Sunday, June 16, 2013

Review - Jesus Christ Superstar Arena Spectacular

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This modern retelling of the Andrew Lloyd Webber masterpiece was a visually and musically spectacular…in the main. The opening scene including police with riot shields forcing back protesters sets the tone for the show. The latest reincarnation is set against the back drop of current political, financial and humanitarian crisis. The show references the Occupy movement, the GFC, European austerity and riots, and African famine.  I wonder if Lord Webber ever envisaged any staging Superstar would ever include pole dancers and go-go boys?

The set is a large staircase and even larger video screen. The screen is by and large used masterfully to extend the stage or compliment the on stage performances. The flogging scene is a perfect case in point (without any spoilers), the screen adds a powerful representation of the pain and gore.

There were occasional scenes when the video screen over powered or detracted from the on stage performances. In the nightclub scene the live performance was rendered almost redundant.

This is an arena performance, this means the audience are a long way from the stage. In such a dramatic story the facial expressions of the cast is critical to the story telling, in many cases this could only be shown on the big screen. For me it did leave me pondering why I was charged $95 to see a film. Having said that there were times when the onstage camera worked created visual effects and angles that added to the drama - the scene where Judas was paid to betray Jesus for example.

Talking about the size of the production. I have to say that the first half of the show the ensemble pieces felt more like a high school rock’n’roll eisteddfod piece. The cast just seemed lost on stage and their dancing seemed to be trying too hard to be edgy and tough. Glee is not tough no matter how many skateboards of hip-hop styled back spins there are. After intermission this all changed when the ensemble formed into a variety of mobs. They were much more together and much more powerful.

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Talking of eisteddfods, Mel C as Mary. Her singing was pitch perfect and lovely. And that was the problem. It was lovely. Mary is a character full of love, passion and devotion. Mel C sang like a 15 year old who has never felt any of these emotions. If I was a reality TV judge I would not have turned my seat around. There was not depth or soul. My comment would have been “I just did not believe the words you were singing.”

The other  lead characters, wow. Tim Minchin…Oh. My. God! Ironic for a famed atheist playing the role of Judas, but the man can sing and act. Is it not enough that he is one of the world’s biggest musical comedians and a composer of a Tony Award nominated Olivier Award winning musical?

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Ben Forster as Jesus became more and more powerful as the story unfolded both vocally and acting. Forster’s portrayal in the arrest trial and crucifixion scenes is mesmerising.  I have to say that a falsetto squeal does not an anguished heart wrenching scream make. Please take you cue from Mr Minchin’s reprise of  “Don’t Know How To Love Him”. That is how to hit a high not with power and grit.

Leon Craig as stand-in for the role of Herod stole the show with a camp reality television/game-show host cameo.

Monday, June 10, 2013

41 Presents Not To Give Me


It is worth noting that these rules do not apply to school age offspring and siblings

1.     Anything where you intentionally chose the ugliest version, and then told this to the recipient
2.     Small kitchen appliances, toasters, kettle.
3.     Kitchen gadgets, just because the overly excited presenters on the infomercial said it will revolutionise meal time – it wont revolutionise my birthday
4.     Exercise equipment
5.     Any home made craft unless you are a recognised artist
6.     A replacement for something that was broken
7.     Cans of house paint
8.     Anything for the office cubicle
9.     School supplies
10. Anything you deem as “useful”
11. Gift vouchers  - unless sending from interstate or overseas – take the effort to chose something specific
12. Hand made vouchers for hugs
13. Cash  - even less impersonal that a voucher
14. Anything from the Body Shop, if I smell - just tell me. The friendship ends immediately if it is a Body Shop gift voucher
15. Chocolates or wine for me to share with you, if you really knew me you would know that these are items I do not share
16. Items to add to my collection – unless it is an actual collectable. Definitely not anything you have made (see rule 5)
17. Items to add to a collection I no longer collect
18. DVD box set of your favourite show
19. Accessories for a bigger item that I do not own and that you did not buy me
20. Underwear, unless you are that special someone…
21. Socks…never
22. Ties…ever
23. A gift for my sibling/child just so they wont feel left out on my special day
24. A gift for my pet just so they wont feel left out on my special day
25. Anything from a joke shop shaped likes genitals or breasts
26. Anything bought at 7-Eleven or a service station
27. A haircut
28. The key to my own house/apartment, this only means you are returning it and means something is ending
29. Books that you know I have already read
30. Something for my house that matches the colours in your house
31. My half of something we bought together
32. Flowers or pant cuttings from my own garden
33. A family portrait or your family
34. Cleaning appliances, utensils or equipment
35. Ingredients – unless you are cooking them into something special for me (not something special for me to share)
36. Anything you are re-gifting
37. A coffee mug with a saying/image you think is funny…it’s not
38. A calendar/desk calendar you think is funny…it’s not
39. An object that requires batteries…without the batteries
40. Batteries without an object that requires them
41. Nothing at all

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Extending the Queen

Australia chooses to celebrate the Queens birthday in June except Western Australia that celebrates it in September, albeit that her actual birthday is April 21st. The Commonwealths way of “extending the celebrations”.

This is all well and good if you actually want to extend the celebrations. How many celebrations are truly worthy of extension? Olympic Game opening ceremonies are arguably some of the most spectacular and expensive celebrations but who amongst the millions of international television audience would want it to last longer that the current 4 hours duration?

Extending the celebrations just sounds like a convenient excuse for not being organised in time for the actual event.  “I will give you your present next week” translates to “I did not buy your present in time”, “we can have the party on the weekend” really means “we have not got everything organised to celebrate on your day”.

In Australia’s case it is really a selfish decision to have the public holiday later in the year. March and April are already full of public holidays, with ANZAC Day, Easter and Labour Day. We just want to spread the public holidays out. Sorry Ma’am but we are all a bit busy doing nothing to celebrate your birth right now, how about in a couple of months, our diaries are clear in June

By way of gifts a public holiday is an unusual one. It is a great gift for the public but what is it for the Queen? In comparison to the lives of most, every day of the queens life seems to be a day off, dressing up, fine dining touring the country or internationally.

To be sure with an estimated personal wealth of $500million and access to assets of the crown worth in excess of $15billion, Queen Elizabeth II wanting of little.  I find it difficult to buy presents for my father, retired working – lower middle class. How difficult must it be for Princes Charles, Andrew and Edward and Princess Anne to buy gifts for their mother/ Did she ever receive a hand print or pinch bowl made of clay in art class, or have to display a birthday card decorated in dry macaroni?

People can celebrate early, giving gifts ahead of time. They are organised ahead of time – sure. They too will come up with excuses, “you will be too busy celebrating on the day”, “Just a little something to get your birthday started early”. This all means it is more convenient to give the gift now, we would prefer not to have to go out of our way to make contact on your actual birthday.

The risk is that between people celebrating early and others celebrating late that no one celebrates on the actual birthday. This is no celebration.

Delayed celebrations are mainstay for the monarch. She ascended to the throne following the death of her father on 6 February 1952. The realm did not get to celebrate with her until her coronation on 2 June 1953, some 16 months later. This seems like a long probation period for job from which one cannot be fired, and the only prerequisite is birth. She has however had to face a lifetime of questions about redundancy.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Images for Sale on Redbubble

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