winter: (emote - bitch)
Alive, more than before (turns out magnesium supplements do work).

Yesterday, I went to the "Best of Roma Theatre" concert, which was supposed to feature the best bits of the musicals they've done over the last twelve years. In order:
  • Crazy for You - So you're tapdancing with Rockettes. Good for you. I've seen it done with actual sex appeal. By a girl.

  • Peter Pan - Okay, actual cool operetta-based song for Captain Hook... and the only one they're doing from this musical after three Crazy for You songs ~.~

  • Miss Saigon - *yawn* Stop trying to sing like you sang (badly) ten years ago. I've heard you as Phantom, you're actually good!

  • Grease - Um. Yes. Stop trying to LOOK like you looked ten years ago. Sandy should not have wrinkles. And Kennicky may be 35, but he looks 45 and that is rather disturbing.

  • Cats - Oh, I like the Jellicle Song... except I don't like it when the "High C" part is cut because of a mic going off. And um. Misto? You're supposed to jump high. You only remembered that in the last sequence.

  • Akademia Pana Kleksa - okay, kids are always adorable, so no complaints. And look! I told you you could sing, and you can be my evil hairdresser anytime ♥ Except get a better android, because this one can't do rock'n'roll any better than he could do tapdancing with Rockettes. Both require charisma, sorry, dear...

  • Tanz der Vampire - *wild sobbing because WHY DID THEY CLOSE THIS SHOW???* *momentary RAR on which more later* *more wild sobbing with giggles, because our Ewigkeit costumes are still beautiful and best ever*

  • Phantom of the Opera - see, I told you, GOOD Phantom. Now if only you'd sung like that since the show opened...

  • Les Miserables - sorry, all Mizzed out.

  • Aladdin Jr - boy can sing. Girl screeches. NEXT!~

  • Ooops. That's the end?


In conclusion, not the best spent money, except for a few high points. But one thing... I'm still raging.

Imagine this: Totale Finsternis, with von Krolock on the staircase, slowly turning. Sarah's fallen quiet, and it's time for his solo, the best part of the whole song. Sich verlieren heisst sich befreien - du wirst dich in mir erkennen - was du ertraumst wird Wahrheit sein - Nichts und niemand kann uns trennen. Between the void and the brilliance falls the darkness...

...and he forgot the words.

My hissy-fit was epic, I can tell you that much. He was the understudy in the show! He's done it like fifty times! He's done this concert quite a lot, too, and of all the places to forget the words - the one place where he's suppsed to shine - PEOPLE.

(Finally, this recipe for vanilla scones is fantastic.)
winter: (Rising Stars - Fear of Flying)
I was somewhat dragged to see Thor, because my mother of all people decided she wants something pretty and brainless.

Not brainless, as it turned out (Kenneth Brannagh directing, J.Michael Straczynski with a writing credit, team from Terminator:Sarah Connor Chronicles - I should have guessed), but so. Immensely. Pretty.

Honestly, I could screencap any moment of the Asgard scenes and hang it on my wall. Classic pulp SF art, all soaring spires and gold and crystal, with angles and costumes to match. These are my childhood fairytales, and oh, they made them sing.

And really, nothing ruins it. I adore and root for Loki, of course, who is smart and tragic and engaging (and avoids chewing through scenery, unlike everyone else in Asgard and Jotunheim). There's not a single weak person in the cast, from Anthony Hopkins on down. For female characters, we get four strong major ones (a full third of MCs, impressive for a Hollywood movie) and the Bechdel test is passed with an impressive amount of technobabble. Good music. Very decent writing for a comic book movie, you can really tell which Shakespearean undertones they aimed for (and managed to hit). Chris Hemsworth in tight and/or missing shirts is the cherry on the cake.

I can get behind this kind of summer movie :) Pirates next, Captain America and X-Men First Class - anything else interesting coming out?

(Also, for a 3D movie this didn't give me a headache at all. I think the amount of CGI helps.)
winter: (takarazuka - vintage samurai)
This is crossposted, because it's Of Interest to anyone who likes Shakespeare. Or is professionally interested in him and his works, even.

The Takarazuka Revue often takes on Shakespeare, but they usually do "shows inspired by", like Epiphany, or in the case of Romeo + Juliette, they adapt ready-made musical adaptations. This time, Fuji Daisuke, the director, went a different way: he took the new Japanese translation of Hamlet, and set it to music verbatim, only moving around some lines. As a rock opera.

Since it was announced, I was in two minds. On one hand, I adore Takarazuka Shakespeare adaptations exactly because they play with the original text rather than do it verbatim. On the other, it's Takarazuka - I was certain there would be sparkles. Then again, it's Hamlet. Hasn't it been done in every edgy and modern way possible? Musical included.

When the poster came out, I was sold. With her makeup alone, Ryuu Masaki transformed herself into a fey, wild and yet regal creature. The red lipstick is to symbolise blood, and yet it's also Takarazuka-code for androgynity.

(I have several of those posters. They will be on the walls of my new apartment.)

The live reports and Sky Stage footage confirmed my impressions. Since Masaki is not-quite-second in Moon troupe, this show didn't make it to DVD, but thanks to noble efforts of dedicated fans, the Sky Stage recording now available with subtitles after covering the costs of blank disc and shipping.

Yes, it's that good. It's that brain-breaking, too.

What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason,
how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable,
in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god!
the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals
—and yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?


Now imagine this sung by a leather-clad rockstar Hamlet with a chorus of enthusiastic cheerleaders - with golden pompoms - shouting "Crazy Hamlet!"

Oh, Revue ♥ And oh, people. Because the same show has the single best Claudius after the play scene that I've ever seen. One of the best Hamlets. A hands-down fantastic Ophelia. (And I may want a Horatio of my own.) Each interpretation is layered and referential. They've seen productions, they know the story, and they've melded it into something of their own.

And at the same time it's Hamlet. A Hamlet as told by Horatio, ghostly and fantastic and iconic. A Hamlet in which Ophelia is central (because it's Takarazuka, and because in Takarazuka, there is nothing by Love and Death). And a show with energy that goes through the roof. The recording was made on the final night, and though everyone is in high form, you can really tell they're falling over because of how much they gave. Voices are torn to shreds.

Kabuki Rock Hamlet - direction, music, sets, costumes )
And all the women merely players. Great ones. )

Someone on my f-list put it well: This is a good Hamlet, period. Not for Takarazuka, not for a musical, for Shakespeare. They could show this at any Shakespeare festival without any shame at all.

(And for people with NicoNico accounts, a little extra.)

Originally posted at Dreamwidth - comment count unavailable comments
winter: (fandom - phantom-drown)
Today was the last show in Warsaw for Phantom of the Opera. While our production's not my favourite, I did attend a dozen times over the 2+ years, and I wasn't going to miss the derniere.

It opened with the theatre director onstage to announce that he's about to leave the theatre, go have a stiff drink and try not to think about the glorious Roma theatre tradition of having the last show of a play be complete and utter madness. This is the first time I've heard it actually warned for, though I've attended a bunny-filled Tanz der Vampire with vampire!Kim-from-Miss-Saigon, and a Cats with KitKats all over the place and Old Deuteronomy in diapers.

And there was madness with bells on )

The scary thing is - the above is maybe half the gags in this show. Theatre <3 Troupe <3 You'd better be bloody brilliant at Les Miserables, is all I'm saying.
winter: (objects - tea ceremony)
As a backup for when I have neither newspaper nor a physical book on my commute, I have MobiReader installed on both my phones (the personal Toodo and professional Lucheni). I have a variety of free e-books to tide me over, and I tend to pick things that are either not too engrossing - like Dickens - or that come in small chunks, since each time I'm looking at my 10-minute commute or a similar period of waiting for someone. The other factor in favour of short reading times is the smallness of the phones' screens, especially Lucheni's.

Guess which phone I loaded up with Helen S. Wright's A Matter of Oaths.

The thing is, it's her only book. She published it in 1988, and she's only now gearing up to write another. (She's arkessian@Dreamwidth.) I. Can't. Wait.

A Matter of Oaths is a space opera without infodumps, a political novel with a spare cast, a tapestry condensed into the one thread of weave and one of weft that still conveys it all. There's the man who broke an oath, but he cannot remember why he broke it, because the punishment is taking away your memories. There is the woman who refuses to acknowledge age, weakness, or anything but the strength of her will. (Rallya, incidentally, is awesome.) There are all those mysteries that - just like in real life - pass by on the edges, and you don't have time to look because of how fast you're rushing by. My eyes hurt, significantly, from staring at the small screen once I was done.

(And there's definitely something for the slash fans. And for fans of strong female characters not defined by either their sexuality or reproductive potential. And both romance and platonic friendship and everything in between.)

And best of all: it's out of print, but Helen made it available as an ebook, for free, in PDF and e-Pub and MobiReader.

Helen S. Wright, A Matter of Oaths

(Mind you, after this much fun out of it, I dropped a few quid in her PayPal tip jar. And if it were reprinted, I'd buy it. In a heartbeat.)
winter: (yuletide)
It's a month to Christmas, and most other December holidays. With Tonio's condition and twice-daily medication, it'll probably be the first Christmas in over twenty years that we spend at home. All this means that in addition to the usual gift shopping (all gifts from me for family members, and all their gifts for me, since they cannot possibly fathom what I would like to get), I have to look into acquiring Christmas decorations.

To help others with the gift-shopping task:
(Obligatory disclosure: I've known [livejournal.com profile] astarise for over half a decade, and [livejournal.com profile] jo_graham for a little less. The former bribes me with coffee, the latter with sneak peeks of her prose. The above is still meant with complete earnestness.)
winter: (herbert - friendly)
After three days of Roman angelic overload, I'm finally up to a review of Tuesday's gala.

To get bad things out of the way first: the concert was advertised with posters and annoucements featuring only Jan Ammann and Kevin Tarte, leading me to assume that they'd feature in at least half the concert. Instead, in a three-hour concert Kevin got one solo, Jan two, and there were two duets between the two of them, out of thirty-seven songs. I think that if the poster for a concert features only two stars, one can reasonably expect them to take up more than 13.5% of its duration. (One can also expect, say, drama musicals rather than crossdressing and Disney. One can be wrong.)

But there was still crack. And Jakub! My favourite Herbert and Phantom is all grown up and playing to audiences of thousands! )

Audio bonus


And to save you from the wall of text up there:

Jan Ammann - Nature Boy

Jan Ammann and Kevin Tarte - Stars (demonic version)

Jakub Wocial, Jan Ammann - Phantom / Rockstar Phantom

Kevin Tarte and Jan Ammann - The Winner Takes It All
winter: (herbert - friendly)
Two days and a lot of chatter to [livejournal.com profile] dunkle_feuer later, I'm ready to put my thoughts in order. Which does not change the fact that the show was On Crack.

The show where everything happened at once )

And yes, I finally got to see Jan Ammann as Krolock )

Now, off to catch that git and yet another git in concert. Wish me luck with not melting outright!
winter: (objects - chain)
Since the Gdynia musical theatre obligingly rotates their shows every week or so, I ended up catching Fiddler on the Roof.

It was my first time seeing it live, and I was rather ticked off that a Certain Someone was supposed to be playing Perchik, but ended up being a random ensemble member instead, at the last moment - to the point where the ushers were all "What? He's supposed to be on as Perchik tonight!" and the night's cast list had him as well. I suspect a sudden sore throat, because he was inaudible as well, where he usually drowns everyone out. Still, I got to see him prancing about in amusing ways :)

My two other quiet favourites from this theatre's stable cast were in it as well, Bernaciak playing the Rabbi's son (flaming prancing gay, which I've come to expect from him...) and Michalski as Fiedya - dammit, the guy has a show-stopping voice ♥ I saw him as Beast a year ago, but he's been working on it since.

The show was good - good staging, great sets (simple black shapes with projections of Chagal paintings) and very nice choreography. There was also an energetic vibe in the ensemble, and I had great fun people-watching. The mute Fiddler in particular was used in ways that reminded me a lot of Mozart. And the accents! I know all those accents both from movies and from real life, and it was all authentic Jewish and Russian accents. So much love for the voice coaches.

My problem with it is that the musical isn't particularly good. It's all a one-man show revolving around Tevye, with other characters barely sketched. The music's brilliant, but it doesn't always fit the action - the most striking example is the celebratory L'Chaim (IMHO the best song in the show along with Sunrise, Sunset) being the celebration of an engagement that gets tossed aside the next day. I think I'm spoiled for good musicals, but dear heavens, this book could use a rewrite.

(This staging did attempt to lead the emotional arc a bit more, but it was haphazard. I wasn't particularly fond of the way they dressed the Fiddler in an Auschwitz striped outfit at the end.)

Still, a good show, and a good cast :) And my machine didn't give out for once, which is a joy - I'm not fond of the cast recordings available for it, and the voices and music were stellar. Good times.

Bonus: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OZLoyY8PiQ - second section of L'Chaim. The guy who defies human lungs at 0:55 would be Michalski.
winter: (krolock - muahahaha)
I wouldn't be myself if I didn't get to a musical or three on a holiday in a city that has them. This time it's Gdynia and My Fair Lady. Very fun and light-hearted fare.

Also, why isn't this a Takarazuka musical yet? )

Merlin ♥

Sep. 20th, 2009 05:49 pm
winter: (fandom - Lancelot)
As [livejournal.com profile] fyrie is fond of reminding me, even though I mainlined Merlin last autumn (I believe it took me less than a week to catch up all 11 episodes then aired), I never mentioned it in my journal. So unless you're icon-stalking and caught my Lancelot icon, there's no notice of how much I adore the show.

The thing is, I know my Arthurian legends. Intimately so: I've read Morte d'Arthur cover to cover, attempted Chretien de Troyes in the original old French, browsed through large sections of the Vulgate cycle, and read far too many critical essays. In my childhood, I read both Arthurian stories and the Welsh legends that they referenced. When I was preparing for the exams for Interdisciplinary Human Sciences, my presentation was to be on the evoluton of the Grail.

And yes, Merlin takes all this and puts it through a meat grinder. But they get it, they get the spirit of the idealism of power and the grounding of strength in old myth.

Also, they have some damn good writers for the dialogue and characterisation. I'm a sucker for character-driven shows, and between the script and the wonderful (and crazy, natch) actors, this show presents a compelling cast. I think it's telling that AU is so present in the Merlin fanfiction: with the dynamics they have, these people can work in any setting and remain themselves.

I can't really name a favourite. Merlin has the snark and the goofiness and the ability to make you want to both hug him and box his ears. Arthur's prattiness and idealism mesh seamlessly, he is that much larger than life. Morgana is the type I adore - so very female and so very much not yielding (though nurturing when she wants to be). Gwen - I can't wait to see what they do with her. Uther is another box-his-ears type, but also falls in the category of people you'd love to have dinner with just to argue with him. And Gaius is Gaius, and awesome enough in himself.

But yeah. Icon. Okay, it's a little because it's Santiago Cabrera, and a little because I love Lancelot and his foibles in all incarnations, but the combination of Idealism and Determination and Tousled was irresistible. I was overjoyed to hear he's returning to the show :D

Now for reactions to the first episode of series two )
winter: (portraits - golden mask)
We got toujitsuken (same-day tickets) to see this show, and I was surprised to find them still available when we arrived at the Tokyo Takarazuka Theater at 10 AM, since it was only a few days before the end of the run and the joint graduation/retirement of both Top Stars and eight other performers. The same-day tickets are the very back row of the balcony, and I can confirm that even from there, the view is stellar - binoculars helped, of course.

And here I thought it wasn't possible for me to be impressed by a Cosmos show )

Out of all we saw during our stay in Japan, this was the show for which I had the least expectations. I'm happy to report I was very pleasantly surprised.
winter: (portraits - Takarazuka)
The review's a bit late (though not as late as the Elisabeth one!), so to make up for it, I added pictures :) Life's been crazy since I got back.

This was another show with a plot famous for confusing people. I'm rather proud of myself - with rudimentary Japanese and no knowledge of the original Korean drama, the only part of the plot I wasn't able to follow was the actual Four Gods thing, and that was the one thing I'd read up on before. Overall, this was a gorgeous show - perfect cast, perfect energy, gorgeous visuals and engaging characters. I'll be buying this one on DVD!

With pictures, courtesy of Asahi.com )
winter: (todesglocken - Yama)
So, not only am I in Japan for Tanabata (and I have the Google!Japan logo to prove it), but I just saw my favourite musical in the world, with the one performer that a, I adore in every role on account of his voice making me melt, and b, that I was never expecting to see because, well, Japan.

Yuichirou Yamaguchi, live, is enough to make your brain melt with the first note. For most of the show, he's a Japanese demon, a bunraku puppet, inhuman and only moving when he chooses to. Then came Unstillbare, and the way he came out and leaned on a gravestone, suddenly human, broke my heart even before he sang. And he did sing, and it left me gasping for breath. The stage presence alone, and that voice!

(Yes, I did have my faithful Olympus gadget. And I wasn't the only one melting. We were on the balcony, among an all-female crowd, and we all gasped in unison. As [livejournal.com profile] fyrie put it, that voice bypasses the brain altogether to lodge much lower.)

The rest of the Tokyo version of Tanz der Vampire was also much improved )

We're going back to Osaka tomorrow, via Nagoya and Cirque du Soleil (again, this time for free in 12,000 yen seats). I think I may have trouble sleeping long enough today. Falling asleep at Me and My Girl would be embarrassing.

Star Trek

May. 8th, 2009 11:39 pm
winter: (Default)
700 Trekkers gasping in delight in unison is a unique experience.

New movie gets it. It's not the old series (and it has an excuse to be), but oh, it's good fanfic :D

(Also, I want a Spock. And a Kirk. And a Bones. And a Star Trek icon.)
winter: (rebel - holy sinner)
I saw Wolverine yesterday and I was very entertained. No, it's no Dark Knight - but it doesn't have to be. Instead, it's got a plot, a rhythm (I wasn't bored once, and there was just enough action not to confuse), and surprisingly superior acting.

I also have a new person to keep an eye on. Taylor Kitsch was so lovely as Gambit that I may need an icon or three (and a browse through Wolverine/Gambit fanfic in a month or so). Daredevil, smart, trying to be badass but ending up doing the right thing - that's my Remy ♥

I was also impressed at how, for superhero action fare, the movie handled diversity without it being an in-your-face politically correct littany. I was especially wary of how it would treat the single prominent female character, but they got the perfect combination of not making her an unnecessarily badass action heroine and giving her her own agency. For better or worse, Silverfox was in control there.

(And there are baby X-Men. Who I need to watch on slow-motion and identify, because the only one I got 100% was Pietro Maximoff.)

So yes, the kind of superhero movie you can go watch and be entertained by, very like X-Men and X2. [livejournal.com profile] bwinter seal of approval ;)
winter: (elisabeth - maki eyedart)
Takarazuka is my mainstay for when I'm feeling down, but not every show is a gem. Since I've just giggled myself silly through El Halcon, I think it is one.

Fans of From Eroica with Love will recognise Tyrian Persimmon, Klaus's ancestor, and let's just say the show starts with the baby Tyrian stabbing the man who raised him as a son to facilitate the escape of the pirate he suspects is his real father. It gets downhill from there, because there's seemingly no depth Tyrian won't stoop to (though I admit Aran Kei looks very at home when throwing women on a bed and pinning them there). The revue has lovingly adapted Yasuko Aoike's penchant for creating memorable backup teams for her heroes, and therefore Tyrian gets not one but two male sailors who keep being posed in typical musumeyaku worship poses, and Asuka's Gilda has her posse of girl pirates.

But I have to admit I'm on the side of Luminous "Red" Benedict. Let's see - he's noble, rash and needs a knock on the head. He has a crazy pirate mentor, and he manages to "kidnap" Tyrian's ward only to get tackled by her as she giggles about (I think) how cool he is. (I believe this would be where Eroica gets his enthusiasm from.) And oh, Hoshigumi have so many lovely actresses there - Yuzuki Reon and Kazu Ryouka work beautifully together, it's such a pity that Kazu's retiring just before Chie becomes top. Other people I'll definitely keep an eye on are Suzumi Shio (she does anger very well) and Tenju Mitsuki - just a baby, but she's got the otokoyaku fire in spades.

The show is... more on crack than From Eroica with Love, which is an achievement. It chiefly earns this distinction via the appearance of the disco-dancing Queen Bess.

Clip from the prologue, which does a good job of introducing all characters )
winter: (krolock - family)
Between work and fever, this is, alas, almost two weeks late. Rest assured that my memories are quite vivid :)

Tanz der Vampire, on crack edition )

In conclusion: if you're putting on a musical, add Hungarians. They make everything better :D
winter: (elisabeth - maki dagger)
For the past three days it's been cold and raining almost constantly. Two thunderstorms so far. In other words, the sort of weather to curl up under a duvet with a book or a DVD, or both.

Liza Dalby: East Wind Melts the Ice )

Takarazuka Cosmos Troupe: Jose and Carmen )

Across (Kozuki Wataru Dancing Recital) )

Albatross, Go South! )

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winter: (Default)
Beth Winter

October 2014

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