Saturday, January 24, 2015

It's never too late to live happily ever after...

My introduction to theatre was through my father who was a traditionalist: iconic drama at top London venues throughout my childhood was, with hindsight, fair trade for the ban on cinema and TV, but musicals weren't on the dramatic menu. I discovered Stephen Sondheim's darkly magical world only five years ago, when saw Into the Woods on stage in Leamington and was captivated.  So even the fact the movie is a Disney production didn't stop me scampering off to Bath at first opportunity to see the big screen version out now (and up for 19 nominations including 3 Oscars including Meryl Streep's fantastically witchy witch). Into the Woods  is a collage of fairytales, laying out the familiar character cards and motivating longings of the game ~ romance, reconciliation, justice, and above all the primal scream for love ~ with wit and satire too (I loved the leaping princes' waterfall duet ~ in real location apparently, with only chicken wire spread over the rocks to avert catastrophe for Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen).  And perhaps oddly, half-sung dialogue doesn't detract from psychological insight, as when Cinderella queries the value of social elevation, and the giant-crisis panic response of mutual-blaming.  Sondheim's characters must be a dream for the actors who, from Johnny Depp's all-too-short lupine life to James Corden's heroic journey as the baker who finds manhood by facing his fears, are all terrific. So there you are: if you've missed it live, I'm sure it'll be downloadable. A visual feast, as they say.

Meanwhile in Frome, the fantastic Three Corners featured at  Grain Bar Roots Session and Friends of  Frome Festival gathered after hours at the River House to hear Melanie Jones reading from L'Amour Actually, the novel inspired by her blog on life in rural France. The woman was one of those irritating expat types who felt she owed it to the world to impart on all her superior knowledge of life in France ~ but don't be deterred, that's a quote from the story, not my comment about the author.

In case you haven't heard of Tommy Emmanuel ~ I hadn't, till recently ~ he's 'an Australian virtuoso guitarist best known for his complex fingerstyle technique, energetic performances, and use of percussive effects on the guitar.' Wiki also mentions the clatter of awards he's won around the world. And he finished his current UK tour in Salisbury, where I was lucky enough to be one of the thousand-plus music fans in the City Hall on Friday (thankyou David!) to hear his final gig. Stunning is the best word. Tommy can do anything with the guitar, it seems, from evoking nostalgia ~ his Beatles medley a special favourite ~ to jigs and reels apparently played on fast-forward ~ Tall Fiddler simply incredible. He gives a helpful lesson, too, for anyone with bionic fingers and 23 hours a day free to practice... As those links will show, he's a charismatic performer and a charming man who really seems to believe his own motto: "It's never too late to live happily ever after."

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