Today is the first day of 2018 that my house is empty and quiet. Youngest child went back to school this morning and I have space to breathe again. Don’t get me wrong, I love having everyone home but we’ve had an incredibly busy Christmas and New Year. I would normally tell you at this point about the books I’ve read over Christmas but I haven’t finished the book I started before the holiday! Although I have also read a snappy, little novella that I’ll tell you more about closer to publication date. But, I did go to the theatre three times in five days so I’m going to tell you about that instead.
First up, for my birthday treat, we went to see the Mischief Theatre Company. You may have seen them on TV last Saturday with A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong. If you did, then you know what to expect from them. Except that what we saw was a bit different. It was called Mischief Movie Night and we, the audience, got to decide what the actors would perform. It was improvisation at its very best (much in keeping with Whose Line Is It Anyway?). As an audience, we chose hospital drama for the genre and the title was CPR or Die! What followed was hilarious and very clever. One of the actors was the director and every so often he would freeze the action and pick up on something that was said or done, e.g. one of the characters was called by another as Dr Simon but then someone else referred to him as Dr Simons. “Wait a minute,” said the director, “is he called Dr Simon Simons?” From then on, everyone had the surname Simons. Now, I won’t tell you everything but even if I did, it wouldn’t matter. Each show is different but they’re full of laughter, songs and slapstick. Mischief Movie Night is on at the Arts Theatre until January 27th.
Secondly, it’s not Christmas if you haven’t been to a panto! I grew up going to a pantomime every year (often for my birthday) and as a child, I mostly went to Richmond Theatre. With my children, we’ve swapped between Richmond and Wimbledon and this Christmas, we went to see Jack and the Beanstalk at Wimbledon Theatre with Al Murray and Clive Rowe. I think it’s fair to say that Al Murray and Clive Rowe carry the show as they have the majority of the lines. More could have been made of Fleshcreep, the Giant’s henchman who was admirably played by John Jack. Overall, I found it a bit hard-going at times. I think my 8 year-old hit the nail on the head when he asked me after about the third or fourth scene, “When are we going to get to the story?” Jack and the Beanstalk isn’t the longest pantomime so does require some filler scenes. They were funny but they were also a bit too long and pushed the gags a bit too hard. The humour was directed more at the adults and I was aware of restless children. The 3-D element in the second half was excellent though and most importantly, my family enjoyed it, especially my older two children. Aged 16 and 13, going to the pantomime isn’t always cool. Jack and the Beanstalk is on until January 14th.
As I didn’t know what to get my daughter for Christmas, I booked tickets to see Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre on Tuesday 2nd January. I’ve never been to the Savoy Theatre before and it’s quite strange as you head down three flights of stairs to reach the Stalls. But it’s very elegant inside. The set is simple but that’s a good thing. It allows you to focus on the acting and singing. I only knew a few songs already (all sung by women) so it was good to see some of the numbers done by the men. Standout performances came from Joe Aaron Reid playing Curtis Taylor Jr and Tosh Wanogho-Maud as Jimmy Early. Curtis Taylor Jr is the manager of the Dreams. Joe Aaron Reid may sing like an angel but he plays a devil of a character. Jimmy Early is a comic/tragic character and Tosh Wanogho-Maud has got the balance just right – he knows when to play for laughs and when to play it straight. He’s also an excellent singer and dancer and I hope that one day, he’ll be the lead in Thriller.
But if you know anything about Dreamgirls, then you know that it’s the women who take centre stage in this musical. Effie White, Deena Jones and Lorell Robinson are the Dreamettes – a girl group full of promise. Meeting Curtis Taylor Jr brings them happiness and disappointment in equal measure. I won’t tell you anymore than that about the storyline. Now, I’ve been to lots of musicals over the years, but the singing at Dreamgirls is out of this world. There are three actresses playing Effie White and I’m fairly certain we saw Moya Angela. Her main song is And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a song sung with so much passion before and it brought tears to my eyes. If you love musicals then this is a must-see show. Just wonderful and my daughter was very happy with her present. Booking is available until June 2nd 2018.
Normal book blogging will resume in the next couple of weeks! Happy New Year to you all.