I went to see a preview of the London version of The Producers today and was, like last night, a little taken by surprise. This time, however, it’s with disappointment and not pleasure. I’ve been talking to PY and trying to explain my disappointment but he doesn’t get it: he loved the show. I did not know the plot nor had I seen the film so I wasn’t let down by the story but I had read that Nathan Lane had taken Broadway by storm.
You can’t fault Nathan Lane: he’s superb and his comic timing is excellent. Lee Evans seems born for his role as the sidekick Leo Bloom and some of the songs are great. Others, however, seem weak and parts of the story are just not engaging. James Dreyfus camps it up John Inman style while Ulla, the Swedish blond bombshell, is so lost in the stereotype that any humour is lost.
Don’t get me wong, it is a good show. I can’t imagine Richard Dreyfuss in it and I imagine it will be hard to replace Nathan Lane in January. If you’re going to see it I would suggest trying to get tickets now because without Lane’s superb performance I am not sure where this show will go. The fact that it is one of the better shows on the West End right now possibly says more about the other shows.
I went to see A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To The Forum tonight and it took me a little by surprise. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but I was thoroughly entertained. From the opening, A Comedy Tonight, you feel yourself pulled along by the way the cast at The National seem to be enjoying themselves. It’s a high camp farce set in Roman times featuring double entendres and mistaken identity by the bucket load (you almost expect a vicar to appear from a cupboard) but it’s joyful and not at all cringe-worthy as many farces are. Sondheim’s music isn’t the best you will ever hear (in fact, much of it isn’t memorable) but during the performance it’s entertaining. Such a shame it is coming to the end of it’s run. I discovered a US version of the soundtrack featuring Nathan Lane which ties in nicely with tomorrow – more then.
I have to quickly post that I saw Billy Connolly tonight at The Hammersmith Odeon and, despite some recent newspaper comments, I have to say I have never laughed so much or so hard. Of course, I can’t actually remember any of the jokes but I will remember this feeling of joy for a very long time. If you get the chance you really should go and see him.
Of course if you want an alternative view read what The Times said this morning, although I imagine nobody else in tonight’s audience would agree:
He has become a frightful bully, willing to address only the converted and noticeably absent when its his turn to be on the receiving end. Connolly has become the patron saint of the truly humourless, one who is little more than three years shy of retirement age. Don’t you wish that, like the fanatics of Baghdad, hed just hurry up and get on with it?
Supposedly, the Ewan McGregor and Renee Zellweger romantic comedy Down With Love is an attempt to recreate the new York City of 1963 (some say to recreate Doris Day/Rock Hudson’s ‘Pillow Talk‘). As I haven’t actually seen Pillow Talk it’s hard to compare the two but most reviewers suggest the Doris Day comedy is considerably more sophisticated.
Still, for a Saturday night on the sofa this wasn’t so bad. It had amusing moments. Zellweger is Barbara Novak, in town promoting her smash-hit book that carries the same title as the film and they’ve tried to make her look the part of a 1960s New York girl – I am not sure if they were that successful. McGregor is Catcher Block, the cad-about-town investigative magazine journalist who has a string of lovely ladies after him. Inevitably he is to interview her for a magazine article and the chase is on. Both performances are confident but certainly not great. David Hyde Pierce, as Block’s publisher, seems to repeat his role as Frasier’s Niles but that’s no bad thing as he puts in a solid, amusing supporting performance.
There’s a great pay-off (which I shan’t spoil) but suffice to say Zellweger’s long monologue is impressive and, apparently, took six takes to get right. It’s one of those films where you need to watch the credits as there’s a musical scene (apparently shot at the request of the actors) over the end titles which is well done.
Down With Love is amusing for the most part but it’s kind of predicable in many places but it was a good Saturday night sofa film. See it and smile.
Lucky Man is not a typical Hollywood star autobiography. While it is peppered with references to the television shows and movies Michael J Fox has made it is – most definitely – not a name-dropping ‘look at me’ celebrity obsessed biography. Yes, it’s an insight – although not too revealing – into the inner sanctum of Hollywood stars but it’s very much grounded in the real world. It deals with the highs and lows of a film career and the pleasures and pressures that brings. When reading the book you really do feel as if Michael J Fox has been able to take a step back and look upon his own career from outside. He’s able to analyse the fame, the money and identify both the good and the problematic that his career has brought him. However, from the beginning of the book, his upbringing and his rise to (and through) fame are placed in context by the Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis. That diagnosis has allowed Fox to asses what’s important to him and write a book that shows him as a genuine, warm and open individual. There’s no sentimentality about the book and he does detail how the disease effects him but, at no point, do you feel like an intruder into his private life. Despite the difficult nature of the Parkinson’s Disease descriptions, Lucky Man is an absorbing and very well-written book that proves that people in the public eye and just like the rest of us.
Ah, so I am back and exhausted from my little holiday. You will see some pictures on the Flickr sidebar or at my Flickr pages. Of course while I have been enjoying some sunshine I see London hasn’t been that dry. [Wet London 20 by Timo Arnall]
Time now to tackle some of the 200 or so comment spam messages that have arrived in my in box.
In the meantime, is it really two years since I went to see Taboo.