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Theatre, Art, Exhibitions etc

Theatre, Art, Exhibitions etc (77)

WEST END: Charlie & The Chocolate Factory: The New Musical

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Charlie & The Chocolate Factory wasn’t my favourite Roald Dahl book growing up; I much preferred The Twits and The Witches. Having said that, I have read it and seen both versions of the movie numerous times which I enjoyed immensely; the book and original film are part of very fond memories from my childhood.

But like most things of great sentimental/childhood value, there is always a fear that in the process of adaptation to a new format something will be lost, changed or just fucked up – the world you have created in your imagination is placed in the hands and control of someone else. For example, I deliberately haven’t seen any of the Harry Potter films because if someone fucks with my version of Hogwarts well then I will just lose my shit.

The 1971 film Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory starring Gene Wilder was vastly different to the 2005 Tim Burton version, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory starring Johnny Depp. Same story, completely different feel and lots of criticism from people who grew up with the original – ‘Why remake it anyway!? The original is still amazing!’

So when Sam Mendes (of American Beauty and Skyfall fame) took on the role of director of the stage version – Charlie & The Chocolate Factory: The New Musical – for London’s West End he had a big task ahead of him. He had to deliver a lot: a version that stood up to the book and both films, staging stunts never before attempted, production design never before attempted and a spectacular that would drive word of mouth and pack out the Theatre Royal night after night (investors pumped a lot of cash into this thing and they want their cold hard cash money!)

Well…. He delivered.

The set and production design are mind blowing. The best I’ve seen this year (and I’ve see a lot of musicals this year!) The rapid transitions between scenes are seamless and when you consider the size of each major set piece, pulling of this staging is somewhat of a technical miracle; really adding to the magic of watching the story play out in a theatre.

In bringing the classic story to the stage, Mendes has definitely taken a steer from Tim Burton’s version – for example, forget the geese and their Golden Eggs, it’s all about the squirrels and their nuts. His Willy Wonka, played by Douglas Hodge, has taken a few cues from Johnny Depp and (apart from the stage itself) is the obvious star of the show delivering a lot of LOLz with flickers of the darkness that torments Wonka.
The children who win the Golden Tickets have been given a similar modern day makeover which actually makes them more annoying and so when they meet their fate it’s extra rewarding to watch. Mike Teevee is a little shit and is the reason I never want to have children.

Even though the kids are super annoying, the Oompa-Loompas make up for them and add a lot of comedy to the show. The choreography and puppetry used to create them is seriously cool and another staging miracle which takes the entire show up a notch.

Musically, the vast majority of songs are new. Some are excellent, the others are a bit ‘meh’ (yes, that is actually a technical term) and sung so fast that you can’t actually understand the lyrics. There’s a fantastic version of ‘Pure Imagination’ towards the end which – for fans of the original film – will serve as a reasonable creative balance between the old and the new.

In sum: whether you hated Tim Burton’s version or not, Sam Mendes’ Charlie & The Chocolate Factory: The New Musical has all the ingredients of a great West End show and definitely has longevity so if you’re planning a trip to London in the next couple of years you should totes book tickets. They’re expensive but worth it!


Broadway's Gypsy of the Year 2013 raises $4.3 million

gypsy bcefaThe 25th anniversary celebration of Gypsy of the Year, the culmination of six weeks of extraordinary fundraising by 56 participating Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring companies, raised an amazing $4,343,234 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

The grand total was announced Tuesday, December 10, at this year's Gypsy of the Year, which included an array of original dances, songs and skits performed by more than 250 "gypsies," the most talented singers and dancers in the ensembles of Broadway and Off-Broadway shows.

Since 1989, the 25 editions of Gypsy of the Year have raised a total of $57,277,815 to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

You can check out highlights below.

SMASH Musical heads to Broadway?

Well, kinda, sorta... at least the fictional musical from the TV series SMASH, 'Hit List' will be making its way to 54 Below (the venue UNDER Studio 54) for a concert with some of the stars including Jeremy Jordan and Krysta Rodriguez.

54 Below will present the world-premiere concert performances of “Hit List” on Dec. 9, press representatives for the project said on Tuesday, with a cast that features the former “Smash” stars Jeremy Jordan and Andy Mientus (who played the putative “Hit List” creators Jimmy Collins and Kyle Bishop), as well as Krysta Rodriguez (who played Ana Vargas, a “Hit List” cast member).

A news release for “Hit List” described it — finally! — as “a modern fable about identity and the price of fame” that “tells the tragic love story of a wannabe pop singer who transforms herself to become a star and the hidden songwriter she uses to get there – but at what cost?”

The score for “Hit List” is written by the flesh-and-blood composers Drew Gasparini, Joe Iconis, Andrew McMahon, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman and Lucie Silvas. Its press representatives said that the live performances “will include some additional songs from these composers that were intended for ‘Hit List’ but never made it to air, and also special appearances by several of ‘Hit List’s composers and additional performers to be announced at a later date.”



Excited much?  We are!


Madonna's Revolution is here


secretprojectrevolution is a 17-minute film directed by Madonna and Steven Klein. The film launches Art For Freedom, a global initiative to further freedom of expression, created by Madonna, curated by VICE, and distributed by BitTorrent.

Madonna stars as a revolutionary thrown in jail for… causing a commotion. “I keep telling everyone that I want to start a revolution but no one is taking me seriously. If I had black skin and an afro, would you take me seriously? If I was an Arab waving a hand grenade, would you take me seriously? Instead, I’m a woman. I’m a blonde. I have tits and ass and an insatiable desire to be noticed.”

Art For Freedom encourages the world to express their personal meaning of freedom and revolution in the form of video, music, poetry, and photography. Join the revolution by uploading original artwork to or tagging original posts #artforfreedom.

secretprojectrevolution, plus bonus content including VICE's interview with Madonna


and a handwritten message from Madonna and Steven Klein, is available to the public for free download exclusively at BitTorrent Bundle.


memberrewards 50Join Madonna's group on Guidetogay and EARN REWARD POINTS


Join The Revolution here:


Courtney Act - ‘Boys Like Me’

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Courtney Act stormed the Gingers stage in Sydney last night – in a triumphant homecoming! Looking drop dead gorgeous in a simple soft pink sequin classic showgirl gown, all class and in terrific voice she brought her new cabaret show 'Boys Like Me' back to her old stomping ground, and to an audience of friends and admirers. As she said in her welcoming spiel – “is there anyone here tonight I don’t know!" It was that kind of night.

'Boys Like Me' is a clever ninety minute showcase of Courtney’s charm. It tells the story of her life in the US and the sexual encounters and delights she has experienced walking the gender divide. I mean what’s not to like about a string of tantalising sex stories and a whole lot of perfectly selected pop songs to illuminate the point.

We learn over the course of the show about Shane’s (the guy behind Courtney) earlier sexual education, through teenage stories of sexual awakening and songs like Katy Perry’s 'I Kissed A Girl' and a fantastic version of Swedish House Mafia’s 'Don’t You Worry Child' with chorus lyrics “See heavens got a plan for you” being a stroke of genius in giving these stories genuine heart amongst the wit and fun.

I’ve been along for the ride now of each of Courtney’s cabaret shows and this one really seems to be a wonderful step into a whole new world of slick and polish. Courtney seems to have chosen a lower register to place her voice; the belting is now only used to give emphasis and her arrangements seem to have a refined cabaret sensibility. Last night she was accompanied by Jeremy Brennan on the piano and Lucas Edmonds on the drums who were completely aligned with their singer and delivered a great sound.

The second half, and a change into a stunning nude illusion number showing off her famously toned pins, its more stories about sex - a very saucy encounter with a set of twins, and an interesting observation of gender confusion when the alter ego and the self both tangle in the same relationship. Interspersed with a poignant version of 'Both Sides Now' by Joni Mitchell and an emotional 'Real Men' by Joe Jackson, Courtney had her audience in the palm of her hand.

Boys Like Me has recently played in LA, New York and now Sydney – and that’s just for starters.

Keep an eye out for its next stop by following Courtney Act on Guidetogay.


Sydney Moderns: the most colourful spot in town.


It seems for the art lover that these days you have to travel all over Australia to see the blockbuster that you’ll never forget. This winter it’s to Melbourne for the show from Paris – Monet’s Garden, up to Brisbane for the Spanish masterpieces from the Prado in Madrid or to the National Gallery in Canberra for the much hyped and very popular Turner from the Tate. So to be honest it was a real surprise that on a whim I took a visit to the Art Gallery of NSW, one of my most favourite places in all of Sydney, and discovered Sydney Moderns – Art for a New World.

Over 180 works by Australia’s most iconic artists, exploring the making of a modern city and representing one of the most distinctive and creative periods in the history of Australian art, between the first and second world wars. This show is bursting with colour and the pictures jump off the wall as if to say for the first time – look at me I’m very Sydney, new, modern, and exciting – and this in the 1930’s.


I guess this show doesn’t have the pull of others, so when I visited on a Saturday afternoon the crowds were very light on the ground, waiting for people like me to discover it and spread the word. The show really has a bit of everything of the period: from the still life of simple fruit and flowers, self-portraits by the artists in the show, landscapes of the local area, to cityscapes - factories, department stores and apartment blocks. You will even find the reconstruction of an art deco living room taken from photographs of an exhibition held in 1929.


I was delighted to be exposed to many different styles of the artists who were the stars of the Sydney scene at the time – and for all of this I fell in love with the work of Grace Cossington Smith. I had seen the odd work by Grace which hangs as part of the day to day modern gallery at the Gallery but here in this show there is a great spread of her work and it’s so wonderful and very moving.


Grace Cossington Smith (1892-1984) was a leading Sydney painter in the Australian modernist movement, and is generally recognised for her vibrant use of colour in depicting scenes of every day and domestic life in Sydney. Cossington Smith is best known for her interior scenes. These depict an intimate and personal world in radiant colours, lending a spiritual quality to the oil paintings. To see so much of her wonderful work hung together is worth the price of the ticket alone.


If you have always thought that Sydney was just a small backwater until towards the end of the 20th centenary, this exhibition on until 7 October will change your view for ever and do so in the most surprising and colourful way – I’d say don’t miss it!