Weekly Photo Challenge: Simple

“Fresh, warm bread. What is there like fresh, warm bread?

So say the villagers in Stephen Schwartz’s musical The Baker’s Wife, a lovely show which I was involved with in 2006. With Charming On-Stage (Ex)-Lover, over at Better Offer? funnily enough.

The line, “Plain and simple. Simple and plain. Water, salt and flour”, sung by the Baker when describing the delights of a freshly baked loaf to his new wife, was the first thing that came to mind when I saw this week’s challenge.  Shame the song – featured on the Original London Cast recording –  was cut from subsequent productions of the show due to its similarity with another song sung by the Baker – Merci Madame.

This loaf (alas, not baked by me) could have been described using many of the superlatives uttered in the show to describe freshly baked bread – “And that crust is really / pure temptation / perfect shape / perfect size / thrills the nose / fills the eyes / stomach juicing / drool inducing / flawless / wondrous…”

Especially when served for lunch with a variety of cheeses and caramelised onion chutney – yummy…

 

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What would Linus make of Slindon’s Great Pumpkin Patch?

The village of Slindon is just a short stroll away from where I live. OK, the most direct route dices with death across the busy A27 trunk road, but is the quickest route into the National Trust woodland. Safer, although longer, is the route through Fontwell village, taking the underpass to reach the woods.

At the top of the village is the now famous Slindon Pumpkins, where every autumn over 80 varieties of squash and pumpkin form an impressive display for locals and visitors alike, as seen on BBC’s Countryfile on 23 October.

Here’s a few pictures of this year’s display:

And a special mention must go to this interpretative piece of modern art on display from a Year 1 pupil at the local school. Amidst the brightly coloured pumpkin paintings, there was a single piece of yellow-painted A4 paper with the caption, “I couldn’t fit the edges of the pumpkin on the page. I was too close to the pumpkin.” Brilliant.

I will leave you with the lyrics of ‘The Vigil’ from Snoopy: The Musical. On Halloween, Linus, along with a reluctant Snoopy, awaits the arrival of the Great Pumpkin during “The Vigil” in the pumpkin patch.

“One pumpkin patch looks an awful lot like any other…”

Me as Sally Brown with Linus in Snoopy: the Musical in the Theatre Tent at Guilfest'08

 

I wonder what Linus would make of Slindon’s pumpkin patch?

On My Own, but not Misérables

Home alone tonight. Well, nearly…

Daughter of Mine is on a charity sleepover at school to raise money for the local hospice; such a worthy cause – but I pity the poor teachers – ‘Lovely Ladies’ – who are supervising 21 over-excited ‘Little People’ at what is very nearly the end of their time in primary school.

The ‘Master of the House’ – Husband of Mine – is out gigging with The Renegade Dogs – who incidentally now have a brand new kennel at http://www.therenegadedogs.com

So that left me tonight with a rare evening with Son of Mine who was delighted to have me all to himself, mainly so that I could put some more songs on his iPod. Now, his music tastes are quite eclectic, ranging from folk inspired by The Renegade Dogs, through classic rock (Queen), pop (The Saturdays), country (Taylor Swift), instrumental film themes (John Williams), and of course all manner of musical theatre forced upon introduced to him by Yours Truly.

Added to his playlist tonight were the complete recordings of Anything Goes, Grease, The Pirates of Penzance and Into the Woods, plus selected songs by Kander & Ebb (‘Coffee in a Cardboard Cup’ and ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman’). He also wanted the entire soundtrack of Les Misérables, presumably because he’s just seen a production Daughter of Mine and I were in that included some of the songs.

Before long, we were searching YouTube for clips to answer his questions about the show and came across lots of Lego animation versions – not quite what I had in mind, but of course these went down a treat with Son of Mine! The one we watched actually provided a great potted version of the story –

A friend of Mine, ‘Streets’, saw the first performance given by Alfie Boe and Matt Lucas last month – part of the most significant cast change in many years. She loved it so much this time round that she’s already booked to see their last night in November. I’m not in the least bit jealous, not at all, not one bit – even though it is 20 years since I last saw the show on stage – well, ok, I am, just a teeny tiny (huge) bit.

‘At The End of the Day’, if watching Lego animations and syncing the music to iPods manages to stir up a bit of pressure from Children of Mine to book tickets then maybe I’ll be there sooner, rather than later, to ‘…Hear the People Sing’.

Improvised musicals

I start this post with an apology.

To the group of 40 or so students from the University of Virginia who contacted me last year about a new project they were working on – an online musical on YouTube, that would be developed weekly with help from viewers’ comments and suggestions.

Sorry that I didn’t watch it when I was supposed to. In September.

My only defence is that I was still recovering from the after-effects of my involvement in last September’s 24-hour musical (which incidentally, turned out to be Stephen Schwartz’s Pippin), oh, and that they contacted me on what happened to be the eve of my birthday, so I’m sure there was something incredibly exciting going on. Not.

Anyway, only six months late, I tuned in. Of course, the whole audience participation thing is over, so I have no way of knowing whether any of my suggestions would have influenced the final piece.

Episode One of The Online Musical made me smile. In a good way, so I will be watching Episode 2, hopefully sooner than Christmas. I’m not going to get into a long review here, frankly I should have done this in September for it to count, but for the record, I enjoyed what I saw – a bunch of enthusiastic people (all noticeably younger than me) making a musical out of the idea that life really is a musical. Which is what I and many of my musical theatre friends actually believe should happen anyway.

Coming soon is the group’s next project, The Mini Musicals, a series of 10-15 minute musicals based on topics suggested by their audience – that could be you and me! Anyway, I will try to follow in a timely manner this Spring, and I wish them luck as the project unfolds…

… incidentally, I’m seeing Showstopper! The Improvised Musical at the lovely Theatre by the Lake in Keswick at the weekend, so maybe I’ll pick up some ideas?!

June is bustin’ out all over..

To be fair, the title of this post is misleading.  I’m not doing, and never have done, a production of ‘Carousel’, despite it being my favourite Rogers & Hammerstein musical.   No, the pertinent words from the title of this post are ‘all over’. 

June has quite literally passed me by in a haze of barn dances, backstage duties for ‘Annie Get Your Gun’, two luxurious weekends at home on my own without The Family, a summer ball, two summer fairs and an intensive six-week rehearsal period for a production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ that opened last night.

The door of my fridge says it all…

I wish I could say that Children of Mine did this. I can’t.  I did it. A lot of it was up there already, but I got bored today, so just ‘tidied’ it up, okay? And I ran out of letters for Husband of Mine’s next gig with The Renegade Dogs – hence just “dad in doG Gig”.  Can’t be helped… I needed the letters for the musicals.

Anyway, in case you’re interested, dear Reader:

Jesus Christ Superstar plays until Saturday 2nd July at the Alexandra Theatre, Bognor Regis. Tickets are still available for this fantastic production, with all proceeds going directly to the theatre.

The Little Sisters of Poughkeepsie are returning to Guilfest 2010 to entertain you in The Man in the Moon Theatre Tent with their brand new show, ‘Nuns Get One Over the Rainbow’. 

Look out for them around the festival too – last year they were seen disco dancing in the ’70s tent, running a tombola, on the top deck of the Pimms bus, and getting tattooed…

Finally, you’d do well to forget to feed the plants this year when you go on holiday – check out what could happen if you indulge them by coming along to the Arundel Players Festival production of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’.

Little Shop of Horrors

At this rate my next post will be in September…

Oh and by the way, The Renegade Dogs will be at The Elmer pub on 23rd July!

I’m not saying a word…

“Last night I dreamt I was in a theatre. On the table there was a box. It seemed to be full of presents.  Wrapped.  I couldn’t be sure.  Are they presents? I said.  We pulled off the Christmas wrapping and they weren’t presents but clues…”

Mary.  Linda.  Linda.  Mary.  MaryLinda.  MaryLin.  MariLyn.  Marilyn Munroe.   A 24 hour character crisis.

Then, “Suddenly everything makes sense; in fact it’s triplets…”.  No.  This time it was twins.  And not Mary’s, someone else’s.

Mickey and Tony were in the dream.  And Simon and Eddie.  Caroline, Donna Marie, MaryAbi, ‘B’, ‘Streets’, ‘PinkUkelele’ – were all there too, together with unfamiliar faces, who by the end of the dream, were like old friends because we had been bound together by a shared experience.  Sammy was there, but not Sam – how could she be with her head down the toilet?  Charming On Stage Lover was there too, but only fleetingly as the doctor I remember him to be; then he would appear with a crate of milk in his hands; but most of the time he had to be uncharacteristically cold, distant and unfeeling.

Artist Masquerading as a Manager enters centre stage with Liverpool-inspired paintings.  A funfair.  Beads and bleachers and colored lights. As if she already knew.

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 Artwork © Joanne Webb

They were young, free and innocent – three good friends. Mickey, Eddie and Linda – “she’s a girl, but she’s all right.”  But is the couple in the picture Mickey and Linda? Or Linda and Eddie?

It could have been either. And yet they both died – the two clowns, who could and did get their lines right. Leaving Linda alone.

Bring the curtain down. Until September.  Because other people’s words said it all…

Learn a musical and perform it 24 hours later? But which one?

4.10am – I am kept awake by Husband of Mine tossing and turning.  He is awake, knowing that he needs to get up at 5.30am to catch a flight to Guernsey for a meeting.

5.30am – I hear the alarm go off, but fall asleep again without too much trouble.

7.58am – I wake, hear the faint sound of the television from downstairs, and realise happily that Son of Mine has, for once, obeyed my instructions to the letter:

“Do not under any circumstances, unless there is a crisis which you cannot resolve yourself, wake me up any earlier than 8.00am.  Especially if it is just to ask if you can go downstairs and watch TV before breakfast. I am giving you permission in advance to do exactly that.”

“But can I come in and whisper to you?”

“No, because whispering still wakes me up, and I need as much sleep as possible because I will be awake from the second I wake on Friday morning, until I am able to go to bed on Saturday night, because of the 24 hour musical.” 

So today is the beginning of that sleep-deprived period of my life.   Tonight at 7.30pm I will embark (no clues there, we’ve done sailors with white trousers) on the sixth 24 hour musical that I have been involved in.

For anyone out there who hasn’t the foggiest what I’m on about, let me explain:

Quite a few years ago, Husband of Mine was contemplating a job move. To Guernsey. As with the other of his potential job moves that have been contemplated over the years, my immediate thoughts turn to theatre – is there one in the vicinity of the said job location; will I find like-minded theatrical individuals who are prepared to throw everything into their hobby; are the groups that already exist in the area competent and unafraid to take a risk on shows that aren’t run of the mill G&S or Rodgers & Hammerstein (not that there’s anything wrong with either partnership, just not all the time).

So in my detailed research of Guernsey (and in case you were worried about my lack of interest, I did also research education and housing), I came across Guernsey Youth Theatre and the production that they were working on during that very weekend of my research in 2004 – Bugsy Malone – learnt and rehearsed in 24 hours without sleep for cast and crew alike.  Read more about GYT’s 24 musicals here – you can also find them on Facebook.

Brilliant! I thought.  I know who would be interested in a similar venture.   I have been in many productions over the last 20 or so years with a talented local director who loves, to the point of bordering on obsession, musicals. Director Who Thinks Life is a Musical is also a fan of short rehearsal periods and quirky ideas so who better to pit the idea of staging our own version of the 24 hour challenge to?  In the summer of 2004, I was in her production of By Jeeves, so mentioned the Guernsey set up to her one day in the pub.

The following Spring, the first 24 hour musical, to my knowledge, to be attempted in Sussex, emerged, blinking in wonderment like a newborn, into Sussex theatreland’s consciousness.  The chosen show was a closely guarded secret until 7.30pm on the night of Friday 1 April (April Fool’s Day – how fitting!), when Director Who Thinks Life is a Musical played the opening bars of – The Sound of Music!  Quickly, this in itself was revealed to be the April Fool – and after 24 hours of rehearsal, set making and painting, and a lot of laughter, tears and the inevitable ups and downs, we staged Hot MikadoFollow the link for a few photos – alas, not of me as I’m always the one with the camera – but believe me when I say I was definitely in it.

The rest, as they say,  is history.  Probably no one involved with this year’s musical knows where the idea came from; Director Who Thinks Life is a Musical has almost certainly forgotten that conversation with me back in 2004.  All credit to her though for making the idea into a reality, I’m just pleased (in a masochistic way) to have been a part of the first, and all subsequent 24 hour productions to date: Grease, Snoopy! The Musical; Dames at Sea; West Side Story and the as yet unknown musical for April 2010.

And so back to tonight’s reveal… which musical will it be this year?  A few clues or potential red herrings have surfaced in the past couple of weeks:

My costume list gives nothing away – jeans, trainers, a plain coloured top, black heels, white shirt and leggings.

But I have been asked for a dark coloured coat – specifically the one I borrowed from a friend for the final scene of The Memory of Water – a black swing style coat with a fur collar.

Someone else has been asked for a blazer.

Eight chairs.

It apparently contains some swearing.  I found this out some weeks ago, when asking if it would be suitable for Children of Mine to see.

And my hair in bunches – hmmm.

Only tonight will tell whether these were indeed real clues – albeit unhelpful ones.