heaving with punter. Apart from a few bar-hangers I didn't know anyone out of the suits, girlies and straight couples. Go figure. Indeed it was so jammed that Mein Host couldn't keep a place for Don - who of course showed 3 minutes later.

I had been totally stumped as to a setlist until Owen suggested why not 5 tracks by MY Supremes - Jean Terrell, Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong. Why not I thought? I picked their 5 best remembered songs UP THE LADDER TO THE ROOF, STONED LOVE, NATHAN JONES, FLOY JOY and AUTOMATICALLY SUNSHINE and they sounded great booming out over the endless chatter.

It started badly though... Mein Host started telling me the right-hand cd tray had been playing up - just as I put my first cd in. Needless to say after 15 seconds of Jean Terrell hiccupping through the opening verse to UP THE LADDER... I switched to the next track. That Leston woman needs to upgrade and NOW...
Thank you to whoever has made my walk to the office much more enjoyable...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

May I take a few seconds to say Big Up The Ray Stubbs?

Ray - that most delightful of sports presenters - has made it into the last 5 of the Comic Relief version of FAME ACADEMY with such awesome musical talents as Tara Palmer-Tompkinson, Shaun 'Eastenders' Williamson, Tricia 'Heartbeat' Penrose and Colin 'Radio 1 DJ' Murray (seen below).
His singing is usually in the key of yale and his movement skills seem to be restricted to bouncing up and down on the spot but he seems a genuinely nice chap, is obviously having the time of his life and it's obviously not some grand publicist's scheme to have him accepted into a wider career.

Mind you.. having written this he'll probably be voted off tomorrow.

I look forward to seeing him be offered the part of 'Amos' in CHICAGO in a few weeks.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Last week I had to go back to Silver Place to collect the phone as the BT redirection service was working fine. It was WELL spooky.

For everyone who ever visited the shop here are two photos to show you what was underneath all that stock...

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Finally this evening I got to see PAN'S LABYRINTH [EL LABERINTO DEL FAUNO] - just in time as it's dvd release is this Monday! How's that for timing? Luckily it's constant appearance in film awards over the new year has kept it on the big screen and no doubt it's still running thanks to it's deserved 3 Academy Awards for cinematography, art direction and make-up.

After dinner with Owen at the Song Que Vietnamese restaurant across from the office which was filling but not all that, we 242'd it into the west end and saw the film at the
Odeon Covent Garden - always will be the ABC Shaftesbury Avenue to me. Remarkably for such a high profile film I knew next to nothing about it apart from the general premise. Usually after a 3 month wait you are aware of certain scenes or set pieces from reviews or friends but not with this film which indeed might not have made it so involving.

1944. Ofelia (
Ivana Baquero) is a loving but lonely girl, still grieving her father's death and not reconciled to the remarriage of her mother Carmen (Adriana Gil) to the domineering and brutal Capitan Vidal (Sergi Lopez), a Captain in Franco's victorious Fascist army. At his insistence, the heavily pregnant Carmen along with Ofelia travel to the lonely village outpost where Vidal is attempting to rout the final straggling leftist guerrillas in the overlooking hill forest. Stopping in the forest near the final destination Ofelia restores a broken piece of gargoyle to it's rightful place. Later that night a fairy appears to her and leads her to an overgrown labyrinth close by and to a stone staircase spiralling down into the earth. An avid reader of fairy tales the girl descends to the bottom to discover an enormous Faun (Doug Jones) waiting for her to tell her she is in fact the long-lost daughter of the King of The Underworld and all she has to do is complete three dangerous tasks to be able to return to her life as a Princess.

She accepts the creepy challenge but is slowly made aware that the real horrors of the world lie in the evil that men do namely her sadistic stepfather who is happy to kill anyone he thinks is aiding the guerrillas. Will he discover that his stoic housekeeper Mercedes (Maribel
Verdu) and the doctor treating his wife (Alex Angulo) are smuggling aid to the leftists - Mercedes' brother being the leader of the group. Torn between her knowledge of Mercedes' secret and her mother's waning health Ofelia puts all her trust in the Faun... but is he as dangerous as her stepfather?
I was gripped by the film from the start and was an emotional wreck by the end of it. The disturbing fantasy images are hard to shake off - notably the second of Ofelia's challenges where she meets a horrific creature that looks like Francis Bacon's Pope portrait come to life - and the bone-crunching violence dealt out by the evil Vidal nearly had me watching through latticed fingers.

The performances are excellent -
Ivana Barquero's grave presence as the girl makes her very sympathetic, Sergi Lopez makes his Fascist stepfather the stuff of nightmares and Maribel Verdu's quietly powerful Mercedes was the real heart of the film - her confrontation with Lopez after he discovers her real identity was definitely edge-of-the-seat viewing. The supporting cast are also solid through and through with Angulo particularly fine as the principled doctor.

I am so glad I saw this first at the cinema - I think it's overall hypnotic power would have been
dissipated on the small screen if I had seen it there first.

Guillermo del Toro's LABERINTO.., like his earlier film of Franco vs. the spirit world THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE, haunts the memory for hours afterwards.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

It's true... it ain't what ya know it's who you know....

Tonight (Wednesday) at 6pm at Virgin Records
there was a signing session for the HOT FUZZ soundtrack with Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Forest - so of course I had to be there.

it was fairly busy with the usual strange-looking sorts that make up the SPACED/SHAUN demographic.
.. mostly late 20s-early 30s blokes who look strangely lost in the bright lights of the megastore. I had got there about 50 minutes before the start, had purchased 3 cds to get signed - one for me, one for Owen and one for Boss Richard - and stood gawping about myself in the queue until a mighty cheer was heard from the front and we started moving. I also had in my bag the video sleeve for Edgar's first film FISTFUL OF FINGERS that Richard asked me to try and get signed.

When I got near the table a security woman looked at the three cd booklets in my
hand and said "They are only signing one cd per person". I said there was no mention of that when I bought them but she still said it was still only one cd. A big and gurly security bloke then took one of the booklets and placed it in front of Nick F who was yabbiting away to a guy standing beside the table so I never got to tell him how great I thought his performance was but got a smile off him when he handed me back the booklet. Edgar was next to him and as I handed him the booklet I said "So where are the posters you promised the shop then?" - he looked up and recognising me laughed and said that what with the film's hugely successful opening the office hadn't had a chance to send them out but he would make sure his assistant was onto it. The Divine Pegg was earwigging all this and asked Edgar who I was and he said "This is the guy from Flashbacks where I bought all the cop movie posters for the office" - imagine my delight mixed with sadness when My Simon said "Oh I've been meaning to visit your shop"!!! I told them the shop was now closed but quick as a flash pulled out the new comp slip and gave it to Edgar. He saw what I had in the unzipped bag and said "You've got a FISTFUL OF FINGERS cover". I said "Yes but they won't let me give it to you to sign" - to which he said "No I'll be happy to sign it" so while he was doing that I slipped the unsigned cd covers to His Dreaminess The Pegg and said "Could you sign these please?" - "Sure no problem" says he. I think I gabbled a thanks to them both as I felt the security bloke giving me evils so sped away sharpish!

Now I understand that for a popular event such as this - although it wasn't as jammed as the SHAUN OF THE DEAD dvd signing - they need to keep the queue moving as
well as allowing the chance for everyone to get something signed but nowhere did it mention anything about the one item only rule - there were no staff working the queue informing us and the guy who sold me the 3 cds certainly didn't - even after I enquired where the signing was taking place. Surely if the punters are buying what you are there to promote then it should be no problem to sign, within reason, a number of items. The best experience of that I had was Mary Wilson at Borders when she was signing copies of her autobiography. A guy had some Supremes lps and the Borders person said "Miss Wilson is only signing the book", Mary W overheard this and said "Honey if I'm on it I'll sign it".

Now where did I put my free HOT FUZZ badge....