RSS Feed

September, 2014

  1. Top 10 Musicals: The Producers

    September 30, 2014 by Amy Hansford

    Continuing on my top 10 musicals, here’s the next on the list.

    The Producers (2001)

    You’ll never guess where I saw this. Go on, guess. Yep. NYC. Front row centre. Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. I had seen the film but this was new. Fresh. HILARIOUS. I cried with laughter. We were near enough that Matthew Broderick sang, spat a bit, and it hit me. Yuk, I know, but HELLO – good seats for $20! I loved the spectacle of the show, the slickness of the delivery. I loved the comedy woman at the end of the row of all the beautiful women – seeing myself in a show again. There are so many wonderful moments in the stage show that just don’t feature in the film. Although to be fair, the film is pretty darn close. Tap dancing zimmer frames. Men dressed as women (again, I think the film misses this). And the pigeons, OH the pigeons.

    I realize I’m just spurting out highlights here – you really do need to go and see it. But make sure you get a good Max and Leo; it’ll be a mission to live up to the originals. (And yes I know they weren’t the originals, I love me a bit of Gene Wilder, but they were the originals in this format.) I wanna be a producer…


  2. Top 10 Musicals: Spamalot

    September 29, 2014 by Amy Hansford

    Continuing on my top 10 musicals, here’s the next on the list.

    Spamalot (2004)

    I was lucky enough to see this in NYC – as with a few of my top 10 – which was an odd experience. If you don’t know, Spamalot is loosely based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail, with references to other Monty Python skits throughout. It was odd watching it in the USA as I’d always assumed Monty Python humour was a British thing. It almost became a competition between the audience members to see who could catch on to and laugh at a reference first. Taking it away from the stage and focusing on the soundtrack, it’s brilliant. Silly songs, clever songs, amazing vocals, throw in a bit of Tim Curry and you’re there. And I’ve begun fantasy casting it. My friend Jenna is a shoo-in for the Lady Of The Lake – I can’t listen to the songs without seeing her doing it. It’s very much a silly musical in which to escape the real world. Audience participation in a mainstream musical (which is becoming increasingly popular). Dead parrots. Coconuts. And tap dancing. What more could you want?

    Update (27/7/2015)
    We went to see Spamalot last month (actually, the night we moved into our new house) at MK Theatre and it was still fantastic! Do note that the song below is no longer in the production. It’s been replaced by a very similar ditty subbing Jews with Stars and name checking (and impersonating) lots of famous faces. Still a giggle, but I will miss this number terribly!


  3. Top 10 Musicals: Hairspray

    September 28, 2014 by Amy Hansford

    Continuing on my top 10 musicals, here’s the next on the list.

    Hairspray (2007)

    “Come and see Hairspray,” they said. “Get dressed up,” they said. “It’ll be fun,” they said. Wow. From the first song through to the last, every note in this show is absolutely solid. There is no other show that has left me quite literally dancing out of the theatre at the end, desperately hoping that my day could involve bursting into song and busting out a dance routine.

    (c) Natalie Kate Robinson

    My one foible? That damned corpse. Sorry to burst your bubble, but the giggle fit that Edna and Wilbur have during “Timeless To Me”? Fake. Because if you are going to build in a corpse, having the other cast member have a perfect punchline to the joke the first actor has set up gives it away every time. And for me, it spoils it, takes down the fourth wall in an unkind way, and negates the following scene. Apart from that, it’s a perfect musical – the goodies beat the baddies, everyone is happy and everyone wins. Most musicals for me are about the feelings they leave you with. Sometimes they leave you flushed with powerful emotions. Others are just plain fun and energy boosting. This one? This one leaves me high as a kite.

  4. Top 10 Musicals: Bugsy Malone

    September 27, 2014 by Amy Hansford

    Continuing on my top 10 musicals, here’s the next on the list.

    Bugsy Malone (1976)

    Bless Nicola. She leant me the VHS of Bugsy Malone, told me I’d love it, and I never did give it back. It was the first musical I’d seen with kids in. Real kids. Not a school production. I loved the fast paced bits, always forwarded past the boring bits (I was a kid, another kid singing a dirge about ‘what kind of fool’ didn’t interest me). The songs instantly got stuck. No-one had a clue what I was on about at school. I wanted to be Talulah, not Blousey. I wanted to be mobster. I wanted to have a car with pedals.

    When Alex and I got married at Pinewood Studios, Bugsy Malone played a big part. As my wedding morning gift, he’d framed artwork from the film along with a reworded version of the final song. We got married in what is technically Dandy Dan’s conservatory (or rather the entrance to it). Our wedding photo of everyone is on the grounds where Bugsy and Leroy spot the Splurge Inc vans. The very last song as we left was “You Give A Little Love” – the memory of everyone dancing around us in a circle, doing the knee-clap-hallelujah and singing at us as we skipped out will stick with Alex and I forever. You give a little love and it all comes back to you.

  5. Top 10 musicals – Gypsy

    September 26, 2014 by Amy Hansford

    Continuing on my top 10 musicals, here’s the next on the list.

    Gypsy (1962)

    My old secondary school used to put on an annual Christmas musical. I managed to get in to some of them. Some I even remember the names of. Gypsy was one. I remember the Gotta Get A Gimmick song the most – one of the comedic moments within a story that could easily get you down if you look too far into it. The songs are terrific – what a role to play, Rose. The girl in the school show lost her voice and so Miss Mazeppa sang in for her while she mimed. I was so pleased at this – not that I had anything against the original Rose, she was always kind. But Annabelle (Mazeppa) always seemed to be overlooked for the big roles because she had such an expressive, gurning face (remind you of anyone?) despite her incredible voice. I felt almost vindicated that she managed to get the big numbers in the end.

    I want to give it a few more years to grow into Rose. But if anywhere within a fifteen mile radius of where I live puts on Gypsy in 2024, watch out – it’s Amy’s turn.

  6. Top 10 musicals – Little Shop of Horrors

    September 25, 2014 by Amy Hansford

    Continuing on my top 10 musicals, here’s the next on the list.

    Little Shop of Horrors (1982)

    I don’t know when I first saw this musical. I just always owned it. And it hosted my first film star crush – Rik Moranis. The sweet, funny guy, always overlooked, with the amazing voice and hero hold. I would rewind the VHS to hear him sing “I don’t know… I don’t KNOW…” over and over just to hear the roll of his voice. Seriously.

    I eventually saw the stage show in NYC – it was incredible, the cast and the animatronics. But then I saw the alternate ending. I didn’t know there was another ending. I hide in my seat for people thinking I was odd, but for this female protagonist I’d known all my life to be suddenly taken, her story change away from my comfort zone, was heartbreaking.

    I’ve seen a few productions of varying quality. Some get the ending right, other send it up, which is the director’s right, but salt in the wound for those for whom the story runs deeper.

  7. Top 10 musicals: Hedwig and the Angry Inch

    September 24, 2014 by Amy Hansford

    Continuing on my top 10 musicals, here’s the next on the list.

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch (1998)

    At the height of my Rocky Horror whirlwind, it was announced that a film was coming out of a musical, Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I remember the first time I saw it – I wept in the cinema at the beauty of it, the sadness, the need to find one’s other half. It’s not a film I watch religiously, but one I go to when I need to be a little self indulgent. It’s my Thelma & Louise, my Beaches. My favourite song from it is “Origin of Love”. Schloppy title, I know. It takes from Plato’s Symposium the theory that once there were three beings, one made up of … well, just watch the video below.

    Omitting the final verse and using only the lyrics and music, I once taught a class of 9-10 year olds this song as part of a music project when our theme was the Greeks. It was the most amazing assembly and the kids loved the idea of it too, just in a much simpler, more innocent way. I’m lucky now that I’ve finally found my other half, but I like to think that just by watching this it’ll give others hope that they will find their’s.

  8. Top 10 musicals: Rocky Horror

    September 23, 2014 by Amy Hansford

    You’ve got to love a fad, and Facebook (there’s that name again!) is full of them. Last month it was a charitable homage to the Bucket Of Water Song, this month it’s all about posting your top 10 musicals. Here’s my list, in no order whatsoever.  I’ll be posting the reasons why over the next fortnight.

    The Rocky Horror Picture Show
    Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    Little Shop of Horrors
    Bugsy Malone
    The Producers
    Anything Goes

    The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

    I was eight when I pulled a sickie and Mum had to take me shopping. I was allowed to choose a VHS to entertain me for the day. I chose this – the red lips on the black background jumped out at me. My mum happily bought me the 15 certificate film (fair play Mum) and I watched a funny film where lots of people danced, chased each other, a pretty sparkly girl tap danced and everyone fell into a pool at the end. Fast forward a decade and you’d find me at uni with a twisted ankle, running through my old VHS tapes and watching this for only the second time or so. And seeing so much more. This led to attending a theme night at a local pub, then onto travelling to London every Friday night to catch Charming Underclothes perform a shadowcast to it at the Prince Charles Cinema. I found an outlet for my mischiefness. Costumes, callbacks and company. I learned every movement, every nuance, every soundbite. I learned to sew. I founded my own shadowcast, Less Vulnerable. I performed in England, Scotland, NI, NYC, conventions, screenings, charity events. I even went to Richard O’Brien’s birthday party.

    (c) Nikki Cross

    Less Vulnerable as we were in 2004

    And then it and everything I’d known collapsed underneath me. I walked away. It’s only in recent years that I’ve been able to go back and watch it and enjoy it. I still want to be Columbia. I still want to shadowcast, I’m just too sleepy for midnight shows now I’m older. But there’s still a little sparkle in me.