Alas, Dear Benedict. You Hit Me Well – My Review of Sonia Friedman Productions Hamlet

Never have I ever cried throughout an entire performance, because of an emotional attachment to a main character. And it’s not because I have a crush on an actor! That was, until I saw Hamlet at the Barbican Theatre.

I attended the show, with my Drama school, as part of our theatrical understanding of William Shakespeare. Before I went, I heard negative feedback from my peers – not just about Hamlet, but Shakespeare in general, as his writings [according to one] were excluding and difficult to understand. So, I went with high-hopes and I came out of the theatre, still recovering from my tears.

For those who haven’t heard of Hamlet, I’ll narrow the story down for you:

Hamlet’s father, the Old King of Denmark has been murdered by his jealous Uncle, Claudius. Not long after his death, Claudius marries Hamlet’s mother and sits upon his throne. Disgust by his Uncle and depressed by his loss, Hamlet then suddenly becomes addicted to revenge. By doing so, he loses everything and everyone he loves – his friends, fiancée, and even his own family. 

Although the story is timeless, I noticed how Sonia Friedman, the producer of the show cleverly hinted some things about each character and situation in the story. For example, Hamlet playing with his castle and dressing up as soldier. What does it show the audience? Does it represent madness or simply the loss of a Prince’s childhood? They are cleverly delivered and shown in a way that the audience can understand perfectly, if they either have or haven’t seen a Shakespeare play before.

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Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

The cast delivered a first class performance, especially Benedict Cumberbatch who made me cry for start to end. Even his version of Shakespeare’s famous “To Be or Not to Be” speech had me in floods of tears, as I mouthed the words along with him. Every time he cried, I cried with him. Somehow, Cumberbatch’s performance has taught me that a true actor must express his emotions. And he has done it well. If it must be, I believe Hamlet is Cumberbatch’s finest performance of his career.

And finally, I want to give a shout out to Es Devlin for his amazing work on the set. It is one of the finest of theatrical sets that you’ll ever see – it’s like an actual, beautiful dining room in a magnificent palace. The set is cleverly detailed, allowing the audience to understand the stability of the Royal family in the play from start to finish. It was breath-taking and very chilling, at the same time.

Overall, I give Hamlet a trillion out of ten. It is a wonderful, creative, well-thought out and emotional performance. I would highly recommend to see and book pretty quickly, because when I saw the show, it was a sold out event. Also, I recommend to bring plenty of tissues and leave them close to you.

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Long Make-Up Preparations and Stage to Film Changes – 8 Fascinating Facts About Your Favourite Musicals

Have you ever wondered how your favourite musicals came to be or how long it will take to prepare for a show? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to this blog post, where I’ll take a look at eight facts on the world’s most loved and favourite musicals.

All my life, I’ve been a massive fan of musicals; I love the set, costumes, actors and songs; and it’s all these shows that have inspired me to become an actress.

For this post, I’ve researched the facts from these websites: theater advisor blog, wikipedia, teen kids news, broadway.com, oregonlive, visit London, newyork.com and ticket network.

Please note that these stories and pictures aren’t mine and belong to the original owners.

  • A Really Long Tryout Musical

carousel

When Roger and Hammerstein’s musical Carousel opened for tryouts in 1945, there was a ballet sequence that ran for an hour and fifteen minutes and the second act that was finished at half-past one in the morning!

  • Which Side of the Atlantic Has the Most Theatre’s?

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In Broadway, there are forty theatre’s but in the West End, there are 47 theatre’s!

  • Whoa, Didn’t Know This!

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Now, we all know the 1978 film Grease, as one of the most famous musical films we still love today. But did you know that there have been many changes that were originally in the 1972 adaptation? This includes Danny’s and the boys’ group name T-Birds was changed from their original name, the Burger Palace Boys, Sandy’s surname was changed to Olsen from Dumbrowski and Principal McGee’s full name was Miss Lynch.

  • Wait, What?

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The musical My Fair Lady is based on George Bernard Shaw’s novel, Pygmalion. Before the original 1956 production was in its early stages, famous duo Rodgers and Hammerstein tired to work on the show, but gave up. In the end, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe took on the show we all know and love today.

  • Longest Make-Up Preparation

Phantom-and-Christine

If you thought that Elphaba’s make-up in Wicked takes forever to take on and off, wait till you read this fact. Any actor who plays the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera has to go through a long time putting on make-up; the face is moisturised, shaved and artificial body parts are attached, two wigs are placed on the head, before placing two radio microphones, one white and one clouded contact lenses. Overall, it takes two hours to put on and half-an-hour to take off.

  • That’s Creepy!

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The much loved show, Wicked wasn’t family-friendly as you thought it might be. In the original novel, Madame Morrible and Doctor Dillamond (the two supporting characters) were killed instead of being fired, and arrested and Nessarose is able to walk but she was born with no arms. This was changed, as these were concerned too dark. Do you think they’ve made the right decisions? You decide.

  • First Western Musical in China

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The ABBA musical, Mamma Mia! is the first Western musical to be turned into a Mandarin-language production. It opened in the Shanghai Grand Theatre in Shanghai July 2011 before the show toured Beijing, Guangzhou, Wuhan, Chongqing and Xian.

  • Gender Change

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When the Walt Disney film The Lion King was adapted into the stage musical we know and love, there have been changes and extra scenes that were put in; this was to develop some of the characters and add more music. One of these changes was the character of Rafiki. Not only was Rafiki given a larger role and acting as the narrator in the musical, director Julie Taymor switched Rafiki from a male to a female mandrill and sangoma as Taymor felt that the story:

“Lacked a strong female character”.

And there you have it, eight fascinating facts about your favourite, popular musicals. I’m sorry if include any other of your favourite musicals but if you’ll like more, please let know in the comments selection below.

Until then, I wish you all a pleasant evening.

Gigi 🙂 Xx

Films I Wish To Act In

Since I can remember, I always adored the movies and theatre. It’s properly one of the main reasons why I wanted to try and choose acting as an career (as well as being a writer). Since I’ve been and currently performing on stage, I’ve always wanted to try out for new things. I’m not afraid of performing and as an individual, I want to push myself and say, “Gigi, you’ve done yourself proud, for you have achieved this task today!” So if I had any opportunity to perform whilst I’m studying at Drama school and afterwards, I would been very keen to be in shows or films:

  • St Trianians 3

I loved the St Trianians Films when I was teen and I still love them now. In my mind, I always wanted to be a Posh Totty. I’ve no idea why, but I just the idea of this group; to me, it spells F-U-N!

  • James Bond

I’ve loved the Bond movies too. If I had a opportunity, I would try for a villain role. Again, it sounds F-U-N, like your going on a roller coaster ride.

  • Tarzan

No words to say on this one, just looking for adventure…

  • We Will Rock You

W.W.R.Y is one of my favourite musicals of all time and I feel it’ll be nice to be apart of something that celebrates the iconic music from one of the famous British bands of all time.

  • Wicked

This is my second favourite musical… PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE….
I’m not sure if they’ll ever happen in my lifetime but I can only keep believing, as I know the right ones will come along. 

What’s your ideal dream movie/show you want to be in? I would love to hear in the comments below. 

I know I’m not very talkative today and I do apologise, but I promise I’ll write another, proper blog as soon as I can. Until then…

Best wishes,
Gigi xx

Waiting For A Rainbow – 30th April – Part II

Note: This entry is a day late; this was due to Internet problems last night. I’m really sorry about that, but I hope you enjoy reading Part II. 🙂

‘Happy Birthday’.

‘“Happy Birthday”?’ I was confused; what on earth was she talking about?

‘You better ring your parents and tell them you’re coming home late, Georgina’.

‘What? Why?’

‘You’re going to see “Disney on Ice” for your birthday’.

I was so shocked; I couldn’t believe it. Ann said she kept the show as a secret since Christmas and I knew nothing about it. We went to see the last show and loved every second of it; there was brilliant ice-skating, dancing and tons of visual effects including fireworks and glow lights. What’s more, the show was inclusive as the audience were allowed to sing along, dance and have fun. I won’t give too much away, expect the movies that were featured were The Little Mermaid, Tangled, Beauty and the Beast and Frozen. Ann and I had a blast and we didn’t want the show to end; there’s no such thing as being too old for Disney!

Songs #4 & #5: I See the Light from ‘Tangled’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLSrOijxFKQ and Let It Go from Frozen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-EZNWeei9Q

 

These songs were in the ‘Disney On Ice’ Show, but I think these songs have a special meaning to me; I See the Light explains positive outcomes and hopes for the future, as I am coming towards, seeing the light. Let It Go was one of the songs that helped me get through my heartbreak a year ago and it helped me become a stronger person. And I sang along to it, because I wanted to! 🙂    

 

Yesterday, I had a small gathering with my close friends at Drama school. After our afternoon lesson (which was Home Education), I brought out cake, chocolate and sweets. We all had a bite and a chat and sang S Club 7 songs. The small party lasted until the early evening and we all had a wonderful time; there weren’t many people around and two of my friends were angry that most of our peers couldn’t be bothered to celebrate or wish me a ‘happy birthday’. But I didn’t care; I learned that I didn’t need a big party to be liked or admired. All I needed was to invite those who were close to me and show everyone that I was having a good time. It’s a wonderful life lesson, one which I will never, ever forget and treasure forever.

Song #6: Reach For the Stars by S Club 7: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SxSnjL3nZ0

This is one of the songs I played and sang along to, while talking to my friends, but this a favourite song of mine because I love it sooo much! 🙂

Today, I had a father and daughter outing with my Dad; we spend the day in London and as a birthday treat, we went to see Romeo and Juliet at the Globe Theatre! It was pretty spectacular; we saw the show in Bay K (the Middle Gallery) and had front row seats. We saw everything! The actors were amazing, the music was amazing, and the action and the romance were amazing. In the interval, I saw (from the corner of my eye) a woman, who was taking pictures of a Lego man, dressed as William Shakespeare standing on the oak rail and in front of the stage, near our seats. After she’d finished, the lady noticed my interest in her Lego figure; I kindly asked her how she made it.

‘I didn’t’, she said. ‘I bought him’.

The lady explained to me that she is currently travelling around the world and she takes pictures of the figure, wherever they go. Then, she lifted the Lego Will’s hair and revealed his baldness. ‘Look; he’s bald’, she laughed. I laughed with her. When Dad came back, I explained to him what the lady was doing and said to me. He was pretty interested too. Before she left, the lady told us that she had published a book, based on Juliet’s Nurse and it is a prequel; the story begins fourteen years prior to the play.

When we got home, I decided to research the book and the lady’s name. First, I discovered that the lady who I spoke to was American author Lois M. Leveen and the book she mentioned was Juliet’s Nurse. It was a complete surprise speaking to her; to be honest, I have never heard of Lois before, nor have I read her books but I now I have, I’m really, really keen to read Juliet’s Nurse which I’ll definitely read sometime soon.

Well, this it. I’m nearly coming to the end of my one year journey and tomorrow, I’ll reach my twenty-first birthday. I hardly can believe it; normally, I wouldn’t finish a task but I’m proud to say that this is my first. Yay! Soon, I’ll be taking a new path into my life – one that (I hope) will be full of new discoveries, new thrilling adventures, positive outcomes and tons of happy memories, full of smiles and uplifting hearts. I’m sure it will (*TOUCH WOOD*) because I can feel it in my heart. (*TOUCH WOOD, AGAIN*).

A Woman, or Not a Woman? – My Review on Hamlet, starring Maxine Peake

Today, I went on an outing to the cinema. Earlier in the week, my cousin suggested that we should see William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Having some information but never seen the play before, I agreed to come. What the audience would normally see is a traditional Shakespearean show, set in the seventeenth century with actors, dressed in Stuart costumes and belting out Shakespeare’s wonderful, yet sometimes confusing, dialogue. However, this wasn’t the case.

Indeed, this production of the show, live from the Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre did stick to the lines. However, there have been a lot of changes. For instance, the setting for the play is in 21st century Denmark, all the actors have different British accents; Scottish, cockney, etc. The massive difference however is some of the characters are portrayed by women. These include Polonius (renamed as Polonia), Rosencrantz and Hamlet, who is played by the wonderful Maxine Peake.

Peake delivered a gripping, intense and funny portrayal of Hamlet. I was hooked into her character; I was unsure if the director and/or producers were trying to show the main character as a young adolescent. If they did, then Peake was right person for the role. As the Prince of Denmark, I could easily see her emotions and feelings, being brought to life on her own and with the cast. Also, I give her top marks for the famous To Be or Not to Be monologue; it was spoken to true perfection.

I also give credit for Gillian Bevan and Katie West for their wonderful portrayals’ as Polonia and Ophelia. Both women were equally wonderful. One, who gave out the most comical laughs. The other, who gave me tears when it came to the important bits in the play. They, like Peake, had me on the edge of my seat. One minute, I’ll be laughing, the next crying. I must confess, I had more heart for Ophelia, with all the trouble she had to go through Hamlet’s ordeal.

The set is incredible – they had light bulbs, which lit up when the Ghost is contacting Hamlet from the dead and they had a graveyard, full of clothes. They even had Ophelia’s dress (which West wears in the show) buried in the pile, representing the character and had a few jumper’s crafted into skulls. This is genius; you would never expect any of this in a Shakespeare play. The music gives me the chills in my spine. It’s kind of like composing a detective story; you hairs get spiked up and it makes your body freeze, like you are outside on a cold, December evening. They are instrumental pieces done right.

Overall, this modern re-telling of Hamlet is excellent. If it comes out in cinemas again or on stage, I would recommend it. Although it’s one of the world’s most filmed story, I guarantee that you’ll never look at Shakespeare’s play the same way again.

What Did I Learn From Edward Scissorhands?

Yesterday, you may have noticed that I was off WordPress. Well, the reason why I was off was because I went to the theatre last night. I went to see Matthew Bourne’s production of “Edward Scissorhands”.

I noticed that “Edward” was originally a film and was directed by Tim Burton in the early 90’s. I haven’t seen the film for myself, yet, so I haven’t been able to compare the two of them. I (one of my friends from my Waiting Fir A Rainbow Series) told me that “Edward” was based on Burton’s own experiences, while he was growing up. Apparently, Burton had struggled to fit in because he was different from other children. It’s these real life events that everyone can relate to, including myself.

I came along with me to see “Edward” for the evening and to be honest, the two of us weren’t expecting what would happen next. I never saw the film and he had never been to see a Matthew Bourne production. So, it was something new for the both of us.

The last production I went to see by Matthew Bourne was “Swan Lake” and I really enjoyed it. If you are into dance, especially ballet, you may now that the original production involves with women and sticks to the way Tchaikovsky would have originally planned it. However, Bourne changes it into one, as if he had written the story himself. And its spellbinding! From start to finish, you wouldn’t have the nerve to leave your seat, even after the show has finished. What happens next? What happens next? you would ask, little a small child in a cinema. But in most cases, you’ll never know what happens after the ending.

“Edward” was no expection; from start to finish, the whole show had us on the edge of our seats, with excitement, happiness and even tears. (I’m not too sure about I, but I certainly had a tear or two in my eye.) Like most dance productions, Bourne uses no words. Instead, he uses emotions and movement to express the situations the characters are in, like sadness, anger and passion. It’s different, compared to Musical Theatre or Plays, but it’s in own right, it leaves the audience wanting more.

What I have learned from “Edward” is that you are not alone in the world. Looking at one of its main themes (isolation), the story shows that it’s okay to be different because some people will appreciate you for who you are. And those people may become your closet friends, like Edward and Kim. Friendships may last a lifetime or forever but it takes the right kind of people to bond with you for life. So who cares if you have scissors for hands or you can’t do things that other people do because the one thing you can do is be true to yourself, be kind to others and have courage. They will admire you for your feelings in years to come.

If Matthew Bourne’s “Edward Scissorhands” comes into your local town, I strongly recommend you to see it. It is truly amazing and I guarantee that you won’t go home feeling disappointed.