I went to the Chelsea Flower Show this year. I think I’ve only ever been once before, a long time ago. I did enjoy it, though it was very busy and noticeably expensive to get in.
I wandered round for hours, looking at stuff, eating, buying things – most notably a little picture of seven sparrows from the ‘Moorcroft’ stall. (John would have liked it – see Sparrows.)
The main thing that struck me about the show was how different it actually feels to be there, compared to how it appears on the television programmes. Of course they film when it’s quiet, but I think a lot of close ups and careful angles are employed to give an impression that the show gardens are bigger, there are far more flowers and beautiful vistas in general, and far fewer people!
Very pleased to find there was a shuttle bus right outside the exit which went to Victoria station, though, as it was an exhausting day.
Wow! How amazing to have found so many men who are young and attractive and physically hunky, who can sing (albeit with light/show and not operatic voices), dance and have the good British English Gilbert & Sullivan needs.
Interesting to hear different male voice types, from low voices through light tenor to falsetto/countertenor.
The guy doing Buttercup stood out as very confident and with such perfect diction.
I found the idea at the end of people shedding their ‘camp’ accessories and rubbing off their make-up – sort of going back to the real world – strangely moving.
Considering the ticket price, disappointed it was only with piano and not orchestra – a bit amateurish.
Not even an attempt to vary the set eg after the interval – pretty basic.
Two people holding a rope to portray a ship’s rail is a nice simple production idea and is clever once – but boring repeatedly.
The falsetto voices don’t really work in chorus – the mixed ensembles seemed weak.
I was expecting a touch of the traditional updating of words to reflect current affairs, especially in the current climate, but it didn’t happen. Maybe it’s only done in The Mikado.
Overall really enjoyed it and would recommend the show.
It had never appealed to me before, I had assumed it would be mocking a religion, and so would be uncomfortable to watch and more cringe-worthy.
In fact it was… I can hardly put it into words. Very clever, very deep. Somehow hitting an exact mid point, so you’re mocking and you’re not mocking at the same time, you’re questioning but accepting at the same time, you’re using caricature characters, but knowingly.
I can’t believe that such heavy, serious issues (one in particular which a few years ago would never have been mentioned anywhere, never mind on a West End stage) manage to get tackled so frankly and openly, and yet thoughtfully and sensitively, in the context of a humorous musical.
It was utterly absorbing.
I love obviously predictable, theatrical moments. The lights go out and you know there’ll be a surprise when they come on again – you’re not disappointed. You know the ‘play’ the natives put on for the senior guy is going to be outrageous – it’s enjoyable to anticipate it.
The casting seemed spot on perfect – the young girl lead was fantastic, the way she looked and her acting in particular, but great voice as well.
I suppose it’s not one to take your puritanical mother to – it needs a modern, intelligent, thoughtful, liberal audience.
Marks out of ten for general enjoyment/entertainment value: 9
Took a while to get into it, at the beginning I thought it was too ‘kiddy’ and was annoyed that some of the words were unclear, but by the end, was full of admiration for the child cast.
Enjoyed the singing and particularly the acting of the woman in the ‘good teacher’ role – the way she stayed in character and kept appropriate expressions, eg even while dancing in the ballroom dance number.
Having been in a few workshops myself where they talk about ‘show’ rather than ‘tell’, I thought there were some very good examples of ‘show’ moments in her acting – simple things like keeping her hands held at her sides and hunching her shoulders to show she is timid and afraid and cowering; simple body positions and gestures can speak so loud on stage.
Some nice staging moments eg the ‘girl’ falling from the ceiling, the surprise lasers, the swings.
Music not particularly striking or memorable.
As with many shows (I’m becoming an expert) I thought the middle of the second act got a bit too turgid/dark/serious/boring.
I didn’t know the story going in and heard children talking about the fact she does magic and has special powers, so in a way was disappointed that that didn’t develop as much as expected. (I’ve read the book now – bought it at the theatre – the story in the book is more coherent).
In general, at the start I thought it would be a 5/10 at most but by the end I felt I’d really enjoyed it, so say 8/10.
Best choreographed curtain call I’ve ever seen, with the scooters – it was nice to be surprised with this simple but effective idea.
Marks out of ten for general enjoyment/entertainment value: 8
I had never seen this show advertised anywhere and I notice it’s not in the main listings for some reason; I chanced upon it when a tube station was closed once and I ended up trying to catch a bus nearby.
I love going into things with no idea what to expect, and other than the implications from the title and the few pictures outside, I didn’t know what it would be about.
I thought it was fantastic, really really good musically, a great pleasure.
I am obviously behind the times because I didn’t realise until afterwards that the main lead was a famous X Factor person, Matt Cardle. This enabled me to form a judgement just based on his performance, rather than having an expectation from a famous person – and I thought he was vocally and acting-wise excellent.
Also the main woman is very well known and previously played Whitney Houston in another musical; this gives you an idea of the type of music and the type of singing – the type of ‘modern’, jazzy, florid singing I could never do.
There were some ‘dark’ scenes – maybe this is a prerequisite of shows, that they can’t be all pure froth and happiness – and of course the main theme and setting were serious. But I found it all very entertaining and well done.
Bought the CD and have been listening afterwards.
Absolutely love the idea of the guy who never speaks, but then at a crucial moment (so pleasingly predictably – you’d have been disappointed if it didn’t happen!), finds his voice – and it’s a brilliant voice and a lovely song.
Sort of sad that it’s not a 100% happy ending, but I guess more realistic.
Marks out of ten for general enjoyment/entertainment value: 9
Strong leading voices, wouldn’t have guessed that I was seeing the two stand-ins; interesting that someone can have a ‘show voice’ as well as having the high classical notes
Good staging/effects – the dragon, the lighting
Good dancing and costumes – especially the main ‘Emerald City’ numbers
As I’d hoped, a much more straightforward and accessible story (at least in the first act) than the book, which I found weird and dark and disappointing
Enjoyed not being familiar with the music, so it’s all new – not a single song I’d ever heard before
Music slightly atonal/’Britten’-like in places, but some wonderful affecting chords eg at end of company numbers
Nice how it ties in with the film towards the end, ie tin man and scarecrow
Best line, when Glinda is beside a semblance of the yellow brick road and says, ‘I do hope they find their way, I’m no good at giving directions’ (humorous because the song repeats over and over, ‘follow the yellow brick road’, ie the simplest directions possible)
Pleasing to see a large woman among the dance cast
Second act lost its way, too long and gets boring, story becomes unclear – what’s the Wizard’s agenda? Does she succeed in rescuing all the animals? Is she really good or evil?
I heard someone say afterwards, ‘I don’t understand how she died’ – you need to know the film for that, and they should emphasise the significance of water, you can miss that
Found the penultimate sentiment between the two women too ‘cloying’
Using the ‘is this a show I’d like to bring my mother to?’ test – during the first act I was thinking yes, during the second act, no – so I’ve marked it down to 7 out of 10 because the second act was too heavy/confusing and less spectacular
Marks out of ten for general enjoyment/entertainment value: 7
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