Here first time?

Some info you may want to read >>here. Plus some of my favourite links on the web >>here.

Samstag, Dezember 31, 2016

If there are no ups and downs in your life.....

it means you are dead.

 2016 In Retrospect


Another year already over again, well nearly. Time flies when you have a busy life as I do these days. Work life's mad, personal life was too mad this year, I can only hope for less stress next year.

I nevertheless managed to go to just over 100 shows this year with the last being the grand international tour of West Side Story (how I LOVE the (close to) original choreography, the cast was incredible, the music so well played and conducted), not bad considering certain circumstances.
It was a year of mainly decent shows. The number of new shows to discover was not too bad with going to London twice and a few new shows to see in Germany, but I avoided a lot of German theatres I must say as I get bored with the 100th (okay, a bit exaggerated) production of some shows. There is just so much to discover in most shows as much as I e.g. like La Cage Aux Folles.

Montag, Dezember 12, 2016

Delicious, delightful delicacies... but not the food.

Alexander Herrrmann's Palazzo "Delikatessen"

Nürnberg/Nuremberg, 12th November 2016 

 

The stuff I do to see special people perform.... Not much a fan of such shows as the whole package is often half-baked I nevertheless kinda had to go to see the wonderful Janko Danailow being part of the group of five singers performing throughout the show among the dinner and the acrobats.
With going on a three week vacation mid of November I combined a trip to Nuremberg with the start of my annual leave flying out of Frankfurt the day after...

Well, overall the current production of Nuremberg's Palazzo is decent, customer visitors' reaction is certainly largely positive, I though, having been to I do not know how many other variety shows thanks to a friend working in that business, while I enjoyed most acts, was not fully satisfied.

Not so much the acts, I prefer though them to be more show than acrobatic, especially the tissu number (since my friend is an excellent rope/tissu artist) felt rather unexciting.

Yes, the usual stuff was there, but it all felt too focused on getting the act technically 100% right, which is okay for a circus, but this is variety and the show element is just as important.

I was certainly more entertained at many other shows at the GOP theatres in Germany been pretty much to all, other similar shows including some here in Hamburg or the Tigerpalast in Frankfurt, THE address for variety in Germany.

Freitag, August 19, 2016

Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.

Der Medicus - Schlosstheater Fulda, season 2016 round up


Time flies at the moment. Really nearly two months ago that I saw "Der Medicus" for the first time? Since the run finishes in just over a week, am just to see it one last time this week, time for a round up since glad to have seen various castings I really want to mention.

I still have my issues with the show as outlined >>HERE but I decided to accept the show as it is. I do not get the most positive visitor reviews I read on pages as Eventim nor the press ones but I know that I am not your typical German musical visitor looking for a bit more than what I am given in most shows (one reason maybe why I love Sondheim while most other people in this country do not get his style).

Der Medicus Ensemble and Sabrina Weckerlin
Der Medicus ensemble - curtain call
I am not easily impressed by great choreos and stage sets when the story is nothing else but mediocre with its weak book and the average music, but again, I do not get this tacky cheesy music style, so popular in Germany (one reason maybe why, while nearly everywhere else Wildhorn shows are disastrous flops while they are decently popular over here underlining the bad taste we are so known for).

For me good story telling is a lot more important than a big fancy set - one reason why I love seeing fringe and small size theatre productions these days them usually leaving so much space for my own imagination and a lot more focus on the actual performances.

Saying this with the right casting 'Der Medicus' can certainly entertain and enchant these days.

Sonntag, Juli 03, 2016

He is the best physician who is the most ingenious inspirer of hope.

Der Medicus (The Physician) - Schlosstheater, Fulda, June 2016


Being able to see a doctor when sick is for a lot of us something rather normal these days. 
It certainly is in my home country and being someone myself who has been suffering from a lung disease for a while now I saw too many in last months.

But back many centuries with religion playing a (far too) important role it was not that simple.  And this is the time where writer Noah Gordon set the story of his novel he wrote in 1986.
Failing to find an audience in the US, it was a success over here in Europe despite rather negative professional reviews. 

It tells of the Christian English Rob Cole in the 11th century we meet as a boy for the first time who when grown up travels across Europe and Middle East in order to study medicine among the Persians in the city of Isfahan. 
He has the extraordinary gift of sensing whether someone will soon die by just touching their hands which is discovered when facing his parents' deaths.

Story as in the musical (some changes to novel - includes spoilers! as rest of post):

Donnerstag, Juni 30, 2016

And he showed me things, many beautiful things...

...that I hadn't thought to explore. [...] And he made me feel excited. Well, excited and scared.

Little Red Riding Hood - "I Know Things Now" 
from Sondheim's Into The Woods

Little Red Riding Hood - Grimm Festspiele, Hanau, 21st May 2016


Never thought I'd quote Sondheim for a family show but it suits the purpose as this Little Red Riding Hood (subsequently LRRH) ist nothing like I expected it to be.

Anyone who does not know the Grimm story and the character?

LRRH is the little girl with the red cape and everyone loves who is sent to her grandmother with a basket full of wine and cake having to walk through the forest where she meets the bad wolf not knowing who he is.
Getting distracted by him she decides to pick some flowers for her granny off the path and in the meantime the wolf rushes to the grandmother's house where he eats the grandmother and eventually when LRRH arrives her too. At the end both get rescued by a huntsman. End good all good.

Simple short story. And for me it is not the most exciting Grimm story, already as a child I was not much a fan of it. Yes, lovely girl, gets eaten by bad wolf and then is lucky to get rescued, no challenge, not much development but the message to never leave the path again (which may have suited the good old time but is just not appropriate any more these days).
How to turn that into an adventurous captivating story is IMHO quite a challenge, there is not a lot to the raw material.
But again Jan Radermacher, in his third year at the Grimm Festspiele (and now even deputy art director  of the festival - well done) manages to capture the Grimm spirit but adds substance and depth to it though at the same time adds funny entertaining moments as this version of LRRH is to be for the whole family so needs to appeal to children and adults at the same time.

Montag, Februar 01, 2016

One day in the country Is worth a month in town.

 Landeier - Packhaustheater Bremen January 2016


There are certain shows that I see the first and only time, there are shows I see once in a while and then there are these shows I see as much adoring them being close to my heart. 

One of these shows is Landeier - Bauern Suchen Frauen (read about prior visits >>here). Since seeing it the first time in Worpswede in May 2014 I have seen it about a dozen times. 

I went to Worpswede not expecting much but finally seeing Manuel Ettelt onstage again but at the end of the evening I left the theatre in awe of what I had just watched. 
For me the show delivers everything what I expect from a comedy - especially with the cast usually being as brilliant as possible.  

It was August last year when I learnt that there'd be a sequel premiering in Bremen in 2016.
While it still will be on in other theatres across the country, for the Knut Schakinnis' theatre group the shows in Bremen in January during a 3 weeks run just before the Landeier 2 opening would be (for the time being) the last ones so the moment I also learnt of the cast I knew I had to go not just once but twice  - and when the opening of Landeier 2 was postponed by a week and Landeier extended there were three shows to see and I would not have wanted to miss one of these having so much admiration for the cast.

Sonntag, Januar 31, 2016

Boy, I'm a victim of disappointment in you.

West Side Story - Theater Lübeck, 24th October 2015


It was end of June when I learnt that my beloved Thomas Christ would play Riff in this season's musical production of West Side Story at the rep theatre in Lübeck. A few days later I also learnt that Kai Bronisch would play Bernardo.

My reaction to both castings, despite liking both, was "you are kidding, right?". But at the end of week I had bought a ticket, not for the premiere, as there was no way I'd pay a ridiculous 69€ for not decent tickets but a week later at a still ridiculously high 63€ for a SUBSIDISED theatre production...


West Side Story is one of the greatest stage musicals. Full stop. When it comes to this musical there is no discussion for me. I have seen it I do not know how often. The last production was the beautiful Halle/Saale one (>>read here) I went to several times and since it is on this season as well I cannot wait to see it again.

Unfortunately I cannot say that about the Lübeck production which is most disappointing.

I am still wondering what reviewers and the audience around me that night saw in it I didn't see to rave about it or is it another case of me simply having seen so many different ones that I can compare unlike the ordinary rep theatre audience and the local press (which is too often bribed and/or told what to write (and yes I know that for sure)) who most probably see it once in their life and are avid opera visitors. Or maybe I simply have no clue as some performers I did not comment on positively before said (so if you are one of them, you better stop reading...).

What's another year?

2015 in retrospect


Time flies these days so that I have neglected the blog massively for the last months.
With a new job that does not leave much spare time as the old one, new hobbies, old hobbies rediscovered and still many (some would say too many) theatre visits there is not much time left to write/finalise blog posts. How often have I started a post to not finish it then as life took over - and I simply do not post something half finished.

2015 was a not too bad theatre year, though (new) highlights were small, "lowlights" fortunately too with just four to mention.

THE lowlight for me was seeing the last show of "Villa Sonnenschein" (read about it here at the Schmidt Theater. It is not the actual show, though since the cast on that night was lame, dullest Felix, dullest doctor, dullest Gustav, most horrible Melanie, it was not really that enjoyable but the encore with seeing people who had been with the show before but seeing that gem go and a shitty show as "Königs Vom Kiez" taking over its slot.

Well, the good thing is that I definitely have no reason any more to visit that theatre and spend a lot more time and money on shows and theatres where I am not treated as a nuisance when it is actually certain people being the problem.


Another lowlight was the low German version of "La Cage Aux Folles" at the Ohnsorg Theater here in Hamburg.
It got rave reviews, the guy playing Zaza even got an award from some local comp but sorry, anyone who had seen La Cage before would have been disappointed.
Not everything was wrong with it, the guy playing Jacob was brilliant, so was Hardy Rudolz as Georges but the production itself was lacking the heart and the drive e.g. the Menier Chocolate Factory production had with Zaza was way too trashy and simply OTT for me. Yes, it may have just been one part, but for me Zaza IS the show and that character is falling flat as here, the whole show just does not work properly.


Unfortunately the other show I saw at the Ohnsorg Theater, a low German version of my beloved "Landeier" was a disappointment as well. I never thought that the show could disappoint but with (unnecessary) changes made to the piece, particularly to the end, it often lost its wit, cleverness and its soul overloaded with ridiculous slapstick and farce played too often towards to the audience instead of interacting with each other. Particularly Markus Gillich as Jan was a total let-down - everything I love about that character, the geekiness, the nerdiness, that dopiness was all gone and filled with an attention seeking, pathetic and farcical character. People around me laughed but talking to the person next to me they had never seen another production before so they simply could not know how to direct it better....


That also applies to the poor production of West Side Story in Lübeck.
I love West Side Story having seen I do not know how many productions but this season's production is just so bad that I was not sure whether to laugh or cry.
I have no objection with modernising (slightly) some classic shows to show its relevance for current days but when it is done as in Lübeck it is a no go for me. And do not get me started on the poor casting. I am still trying to finish a post but I have difficulties to find the right words for so many wrong things with that show....


My absolute musical highlight in 2015 was the production of Gypsy at the Savoy Theatre in London with a most stunning Imelda Staunton as Mama Rose.
Can a performance be more perfect than hers? Can a production be more perfect than this? Can a theatre visit be more exciting and moving at the same time as this? Simple answer: hardly.
Imelda Staunton was not just simply playing the part, she was Mama Rose from top to toe.I really hope that it will be released on DVD after it was broadcast on British TV in December.

 

Another magnificent performance was Katie Brayben as Carole King in Beautiful. Normally not much a fan of such a show (Jersey Boys has same concept, cannot stand it much despite having seen it a few times due to some certain people in it), but not only Katie Brayben was amazing, so was the show having a splendid cast, it being well directed, designed... Utter perfection. 
And despite Katie Brayben having left already, I really want to see it again as no one else but the wonderful talented Cassidy Janson took over. 


I had seen "Thrill Me" and liked it before but just last year there was a production that totally capturing and engrossing - the one at the English Theatre here in Hamburg excellently staged with its incredible cast Sebastian Hill and Guy Woolf. Especially latter was mind blowing with his portrayal of Nathan Leopold feeling so real, so human and not feeling like an actor just playing the part.
I could not get enough of the show that I went several times during its two months' run feeling, despite never meeting the two in person, so connected with them living their dream.





That it does not need much but some excellent actors, a few props and a compelling story to impress me was also the case when seeing "American Psycho" in Bochum at the Rottstr 5 Theatre.
I mainly "just" went to see Felix Lampert in another play after I was rather impressed with his performance in this family show the year before. I do like the novel despite its controversy, am okay with the movie despite normally a fan of Christian Bale, but the production, based on both, redefined the piece being a lot more intense and less farce and satire focusing on the key elements of the story and not wasting time on moments not moving the story forward with some great effects created by light and set design.
Especially with an actor as Felix Lampert whose performances are some of the most vigorous ever seen, even the smallest move, the smallest gesture, the smallest look feels so true, so authentic, that you cannot help yourself but be totally mesmerised by him. There was not a moment when I could not take my eyes off him - I just did not want to risk missing something essential as little as it might have been. I was so exhausted at the end of the performance it being so emotionally draining (in a positive way).
But also his co-star Ronja Sczepanski taking over various other parts left an impression that I am hoping to see it again soon.


And last but not least I have to mention the BEAUTIFUL production of "Wie Im Himmel" at the Altonaer Theater, Hamburg based on the Swedish movie "Så som i himmelen". 
It rarely happens that every character in a performance feels perfectly cast, harmonising so well with each other, revealing the innermost essence of each giving enchanting performances with alone the last scene at end of act 1 when the superb Alice Wittmer and the rest of the cast perform the beautiful "Gabriellas sång" worth the visit - think I had never heard so much applause at an interval as at that play. 


That's for 2015, may 2016 bring a few more highlights having seen already two that certainly will make the shortlist....

Mittwoch, Mai 27, 2015

A Friend Is A Treasure, More Precious Than Gold.

For love shared is priceless, and never grows old.

Rumpelstilzchen (Rumpelstiltskin) 

Grimm Festspiele, Hanau, Germany, 23rd May 2015


Rumpelstiltskin is most probably one of the most well known Brothers Grimm fairytales.
After the character was already featured in last year's (slightly disappointing) show "Es War Einmal" (read about it >>here) and Hans B. Goetzfried playing him outplaying everyone else it was just a most logical decision to bring the actual Rumpelstiltskin story on stage.

And after debuting at the festival last year, directing the show mentioned above and writing another one it was Jan Radermacher's job not only writing the book but also the music AND directing the show (busy boy) - with Hans B. Goetzfried reprising the character - enough reasons for me to go to Hanau again.

Sonntag, Februar 22, 2015

Sunshine is a welcome thing. It brings a lot of brightness.

 Villa Sonnenschein - it's time to say goodbye and thank you


So this weekend is the weekend of the final "Villa Sonnenschein" shows.

Having seen it a lot since my first show in 2006 it is my most seen show these days. I blogged about it before a few times - read >>here. This is a just a round up and a final note.

I adore this little sweet and slightly silly show having many beautiful memories.  Most of the various cast members seen have been wonderful - from the original cast to the cast of the final season.

Thanks to the show and certain talented people in it I saw many others shows through which I discovered other talented people  - above all my first Felix - Jan Radermacher.