The Producers

The fact that it is one of the better shows on the West End right now possibly says more about the other shows.

I went to see a preview of the London version of The Producers today and was, like last night, a little taken by surprise. This time, however, it’s with disappointment and not pleasure. I’ve been talking to PY and trying to explain my disappointment but he doesn’t get it: he loved the show. I did not know the plot nor had I seen the film so I wasn’t let down by the story but I had read that Nathan Lane had taken Broadway by storm.

You can’t fault Nathan Lane: he’s superb and his comic timing is excellent. Lee Evans seems born for his role as the sidekick Leo Bloom and some of the songs are great. Others, however, seem weak and parts of the story are just not engaging. James Dreyfus camps it up John Inman style while Ulla, the Swedish blond bombshell, is so lost in the stereotype that any humour is lost.

Don’t get me wong, it is a good show. I can’t imagine Richard Dreyfuss in it and I imagine it will be hard to replace Nathan Lane in January. If you’re going to see it I would suggest trying to get tickets now because without Lane’s superb performance I am not sure where this show will go. The fact that it is one of the better shows on the West End right now possibly says more about the other shows.

Sadly, The Producers disappointed.

UPDATE: Well, the reviews are out and I may be a lone voice expressing disappointment. I wrote an updated review for the Yahoo Group: Gay Boy Musicals Fans UK (which you can read here if you’re not a member of the group).

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To The Forum

You feel yourself pulled along by the way the cast at The National seem to be enjoying themselves.

a funny thing happened on the way to the forum
a funny thing happened on the way to the forum

I went to see A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To The Forum tonight and it took me a little by surprise. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but I was thoroughly entertained. From the opening, A Comedy Tonight, you feel yourself pulled along by the way the cast at The National seem to be enjoying themselves. It’s a high camp farce set in Roman times featuring double entendres and mistaken identity by the bucket load (you almost expect a vicar to appear from a cupboard) but it’s joyful and not at all cringe-worthy as many farces are. Sondheim’s music isn’t the best you will ever hear (in fact, much of it isn’t memorable) but during the performance it’s entertaining. Such a shame it is coming to the end of it’s run. I discovered a US version of the soundtrack featuring Nathan Lane which ties in nicely with tomorrow – more then.

Lucky Man: A Memoir

An absorbing and very well-written book that proves that people in the public eye and just like the rest of us.

Michael J Fox
Michael J Fox

Lucky Man is not a typical Hollywood star autobiography. While it is peppered with references to the television shows and movies Michael J Fox has made it is – most definately – not a name-dropping ‘look at me’ celebrity obsessed biography. Yes, it’s an insight – although not too revealing – into the inner sanctum of Hollywood stars but it’s very much grounded in the real world. It deals with the highs and lows of a film career and the pleasures and pressures that brings. When reading the book you really do feel as if Michael J Fox has been able to take a step back and look upon his own career from outside. He’s able to analyse the fame, the money and identify both the good and the problematic that his career has brought him. However, from the beginning of the book, his upbringing and his rise to (and through) fame are placed in context by the Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis. That diagnosis has allowed Fox to asses what’s important to him and write a book that shows him as a genuine, warm and open individual. There’s no sentimentality about the book and he does detail how the disease effects him but, at no point, do you feel like an intruder into his private life. Despite the difficult nature of the Parkinson’s Disease descriptions, Lucky Man is an absorbing and very well-written book that proves that people in the public eye and just like the rest of us.

Wet London 20

Back now from my holiday and it seems that London has been wet while I have been away!

Wet London 20
Wet London 20

Ah, so I am back and exhausted from my little holiday. You will see some pictures on the Flickr sidebar or at my Flickr pages. Of course while I have been enjoying some sunshine I see London hasn’t been that dry. [Wet London 20]

Taboo: The Boy George Musical
Taboo: The Boy George Musical

Time now to tackle some of the 200 or so comment spam messages that have arrived in my in box.

In the meantime, is it really two years since I went to see Taboo?

21 Dog Years: Doing Time At Amazon.Com

Daisey’s book is flagged as a comic tale but it takes a while for the comedy to warm-up. In fact, it’s only towards the end that I felt there were some laugh-out-loud moments but don’t let that put you off. ’21 Dogs Years’ in well written and compelling.

It’s quite easy to get sucked into Mike Daisey’s ‘21 Dog Years: Doing Time At Amazon.Com‘ as he moves from dilettante to corporate business development guy. On the journey we learn he is one of the (mythological?) freaks that Amazon initially wanted to help launch and then staff its growing customer service division. We learn about the training, the call-time targets, the lack of windows, the Chicken Orzo Salad and Jeff obsessions.

Unlike Robert Spector’s ‘Amazon.Com: Get Big Fast‘ this is a tale from the inside but how much is exaggerated for comic effect is unclear. For sure, life in an under-staffed call centre – where if you don’t work all hours you’re seen as letting the team down – is not the glamorous side of any business and the world of fast growing online books sellers can be no exception. The dreams that all would be multi-millionaires on the back of huge stock rises are also not unusual to any tale of this era. Perhaps the thought of sending the free books to customers on the database isn’t typical of the dot-com boom but the frenzied ‘1-click Christmas’ period will be familiar to many in a start-up venture.

Daisey’s book is flagged as a comic tale but it takes a while for the comedy to warm-up. In fact, it’s only towards the end that I felt there were some laugh-out-loud moments but don’t let that put you off. ’21 Dogs Years’ in well written and compelling. You really do want to know what Mike’s going to do at the end. Don’t look for an insight into business strategies of that time but you will get a view of the craziness of life in the trenches of rapidly growing business.

Less Clutter On The Air

At last somebody in the commercial radio business has noted that one of biggest reasons to turn off isn’t poor music policy, crap jokes or bad station identity – it’s annoying and repetive radio commercials.

At last somebody in the commercial radio business has noted that one of biggest reasons to turn off isn’t poor music policy, crap jokes or bad station identity – it’s annoying and repetive radio commercials. Somebody in the UK should take on board the Clear Channel approach of trying to make better radio ads and brodcast fewer of them: “Radio is the most difficult medium because there are fewer senses to work with. For the most part, radio ads are a yawn” [source]. With online catching radio in terms of advertising spend (Britain’s Online advertising market will surpass the £500-million mark this year – Independent Online) radio’s revenues may be in for a rocky time. Inn the UK the Online industry may well surpass radio during the next 12 months so it’s important that the industry wakes up and does something to ensure that the recent history of growth and development can be sustained.

BBC4 Should Broaden Its Appeal

You dream of something good and I dream of BBC Television idents. I also remember children’s TV and want to impact the US elections. It’s an odd train of thought today.

According to The Independent [Source: BBC’s digital channels are ‘poor value’] ‘BBC4 makes too many programmes which “virtually no one watches”‘. I would say that’s a shame but I have hardly ever watched it. The only reason it is relevant is that last night I dreamt about all the BBC channel identities – those boxes with ‘BBC One’ etc. written in them – I have no idea why but in my dream they were all yellow and none of them had that annoying BBC Three character.

In a tenuous link, the BBC will, of course, be reporting the run-up and the outcome of the American elections next month. It may seem that we are somewhat powerless to do anything about it but The Guardian is giving everybody a chance to say something. The idea is that Guardian readers are matched to an American voter thus allowing them the chance to communicate on a personal basis and tell a real-life voter what the rest of the world thinks. I think it’s quite an interesting idea. What the voters of Clark County, Ohio may think when they get letters from us Brits is another things altogether. More at The Guardian.

Looking at my Flickr photo collection, I see that the first picture is of the water cooler in the office. This takes me back to the warm, balmy days of summer when it was so hot we thought we would melt in the office. Today, I am sitting here thinking I may have to buy a t-shirt in my lunch break to wear under my shirt as I am cold and it’s pouring with rain. Last week I wrote about autumn. I am beginning to think we skipped straight to winter.

Speaking of photos (and linked to the BBC – so it makes sense to write it here) – memories of children’s television and this date seem to be linked. This day in 2002 I was talking about the show Rainbow and today Tom has posted a picture of Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grub. Somewttimes, it would be nice to be eight years old again!

Finally for now, today’s phone lust: Orange SPV C500. Come on Palm – get your act together – I want a more compact ‘phone that the Treo by the time I am allowed to upgrade again.

Big Match Update

Quick reality TV update – as if you nedeed one.

jonathan wilkesI spoke last Sunday about Sky One’s programme The Match. Now I haven’t watched any of it apart from that first episode at the actual game tonight. The celebrities were better than I thought they would be and I thought it was a shame that they lost (2-1). Jonathan Wilkes turned out to be something of a star really and scored the goal for the celebs. Poor old Gary Lucy didn’t do very well – apparently, they kept putting him on the bench all week and was up for the public vote several times. He did, however, survive to play part of the game. Perhaps it was one of the better reality TV shows. [Sky Showbiz Report: Celebs Narrowly Beaten In The Match]

Cybill Disobedience

The experience of watching your slightly pissed auntie making an exhibition of herself at a wedding

Earlier tonight we went to see Cybill Shepherd at The Soho Theatre. It’s her so-called Cybill Disobedience tour where she performs jazz, her own songs and tells stories from her life – if you didn’t know, she once dated Elvis. Well, I think I should have learnt my lesson from seeing her last year. This show wasn’t that different but it’s a little like watching a car crash (or at least aliens trying to fix a car at the side of the road). It’s billed as comedy and was amusing (although not laugh out loud funny) but, really, you couldn’t keep yours eyes off her. Was she drunk (no, I suspect that was pretend) but she was certainly a little odd. Stephanie Merrit in last week’s Observer likened it to “the experience of watching your slightly pissed auntie making an exhibition of herself at a wedding” [source] which I think sums it up.

Entertaining but scary. Strange and a little unerving.

Oh, and the picture is from her remarkable promotional appearance on GMTV sometime last week. She may just be a great promoter but I think she needs to think a little more!

Autumn Again

It’s still my favourite season even if it was cold this morning.

Autumn
Every year I talk about how nice autumn is (see, I did it here in 2003) and how much I like the season. If you have any doubts as to why I like the season then just go look at Flick’s autumn tag – it’s stunningly beautiful. Every autumn in the same with lots of work and me craving a holiday (see, I did that in 2002). This year is no different. But I have to admit – it was very cold this morning.

The Timewarp Times

The past is coming back – really. It’s the Eighties again: not to be outdone on the list front The Sun lists predictions for top toys this Christmas.

Timewarp one – every year we hear the same things: there’s a lot of serious stuff in the news right now – still, The Guardian’s put together a list of Conservative leader Michael Howard’s favourite words in order of the frequency with which he used them in today’s speech: Howard’s buzzwords.

Timewarp two – like it’s the Eighties again: not to be outdone on the list front The Sun lists predictions for top toys this Christmas and they report that Cabbage Patch Kids are making a comeback – and are expected to be among the best-selling children’s toys this Christmas. Oh and they have a list too

And if that’s not bad enough, timwarp three – space hoppers are back: 20 space hopper riders are to hop up Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh this weekend according to The Scotsman.

A Mighty Wind

IMDB Says, “Mockumentary captures the reunion of 1960s folk trio the Folksmen as they prepare for a show at The Town Hall to memorialize a recently deceased concert promoter.

A Mighty WindSo the set-up of the DVD we watched last night was a television reunion of a few old folk singers who had hits in the sixties. Christopher Guest’s A Mighty Wind isn’t as good as Best In Show or This Is Spinal Tap but it’s a passable and amusing way to spend an evening. It seemed less realistic than other spoof-documentaries and I found some of the deleted scenes on the DVD to be funnier than the movie itself. However, there are some good performances and interesting soundtrack and it does make you smile.

Worth taking a chance on.

The Match

A reality TV show where the stars are hot!

picture of gary lucypicture of philip olivierReally, it’s too good to be true. Tonight Sky One starts a reality TV show called the match where a series of hot young male celebrities become footballers. I think many of those signed up for The Match have a footballing interest/past which means they should be pretty good. Next week they get to take on a team of British footballing legends but in the meantime they are all stuck in a house 24/7 with cameras watching them only to escape for training sessions. Tonight’s proved it was the real deal as ex-England coach Graham Taylor took the team through their paces. Gary Lucy and Philip Olivier (both pictured) are on the bench tonight and subject to the public vote. Somehow I think they will both survive. And while we are on the subject of Phil Olivier, how did I miss his Doctor Who appearances?

Today In London

Today was busy but I really wish I hadn’t had to go into work.

Picture179_01Oct04.jpgOn the upside, last night’s visit to The Borderline was great. On the downside PY has his mobile phone stolen from his pocked in a branch of Starbucks. And what does that say about us? Instead of standing at the bar waiting for the gig we went to Starbucks for coffee. Today, I had the morning off work as we’d bought PY’s mum a trip on the Orient Express from Victoria. The carriage was very impressive and it sounds like they had a wonderful time. Unfortunately, I had to go back to work in the afternoon.

And tonight’s Evening Standard headline managed to get Iraq of the front cover for once.