Three men, a lady and several saxophones

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What do you get when you put the above in a small studio, throw in a piano, a double bass and some drums, then put it all in front of an audience of around 35?

One awesome jazz night, three hours of blissful sound, and barely an open eye in the house.

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A Magnificent Monologue

Meanwhile, back at the theatre, Boo and I went to see ‘Twinkle Little Star’.

Given that it was the Everyman Studio Theatre, I knew once again it was going to be a small ‘intimate’ production. I really am beginning to like these little shows, as the diversity and originality of the stuff being produced there at the moment is fantastic.

I didn’t really know much about this production other than it being a pantomime dame getting ready for ‘her’ performance, and as such I had envisaged that there would be some other parts on the periphery. What we got however, was a real one man show. A magnificent monologue from a true pantomime dame.

It was brilliant.

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Douglas Mounce as ‘Harold Thropp’

Douglas Mounce is one of the UK’s leading pantomime dames with 26 seasons in panto under his belt. You can find out more about his illustious career at www.douglasmounce.com

A Tempestuous Night

When I was younger I was a fan of science fiction B movies.  One of my favourites starred Robbie the Robot along with that dark haired serious ‘actor’ that was Leslie Nielson.  That film was the 1956 movie The Forbidden Planet.  I loved the theory of alien technology bringing to life the monsters of the id, in order to frighten off the visiting ship.

I loved the idea of space travel, and was fascinated by the ideas of colonisation of abandoned alien worlds. I thought the direction was stylish, and the plot simple to follow and understand. But you know what? I was wrong.

As a teen, I discovered the stage show ‘Return To The Forbidden Planet’ and I watched it as many times as I could when it was on nearby, being thankful for student discounts on already reduced tickets, if there were any available 15 minutes before the show began.

I shrieked the songs out at the top of my lungs with everyone else. I enjoyed the audience participation. It was almost like a Rocky Horror, only without the dressing up. Unless off course you counted the faded, fan tour t-shirts of fans that turned up in their hundreds.

It was at the same time that I discovered that both the film and the stage show were based on the Shakespeare play The Tempest.  In an effort to learn more, and thanks to a parental unit with good friends at the Royal Shakespeare Company, I managed to go see the play performed in Shakespeare’s home town of Stratford.  Typical of such a company it was a huge, well oiled production with the great names of theatre at the time (not that I remember any of them).  

The strange thing is, it wasn’t until two days ago, when I watched a different production of The Tempest, that I *understood* everything.  The film, the musical and the stage show play.  You may find this strange, you may not, but as I sat transfixed and watched, I felt a wry grin spread across my face, and the rusted cogs of my cognitive synapses begin to grind against each other slowly as I drip fed them with fresh oil. 

Two days ago I went to the Everyman Studio (part of the Everyman Theatre) in Cheltenham.

The Everyman Studio is brilliant, because it is just that, a studio. It’s tiny.  There are three raked rows, each of 14 seats,  lined up against the length of one wall, and that’s it.  The rest of the floor space is the stage.

I went to see the Dreamshed Theatre Company’s adaptation, and as I said I was transfixed.  The enclosed performance area, made you feel like you were watching live theatre in you living room, gave the whole show an almost personal feel.

I am sadly at the moment lacking the lyrical dexterity with which to purvey the amazing job done by each and every one of those actors, that night, but suffice is to say, that I haven’t as yet shut up about telling people how fab it was.

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*Apparently, it appears,  Forbidden Planet is in development for a remake to air in 2013. I shall await, although knowing how much I despise cover versions and remakes I shall leave the eagerness in check until I know more…

A night with Columbo

I love Columbo. All 67 episodes.  My particular favourite is the case with Johnny Cash, and not simply because it is one that it appears is shown most often, (closely followed in perpetual repeat by the one with Billy Connelly) but because I happen to like Johnny Cash.  I also enjoyed the two episodes featuring Patrick McGoohan, because I think he’s a fantastic British actor, and because I really liked him in Danger Man and The Prisoner.

There is something about Columbo that just catches you, no matter how many times it’s repeated on TV I always have to sit down and watch.  In a phrase I’ve recently seen coined I think it’s the whole ‘howcatchem’ style as opposed to ‘whodunnit?’ –  It’s not about who did it, it’s about how to solve it.

Now though, I’ve seen where it all started. Not the original episode from The Chevy Mystery Show of 1960, but the 1961 stage play, which was destined for Broadway until the death of its Columbo, Thomas Mitchell, and do you know what?

It was awesome.