No matter how much Beethoven, Bach, Berlioz and Bartók I take in at the Proms, I’m fast coming to the conclusion that no season would be complete without the all-singing, all-dancing Big-Band exuberance of the John Wilson Orchestra and the sensational Maida Vale Singers. Really, it’s not possible to use too many superlatives for these gigs. Yes, it’s a lot of showbiz glitter and utterly camp razzamatazz, but John Wilson is the Fred Astaire of orchestral conductors, swooning his way through each turbo-charged performance, and the feeling is electric, if not ecstatic. Continue reading →
I was invited by EMI to the world famous Abbey Road Studios this week for a sneak preview of ‘Rodgers & Hammerstein: At The Movies’ – the latest album from the effervescent John Wilson Orchestra and the Maida Vale Singers, featuring the glorious Sierra Boggess (Love Never Dies, Phantom of the Opera), Julian Ovenden (Death Takes a Holiday, Finding Neverland) and David Pittsinger (South Pacific). Sipping a glass of Chardonnay in the historic Studio 1, just 15 feet from the Maestro and all of five feet from the swinging double basses, it was a wonderful amuse-oreille to last night’s Prom. Continue reading →
Rupert Everett and Kara Tointon. Photo by Hugo Glendenning.
It is very difficult watching a play when the text has been almost entirely appropriated by one of the most successful theatrical partnerships in history, and made into the libretto of one of the greatest musicals of all time. It’s not that George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion cannot now exist independently of Lerner and Loewe’s legendary treatment in My Fair Lady; it’s simply that the two have become symbiotic to the extent that you can’t help hearing a cue for a song in just about every scene.
But the problem with Philip Prowse’s Pygmalion is not so much that it lacks bursts of ‘Why can’t the English’ and ‘Wouldn’t it be loverly?’; it’s that a great deal of Shaw’s sizzling wit, sociological perception and political acumen fail to find adequate expression in Rupert Everett’s incarnation of Henry Higgins. The play begins rather heavily with Wagner’s ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ (not sure why), which prepares us for nothing but Everett’s interminable brooding and indulgent stream of pomposity. I don’t like beginning a theatre review with ‘the problem’, but there you have it. Continue reading →