Fun Friday: Theatre Review – Evita at Royal Opera House, York

Disclaimer: I feel I have to say straight away I’m not a huge fan of Evita. I went because the husband is a fan and had never had the chance to see it live.

I feel this is also a review of the Royal Opera House because I had never been before. We were sat in the circle and I must say the room was very spacious. The view was also very good, even though we paid for restricted view on one of the seats (see disclaimer above) my view was superb . It’s actually difficult to say what was restricted about the view. Also, unlike some theatres, even though we were on a higher level it remained a reasonable temperature. The bar was a little small and it took at least 15 minutes before we were served but the prices were reasonable. The same can be said of the concession ice creams. Unfortunately I’m writing this review about a couple of months after the actual show so can’t be sure of the actual prices but I think we paid about £1.50 for a large bottle of water (I think I remember this price from another production we went to see though, this will teach me to write more regularly, maybe )

The production we went to see was the national tour with Marti Pellow which is now settled in the West End. The basic story is of Eva Peron, a young woman from a forgotten family of a man already with a family to become the first woman of Argentina. It was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Most people would have been exposed to it in 1996 when a film was released staring Madonna and Antonio Banderas, at which point several of the songs sung by Madonna were in the Top 40. It was the film that my husband first saw and he in time showed it to me, which I had vaguely heard of but never seen. Whilst I enjoyed the film it didn’t become a favourite of mine, whilst my husband watches it at least once a year.

When he saw it advertised he immediately begged nagged whined asked very nicely if we could get tickets as he had missed the tour when it came to our Local theatre. I agreed, but was happier when I only paid £12 for my ticket due to the limited view.

So the actually production. There was a stand out moment. The woman who sang “Another Suitcase in Another Hall” had the most beautiful voice and for the handful of minutes she was on stage she had my full attention. Unfortunately I can’t say the same about the other actors.

Marti Pellow, best known as the lead singer of Wet Wet Wet, was good but not outstanding. The female lead was so unmemorable I can’t remember her name (Edit: It’s Madalena Alberto. I did have to google it) There also appeared to be zero chemistry between the principle characters of Eva, Peron and Che. When the husband asked my what I thought my initial reaction was that I though Marti Pellow came across as some weird stalker. He said I was missing the point, that he was the narrator and an Everyman who was to blend into every scene. I didn’t miss the point, it was just very poor execution. Rather than blending in and giving more information, as that is what I believe a narrator should do, many times he was the main focus of a scene. Even when he tried to go into he background it was in such an exaggerated way you couldn’t help but notice him. For example, during Good Night and Thank You I would not consider his role or voice in the song to be the one to gain the most attention, yet he was swinging around the poles that supported the balcony and seemed to be almost shouting at points. It was irritating. This is also not a attack against Marti Pellow, I happen to quite like Wet Wet Wet, I just didn’t particularly have any fondest for him in this role. It also didn’t help that he appeared to wear the same clothes in each scene, when all the other characters had a costume change, and in Eva’s case several. It didn’t help him blend in, yet it didn’t define him as a character either.

In terms of Eva and Juan Peron there seemed to be zero interaction. We are suppose to believe that these two people are either in lust, in love r have a strong relationship for mutual gain. My recollection is that they spent the majority of time on stage at opposite ends, with as much space between them. The final scenes, where Eva is dying, also seemed to make him more cold and distant.

The stage design was, thankfully, simple yet effective. Two spiral staircases at both edges of the stage with a connecting balcony in the middle which could be pulled forward and moved back as the action required. It also became the beautiful centrepiece during Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, almost give. The effect that Eva was above the audience, rather than performing on a stage.

Whilst individual elements of his production were superb others were very disappointing. This production was never going to ignite my love for Evita.

2 out of 5 stars.

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Fun Friday: Theatre Review; Avenue Q at Leeds Grand Theatre.

This is yet another production I went to see several weeks ago and never got round to writing the full review.

This was a bit of an unusual trip to the theatre for me because for a change it wasn’t with the husband, it was with a couple of the people from KNN. So technically I suppose that makes it a KNN outing!

I will admit that I heard of Avenue Q before I wasn’t entirely sure of all the songs or even the plotline. This made it all the more of a pleasure to watch, with new eyes. As with anyone, I presume, who goes to see this for the first time the idea of puppets been operated by people who can be seen, seems like a crazy idea. It only took about 2 songs for me to forget about the puppeteers and focus solely on Franklin, Kate Monster, etc. the only time I actually remembered that there where puppeteers when was Lucy The Slut was very obviously walking off stage in very loud high heels. Yes I admit it pulled me out of the moment a little bit, but not the to the point where it ruined the story.

My personal highlight were the bad idea bears. If you have no idea what I am talking about honestly go google it. The juxtaposition between the sweet, fluffy, cuddly bears with their sing song voices and the frank, rude, cruel, dangerous and outright bad things they were saying was just an icing on the cake. In a way they are becoming the unofficial mascots of the KNN group, every time one of us wants to buy yarn, or another coffee, or alcohol one of the others put on a bad idea bear voice to convince the other to do it. We are becoming very bad influences on each other.

But back to the review.

Other highlights was If You Were Gay, (the song I already knew) performed perfectly, a simple yet effective set, a fantastic cast, the shout out to skid row (as I said I wasn’t aware of any other songs), puppet sex (don’t ask for the details) and Schadenfreude which is my new favourite word and song.

There were only two major downfalls that I could see:-

1. A few of the American-ism went over my head. Yes I know that it is suppose to be a friendly homage/joke to Sesame Street bit I really don’t remember it been on that much in Britain so a couple of the jokes I might have completely missed. Also ditto Different Strokes and Gary Oldman.

2. Why did it only have a two day run? Yes this didn’t effect me because I manages to get a ticket, in fact a last minute heavily reduced ticket. It doesn’t appear to have got the advertisement to have drawn a crowd nor the time for word of mouth to work. Also the two days it was playing were Tuesday and Wednesday. Not usual theatre going days, such as Friday or Saturday or even Thursday matinee as there sometimes is. It was such a good production I truly think it could have handled a longer run (especially as Wicked now has something like a 8 week run at the same theatre)

All in all a great night was had by all and my spotify is getting hammered by the amount of time I am playing the soundtrack.

PS Once again this is a late posting due to a temperamental internet connection

Fun Friday – Theatre review: The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

I really need to keep on top of my reviews more.

Now I’ll never do serious reviews. It’s very rare that I go see a film, or a gig or a play that I dislike. I normally go because I know I like it already or because I’ve heard really good things about it from someone who knows me and recommends it.

So in that vein – ROCKY WAS AMAZING! The production was flawless, the cast superb and the audience participation original.

Another moment please excuse – I SAW SGT. CRADDOCK IN A THONG! This sentence will make very little sense to the majority of the population of the world but let me explain. When I was younger every Sunday a show called Heartbeat was on ITV at 8pm (Before it had to be known as ITV1 because they now have more than one channel). We would sit down as a family and watch the show and then me and my sister, and then later my brother, had to go to bed at 9pm to be ready for school in the morning. Also that is the time of watershed and we were never allowed to watch the show after called Londons Burning. It’s funny the things you remember when your a kid right? Anyway one of the characters in this show was called Sgt. Craddock. And I may have gotten a little excited when I realised that he would be The Narrator in RHPS. And I pretty much fell off my chair at the end during the encore when he whipped off his trousers a la strippers Velcro style to reveal a sequinned red thong ( I would like to make it clear during the encore I wasn’t sitting down, I was dancing I just used fell off my chair as a indication of my shock)

So other plus points – I really liked the expansion of Rocky’s character. Giving him a few lines, and actually the funniest, made him have a better stage presence than a silent rocky would have done. They also handled Rocky not having a mike very well as well. While the rest of the cast were miked Rocky used a handheld glitter one that was used as a prob when not needed but it wasn’t obtrusive like it could have been. Danni Harman and Sam Attwater were also great as Janet and Brad. But the best casting was definitely Oliver Thornton as Frank-N-Furter. I must admit I had never heard of him before but his presence carried the whole production.

Negative points – the woman playing Magenta was replaced in the interval. It was a little jarring as the woman standing in had a very different vocal style. Also Danni Harman as wonderful as she is was approximately 2 foot shorter than the rest of the cast. In this case I would have put her in lager heeled shoes but it appeared she was in the smallest. It did look more comical than it should of especially from the balcony where we were sat. And a small niggle. While Oliver Thornton was amazing I should never, ever look at Frank-N-Furter and think he is more feminine than me. But that may just be jealousy.

All in all it was a great night and I can’t wait to do the time warp again.

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