quinta-feira, 26 de janeiro de 2017

Julie, Twiggy, Sandy Wilson and Ken: The Boyfriend...

Julie Andrews's first Broadway musical was Sandy Wilson's "The boyfriend" (1954), a simple love-story full of the clichés of the 20's. Lovely and endearing. But very simple indeed. And audience's needs were changing fast.

Julie conquered New York's audiences and went on to star on "My fair Lady"; Loew's und Lerner's musical adaptation of Bernard Shaw's masterpiece about classes and prejudice. But that is another story.

The Boyfriend's rights were "bought" by MGM but nothing ever came out of that. The story-line was too simple, to naíve... "The boyfriend" was forgotten in some dusty shelf between hundreds of scripts and screenplays.

Then, one day in 1969 (times in which "Hair" and "Easy Rider" were successes and the "flower-power" was at its best), "rageous mad", daring British Movie maker Ken Russell decided to film it - and how clever he was: he staged it as a theatre play in a terrible and cheap West-End theatre (on the wrong side of the tracks), added a whole back-stage story to it and even a Hollywood producer that "had visions" about the silly numbers that were being played on stage, turning them in his mind into greatly produced "Hollywood Musical numbers" (From "Flying down to Rio" till "The Wizard of Oz). Russell transformed it into a classic and cult film... Unforgettable!

A nameless cameo by Glenda Jackson can simply never be forgotten.

A marvelous professional cast (including Royal Ballet's Christopher Gable) headed by a disarmingly amateurisch "Twiggy" (just trying a new step in her career after being the fashionable "Bond Street's and Mary Quant's darling" of the "swinging 60's").

The result? Marvelous, outrageously "mad"... And I love it. Still.

My favourite number: Poor little Pierrette...


terça-feira, 17 de janeiro de 2017

Wiener Staatsballet: "Cendrillon" revisited. January 16th, 2017.

Wiener Staatsballet: "Cendrillon" revisited. January 16th, 2017.

Somehow yesterday I had a funny feeling of „Déjà-vu” as “Cendrillon” started… of all things that I could think of just one stuck to my mind: “Annie Hall” (Woody Allen, 1977) and the (fabulous) scene in which Woody’s semi-biographical character “Alvy Singer” reveals that he always fell in love with the wrong women and we, the audience, are soon transferred to a cartoon in which Alvy makes love to Snow White’s Stepmother!
I know: it is another fairy-tale!
But she was not exactly the "good girl" of the movie/story, if you can remember and know what I mean!

But we will come to that later again!

At the precise moment in which Lázlo Benedek, Samule Colomber and Keisuke Nejime entered the stage as the Stepmother, Javotte and Anastasie it was love at first sight. And I must tell you: I was not the only that felt that way!
I simply love those rare moments in which audiences “fall madly in love” and you feel a wave of feelings reaching the proscenium.
These moments are becoming so rare nowadays...

copyright: Ashley Taylor

The production is beautiful - with an incredble good taste all around (Something that I missed so much in the last production of "Josephs Legende").
Perhaps even more because of its simplicity that left so much more room for creativity. Thierry Malandain’s ideas and choreography are a joy. The choreography itself is much more “classical” than his previous “Don Juan” but I consider a great step in a beautiful direction. One that showed us that there’s no need about “lots of fuss” with sets, costumes, revolving stages, visual effects, videos and all the mad paraphernalia that some choreographers have been using to hide a certain lack of inventiveness.

And using Prokofiev’s music splendidly. A fact we must definitely mention.

copyrght: Wiener Staatsballet

Jorge Gallardo’s sets and costumes are perfect. Lovely details, like the mannequins (and the whole ensemble mastered a very good use of them), the wheel in which the Fairy Godmother brings Cendrillon to the ball (such a beautiful effect that represented the carriage marvelously), the high-heels… such lovely imaginative ideas! Intelligent ideas.

Even though there are many dancers that are ill at the moment – the Flu has also reached Vienna – I must congratulate the ensemble for such a good show and for such discipline.

copyright: Ashley Taylor

Andrés Garcia-Torres, in three roles, but especially as the ballet-Master gave a technically very clean, very beautiful performance!

Kristina Ermolenok, looking very delicate and thin, could have impressed the audience more with her presence and clean performance, had it not been for a certain tension on her upper back and neck. But this winter is hard and I do not know if she was also fighting some health troubles.

Tainá Ferreira Luiz delighted as the “Solo-Fairy” – always giving 100% of her strength and concentration on stage, she was immensely sure-of-herself and confident en pointe (the only dancer to dance on her toes in this piece) and mastering perfectly the Fouettés-en-tounant. A versatile dancer she brought me to some good laughs as “the dressmaker” and again as the Fairy while trying to show the way to the prince and his friends. I like humour.

Gleb Shilov. A prince. What else can I say? Great presence, clean technique, very gifted physique. His experience as a performer shows on stage. I wish the choreography could include some more “Bravura” for this prince. Mr. Shilov can handle it.

Unfortunately, the dullest part of the evening is Cendrillon herself. It is quite hard for a dancer to make something interesting out of the choreography. I cannot comment Miss Kovacs-Galavics’ performance because she had not the chance to show anything.
This Cendrillon is normal, well-adjusted, a good girl with no fire in her, boring in fact!
Other characters are so more much interesting, more challenging to play.
Could you imagine Bette Davis being "a good girl" in films her whole life?

copyright: Ashley Taylor

All this takes me fly back to where I started while writing this:
The Stepmother (Lázlo Benedek, fabulous with his walking sticks) and the Stepsisters (Samuel Colombet and Keisuke Nejime): these are really the great Stars of the evening.
Because they are fun. They are alive!

You see: like Woody I also do not care about falling in love with the wrong women.

A very pleasant evening at the Volksoper!

quarta-feira, 11 de janeiro de 2017

A tribute to Angela Lansbury and her date bread!

Somehow we all forgot that Angela Lansbury was also young one day...

Dear Angela, nice to remember you (also) like this...

P.S. I love your date bread...

Angela Lansbury's Walnut Date Bread

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 scant cup boiling water
1 cup chopped pitted dates
2/3 cup walnut pieces
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Strawberry cream cheese, optional

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Generously oil a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and dust with flour.

Place butter, baking soda, boiling water and dates into a heatproof mixing bowl. Let cool. Mix in walnuts, sugar, egg yolk, flour and vanilla extract. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour.

Cool for 10 minutes and remove from pan onto rack to cool. Slice and serve with strawberry cream cheese and freshly brewed tea.