Friday 24 April 2020

'Love Never Dies' on YouTube - and what I thought of it (at end)

Just a reminder for anyone else who's enjoying the current event of Andrew Lloyd Webber's putting on of theatrical performances of his musicals on YouTube - available to watch for just 48 hours every week-end in the U.K. during current lock-down restrictions. 
Following the utterly marvellous 'Superstar' of a fortnight ago, and a most impressive 'Phantom' last w/e - performed in the Royal Albert Hall as a 25th year celebration [so 2011?] including a cast of so many extras which no conventional theatre could have held. 
And now today, starting at 7 p.m. [British Summertime] there becomes available a chance to see the sequel to 'Phantom', 'Love Never Dies' a piece I've never heard - not even one single number from it - let alone seen. It didn't have a particularly long West End theatre run, at least not in Lloyd Webber terms, though it has had quite substantial praise from some critics, some even claiming it as being superior to the original 'Phantom'. I'm looking forward to it immensely, as it should also do so to any of the composer's fans to whom it'll also come as something new. I've no idea yet of the cast, though as the production has had A.L.W.'s blessing one can safely assume it's definitely not going to be bad.  

Btw: Also looking forward to a showing of his 'By Jeeves' - possibly next w/e? - a pleasant, light-hearted affair with which I'm now fairly familiar, having an audio-cassette of the complete musical, and then actually getting to see it on stage a few years back - and an under-valued piece of theatre I think [even though when I was there a party of about half-a dozen adults in front of me walked out after half an hour muttering "What rubbiish!"] - with lyrics by no less than Alan Ayckbourn, probably still the world's most prolific and successful living playwright.

But I do hope some of you at least will enjoy 'Love Never Dies' as much as I'm hoping to.

My Verdict.
(Next day) Well, I must say that after having watched it straight through - it's a bit shorter than 'Phantom' - I found it pretty good, and will take the opportunity to watch it again tomorrow as goodness knows when I'll have another chance.
It's filmed from a theatrical performance in Melbourne in 2011 with an Aussie cast, mostly not bad, though I did have concerns about a lack of consistency in projecting the solo voices which is often so low in comparison with the big chorus numbers, that I decided to watch the whole thing with subtitles - a big improvement, especially for Ben Lewis as the Phantom who has the opening song setting the scene, except were it not for being able to read it I wouldn't have had a clue as to what he was warbling about - and, unfortunately, it is a warble to start with, though his voice does get better as the show progresses. Anna O'Byrne is Christine and she's not at all bad throughout.
The story, now in New York and moved on a decade, is very similar to the original, with the Phantom pursuing Christine and trying to persuade her to sing his specially composed song one last time, that song being the show's title - not a very arresting phrase for attracting attention and lodging it in one's memory, but it is the climactic number.
I was impressed by how much entirely new (and attractive) music has been written, having expected that a lot of it would be a re-hash of  melodies already heard in the first part. Though there are  echoes of the original, which we'd only expect (and at least one direct quote), Lloyd Webber manages to keep to the spirit of the first while writing a load of original, richly melodic stuff.    
The audience in this capture was curiously subdued for the most part that it could well have been performed with no audience at all with little difference - only at the start and towards the end did they make their presence felt.

It's a show I'd like to see live, perhaps in a two-day double-bill with the original (which I've only seen the once - though do try to forget the film version!) but this also stands on its own - and, as I say, good enough to make me want to watch it again tomorrow. I'd recommend it - and, btw, it is available to watch globally (presumably for just the same 48 hours that it's available in this country). The shows must go on - and so do the pleasures! 

Sunday 12 April 2020

YouTube treat - 'Jesus Christ Superstar'

Just watched on YouTube a truly impressive production of this, as part of Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Stay-at-Home' campaign during theatre (and overall) lockdown, of showing musicals for free for just 48 hours. [As I write this only 8.5 hours left]. Unfortunately, stills of this production, filmed just a few days ago at our Birmingham's [I think] vast arena are not available to be posted elsewhere - though this production has toured other countries too, including U.S.A. 

My first encounter with this musical was [for me] the highly unsatisfactory 1973 film version, widely criticised on release for having such a charisma-lite Jesus, in the person of one Ted Neely whose flyweight presence was emphasised all the more by the bullet-like Carl Anderson as Judas. The leaden direction of Norman Jewison only made matters worse.
But after that, sometime in the late 70s I saw it live on stage and was immediately converted into seeing what a fine piece of theatre it really is - musically, lyrically and [but of course], story. I've seen it in the theatre in all, I think, six times, and they've all made me tear up [i.e. with tears as in 'eye']. I'd love to see it again.
So it was the same effect with this present spectacular production, updated to the present day but with a strong hark back to the 60s in the time of student demonstrations and the like.

Cast here is v.good indeed - led by that present-day Aussie multi-talent-on-legs, Tim Minchin, as Judas, perfect foil to a strong Jesus presence in Ben Forster. Mary Magdelene is [former?] Spice Girl Mel C., actually pretty good - plus the one whose outrageously entertaining song everybody looks forward to, King Herod, well played with sufficient camp without overdoing it, by former BBC [and other] radio presenter Chris Moyles. [Pity that when he's crucified, Jesus' 'crown of thorns' slipped right down over one eye - but that's live theatre for you]. 
The huge audience didn't hold back from voicing their acclaim, and at the end, the composer Lord L.W. himself came on stage to say a few words and thank the cast. He fully deserved to be well pleased. I was! What a treat! Terrific stuff!

[And I'm ever so sorry again not to be able to provide any stills] 

Sunday 5 April 2020

Oh REJOICE! Laptop problem largely cracked!

Thanks to so many of your encouraging messages of support, positive suggestions, and (my own) persistence, I've at last got round the biggest problem I've had since last mid-week - (hooray!) - namely. an inability to access the @ sign, now solved as you can see. I'm able again to send e-mails to ask for assistance plus everything else. 
If anyone is curious as to know how we've arrived at this point I won't repeat it all here, but it's set out in my previous post under the last comment of 'Anon'. At least I can now return to some semblance of 'normality' (in these abnormal times), even if there's some measure of hiding still some measure of inconvenience of doing so, which may not be apparent, but still small beer when set against the far greater urgency of dodging that blasted virus! 

Meantime, thanks again to all who offered their help whether it worked or not. Warmest of hugs all round!
And now I'll probably spend the rest of the day whistling 'Gaudeamus igitur' !

Thursday 2 April 2020

Can anyone help please - NOT to do with virus..

Does anyone have any idea of the cure when the 'shift' key on a laptop doesn't work. Believe me, I've tried all I can think of, including googling help, trying several free downloads which claim to fix it, trying windows suggestions etc etc...........
And to cap it all yesterday in my frustration I ill-advisedly decided to 're-set' the lap-top to what it was when bought, as one site recommended I do, with infuriating result that I was unsurprisingly shut out of my regular sites, including e-mails - and because the 'at' key doesn't work I can't now get back in most of them as they require the e-mail address which, of course, needs the 'at' sign. For the same reason I'm unable to purchase any download which claims to solve it. [I only got back onto this my blog-site by sheer fluke and now dare not sign out on it]. At any other time I'd have simply carried this laptop down to our local 'Lap-Top Shop' just a mile away, but of course it's now closed until God only knows when.

So, this is an appeal in desperation that one of you just might have some bright idea[s] without my seriously expecting too much - but if anyone can offer some constructive assistance to help me avoid being in Limbo for possibly months to come I'd be eternally grateful. Thanks for reading, even if that's all you can do.