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Theatre, Art, Exhibitions etc

Theatre, Art, Exhibitions etc (78)

Yoko Ono - War is Over! (if you want it)

WarIsOver ifyouwantit YokoOno 378x313Growing up in Wales as a teenager in the late sixties The Beatles and all they got up to was fascinating and completely drove pop culture of the day. I became aware of Yoko Ono, of course, when she married John Lennon and I can remember their Bed Peace piece in 1969 which was absolutely massive. These two hippies staying in a white bed, in a white room for two weeks in the name of world peace.


So it seems that Yoko Ono has carried this thread as the driver for her art ever since and currently showing at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney is her first Australian exhibition and of course Peace is its central theme. The title comes from a text work by Ono and her husband John Lennon that first appeared at Christmas 1969 across public billboards in twelve cities worldwide, including New York and London.


Much of the work is installation based and to get the most out of your visit you need to get actively involved with the work. Many of the pieces were first created in the sixties and recreated in the last few years to form this show.


The whole problem is that you have to buy-in to this now quaint notion that sticking a post-it note on a wall will repair your relationship with your mother, or stamping the word peace on your city of choice on a huge map will ensure that place embraces peace, or taking a jigsaw piece of sky away with you in the hope that, one day in the future, the world can build a new sky together. All of which might have been moving in its day but now seems out of touch and silly for us cynics.


Amongst all this I did find a few pieces engaging, although maybe not in the way Yoko imagined. Wish Tree for Sydney (1996/2013) is presented on the MCA Sculpture Terrace in which visitors are invited to write their private wishes onto small paper cards and tie them to the branches of native Australian trees. Over time, the cards accumulate like blossoms, and the intention is Wish Trees become symbolic of the collective power of the hopes and dreams of those who participate. Reading the wishes of visitors before me was interesting; I must lose weight this year, I wish the pubs closed at two o'clock, and I will give up crystal meth.


I found the highlight to be a modern piece Doors and Sky Puddles (2011) comprising of multiple upright doors that appear to float from the gallery floor. Yoko One wrote the following text alongside the piece:"Doors are just a figment of our imagination, barriers that exist in our mind and we need strength and courage to pass through them". In this large vast space it's a moment that stopped me in my tracks and made the whole visit worthwhile.


This show runs till the end of February at the MCA and will not travel in Australia. I think it has limited appeal, helped by having a context of who Yoko Ono is, but really has nothing new to say.    


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.