Sorry for the lack of updates. It's really hard to get into posting again once you've stopped doing it, and it really takes up a lot of my time (I'm spending 2 late nights just writing this!!). So I will only write when I can... and to clear up all my backlogs of posts on some of my trips a few months ago... Not that anybody actually reads it anyway which gives me even more excuse not to post stuff... (>.<)
Anyway, a few days ago, I went to the theatre for the first time in my life. I have always wanted to watch a live musical theatre performance ever since taking an interest in it. I knew nothing about musical theatre until after watching the reality show "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" where Andrew Lloyd Webber searched for a leading lady to play Maria von Trapp for his The Sound of Music revival on London's West End a few years back in 2006. I have always loved the Sound of Music (the film), but I was so ignorant that I didn't even realise that it was originally a stage musical (which in turn was inspired by a book written by the real Maria von Trapp).
I happened to discover that "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat" UK tour was in Leeds this month, and was in fact in its final week here. I first knew about this musical from "Any Dream Will Do" in 2007, which is the "sequel" of How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?. It was the first show written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice back in the 1960's. The story is based on the story of Joseph (son of Jacob) from the old testament of the bible (and probably mentioned in the Quran as well?). The leading man in the UK tour production is Craig Chalmers, one of the finalists of "Any Dream Will Do", who became one of my favourites halfway through the show after he performed "This is the Moment" (from Jekyll & Hyde, another musical). The UK tour version of Joseph is different from the one at the West End as it is scaled down and not as grand, and has a completely different cast (which does not include the winner of "Any Dream Will Do").
However, I'm geniunely more interested in this UK tour version of Joseph (I'm just a sucker for underdogs ^_~). Thus I frantically booked a ticket after making a snap decision to watch it. And went for the most expensive seat priced at £19.50 (after a student discount) (>.<). Might as well get a good seat with this being my first time watching a play (>.<)
The show was staged at the Grand Theatre & Opera House Leeds (a.k.a. Leeds Grand Theatre).
I am not really allowed to take pictures inside the theatre (for obvious reasons), so you will have to look at these professional pictures instead: http://www.leedsgrandtheatre.com/grand_theatre_images_unidd9a4_page.aspx
Ok, well I did actually take some pictures, albeit without flash. I was seated at the fourth row from the stage. This was how close I was to the stage:
I was so close that I had a very good view of the cast. I could see every single detail, including the actors' make-up, wires stuck on their back (from the monitors/microphones I assume?), Joseph's fit body and hairy legs etc. (>.<)
And this was how the place looked like when I turned my back. The front rows of the "dress circle" (the level right above mine) is of the same price as my seat because you can get a good view of the whole stage, although not as closed-up as I could from the "stalls" (ground level). The upper levels are much cheaper.
The show itself was really really enjoyable. The really positive things that I just have to mention:
1. Joseph (Craig Chalmers): I have completely turned into a fan of Craig Chalmers now. His singing was impressive, well-controlled, solid and just touching and beautiful; even much better than when I heard him on the television show. His acting was very believable as well: he was innocent, youthful, cheeky, helpless and confident all at the right places. And has a fit body. Most importantly, I'm impressed by how he portrayed his character, through both his singing and acting; I always look for singing which touches my heart nowadays, and his did just that. I can never imagine anyone else being Joseph now (not even the winner of Any Dream Will Do!). And I swear that he actually made eye contact with me during "Joseph Megamix". Oh dear I sound like a fangirl now (>.<) Well this is the first time I'm actually seeing someone famous whom I've only previously seen on TV upclose (except Dr Mahathir, but he's not an artist...). It just feels so surreal! Well done Craig!
2. The Narrator (Rachel Louise Miller): I turned up for the show only expecting to be awed by Craig, but I was completely blown away by another unexpected cast. The Narrator in the part of Joseph is... well the Narrator. He or she will constantly be singing throughout the 2 hour show, even more than the leading man himself if I'm not mistaken. Rachel's voice was bright, powerful, pitch-perfect (as far as my half-trained ears could tell), crystal clear... basically flawless. She sustained those long and high notes beautifully, seemingly without effort. Although her lower registers was slightly drowned during the (very very loud) Joseph Megamix in the end, her upper register actually soared over the loud music! One important aspect of musical theatre singing is to "tell the story"; I thought she did more than that -- she basically pierced the story through both my head and my heart with her singing. And judging from the extra loud applause she received from the audience, I guess I wasn't the only one impressed. I'm a new fan.
3. Singing children: How can you ever go wrong with that?
4. Jacob (Henry Metcalfe): A character well portrayed, from the happy Jacob in the beginning to the old and weary Jacob in the end. And he sings as well!
5. The ending: I was so touched by the ending where Joseph is reunited with his father Jacob (T_T). It was the most touching scene.
6. Inflatable wooly sheep! (which popped out of nowhere)
7. Talking camels, and a scary huge big pharoah (set) with red flashing eyes.... spooky...
8. Nice coloured spotlights. Nothing like spotlights to tell you how "red and yellow and green and brown and scarlet and black and ochre and peach and ruby and olive and violet and fawn and ..." look like.
Kudos to the whole cast for making my first time in a theatre a memorable one!
Of course, I'm not allowed to take pictures because -- to quote the announcer -- "there is no mention of cell phones or cameras in the book of Genesis" (>.<). So you can take a look at these official (professional) photographs instead: http://www.kenwright.com/default.asp?contentID=639.
The exhilaration of watching the show lingered on for hours after it finished. Thanks to Joseph, I'm now more interested than ever in musical theatre and hope to see more in future (>.<). I've just discovered that there will be a Sound of Music UK tour (starring the winner of "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?") in the nearby town of Bradford in September... hmm... tempting... (>.<)
21 June 09
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