Theatrical Thursday – The Importance of Being Earnest

earnest_sm

The first show that I saw at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival was Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.  For any theatre fan this would be a show you’ve probably seen it several time and probably involved with the show in someway.  But it’s a show I absolutely adore.  It’s almost sad how well I know this show, I could deliver the lines along with the cast.

There are a few interesting points about this particular production that are worth pointing out.  First is Brian Bedford is back at the festival.  That is enough to make it worth the trip to Stratford for this show.  He’s a great classic clown.  Bedford is wonderful in all that he does.  If you’ve never been to Stratford the name may not mean much to you unless you take into consideration Brian Bedford is the voice of Robin Hood by Disney.  Bedford is playing Lady Bracknell as well as directing the show.  The other exciting part of The Importance of Being Earnest is that Desmond Heeley is the set designer for the show.  Anytime he creates a set you know your breath will be taken away.

The cast of this production is amazing, you have Sara Topham, Ben Carlson, and the incomperable Stephen Ouimette.  It’s a show I could watch over and over again this season.  Wilde is a wonderful playwright and I find, no matter how many times I watch this show, I laugh so much.  If you’re looking for a comedy this is the show for you.  The players do a wonderful job of playing off each other bouncing off each others lines as if it were everyday banter.  

Shows that deal with babies left in handbags left in train stations (Victoria station of all places!) are just not done often enough.  The only problem with this show is the final line.  I love this show very much but every time I hear the last line I cringe, it’s horrible.  

It’s also important to note that the festival is doing the three act version of the show rather than the original four act.  There is some interesting trivia surrounding the the creation of the three act play but I wont get into that.  

I’ll leave you with the webcast where the general director of the festival (Antoni Cimolino) talks with Brian Bedford about his involvement in all things Wilde this season at the festival.

Be sure to watch the second part of this video.

Theatrical Thursday – Spring Awakening

postersawhite

I don’t typically go to a show without at least being familiar with one of the tunes.  I like to have some idea of what I’m getting myself into before I get to the theatre, because sometimes it requires some mental preparation.  Now I wasn’t completely oblivious about Spring Awakening before going but I really didn’t know a lot and wasn’t familiar with any of the tunes.  Because I’m such a huge theatre geek/nerd/dork/loser (feel free to throw in any other suitable description I watch the Tony awards every year (June 7th this year) so I know what’s hot and what’s not in the theatre world.

That means my first encounter with Spring Awakening was this:

I do need to say that I don’t fully understand the use of microphones and don’t think that it’s necessary.  I was able to look past while watching the show.  That was really the only down side to the musical version of Spring Awakening.  

The only other thing I knew about this show is that it was written as a drama in 1891 by Frank Wedekind.  He was ahead of his time because of the subject matter that he would write about (sexuality, teen issues, and suicide).  This show was then banned everywhere it went because of the subject matter.  It was until this show was produced in its current musical form that this show saw the footlights of the stage.

Just recently I was able to get my hands on a copy of Spring Awakening from my book people at The Book Vault.  The script was translated and introduced by Jonathan Franzen (yes the Jonathan Franzen).  I haven’t read it yet but I’m really looking forward to it because it’s supposed to be much darker than the musical, which is only fitting given the subject matter.  It should be great.

The musical is fantastic and has many wonderful songs.  I’m going to leave you with a number of songs for you to listen and watch.  I hope you enjoy as much as I did!

There are so many other songs in this show I wish I could put more on here. But I hope you enjoyed what I’ve provided.

Theatrical Thursday – The Reader (with review)

At the close of 2008 I watched many of the films that had been nominated for an academy award.  Not only those nominated for best picture but also some of the smaller awards like best actor and actress awards.  One of the movies was of course The Reader staring Kate Winslet.

the-reader-film

I must say that I really enjoyed this film and because of my enjoyment of the film I wanted to read the novel once I found out it was based on a novel.  Then I heard from one of my co-workers that they read the novel and thought it was great I wanted to get my hands on this book even more than before.  So when I was last in Toronto (to see Spring Awakening: the Musical) I made a stop to Indigo at Eaton Center and found a copy of Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader.

the-readerThe Reader

by Bernhard Schlink

genre: historical fiction

This book was so much better than the film.  I could just ramble on and on about how much I love this book I wont.  For those of you that don’t know the novel is about a boy and his sexual exploits with an older woman.  The woman’s past comes back to haunt the boy, who knew nothing of her past.  

The novel is a haunting portrayal of a woman full of secrets will to take a fall in order to hide a deep dark secret she wants nobody to know about.  It’s a quick read and once you begin reading it you’ll devour every page, savouring each word, paragraph, page and chapter like you would each course of a four course meal.

Don’t get me wrong the film is good but if you only do one or the other you should definitely take the book.  I know this is usually the case but there is so much more in the book than the movie.  Because the novel in so short there is no reason for any part of this book to be removed the film version.  I don’t understand why they took the bits out that they did.  Hollywood, I guess, just wants to keep us wondering why they do the things they do.

Others who have reviewed The Reader by Bernhard Schlink:

A Guy’s Moleskin Notebook delves deeper into the book than I did, so check it out if you want to know much more about the book
http://mattviews.wordpress.com/2009/02/24/187-the-reader-bernhard-schlink/

A blog I haven’t stumble upon before has presented a great review of this book.  booktin keeps the review short and sweet.
http://www.booktin.com/bernhard-schlink-the-reader/

S. Krishna’s Books is another new blog for me.  I like that this is a well informed reader.
http://www.skrishnasbooks.com/2009/03/reader-bernhard-schlink.html

As usual if you would like your review added here just send me a quick email and I’ll be more than happy to add your review to the list.

Theatrical Thrusday – Ghost World

ghostworld

One of my all time favourite movies since the first time I watched it has been Ghost World. It’s a fabulous film staring Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson with Steve Busccemi. The screen play was by the author of the graphic novel Daniel Clowes. Ever since I watched it I’ve wanted to read the graphic novel and didn’t get the chance until this year when I found a copy in The Book Vault.

Once I finally got my hands on this amazing work of art I was in love and I am currently on the hunt for more of Clowes’ work. The humor is bitting in both the film and novel version of Ghost World. If you haven’t had the chance to read or watch Ghost World you are really missing out on something great.

I don’t know of any other film that has captured a novel as well as Ghost World, and I know much of that has to do with the fact that Daniel Clowes did the writing for both. The only other film that has been able to capture the essence of a film as well as this one is Juno.

I’d be interested to hear from those of you that have experienced the book and or film version of Ghost World. Did you enjoy your experience or not?

ghostworld2

Theatrical Thursday – Jersey Boys

Given what this Theatrical Thursday is about not all of these will have a link to a novel of any kind. Even though this isn’t book related I wanted to talk about it anyway because I love theatre and once the Festival gets going I’ll be talking about a number of shows that have no other literary history than that of a theatrical production. But I also think that plays has a place in the literary world and that’s why I’m using this place to talk about them.

There were a number of reasons for wanting to see Jersey Boys. The primary reason for wanting to watching this particular show is because the director, Des McAnuff, is the new Artistic Director of the place I work, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. This year he is directing our flagship production Macbeth and one of the musicals this season A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. So needless to say I felt inclined to see this production dispite its one major downfall, the fact that it’s a jukebox musical. I really don’t like the jukebox musical because the stories are contrived and are just a way of drawing people to the theatre because they already know the music.

I saw the all Canadian cast at the Toronto Center for the Arts last week. There were four of us that took the trip from Stratford to Toronto. Sadly the most exciting part of the evening was when we saw Fred Penner come through the front door. He was someone I remember watching on television all the time growing up. So it was really exciting to see him. You may better remember him for this:

After that excitement we entered the theatre to see this production. Jersey Boys, for those of you don’t know, is the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The story is good and the music is fantastic but as a show it’s not anything spectacular. I just couldn’t understand why it continues to win all the awards it’s won or won the Tony Awards it got. The best that could be said for this show is that it’s entertainment. It’s enjoyable but I don’t think it’s something people should rush out to see.

My first encounter with this show was watching the Tony Awards. You’ll get an idea of the energy of the show from the clip below from the Tony Awards. For those of you that know the music of the Four Seasons you’ll enjoy the tunes in this show and it may be of interest to see the show.

Theatrical Thursday – Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Last week I watched this incredibly moving film and because of that I found out it was a novel. Because of watching the movie I now want to read the book. The most unfortunate part of that is that I cannot seem to find the book anywhere in Stratford. Maybe I’ll have to make a trip the Library sometime, as I haven’t done this in a long time.

I generally don’t use the library because I don’t like the fact that I’m restricted as to when I can read the book. I have no problem finishing it in the allotted time, I guess I’m just a little anal retentive.

But I digress, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is the story of a boy made to move to a house in close proximity to a concentration camp. As the film progress he befriends a boy inside the barbed wire fences of the camp, now run by his father. The story is truly touching and if you don’t want to read the novel you should at least give the film a shot, at which point you’ll probably feel compelled to read the book by John Boyne.

This is enough to make want to hunt down this book at the next available opportunity.

Theatrical Thrusday – The Color Purple

I’ve been really excited to start this feature since I first came up with the idea. I hope that you enjoy it too.

I find that a novel is rarely duplicated and not when it changes medium something about it falls short. When it comes to The Color Purple, Alice Walker’s masterpiece I’ve enjoyed it in all of it’s entities. Unfortunately, I’m not really impressed that the talk show queen (Oprah) has taken such a large role in spreading the word of the novel. In fact, if I’m wanting to read a novel I will not even consider the book if it has her book club seal on, I’ll find one without it.

There some aspects of the book that stick out and make you very happy when you see it in its other forms. Take the moment that Celie decides to leave Mister, the musical did a great job but so did movie:

I really enjoy the film and it’s because of scenes like that one that make it truly thrilling. And being a huge fan of live theatre I was thrilled to hear that this novel was also made into a musical. And as per the rant above I was disappointed that Oprah took a large producing role but I wanted to really see it when came to Toronto and wasn’t going to let that stop me.

When I saw the presentation during the Tony awards it made me want to see it even more.

After seeing that how could anyone want to pass the opportunity to see the stage production? The soulful tunes that are in the production bring Alice Walker’s novel to life in a whole new way. I would strongly suggest seeing it if you ever get the opportunity. The novel and film are also an experience to participate in.

And Now for Something Completely Different…

Okay, maybe it’s not completely different but it is something new. I was inspired by this weeks Booking Through Thursday and wanted to spend sometime talking about my other passions on this lowly blog. So, the idea came to me, it was like the proverbial light went on. Not only do I love books but I also love movies and even more than that I love live theatre. So, every Thursday I’ll be doing a new feature called Theatrical Thursday.

On Thursdays I’ll be talking about movies and theatre that are based on or inspired by works of literature. Well, theatre is a work of literature in itself but I’ll try to talk about works that have their start with the written word. This obviously will not always be possible because I work for a theatre that deals with classical works, and I see all their shows so I’ll be writing about these on Thursdays as well. But I think you know where I’m going with this.

To tickle your taste buds for the first installment I’ll tell you it’s going to be all about my favourite colour….The Color Purple. This story has been reincarnated both for the big screen and for the stage. I’ll leave you wanting more with this clip: