I have so much love for the bokeh that my phone camera can produce! 😍
I have so much love for the bokeh that my phone camera can produce! 😍
Fountain of dreams!
Building of dreams!
Doors of dreams!
1. Rebecca das Musical
It had to be this at number one. I just love this show absolutely ridiculous amounts, and I miss it so much. If it was on in London I’d literally want to go and see it every week.
Mrs Danvers is one of my absolute favourite literary characters, and though I love her in the book in spite (/because) of her evilness, the great thing about the musical is that it downplays some of the more sinister, obsessive aspects of her personality and instead plays on the idea that she’s someone devastated by the loss of someone she loves deeply, which is what I personally understood her to be in the book anyway.
In fact, all of the characters have some of their sharp edges filed off, and that’s not to say they’re vastly different from the book, just not quite so wholly unlikable, as most of them are originally! That makes the musical more watchable for me; I’m not sure I’d enjoy it as much if it was two hours of just everyone being horrible to everyone else, even if it was through the medium of song.
And, I mean, you can’t mention Rebecca the musical without mentioning the life-size staircase which they set fire to with Mrs Danvers standing on it, holding Rebecca’s nightdress. So many feels!
I’ve seen this show 12 times, which says something about how much I love it. It has just the right combination of unforgettable songs, roof-raising dance routines, and a few emotional moments.
Granted, it has to have the perfect cast to make it work, but when it does, ugh it’s so wonderful. A good cast can bring a new dimension to the characters, rather than them just being shallow, two dimensional bitches. One thing I particularly love is that Mama Morton can speak Hungarian to the Hunyak – why? What could have prompted her to go out of her way to learn to communicate with this woman, when she doesn’t give a fig about any of the others? So much potential backstory!
When you compare the stage version to the film version, it can look a little pared-down (hi, Cell Block Tango), but I think it actually works in the show’s favour. It stops you being distracted by massive sets or hundreds of actors, and lets you focus on the absolute talent required to pull off some of those routines! Wow!
3. War of the Worlds
I’ve loved Jeff Wayne’s musical version of War of the Worlds for longer than I can remember, so when I found out they were bringing it to the stage, I was needless to say ridiculously happy.
There’s been a lot of poor celebrity stunt casting over the years, which is why it took so long for me to actually bite the bullet and go, because I really can’t overstate the importance of a good cast, in any show, not just a big name to get bums on seats.
It’s an unapologetically massive show – none of this projecting stuff onto the back wall of the theatre rubbish, oh no, they have an actual Martian fighting machine which walks across the stage! Not to mention the orchestra, the projection of the journalist, and all sorts of other wonderful things. Even the souvenir programme, when the show was at the Dominion in London, was gold and shiny and attention-grabbing!
I don’t know how else to describe it other than it being absolutely iconic – who doesn’t know ‘the chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one, he said’ – but my favourite song has always been, and will always be, The Spirit of Man. Julie Covington on the original soundtrack, and Tara Blaise in the stage show, own my heart with that song.
4. The Light Princess
One of the great things about the Light Princess (and there are many) are the huge number of strong female characters: Althea, the gravitationally-challenged princess; Piper, her long-suffering best friend; Falconer, the (would you believe it) falcon-handler.
When I saw The Light Princess for the first time, I was still relatively new to theatre. I’d mostly only seen shows like Chicago and Oliver!, which were reasonably big, but didn’t require much visual wizardry. When the Light Princess opened, then, to Althea floating without wires in front of her bookshelf, I was spellbound – only to realise that she was in fact strapped bodily to an acrobat who was moving up and down the bookshelf so gracefully, that Althea appeared to be bobbing gently in the air. It’s hard to put into words just how mesmerising that was, and it instilled in me a love of creativity and taking chances in theatre which persists to this day.
On the train home, I actually wrote a review of The Light Princess, something I hate doing, but I felt so strongly about my love for the show that I just had to. I’m shocked to realise that it was almost 5 years ago since I first saw the show, and I desperately want it to come back to London – although I don’t think I’d want to see it again unless it had the amazing original cast.
There are a lot of dark moments in the show, from scarily Nazi-esque marching to some brutal behaviour towards Althea from several (male) characters, but overall it’s a show that will leave you absolutely joyous. The final song, the Coronation Song, still makes me well up every time I think about it, even now.
5= Grey Gardens
5= Radio Times
Okay so I kind of copped out by putting three shows in the fifth position, but I couldn’t choose between them. Both Carrie and Grey Gardens were at the utterly wonderful Southwark Playhouse, and in their original US incarnations hadn’t been particularly successful. Both were shows I took a risk in booking, having never read or seen Carrie before, nor known anything about Big Edie and Little Edie, on whom Grey Gardens was based.
There wasn’t a bad or unconvincing member of the cast in Carrie, which is impressive given that quite a few were in their West End debut, some not even graduated from their degrees yet. The same goes for Grey Gardens. Both shows also managed to work with the small space stunningly well, and the space was arranged completely differently for both shows – it was actually quite disorientating, because it felt as though you were in a completely different theatre, even though you knew you weren’t. Carrie is another show which, if it was still on in London, I’d want to see every week!
Radio Times is a musical set in World War II, and is very much in line with both the sounds of the time, and the general Vera Lynn and ‘keep calm and carry on’-type feelings of the period. I trekked all the way to the Watermill Theatre in Newbury, near Reading, to see this play, and then to Plymouth to see it again on tour. It’s an absolute happy-making show! It’s full of simple, cheerful songs and truly likable characters, and is just a dream to see.
I love Leeds; there’s so much history there, and so many ridiculously grand buildings. I spent a good amount of time wandering around looking upwards, which wasn’t a bad thing when I had time to kill before seeing the amazing Bristol Old Vic/National Theatre production of Jane Eyre at the Leeds Grand Theatre (omg, so. many. heart. eyes. emojis.!! 😍)
Here’s some of the buildings which caught my eye (and just look at that gorgeous blue sky!):
And here’s one cute modern one which I also rather liked:
I fangirled quite a bit (a lot) over the grounds of Kirkleatham Museum in my last post, and the fangirling isn’t over yet. I still find it really hard to believe that such a nice, peaceful place is in Redcar (technically), when Redcar is so…not nice and peaceful!
Anyway, as ever, less words and more photos now!