So here is the first of hopefully many more personal posts for you to read to find out a little about me.
I am a huge fan of the theatre, and have been ever since I started Drama Club at Primary School. I was always very shy, and not particularly good at it, but there was nothing like the feeling of becoming someone else and performing - from playing Baby Face in my school's production of Bugsy Malone when I was 11, through to playing Madame Arcari in Blithe Spirit for A-Level at 17. I absolutely loved it. And although I wasn't the best at it, through learning the things I did, I found an even deeper appreciation of plays and the actors. Because of studying Drama at school through to A-Level, and a general love of the theatre, I have have been lucky enough to see quite a number of plays and musicals, and thought I'd share with you some of the ones I've seen, and what I thought of them.
When I was a child (can't remember what age, sorry!), my Dad took me to see Starlight Express. It was one of the first shows I had seen, and was absolutely amazed. Not only did the actors have to sing, dance, and perform, they had to do it all on roller skates! The basic story is of a child's train set (in my opinion, the child snuck out of bed at night to play with it, but I've read the child actually dreamt it), there is a championship in which trains from countries all over the world compete to win the race and become the new champion. But there is a love story; Rusty, a steam engine, is in love with Pearl, a carriage, but Pearl's head is turned by the flashy Electra, an electric train, and the buffed up Greaseball, the diesal train, who are both more modern and showy trains. Rusty decides to enter the championship in the hopes that if he does well, he will win Pearl's heart. It's really sweet! I absolutely adored it. In the performance I saw, the races would take place on a race track that went around the stalls and the front of the dress circle - with a screen that came down to make sure everyone could see the race. It was just fantastic! The songs are all relatable to us as humans, but with clever train terminology. I adore the soundtrack, so much so that I bought myself a copy, and even after all these years, I still know most of the songs by heart :)
When I was in Year 10 (around 14/15), I was studying Stones in His Pockets for coursework, and got to watch a performance. It's a comedy about "two down on their luck Irish lads and the quiet rural community around them coming to terms with the visit of a big Hollywood movie shoot." (Taken from here, weren't sure how to describe it). There are two actors. The stage is mainly bare. It is absolutely fantastic! As I said, it's a comedy, so things are exaggerated; it's two male actors, but as they play over fifteen characters between them, they also play women - with exaggerated female American accents while attempting to seduce the other, you can't help but roll around laughing. But with the title, you can guess it's not all laughs, and is quite sad in some places. But such a fantastic show!
Similarly, Blood Brothers is also pretty nifty in that we see the two main characters as young boys, teenagers and men, and are played by the same two actors throughout, and are completely believable at every age. There's is nothing like watching a bloke in his 40's gallop around the stage on his invisible horse, and completely believing he's about 6-years-old. Blood Brothers "tells the captivating and moving tale of twins who, separated at birth, grow up on opposite sides of the tracks, only to meet again with tragic consequences." (From here.) It's the type of musical you should go to see if you think musicals aren't your thing. It's a real moving story, more of a melodrama and not the "fluff" some might expect from a musical. It really is a brilliant show, one of my favourites.
I can't not mention Sunset Boulevard, or at least the performance of it I saw. It was choreographed by Craig Revel Horwood, and didn't have an orchestra. The actors themselves played the instruments, sitting around the sides of the stage when they weren't performing. They even used their instruments as props, one using her bow as a nail file when prettying up Norma. It was very Brechtian, seeing the musicians/actors on stage, having them never leave, and using their instruments in their performance as well. Just brilliant. But also a fantastic story. Sunset Boulevard is about an aging silent movie actress, Norma Desmond, who wants to return to the screen and coerces Joe Gillis, a struggling script-writer, into helping her make it, and their relationship. Just awesome.
I could go on and on about the shows I've seen, but I think I've said enough for one post. Other shows I have seen are Bugsy Malone, The King and I (with Elaine Page!), My Fair Lady, The Mouse Trap, The Woman in Black (twice), Grease, Wicked, Tom, Dick and Harry, Calender Girls, Flash Dance, Les Misérables, Love Story and Legally Blonde. This year, I am attempting to see one performance each month, and have so far seen three - the last listed. Here's to another nine!