Archives for posts with tag: Shakespeare

…still I’m clean’.

I had to just finish off the lyric of that title because it could easily be confused as a regular statement. That wouldn’t be very me now would it? It’s actually a line from Duncan Sheik’s new musical ‘American Psycho’ and it has been repeating in my head since I saw the show on Saturday. It seemed, almost poetically, coincidental that the final musical I saw in 2013 contained a lyric that would lead me into my final post of the year so I just had to use it.

As the curtain came down on the final piece of theatre I saw this year I turned to my friend Adam – who was a regular 2013 theatre buddy of mine – and said: “Best thing I’ve seen this year”. Adam was quick to say that that was a huge statement coming from me considering the amount of things I’ve seen this year. It’s true, it was a huge sweeping statement, but it popped out of my decisive mouth and I don’t just think it was just because of the adrenaline rush Act II had given me. ‘Mojo’ had stolen the 2013 theatrical crown.

“But Ridout, what about ______, _______, and, not forgetting, _______!?”*

*I’d be interested to know what shows you’d fill those blanks with. Go to the bottom of the blog post to use a contact form to tell me!

I’ve since had a few days to reflect on everything else I’ve seen this year and I thought I’d let you know what my favourites were. I’ll admit that my pen hovered a lot as I tried to write down definitive favourites. In the end I had to break it down into more categories (including making a few up) and most have a shared top spot between two pieces. It would seem my decisive brain – declaring ‘Mojo’ the best – from Saturday couldn’t do the same thing whilst recalling the 80+ things I’ve seen this year.

So, here are Ridout’s 2013 favourites:

Shakespeare: ‘Othello’ at the National Theatre and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at the Globe

Plays: ‘Mojo’ at the Harold Pinter and ‘Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’ at the Apollo

Musical Revival: ‘Merrily We Roll Along’ at the Menier Chocolate Factory/Harold Pinter

Solo?: Liza Minnelli at the Royal Festival Hall and Patti LuPone & Seth Rudetsky at the Leicester Square Theatre

Regional: ‘Sweeney Todd’ at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and ‘Putting It Together’ at Glive

Musical: ‘The Color Purple’ at the Menier Chocolate Factory and ‘American Psycho’ at the Almedia

Performances: Cynthia Erivo for ‘The Color Purple’ and Rosalie Craig for ‘The Light Princess’

It took me a lot of strength to not create a mini Ridout award nominations list and put more pieces down. I’ve been ruthless. I’ve been lucky to see a lot of incredible theatre this year. Luckily for you too, you still have the chance to see a few of the pieces in my above list in the new year. Therefore, your theatrical to-do list for 2014 should be: Mojo, American Psycho, The Light Princess, Putting It Together (which is opening at the St James soon), Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (when the Apollo is back in good health) and Merrily We Roll Along is also available to watch on Digital Theatre.

As a bonus category, I can’t ignore the fact that a significant portion of my theatrical visits this year have been to different drama schools to see their graduating year’s productions. I think it’s so important to see what the upcoming year of talent is like and you also get to see West End worthy performances, sometimes of some rarely seen pieces, for a fraction of the price. What is not to love? I would highly recommend making a few trips to see some student productions in 2014 – they’ve got some exciting seasons coming up. My drama school categories would be:

Best Production: ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman’ at Arts Educational Schools London

Best Performance: (in case you missed her name in the theatrical news) Mollie Melia-Redgrave in ‘Evita’ at Arts Educational Schools London and Scott Paige in ‘The Producers’ at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. Two names well worth a look out for in the future.

Considering all of the above I think I can safely say that my statement declaring ‘Mojo’ the best thing I’ve seen this year was a huge sweeping statement and I’ll retract it – all the above are equal in my eyes! It is also safe to say that 2013 was a pretty impressive year for theatre. There were record breaking revivals, box office smashing shows, we celebrated 50 years of the National Theatre (see previous post) and there was plenty of inspiring new writing (again, see previous post). I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store.

Thank you for reading what I’ve had to say in 2013. I hope you return for more in 2014.

Happy New Year!

A few 2013 theatre photos:

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Giving our best ‘Bottom’s at the Globe.

A faulty sign at the Palace altering this MGM classic.

A faulty sign at the Palace altering this MGM classic.

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Adam in the standard day seat queue attire.

My 'patronus' moment. West Side Story with NYMT.

My ‘patronus’ moment. West Side Story with NYMT.

“How do you measure a year in the life?”

– Rebecca Ridout

 

…and, by almighty Olivier, if the National Theatre is anything to go by then it’s in a damn good state. Twelve hours after ‘Live at the National Theatre‘ aired on BBC2, the hashtag #nt50 was still a worldwide trending topic on twitter. For theatre to be having that much of a reaction is pretty impressive and something we, as a nation, can be incredibly proud of. Something you’d want to shout from the roof of…oh, lets say…the National Theatre. The world was talking (tweeting) about the legacy of our National Theatre and still is – I know I can’t stop. So it would seem you’d have to be living under a rock to have missed the 50th birthday celebrations. I’ll admit, despite not being trapped under a rock, I wasn’t sat on a sofa when it aired. I felt very left out and have had to (oh the burden) watch it a few times since to make up for my lack of dedication to our beautiful National Theatre. 

It may surprise you to learn that I only had my first trip to the National last year. At the end of ‘Live at the National Theatre’ in an extract from ‘Habit of Art’ they spoke about “the fear of this building” and I think I had always viewed the ominous Southbank block as a place I didn’t belong. I laugh at myself now when I spend a whole day there reading and treating it like I second home but at the time it felt inaccessible. The National Theatre looked like a concrete fortress (the Prince of Wales once described it as a nuclear power station) that didn’t hold anything for me. How wrong I was! If any of you currently feel this way about the National and are yet to go, I urge you to get an Entry Pass or Travelex ticket and join me in my never ending love affair with the place. 

My first experience* of the National Theatre was to see the 2012 revival of ‘London Road’ after hearing so much acclaim for a new musical. The reviews had described the piece as “groundbreaking” and the ground may as well have broken, swallowed me up, and I would have died happy. I don’t recall having ever seen musical theatre that had pushed so many boundaries of expectation and absolutely nailed it. Complex, clever and faultlessly performed. I think I could use that sentence to describe every National Theatre production I’ve seen since and over a year later I can’t keep away from the place. 

* I’ve lied. Technically I saw ‘War Horse’ at the New London Theatre years before. It’s a National Theatre work of course, but has escaped the Southbank concrete for some smaller concrete just beyond Covent Garden. I don’t count that though, I feel like your first proper Nash experience has to be in the beauteous building on the river. 

I’ve only experienced the National Theatre for one year of it’s incredible life and have seen some truly inspirational work. Multiply that by 50 and you have an incomprehensible legacy of talent, on stage and off, that deserves to be celebrated. Thankfully, they have been celebrating in style and, aside from lighting up the Thames with fireworks, they created ‘Live at the National Theatre’. If you are yet to have watched this glorious show, then watch it HERE

Here are some of my highlights (although it’s hard to choose highlights when the entire programme was perfection):

  • Dame Maggie Smith referring to Laurence Olivier as ‘Larry’ – a nickname I cheekily use when I’m meeting someone on the river and say “I’ll see you at Larry” aka the status of Olivier outside the Nash. 
  • Joan Plowright at the Old Vic. 
  • Dame Maggie in ‘Hay Fever’ in all her comic glory. 
  • Teenagers everywhere realising that by saying ‘YOLO’ all the time, they are in fact quoting Alan Ayckbourn’s ‘Bedroom Farce’.
  • Clive Rowe in ‘Guys and Dolls’ – did he want to belt and higher and more consistently? Blimey. 
  • Angels in America broke me. It needs to be revived, with Scott and Cooper, soon please. 
  • The news that Christopher Eccleston was an usher at the National. 
  • The moment I realised that someone had the job of looking through the archives to choose extracts to show.

Dear National Theatre, I shotgun for the role of ‘Archive Searcher’ for the 2063 ‘100 years of the National Theatre’ celebrations. Thanks very much in advance. Rebecca Ridout

  • Send in the Clowns. Always. 
  • Jerry Springer: making it okay to swear if it’s sung ridiculously high since 2003.
  • History Boys, naturally. 
  • Adrian Lester reaching the same overwhelming emotional point performing an extract of ‘Othello’ as when he performed the whole play (as I had seen earlier this year). 
  • London Road. Seeing that stage filled with hanging baskets reminded me of how overwhelmed I was at that image just last year.

Finally, a main highlight for me was when Trevor Nunn spoke of how musical theatre is regarded as a form where “you can check in your brain at the cloakroom” and how that is not the case. He feels that the National Theatre has been very well served by covering the whole spectrum. Hear hear! In my one year experience I have seen the whole range of theatre that the National has to offer and I feel very well rounded because of it – there is something for everyone. It truly is a theatre for our nation and will continue to inspire from one generation to the next. Be sure to let me know what your highlights were and/or your first experience of the NT (on here or @beccaridout). Let’s keep talking about it and keep celebrating 50 fantastic years. Here’s to the next 50. Happy National-Theatre-going!

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Banging on the windows of the National at the half to mark the first night.

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What a tradition.

“but plays persistent. Plays, plays, plays…” – not lyrics this week. A quote from Alan Bennett’s ‘Habit of Art’ felt more appropriate – and it had me crying at the end of the stunning tribute to our National Theatre. 

– Rebecca Ridout