Bit of a late blog post, but I just found out that The Wizard of Oz (1939) turns 70 today. And I just had to share that with you, my dear readers. So to celebrate, here’s Miss Garland herself with Over The Rainbow:
Episode 121: “Watch the adds and it’s almost like paying”
This newest parody from CollegeHumor of West Side Story is just pure brilliance. Twitter, Facebook, Pandora and eVite all get a mention, but it’s the way they weave it into the West Side Story songs that’s so great:
Living in London, you can’t help but be exposed to the advertisements of West End musicals; every time you take the tube, you’ll be bombarded by the myriad of posters praising the latest musical sensations. Like many, I had seen the posters of Spring Awakening, but couldn’t really make out of it what the show was about. Plus I had never heard anything about that musical before, so why should I waste my time going?
But then we were the winners of a scavenger hunt, and we got tickets to see Spring Awakening. I wasn’t expecting that much at all, but it turned out to be great: catchy tunes, sing-along-able lyrics, and an interesting tale unraveling on the stage. And now, I’m kind of depressed by the news though that they’re closing early. Due to lack of response, they’ll be shutting down this month, with their last performance on Saturday 30th May.
I can understand why it’s not doing so well though. This isn’t exactly the type of musical you’ll take your grandma or mum to. Spring Awakening is based on the controversial 1891 German play Frühlings Erwachen by Frank Wedekind. Set in the late nineteenth century in Germany, it’s about teenagers discovering their sexuality against a backdrop of religious and parental repression. The original play was banned in Germany due to its portrayal of masturbation, incest and rape (and other things I can’t mention otherwise I’ll spoil the plot) and the West End musical version doesn’t shy away from any of these issues.
After seeing Spring Awakening, I left the theatre feeling somewhat disturbed. This is not your usual musical and it goes places most other productions will steer away from. Combining that with the catchy alt-rock music leaves you with a weird juxtaposition of emotions. It’s unsettling to hear a beautiful duet between two girls about how they’re molested by their fathers. It’s not the type of song you can later sing-along to, without being reminded of what it actually is about.
Not all songs are like that though; there are a couple of great numbers, each sung perfectly by the cast. Each of the members of the cast have their shining moments and I was surprised to find out how young they all are (16-24). I just wish there was a recording of the London cast; I’ve got the Broadway version, but I prefer the voices of the London cast. The musical opens with Mama Who Bore Me (90210 viewers might recognize it), first as an enchanting ballad, after which it turns into a upbeat number. Two other favourite of mine were The Bitch of Living and Totally Fucked, both catchy and easy to sing along to. I guess I’m not the only ones who find those three the best numbers, cause during Tony Awards 2 years ago those 3 were performed as a medley:
(Btw, Spring Awakening got 11 nomination that year at the Tony Awards, of which it won 8, including best musical and best score)
The set that you see in the video above is practically 100% the same as the London one. It’s a pretty small stage, but that makes the performances only more prominent. Like with We Will Rock You, you almost have a feeling that you’re at a concert.
If you want to see Spring Awakening, you only still have two weeks to do so. While the story is disturbing, the production itself is pretty amazing: the songs are catchy, the choreography is cool, and the performances are outstanding. If you’ve got the time, I can’t recommend it more. Catch it while you still can!
My mother was in town again, visiting with a friend, so last week we went to see We Will Rock You with them. And WOW! As much as Joseph disappointed me, this just amazed me. It’s really a unique experience.
A while ago I discovered that TFL offers special deals for Oyster card holders, like discounts for museums, restaurants and theaters. One of those deals were 2for1 tickets for We Will Rock You, so I was able to get 4 tickets for only £110. And the seats we got were pretty great: we were about halfwayish (row 11 from the 27) in the stalls, on the right hand side, but exactly next to one of the aisles. By the way, I only got the tickets the day before the show, so even if you’re a bit last minute, chances are there are still good seats available.
I didn’t know anything about the musical before going there and to be honest I didn’t have any expectations at all. Not in the sense “ooh, it’s not going to be good”, more of a “oh, a musical with Queen songs in it” and just stopping there with the line of thought. I mean, I never realized that like with the MammaMia! musical they would interweave all the songs into a story (I know, silly me). So that story really came as a surprise to me.
And what a story! Set 300 years in the future, Earth is now called ‘Planet Mall’ and everything is controlled by the Globalsoft Corporation. Everybody wears the same clothes, watches the same movies and listens to the same (cheesy pop) music. Musical instruments are forbidden and rock music is only known as a myth of the past. Teenager Galileo Figaro is a bit of an outcast; he has weird dreams and hears strange words in his head, most of which are lyrics of songs (which he doesn’t know though).
It seems like a silly plot, but it’s a great setting for all the featured Queen songs. Almost all the main hits appear in some form or another in here (for instance, Don’t Stop Me Now is cut short after a few lines). I never was much of a Queen fan (don’t know why, just never took the time to listen to their songs properly), but this musical has turned me around; I love the songs!
Another thing I didn’t expect was the humour in We Will Rock You. The jokes are mainly clever and silly one-liners, referencing pop culture, but some of them hit the mark perfectly. I can’t recall any exact examples, but at times the audience was completely in stitches.
We Will Rock You is a great, fun musical with songs a lot of people can sing along to (although it was a shame no one actually sang along until the last couple of songs). If you haven’t had the chance to see it yet, I highly recommend it.
Sidenote: a week before the musical I went to Mobile Geeks of London and the pub it was held at shared the same back alley as the back entrance of the Dominion Theatre. I saw most of the cast (without knowing at the time though who was who), but even cooler: Brian May! Anthony and Annie Mole both got some cool blurry photos.
Cristiano and Alper pointed out to me that I hadn’t written a review yet about Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Now I kind of assumed people would know I loved, loved, loved it. Anyhow just like with The Dark Knight I’m not going to do a real review about it, just some random thoughts about it all. I’ll try to keep it a bit more general here, leaving the spoilers for after the image (with a big BEWARE above it) in the case you haven’t seen it yet.
For starters, if you haven’t seen it yet, you should. It’s still available to watch for free on Hulu (see below). Alternatively you can download it from iTunes for a small fee (although it’s not available yet in every country).
The characters are perfectly cast. Neil Patrick Harris is superb as Billy aka Dr Horrible. I’d expected to see him the whole time as Barney from How I Met Your Mother, but from that first scene on he WAS Dr Horrible. And his singing! Before this I didn’t know he had a musical background, but now I’d love to see him one time on Broadway. Nathan Fillion‘s Captain Hammer is spot on; he’s cheesy, smarmy and so obnoxious, you can’t help but hate him. Felicia Day finishes the triangle as sweet Penny. I’d love to see more of her; I’ve just finished watching The Guild and it’s brilliant. Someone give her a TV show already!
Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is truly a sing-along. The songs are catchy, staying in your head for a couple of days after watching it all. I’d be hard pressed to pick a favourite; they’re all so great! Somehow I just know that given some time I’ll know the lyrics by heart and be able to fully sing-along with it. The soundtrack should be coming out sometime in the next couple of weeks and I know I for one am going to buy and download it straightaway. I also can’t wait to get my hands on the DVD of this, especially because we’ve been promised a musical commentary and a gag reel.
After the image: beware spoilers!
Argh! Here Be Spoilers!
Knowing Joss Whedon, I should have anticipated that ending. However, even when Penny died and Dr Horrible was carrying her away, I had the hope that somehow it still would all turn out fine. I find it amazing how gut-wrenching those final minutes are, when you realize she really is dead and that Dr Horrible now has everything he thought he wanted. Even on a second viewing it remains gut-wrenching.
Don’t you just love that Bad Horse is actually a horse? All the members of the Evil League of Evil looked interesting (here’s a cool blog post matching the names up with what we saw) and I love that almost all of them are cameos from Buffy verse people. And did anyone else notice that the news anchors were David Fury and Marni Noxon?
I want more Dr Horrible! In his new shiny red lab coat. As part of the Evil League of Evil (btw, they’re not accepting applications at the moment… not yet at least). Doesn’t this all feel like a great set-up for more? I’ll be happy if they leave with this, but I’d be thrilled if they have more sing-alongy goodness. I’m not sure though where it would go from here; I wouldn’t want them introducing another love interest. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what Whedon and co have planned for us.
To continue with the touristy activities from the past couple of days, yesterday I also went to see Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I wasn’t that much into Any Dream Will Do (I watched it, but couldn’t really care less who won), but my mother and sister were, so I had gotten them tickets. We had front row seats on the Upper Circle, certainly not the best, but still not too shabby.
“Wow”. That’s how I came out of this musical. Not a “Wow! That was a great!”, but more of a “Wow. That was… weird.” I’m completely convinced now that Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote this musical when he was high; Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is just a bizarre jumble of musical styles strung together as a musical.
I wasn’t familiar with Joseph at all. I kind of know the biblical story and I knew the two main songs from Any Dream Will Do, but for the rest I had never seen or heard anything about it. Those two songs (‘Any Dream Will Do’ and ‘Close Every Door’) I actually like, but the rest just felt weird. Let’s put it this way: there’s one song that’s a sort of country & western “yee-ha” song. There’s another song sung with a french accent. Then there’s a Jamaican blues-like song. Another song is sung by a camel and a snake (no, I am not kidding). Then the Pharaoh is literally The King, as in: Elvis. It’s just a strange mix of all different genres.
And then there’s Lee Mead. For the non-UKers, Lee Mead was the winner of Any Dream Will Do, an American Idol-like tv talent show in search for a new star for on the West End. He plays the titular character Joseph, but unlike the previous talent show winner of How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? (Connie Fisher) he doesn’t have to carry the whole musical on his shoulders. The two songs from the tv show are the two songs he gets to sing. Oh, he sings along a little bit in three or four other songs, but it’s not a lot. The narrator for me is the real star of Joseph; she (or in some productions he) sings and act/dances in practically every scene and vocally has the most difficult parts. To be fair though, Lee Mead was great as Joseph and he sang the songs perfectly. I’m just a tad disappointed he didn’t get to do more.
I am a musical lover, but Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat just didn’t work for me. This is the first Andrew Lloyd Webber musical I’ve been to, so maybe it’s just his musicals that don’t do it for me (although I do like The Phantom of The Opera songs, even though I’ve never seen an actual production of it). Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy myself, especially during the after-finale megamix. It’s just… typically when I like a musical the songs get stuck in my head and I yearn to back in the audience again, seeing and hearing all the songs all over again. Here though that didn’t happen and apart from those two great songs the rest of Joseph is just a bizarre, weird show.
A couple of months ago I told you all about Joss Whedon’s during the strike created web show called Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Well, now it’s almost about to be launched!
Dr Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris) is a super villain, just not that good a one. His arch nemesis Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion) keeps beating him up and he’s too shy to talk to the cute girl from the laundromat (Felicia Day). It’s a comedy and it’s a musical, so it’s going to be silly, funny and oh so sing-alongable.
I loved Buffy’s musical episode Once More With Feeling (I’m not ashamed to admit I know all the lyrics of those songs), so I have high hopes for Dr Horrible. The casting of Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion to me is just a great added bonus. Even if they weren’t in it I would have adored this, but with both of them it just makes it a bit more special. If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, check it out:
The idea is to have three acts (episodes) of about 15 minutes debut online on DrHorrible.com in the next couple of days. Act 1 will be launched tomorrow (Tuesday July 15th), Act 2 on Thursday (July 17th) and Act 3 on Saturday (July 19th). All three acts will be available for free online till Sunday midnight (July 20th). After that they’ll be downloadable for a small fee and eventually also released on DVD.
There’s also a mini comic book story that serves as a preview called Captain Hammer: Be Like Me!. It’s not that important to the story, but it’s a great little extra marketing. I so hope this whole setup is going to work, but if there’s one guy out there who can make it happen it’s Joss Whedon.
So don’t forgot! Tomorrow is the first installment of Dr Horrible. Will you come along to see evil take over the world?
Episode 46: “It’s a deeply intense moment in our lives.”
I came across this video while searching for more info on the new Joss Whedon internet musical Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. To my surprise, there’s already a fan site up and running: Doctor Horrible (then again I shouldn’t really be surprised, should I? I’ve even fallen in love with series without having seen anything of it yet). On their site they had this little gem of a video. It’s a clip from the Megan Mullaly Show of an interview of the cast members of How I Met Your Mother, where Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segal sing one of the songs from Les Mis.
Episode 6: “Trill a cheery tune in the tub as we scrub a stubborn mildew stain.”
Here’s a clip from Enchanted called the Happy Working Song. If you hadn’t heard of the movie, it’s a bit of a mix of homage and parody to the old Disney cartoon musicals. It’s about a cartoon fairy tale princess that gets pushed into “the world where there are no happy endings” aka New York. I knew I would love the movie when I saw it, because of the Disney nut I am, but I was surprised to find a lot of people loving it. Even my brother was recommending it to all of his friends, claiming it was more worth going to than I Am Legend (I haven’t seen I Am Legend yet, so I can’t say if that’s true or not).
The Happy Working Song is a tribute to the old Disney cleaning songs like Whistle While You Work and Just A Spoonful of Sugar. I especially love how they manage to rhyme toilet with spoil it.