Category: Theatre

Spiderman the Musical, New York

Apparently the most expensive musical ever to be produced on Broadway, Spiderman was one of those very hot tickets to get over the holiday season in New York. We ended up standing in line for rush tickets, those last minute tickets that the box office releases for the day, on what happened to be the coldest day in New York that we were there. -9 degrees Celcius with windchill, -18 degrees Celcius! We weren’t even the first people in line, when we started to queue and hour and a quarter before the box office opened. Between my sister and myself, we rotated our position in line to try to jump into the nearest warm cafe to defrost our limbs before cycling back.

Thank goodness they hadn’t sold out by the time that we got there and we ended up with some reasonable tickets for a cheap US$33 (right at the back) for 19:30 that evening. At least we still got a really good view of the stage, even if our seats came pre-filled with an additional seated cushion. I wasn’t expecting so much out of this musical. It is, after all, based after a comic book but I have to say it wasn’t the worst one that I’ve seen. The impressive use of the stage and theatre as well as the visuals was enchanting.

The much lauded aerial tricks grew a little weary, and the battle scene, super-cheesy (but appropriate) for the given genre. The music, developed by Bono, wouldn’t be exactly something I would describe as the pinnacle of his career, and the love interest Mary Jane seemed to outshine her main counterpart as the person with the strongest stage presence.

Would I see it again? Not for the US$100+ tickets most of them were going for, but for a more reasonable price, I would. I’m glad to say that I also didn’t fall asleep given how warm it was inside the theatre.

The Complete History of Food

Bompas and Parr are famous for putting on some spectacular events involving food and a number of other senses. It makes you think how great their own parties must be.

They’re latest venture titled, “The Complete History of Food” transformed the former Royal Agricultural Society building into a journey taking you back to medieval times stepping through a multi-course and multi-sensory trip. Entrance was timed, giving everyone a fairly intimate experience moving from floor to floor, room to room and enjoying the fun atmosphere. Below is the map decorated on the wall, describing the floor and the rooms contents.

At only £25 a ticket (subsidised mind you by a well known Cognac maker) I think it was pretty great value given plenty of spirit to walk out tipsy, some great food and an entertaining experience. We stepped inside a dark room, manned by a young gentlemen determined to diagnose our mood and there to prescribe something that fell within four different categories (a different sticker later denoting a different cocktail and finger food starter).

After a quick lighting of the various people in the room (including the very jovial picture of Bompas and Parr below), we moved to the next room (ladies taking off heels) only to find ourselves carefully balancing so not to fall into the man made moat contained in one the rooms. Stepping from plank to plank, we find ourselves transported to the interior of a ship hull moored in a pool of water (mind the eels apparently) where we are given a supplement to ease our moods – I was a phlegmatic last week thus needing a Choleric solution to help balance me out, thus starting with Cabbage, white wine, caper artichoke paired with a Courvoisier Exclusif Rose Water drink courtesy of Saf.

Next up, we ascended in an elevator that fit no more than four people, we emerge on the rooftop terrace to enjoy a deconstructed champagne, bubbles and fizz enjoyed separately courtesy of Lounge Bohemia.

We drank this accompanied by a wicked savoury foie gras equivalent of a ferrero rocher made by Alexis Gauthier of Michelin starred Gauthier Soho. What a wise move to get people to descend through the house as they pick up more food, and a lighter head.

Next up was the scratch and sniff meal, complete with a fully functioning seventies TV set whose glow radiated out towards the sofas. We inhaled aromas of minty peas, golden potatoes, pumpkin and roasted chicken as our fingernails did their magic. A strange, yet very appropriate activity.

This brought us to the bouncy castle, made up as the interior of someone’s stomach before walking through the corridor of
mushrooms (I assure you, of which, we had not ingested any of the hallucinogenic kind) before joining some other people in the middle of an iguanodon to enjoy one of the best confit duck dishes I’ve had for some time. I’m definitely going to have to check the makers of this, Bistrotheque.

Puy lentils, beetroot and a black champagne sauce combined with a really strong alcoholic punch, I was glad for this heavier dish to help combat some of the alcohol. Below is a picture of the really strong punch.

The great thing about this part is that we didn’t seem rushed to eat our meal, so we sat their conversing with a nice New Zealand couple who’d come along for the evening as well.

Golden arrows directed us towards the dessert room where a Gingerbread version of London’s very own gherkin greeted us as did a spinning monument of jelly.

The jelly served aboard an impressive spinning tower of what looked like sugar art, but ended up as decorated porcelain. Still impressive looking.

Though the jelly was a predictable and welcome finishing touch, it still did plenty to put a close to the evening. The spinning beauties being served included iris jelly, candied orange some berries and very tasty whale vomit (Ambergris Posset). A surprise feast for everyone.

Tickets for their events are limited and done so for good reason with every experience and taste to be savoured, unlikely to be reproduced. I appreciated and really enjoyed the experience walking through the Complete History of Food.

Horror in the West End

A couple of weeks ago, I went out with Kath and her sister to see the West End play, the Woman in Black. I love thriller and horror movies and to be able to experience something like this live was definitely something special. This play, celebrating its 21st year running in the West End has brought chills and thrills to over 7 million people. Three more were spooked that evening as well.

The story is effectively the retelling of a ghost story that involves two main actors, one of them trying to tell their story and experience of the Woman in Black. As I write this, my skin gets goosebumps thinking about some of the situations you, as an audience member, finds yourself. Fortunately I won’t give too much away to the story line other than you want to brace yourself for some of the eerie moments, particularly when all the women in the audience start screaming their heads off.

In other interesting, related news, I read that Daniel Radcliffe will star in the movie make of this movie. I hope it’s as good as the stage play. On top of that, it looks like the writer of Kick-Ass, Jane Goldman is penned to script the movie. This will be good.

Traces

Last weekend, my sister asked me along to see a new circus/art stage show at the Peacock Theatre called Traces presented by a French-Canadian based troupe of four guys and a girl. The performance is best described as a fusion of different performance styles encompassing everything from dance, various circus skills, some acting and comedic styles. Everything had clever touches including the welcome note at the start and the intermission joking about the things that you could do that most other theatres would prohibit.

I was particularly impressed by their use of less conventional circus objects including basketballs and skateboards to create some visually stunning tricks. Considering that the stage wasn’t that big, and there were five constantly moving bodies, it’s obvious they’d rehearsed a great deal to put on a show that truly impressed. Not everything worked out well including their mock simulation of a “big brother”-like vote off, but for a couple of hours it was still worth the money we paid for it.

An Oz Circus in Calgary, I Kid You Not

It’s easy to find a bunch of Australians in Calgary – normally all you have to do is go up to the ski hills in Banff and Lake Louise. It’s much more difficult trying to find a bunch of Aussies perform an astonishing 61 circus acts in 60 minutes. Fortunately, Circa and its four performers not only manage to pull it off without the potential droll, but they manage to make it a blast for everyone in the audience. Tonight I was lucky enough to see them on the opening night with the folks from Theatre Junction at The Grand. Their first night wasn’t a completely full house, although the the standing ovation at the end demonstrated exactly how much value everyone received for the price of their ticket.

Circa

To say that the performers, made up of one lady and three gentlemen, are charismatic would be an understatement. Their witty commentary and perfect timing takes you on a journey through the different circus acts where you literally laugh, cry and cringe your way through some mind-bending physical feats. With only just the four of them, they cover pretty much all types of circus acts including juggling, tumbling, acrobatics, slapstick, magic, and some more unique combinations involving some modern props like a fitness ball.

Circa Curtain

Although on first thought, an hour isn’t really a long time for a show, I’m just amazed at how energised the entire hour felt and with the breadth of the performance, I’m sure that everyone walked out of there extremely satisfied. Of course with so much pressure on the performers, some of the acts didn’t quite go according to plan and given their format, you at least knew that particular act would draw to a close very quickly.

Definitely go and see these guys, if for nothing else but a light hearted evening. It’s an hour of your life you’ll definitely appreciate.

TheKua.com Rating: 9 out of 10

Sound of Music

Of all the musicals I’ve seen, I must rate the latest one showing at the Palladium as the best. Everything from the cast, the costumes, the full orchestra, set designs and succinctness add to its wonderful performance. Lasting about two and half hours including the intermission, I’m surprised that it still managed to fit in all the songs that I could remember (and then some).

For something that’s so widely known, it’s very hard not to compare it to the movie. The performers don’t really look the same, although they still put on the same amazing performance. I’m also glad that they cut scenes that repeat a number of songs, turning the four hour epic I seem to remember the movie taking into something a little bit more manageable on a school night. The original movie is amazing in its own way, and this stage production takes it to the same level in a slightly different way.

The scenes changes probably amazed me the most, with the basic stage transformed into the alps, outside gardens, and the abbey through a combination of floating stages, circular platforms and lots of props dropping from the ceiling. It all occurred so seamlessly that they were hardly noticeable.

TheKua.com Rating: 9 out of 10

Gods of Carnage

Gods of CarnageA new comedy act recently opened on the West End starring Ralph Fiennes and I was lucky enough to score a preview ticket on this Saturday just gone. As expected, it was a full house and so the laughter filled the entire theatre. The play, best described as a bit of a black comedy involves four actors and actresses on a very simple set and focused around the story of their children getting into a fight and all the craziness that ensues to resolve it.

Based on some of the topics covered and the amount of swearing, the writer obviously wrote this script relatively recently and at least seems to have some French origins although it also includes plenty of the classic understated British humour, focused on many suggestive hints and plenty of sarcastic comments.

We had perfectly centred seats that was close enough to see some of the very visual and physical parts of the comedy theatre without being too close to be covered by it (you have to go and see it to know what I mean). I’d highly recommend any people who have a sense of humour (or at least appreciate comedy) to go and see this if you’re seeing any West End show.

Life is a Cabaret ol’ chum

I have no idea what made me agree to see the musical Cabaret – it could have been the discount tickets combined with not really knowing much about the story. I was expecting the worst, and I guess it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting it to be. Very disappointed with the last real west end musical I saw, I left the show probably best described as slightly ambivalent.

We had excellent seats and it’d been the closest I’d been to a stage yet at only three rows away from the front. Whether or not it’s good or bad, we could see everyone’s face in so much detail that we could, to much of our amusement, see the spit fly into the audience as they annunciated their words as much as possible. Fortunately they limited their sharing with the audience to the front row.

I guess the performers to Cabaret must be comfortable with each other with several scenes best described as, how do I put it, rather raunchy in either the things they did or the things they wore (and sometimes what they didn’t wear). The story is set between the 1930s and 1940s and centres around an American guy and English woman in the heart of Berlin. One of the other actors, best known from Home and Away plays a very poor German, his accent slipping into a blend that sounded almost Russian at times and the other probably most well known celebrity, Julian Clary who plays the narrator, surprisingly good at his role.

Whilst I wouldn’t recommend this musical for everyone, I guess some people would find the story entertaining, or at least recognise some of the songs that made this musical famous.

Thekua.com Rating: 5 out of 10