A Great Face for Radio 2

In some ways I feel like I shouldn’t review this show, since it’s almost totally sold out, so if you want to see it after reading this, it will be hard for you to get to. On the other hand, it’s a rainy Saturday morning and what else are you gonna do?

My darling friend Regan also known as Sok, was a back up singer in Great Face for Radio 2. Of course, the title back up singer isn’t really indicative of what she did. She was epic, singing up a storm with two others, one other or in a chorus of 7 or 8.

The show is set in a radio station, with two presenters who hate each other various guest stars, the sound mixer, and the station staff including tea ladies. It was very silly, lots of skits full of puns and innuendo broken up with epic medleys of songs of the sixties performed with a live band. It was loud and visually stunning. The costumes were all perfection, stylised and bright and pretty.

I really liked Regan’s children’s show host bits, so cute, and also so mean! The news reader guys were awesome too, little stories leading to a terrible pun each time. They lost us on the Bermuda triangle one. Like, we were with them, laughing away for pun after pun, and then on the Bermuda triangle one there was silence…then the audience started booing! People were like ‘no, too far. We were willing to listen, but that was one step too far.’ Then the booing turned into clapping, so they knew we still loved them, or because it was so awesome that we booed a specific joke…I dunno. It was amazing anyway.

The music is infectious, so familiar, so fun and so boppy. I especially loved ‘Unchain my heart’, ‘Calendar girl’, ‘Hit the Road Jack’ and the slightly weird stalker song ‘Silhouettes’. The guy that took the lead for ‘In the Country’ should totally do a John Denver tribute show, he looks right and his voice is just perfect. I really wanted him to sing ‘Annie’s Song’, but it wasn’t the right show for that!

Overall, a rollicking good time which I’m sure I would have enjoyed even if my Regan wasn’t in it, but she was, so it was awesome. Giffy and I couldn’t resist calling out her name a couple of times. Of course, that might have been all the sugary treats we’d eaten. Hard to say.

(Image from the facebook page for the show: http://www.facebook.com/#/event.php?eid=310289925413 )

Roller derby, Julie + Julia, spoonflower

On the weekend I went to my first bout of the roller derby. It was insanely cool, the crowd was packed with geeks, the costumes were adorable, the game exciting and exhilarating. Plus there was beer! I went with a bunch of friends from work, since Goldie Scorn of Brutal Pageant is the sister of one of them, and I brought Steve too. We ran into a few more people we knew and it was awesome.

I can’t really describe it accurately, except to say that along with Pro-wrestling, this is my favourite spectator sport now. Except of course, that the girls in roller derby aren’t pulling their punches, they’re really bashing each other. Why don’tyou go and check out these awesome Videos care of Simeon?

(am slightly tempted to get fit, rolling and try out for the roller derby.)

Last night I saw Julie and Julia which is the movie of the book of the blog. As you might expect, the storytelling got rather meta. That aside it was a very good movie, the leads did wonderfully and the food was enticing. Flashing between Julia Child in France learning to cook and Julie Powell in 2002 cooking every recipe in Julia Child’s book the movie didn’t pull any punches with the emotional lives of either character. It was refreshing, somehow, to see a movie in which a modern woman doesn’t have everything sorted out and sits down and cries for no good reason.

Yesterday was also a birthday present day. I received the threadless tees I bought with cash from Will and Paula, and the custom printed spoonflower fabric courtesy of Svend and Star. The fabric is so pretty, really vibrant colours and I’m really happy with the designs I chose. Check it:

jennitalulafabric

I’m not sure if you can see it, but the fabric on the right is little cameo portraits of the characters from Little Red Riding Hood. Cutes!

Can’t wait to get sewing and make some pretties with the fabrics.

But first, having spent over an hour trawling the internets for American literary agent informations, I must go and write some of Rain’s story. Turning the internet off in 3, 2, 1…

Starlight Express

I went with my mum and dad, they invested in the original US production of the show, when they put the money in they assumed it was going to be a show that they never saw. A show about trains, where the actors perform on roller skates while they sing and dance and there are races over huge ramps….how could it ever come to little old New Zealand, right?

Well, it turns out they just needed to wait 20ish years for the show to be rewritten and redesigned to make it more travel-friendly. Saturday, after following the progress on twitter for weeks, we went to the matinee performance. We sat in the A block, on the ground, to the left of the stage and a fair few rows back. The view was awesome, the only time we couldn’t see the actors was when the actors lay down on the front part of the stage. Which wasn’t too often.

The story, for those who are not familiar is pretty simple. A kid’s toy trains come alive in his dreams and compete in races to be the greatest engine in the world. The reigning champion is a diesel called Greaseball, our plucky hero is a steam train called Rusty and there’s a new big shot called Electra. Electra is an electric train, just in case it wasn’t clear. The rules of the race say that every engine must have a partner. The women are all passenger cars and available as race partners, the lead is Pearl, who is an observation car, her friends are Dinah, Ashley and Buffy. (Dining car, smoking car and Buffet car.) There are also a number of male freight cars, but of course they are heavier to race with. There’s also a red caboose, the brake car, but he’s a bit evil. The big shot diesel and electric cars make fun of Rusty and ruin his self confidence. Pearl is looking for the best, fastest engine in the world and abandons her old friend Rusty and there are races. It’s actually a Cinderella story, with Rusty as Cinderella.

Traditionally the races are performed on huge mechanical stage ramps, but the new stage design isn’t big enough for that. The races are pre-recorded and shown on three huge screens. The video footage had some cheesy FX and stuff but I think it worked very well.

The Wellington performance was outstanding. The guy playing Rusty was endearing, plucky and cute. Basically perfect for the role. The girl playing Pearl was also very good, although Dinah won my heart with her tragic love story and OTT Southern accent. I think Dinah had the cutest outfit too. Electra and Greaseball were just perfect and I really loved the Hip Hoppers, the 3 near identical freight trucks. Hip hop and break dancing with those skates on can’t be easy, but they made it look natural. Originally these guys were the Rockys, box cars for coal or something like that, and did breakdancing so it was a natural change to make them hip hoppers.

Another highlight is the specially imported from the UK stunt skaters picture via the Wellington Starlight Express twitter feed. The amount of air time those guys got was truly impressive. The backwards flip landing backwards on the ramp in particular took my breath away.

I missed one or two songs in the rewrite, Caboose’s solo and ‘A Lotta Locomotion’ but otherwise the new songs and the rewrite was very good. I have ‘A Whole Lotta Locomotion’ stuck in my head today. I know it sounds the same but it’s quite a different song.

There was some weird stuff about steam being the best kind of power and how awful it is to have an electric train, but overall I think the show has aged well. Overall the show is funny, cheery and very impressive. The audience was very supportive, joining in clapping and waving hands as requested by the characters and even calling encouragement out to Rusty when he was down and out. It’s on for two more days in Wellington and then traveling to Chch for a season and then up to Auckland. The ticket prices are steep but it’s well worth it. It’s more of a spectacle than a standard musical, and the music is really damn catchy.

I went a second time on Sunday night as a friend was sick and didn’t want to waste a ticket. I loved seeing it again, I was able to watch different parts of the choreography and a second time hearing the songs made some of the lyrics clearer.

Highly recommended 🙂

The Darling Buds of May

Last night I got a bunch of friends together and we went to see Lee play the romantic lead in The Darling Buds of May.

I was a little concerned about seeing him fall in love with another woman on stage and make out with her, but I was able to forget all that quite fast. The set was divided into two parts, one for inside the farm house kitchen and the other side was the yard. The lighting was very beautifully done with a very definite inside-outside difference.

I’ve never seen the TV show, and I’d only read parts of the script to help Lee with his lines, so most of the story line was a surprise. Lee was great, totally convincing as a bumbling and somewhat helpless fish out of water. The people playing Ma and Pop Larkin were very good too, utterly relaxed looking and enjoying themselves. The children were all fine and the girl playing Mariette (Lee’s love interest) was acceptable. I mean, I thought she was a little um, stagey, but then it’s a prick of a role. Just flit around being perfect and beautiful…how do you make that realistic in a stage environment? Naw, she was awesome.

The costumes were lovely too, the pale blue dress that Mariette wore was just stunning and the overall look of the show was very good. It was a lovely play, a really nice experience. You just watched it and felt good and happy. The dramas are all minor, the comedy is strong and at the end of the play you feel like crying for happiness. And I may have, just a little.

I would really recommend you go and see it if you can. The tickets are cheap at $20ish dollars and $15 if you can get a group of ten. It’s good to support community theatre after all, since it’s the lifeblood of our Wellington arts capital culture. Or something. And you should totally wolf whistle or similar when Lee comes on with his shirt off. Woo woo!

Book your tickets here, you can just email them or call the number. You reserve the tickets and then pick them up and pay on the night. Gryphon theatre doesn’t have EFTPOS though, so you have to bring cash with you.

Learning from Leonard Cohen

I grew up without religion, so I have to take my moral lessons where I can find them. Sesame St set me right through childhood. When I was a teenager I discovered Leonard Cohen and started buying his albums on vinyl for some reason. I would listen to them over and over again and then I forced my friends to listen to them when we went on holiday together at the beach. Then Zephfi would play her Paul Simon albums. Then we’d listen to Triple J.

Anyway, as you know I saw Leonard Cohen live this year and for me, it was the closest thing I have personally experienced to religious enlightenment. I was seeing someone who I admired perform his songs with passion, humility and sincerity.

One of the reasons Leonard is so great is that his songs are poetry and the poetry is based on experience, philosophy and religious teachings. This is a man that feels deeply and is unafraid to put his emotions into his songs. And I think there are things that we can learn from him, if we take a select sample of his lyrics and apply them to our own lives.

Lesson the first, that Leonard sings about over and over again is that Love Conquers All.
Even when it doesn’t work. Even when it hurts. Even when you know you have to part, love is the most important thing.

I saw you this morning.
You were moving so fast.
Can’t seem to loosen my grip
On the past.
And I miss you so much.
There’s no one in sight.
And we’re still making love
In My Secret Life.

All the rocket ships are climbing through sky
Holy books are open wide
The doctors working day and night but they’ll never ever find that cure for love
there ain’t no cure for love

The next lesson is that although you can try, you shouldn’t ever expect to achieve perfection. You do the best you can and that is all that is needed. if you can accept that everything has a flaw in it somewhere, then you will be a happier person than the person.

The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be….
Ring the bells that still can ring/ forget your perfect offering
there is a crack, a crack in everything
that’s how the light gets in.

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Weeeeeeekends rock

Ok so my weekend started out with dinner at Cha and then attending Regan’s play Play On! I liked it a very lot. Regan is impressively good at comedic acting, I enjoyed her performance very much and often found myself watching her over the other characters regardless of who is talking. This might be a bias though. The other actors were funny too and overall the show was very fun.

The premise is that a bunch of not-so-great actors are putting on a play but the playwright keeps adding new stuff and changing things. First act is a rehearsal, second act is dress rehearsal and third act is opening night. It was a little like watching a live, very long gag reel off a DVD extras menu. It was tempting to yell out the line prompts when you remembered them and it was very funny when people forgot their cues, etc.

I was at a table with my Lee (much easier to get him to come to something that itsn’t a musical), Svend, Star, Maggie, Nick and Sass. We had a lot of candy and sugary drinks so we got quite silly. If you’re on Facebook you will have already seen the photos of the various cups of things that we created, but I’ll put one in here for the non-FB-initiated. cup of lollipops

So, that was awesome fun and we stuck around and got to chat to the star herself, which was awesome as well.

Saturday morning I finished reading World War Z by Max Brooks which is a collection of oral histories of the Zombie apocolypse, 10 years after humans beat the zombies back. It was fan-freaking-tastic. If you have any interest in horror or history or wars I would recommend it. I am making Lee read it next, so that I can talk to him about it. The author is pretty equal opportunity, collecting stories from all over the world (nearly) and one guy who was on an international space station at the time of the war. New Zealand is mentioned in three sentences near the end, so that was fun.

Met up with Svend and C for brunch at SMK and got a bit of shopping done for my Armageddon costume.

Saturday night Lee and I brought a bucket of KFC and watched Speed racer on Blu-ray at Chelle and Jase’s house. Nothing beats a bucket of chicken, it’s just so high class. We were all giggling like little kids about it actually. I am impressed with HD TVs and Blu-ray now, I think Speed Racer was made for that format. I’m keen to watch some other movies that way, Cloverfield for one, but there’s not too much point in us buying or borrowing them until we get an HD projector, which is some ways in the future.

Today, Sunday, has been nice and lazy. Saw my mother in law, passed on the fabric and pattern for the jacket of my Armageddon costume, went to Spotlight and the library and had a very good hot cross bun at Bordeaux Bakery. As you can tell, I haven’t been eating hella healthy though, so my energy levels today are a bit crap. I did write a ten minute story, a couple of notebook pages of my current long-short-story and did some scrapbooking.

It’s a sunny and beautiful day, I’m feeling good. Especially because I only have a two day work week and then we’re off to Auckland! Now, to note down the names and locations of all the food places you guys have recommended to me.

PoF: Batgirl
CO: What’s for dinner.

The Pillowman

Last night I didn’t go to the Kiwi Pro Wrestling, I went to Circa theatre and saw The Pillowman‘s opening night. It’s a play written by Martin McDonagh who wrote In Bruges about a writer who is being interrogated by the police about his stories, which often feature small children being horribly killed and about the deaths of three small children.

The play has a small cast, two police officers, the writer, the writer’s brother and three people who personify some of the stories that are told by the writer. Although the play started off a little rough the actors soon warmed up and I became immersed. The play is incredibly dark, there is a bleakness there that the stories reinforce and the growing suspicion that you know who did kill those little kids and why is very real. The writer was played by Jamie McCaskill who 48hours followers will know from Darlene and Maori Detective, he was awesome.

The writer’s stories are like fairy tales. The original Grimm ones full of blood and people behaving horribly. Those stories are going to stick with me for a while because they had the same charm as the Grimm’s ones, the same dreamlike tone. The stories were told in between interrogations and conversations, woven into the overall story of the play elegantly.

There were quite a few links thematically to In Bruges, but what struck me most is the way Martin Mcdonagh can have violence and humour so skillfully woven together. Pillowman is very funny, there were moments that went from incredibly tense to hilarious in a moment. The audience was laughing so loud the actors frequently had to wait to deliver their next lines. There was also a lot of swearing like in the movie and some similar characters as well as some of the bigger themes like death and the nature of humans.

It is very much a story about writers, which really struck a note with me given my discomfort about the story I wrote on Wednesday. It dealt with why people write and what it means to produce works and the consequences of writing such things.

Because of this I point specifically at Morgue, Steve and Seraph (both G Seraph and Seraph’s Folly) and say ‘go and see this play’. I would recommend it to everyone but it certainly wouldn’t please everyone. A big chunk of two rows of seats of people didn’t come back for the second half, for example. It is chilling and shocking and hilariously funny and I suspect it is going to haunt me for some time.
The Pillowman is playing at Circa theatre until November 8th.

PoF: Pjs and robe
CO: creative pursuits