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Mr Gove

Paul Bernal's Blog

Mr Gove Cover

Mr Gove was extraordinarily arrogant.

Painfully arrogant.

He believed that he knew how everything should be done. He believed that everyone else in the world was stupid and ignorant.

The problem was, Mr Gove himself was the one who was ignorant.

Mr Gove Close up

He got most of his information from his own, misty, memory.

He thought he remembered what it had been like when he had been at school – and assumed that everyone else’s school should be the same.

He remembered the good things about his own school days, and thought that everyone should have the same.

He remembered the bad things about his own school days, and thought that it hadn’t done him any harm – and that other children should suffer the way that he had.

Mr Gove Super Close up

He got other information by reading newspapers.

The problem was, he read the wrong newspapers.

He read the ones that told stories that…

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Glee – You Can’t Stop The Beat

New series of Glee means a whole load of new Glee covers.  The first episode of the new series ended with, quite possibly, the best cover Glee have ever done.  The opening is just a fantastic take on it.  As well as a jazzy ‘Ding Dong the Witch is Dead’ from Wizard of Oz and a show stopping ‘Anything You Can Do’ Glee started with a musical extravaganza.

Here’s You Can’t Stop The Beat from Hairspray.

 

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From the Archive of sorts…. Matilda The Musical

As many of you are aware, the RSC is bringing Matilda the Musical to the West End in the next few weeks with it opening on the 18th October.  I was lucky enough to see it a couple of times when it was at Stratford last Christmas.  The first time I saw it prompted me to write this mammoth blog about it.  It’s not really a review and might be a bit spoilery at times.  

So I thought, to continue the theme of Matilda posts I seem to be going through at the moment I’d share this with you! 

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So, last night I trundled along to Stratford-upon-Avon to visit the RSC’s Courtyard Theatre for the third performance of their Christmas show, Matilda, The Musical.

Boasting music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, a book by Dennis Kelly and based on one of Roald Dahl’s most loved stories the show is promising from the outset.  And to be honest, by the time 10:05pm came along and the show ended, I still wanted more!!

As the show is still in the preview stage there may well be a few changes before it officially opens, but as it stands the show is almost flawless.  The performance I saw had Adrianna Bertola in the title role of Matilda.  At only 11 years old she carries the whole show on her shoulders and has a huge amount of responsibility to ensure that the audience are involved in the story at all times.  She also has the almighty role of telling a heart wrenching story to the librarian, Mrs Phelps (played be Melanie La Berrie) about a…. well that will give it away, but the story forms the main sub plot of the show.  Talking about Mrs Phelps, she is like the grandmother Matilda yearns for and is the warm Caribbean older lady we all know.

 

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Those familiar with the book will be aware that Matilda’s family don’t really care about Matilda.  In the show Mr Wormwood, her dad played fantastically by Paul Kaye (better known to some as Dennis Pennis) is the victim to the pranks set up by Matilda and uses his comedic background to full advantage throughout the whole production – including the interval…. (don’t take too long getting your merchandise in the interval.) Mrs Wormwood (Josie Walker) is now a wannabe champion dancer and her dancing partner Rudolpho (Matthew Malthouse) is an addition to the story.  Rudolpho is an interesting addition.  He has a welcome purpose to occupy Mrs Wormwood and make her more of a character, but he does seem to outstay his welcome a little bit towards the end.  However Mrs Wormwood and Rudolpho do perform a song called ‘Loud’ which is, as you can imagine, loud and is very different to the tone of the rest of the show.  A slight disappointment to the Wormwood family is Michael.  It’s been a while since I read the book but I remember him as, though not very clever, very eager to follow in his dad’s footsteps. In the show though he becomes very Kevin the Teenager-esque but with tourettes… 

One thing that never disappoints however is Bertie Carvel as Miss Trunchbull.  From Miss Trunchbull’s first appearance to the character’s (I don’t want to call Miss Trunchbull her or him!) downfall, Carvel is a domineering force to be reckoned with.  Miss Honey, however, is the complete opposite.  Played by (the sometimes spitting image of Meryl Streep) Lauren Ward she is sweet (as her cottage says), caring, and completely innocent.  Ward has an amazing voice and she portrays any emotion that Minchin’s songs convey and is so utterly believable.  Having done a lot of character work between the two teachers in many job interviews (for those that don’t know I’m a primary teacher) I could identify every trait that the characters have.  

 

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The children in the show are all amazing! Considering it was the third preview, and there are three sets of children it is quite possible that the performance I saw was the first time they had performed.  The role of Bruce, the chocolate cake eating lad was played by Kuan Frye.  Bruce has a much bigger role in the musical and this is a very good thing!! One of the funniest moments comes from Bruce just moments before the famous chocolate cake eating moment…. all I shall say is watch the purple spot…. Also Lavender, Matilda’s best friend is unbelievably cute! I think I saw Ruby Bridle as Lavender (I’m not too sure though – would be good if the RSC could number the children’s casts as 1 2 and 3 and say which is performing and make it known in the program which group which child is in but that’s just me being picky).  Think Tiffany Butcher in EastEnders and that was Lavender. 

Reading the bios of the child cast there are some very seasoned young people.  There is one who was in the best film of last year, Nativity! There’s Jake Pratt, a regular on the Paul O Grady show and lots of former Mary Poppins, Oliver and Chitty children.  The whole cast are fantastic and the older members work alongside the younger seamlessly.

 

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Tim Minchin has written some fantastic songs for the show.  The opening number showcases the children from the outset, Miss Honey’s songs show the character at her best and the big ensemble numbers really help carry the story along.  He also challenges the young actors.  The second number of the show, and Matilda’s first song is called ‘Naughty’.  It’s a lengthy song and Matilda is literally the only person on the stage for the whole song.  It’s a fantastic song and channels Matilda’s thoughts and reasons behind doing her pranks on her father.  The staging of the songs also help to stress how good Michin’s work is.  For example ‘The Smell of Rebellion’ which involves lots of gym mats and other equipment is then suddenly frozen for the amazingly, lyrically complicated for anyone yet alone an 11 year old, ‘Quiet’.  However, the song that has stuck in my head (maybe more so as its the song on the preview video I posted yesterday) is the song ‘When I Grow Up’ which opens Act 2. It’s good when sung by Minchin but so much better when sung by the cast.

 

One of the challenges that the story brings to those bringing it to the stage is the magic and the Trunchbull punishments.  You’ll be glad to hear that Lavender is still thrown, the cake still eaten and that the glass of water still tips.  However, although the chalk still moves… (and I can’t write anymore about that – I still want to be able to go to the theatre!)  The design is fantastic.  Quentin Blake’s illustrations have been a key feature to the design.  Miss Trunchbull IS Miss Trunchbull from the book.  Mr Wormwood has the ugly suit and the hair from the book and Blake even designed the school badges that adorn he school gates and blazers of the uniforms.  The set is covered in scrabble pieces with those around the orchestra having musical notes.  The sets are very ‘square’ like scrabble tiles, and words play a large part in the design.  The lighting works fantastically – especially during Matilda’s story to Miss Phelps which, when it reaches it’s conclusion has a fantastic piece of… (once again I’m not going to say!).

 

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Kelly has written a fantastic adaptation that suits Minchin’s music and lyrics perfectly.  The design fits right in and the choreography is challenging (sometimes very Spring Awakening) but perfect.  There are a couple of minor issues – the last song takes a while to work and is sung by a brand new character which is kind of nodded to throughout so it doesn’t seem so important, which is a pain as it *is* the last song (they should sing When I Grow Up after they bow to remind us how good it is!) And I felt a tiny bit let down by the chalk… However it is a brilliant show.  I had goosebumps throughout, a smile across my face for pretty much all of it apart from the sad bits, and thinking about it today it is still fairly fresh in my mind (and I have a bad memory!)

It’s not quite a 10 out of 10, but too good to be a 9 out of 10 so I guess its about 9.8 out of 10.  If you can get to the Courtyard Theatre in Stratford then make a date to go see Matilda, The Musical.   However, if you have a phobia of swings don’t sit in the first couple of rows.

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Cooo-eeee

Hey everybody!

Had a bit of a summer break, but now that the wind and rain is battering at the windows I thought I’d better make a return.  Sadly my summer wasn’t filled with theatrical delights, apart from the one stunning evening in which I got to see Singin’ In The Rain at Chichester’s Chichester Festival Theatre.  If you follow my twitter you’ll have seen a very brief review which simply stated that it was fantastic – but I will explain why in a future blog.

So after spending my summer away from the red velvet curtains and the plush purple seats of the theatre, I’m preparing myself for several delights over the coming month or two.  I’m hoping to make it to an amateur production of Just So at the Arena Theatre in Wolverhampton (cast your mind back to my underrated blog a while back), seeing the touring production of Evita when it visits the Birmingham Hippodrome, and seeing the Judy Garland biopic End Of The Rainbow.  I will also be venturing down to London to attend a very special concert at the Royal Albert Hall by Idina Menzel and while visiting London will probably go see Ghost The Musical to get over my obsession.  I’ll also be venturing down to Chichester again in October to see Micheal Ball’s Sweeney Tood.  I’m also hoping to make it to the tour of Legally Blonde, the opening of The Crescent Theatre’s new season with Talking Heads, and if I’m able to find the time, the world premiere produciton of Top Hat at the Hippodrome.  

As long as I don’t forget the password (again) and don’t break my computer (my laptop went to PC Heaven over the summer) I hope to keep this blog updated regularly and with continuation of the features I started way back when… If you have any suggestions feel free to send my way (and that includes if you can get my hands on any nice, free, tickets!!)

 

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Book of Mormon – I Believe

I’ve been listening to Book of Mormon on Spotify recently – and it’s inspiring a new blog, so in the meantime a video from the Tony’s performance of ‘I Believe’.

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Underrated: Just So by Stiles & Drewe

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Based on Kipling’s Just So stories, Stiles & Drewe wrote an awesome musical following the elephant’s child on his quest to find out why the crab plays with the sea.  Along the way he help’s the zebra get her stripes, the giraffe get her spots, the kangaroo get his big legs and the rhino his saggy skin – as well as helping a few other animals.

Taking the form of an old magician telling the story to a child, the show starts with all the animals collecting a case with their name on who we meet along the journey.  A journey with a number of memorable songs.  The first time I saw this show at the Chichester Festival Theatre in 2004 it became a favourite and I saw the production several times.  I’ve only seen one other production, a young Rep production in Birmingham which managed to compete well with the professional production in Chichester.  The Chichester production also produced the soundtrack album for the show.  John Barrowman appears on the soundtrack but wasn’t in the production, however Julie Artherton who has gone onto huge success in Avenue Q and Portrait of a Princess and in the coming month, Sister Act the Musical starred as the Kolokolo Bird. 

I can’t exactly pinpoint why Just So is a favourite of mine.  I think it caught me a time in my life where a traditional, funny, family-esque musical was needed.  When I first saw it I would have been deep in A Level revision and exams and I remember going to supervise some younger members of the youth theatre at Chichester.  Then using my youth theatre membership I managed to see it several times for very cheap or free with a number of different people and seeing how they reacted to it helped make it so memorable.  There was talk when it was in Chichester of it going to London and to a bigger audience but that sadly didn’t happen.  I would love to see a new production or even be involved with a new production… but that might be a long time away.

Just So is an awesome, yet underrated musical.  Here is one of my favourite songs from the show ‘The Limpopo River’:

 

 

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Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark

I have just come across this extended preview of the infamous Spider-Man musical and I have to say…. I would like to see it!  Saying that really surprises me, but it looks spactacular now they’ve had several months to iron out the difficulties and redo a large proportion of the script.  However I must say that the second song they feature looks more like a monsters gay bar than a number in a Spider-Man musical.  I love the look of the set and how the comic book aspect plays such a strong part, from the camera to the set.  The above video you can’t watch here but follow the link on the video to YouTube – it’s worth while.

To make up for the follow the link on the video, here’s a performance of ‘Rise Above’.  Enjoy!

 

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Ghost the Musical Soundtrack Preview

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So today the twitter of the new musical based on the smash hit film Ghost, Ghost the Musical, revelaed that at noon their facebook page was going to have something special appearing.

Pictures? Videos? Nope.  Instead a preview of the soundtrack album.  Not just a couple of tracks but the whole thing.

Now, I was’t too fussed about this show.  But seeing some pictures and videos pipped up my interest.  Now that I’ve listened to the soundtrack (4 or 5 times now….) I really want to see it.

 

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