Wednesday 28 June 2017

Rock, murder and magic... What a week!...

19th June - 25th June 2017

An unexpected addition of a trip to the theatre upped this week's activities to three, all very different, but all equally great in their own ways...

Bat Out Of Hell - The Musical

So Wednesday night we headed to the London Coliseum in Covent Garden to catch the premiere run of Bat Out Of Hell - The Musical, based on, you guessed it, Meat Loaf and the Bat Out Of Hell albums, written and arranged by Jim Steinman.

Obviously the main draw will be the songs, of which many were originally written with the stage in mind, and therefore lend themselves perfectly to this setting.

The Coliseum is the largest theatre in the West End so any production there needs to be able to fill it's cavernous stage and auditorium, and this show does that admirable.

The set itself is a huge production with various moving sections which variously depict different settings, such as a skyscraper, a wasteland, a bar, a prison and a street scene, and every penny can clearly be seen on stage, also including various moving motorcycles, a Cadillac, pyrotechnics, projections, roving video cameras and special effects.

Anyone familiar with the songs will also be aware that this is huge sounding bombastic music capable of filling stadiums so is very at home here.

The story line itself is completely bonkers, set in a dystopian future it centres on a group of teenagers now known as The Lost who mysteriously disappeared but reemerged now no longer able to age, stuck at eighteen forever, however the city is now 'run' by Falco an entrepreneur who owns most of the city and lives in luxury, however Strat, leader of The Lost is in love with Falco's daughter Raven who falls for him too against her father's wishes...

It's all got a 'The Lost Boys'-esque feeling to it but with a dash of 'Rocky Horror' and plenty of testosterone, however if you're going to a musical based on these songs you shouldn't be too surprised.

For quite a bit of the show, although enjoying the songs and the performances, I wasn't sure if it was all being taken a little too seriously, which kept me on the fence with regards whether I was enjoying it as much as the cast clearly were, (and the audience it should be said as it's the loudest I've ever heard a West End audience applauding and cheering after the songs, it was more like a concert), until the final song 'I'd Do Anything For Love', which built perfectly from it's piano intro into it's operatic, pomp rock heights, the point at which a character disappears in one outfit, only to re-emerge dressed differently only to launch back into song was the moment at which I was sold, it's truly a jaw dropping moment of dramatic theatre. This coupled with Sharon Sexton as Sloane, nailing what I like to refer to as the 'Bono line' of the song with real commitment means the show revels in it's over the top style, embraces it even and truly entertains from start to finish.

The show is going to Toronto and maybe a transfer is in order, although it fits the Coliseum so well it may suffer at another venue, who knows. Catch it while you can though!

Psycho With The London Philharmonic Orchestra

On Friday night we headed over to the Southbank, and the Royal Festival Hall for a screening of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho with live score.

We booked this way back when tickets first went on sale, being big fans of Hitchcock and having enjoyed previous live scored film screenings we were looking forward to it.

There was a brief introduction and interview with composer Bernard Hermann's widow, which was an unexpected bonus as she spoke of her husband's relationship with Hitchcock and his other work in Hollywood, and did so very entertainingly.

Then it was on with the film, which surely needs little introduction.

A classic thriller, and probably Hitchcock's best known film, it's twists and turns are pretty well known, even to those who've never seen it, although I'm not going to reveal them here, and the score was always credited, and rightly so, with being a major component of the film, almost a character in itself in providing the tension and atmosphere, (much like John Williams' iconic 'Jaws' score), which makes the film a success on so many levels.

The score itself is quite minimal, and string heavy, however this makes it all the more effective, certainly in the iconic shower scene and ramps up the tension in other dramatic scenes.

The performance itself was fantastic, and the sound was tremendous, a real treat for the eyes and ears.

If the opportunity presents itself to catch this show again, don't hesitate to really get a chance to see sound and vision working in perfect harmony in cinema.

Penn & Teller

On Saturday night we headed over to Hammersmith for one of Mrs C's Christmas presents, Penn & Teller, at the Eventim Apollo.

We love a bit of magic, and coupled with the no-nonsense attitude of Penn & Teller we were really looking forward to this, the penultimate night of their UK tour.

In the foyer were stands with paper cups and playing cards, from which we were all asked to take four random cards and a cup for trick in the show.

After taking our seats they arrived on stage shortly thereafter, albeit in inflatable form wearing costumes with them inside and performed a whole trick this way before it's surprise reveal, which set the tone for the show to follow.

Plenty of audience participation, mind boggling tricks involving all manner of techniques, sleigh of hand, mis-direction and 'mind reading' all made an appearance, alongside some of Teller's silent routines showcasing some truly impressive visual magic.

At various points on stage were a wood chipper, a huge range of animal traps, goldfish and a barrel, which all featured in fresh takes on classic tricks and new mind bending illusions.

The banter by Penn was non-stop and razor sharp throughout too, and works perfectly alongside the mime-like actions of Teller.

The two hours show flew by, and they even appeared outside afterwards to meet the fans which was a nice touch.

It was a great opportunity to see two legends perform so close to home, and we can't wait for the next tour.

Next weeks has some live music and theatre in store, so until then, get inspired...

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