Rejoice with me at the sheer breadth, energy and healthy eclecticism of it all – especially if you’re feeling gloomy about the arts and their future.
If you can tear your eye away from the mayhem on stage, the surtitles for Iolanthe remind us of the utter brilliance, the absurdism, mad rhymes, unexpected neatness and damn sharp satire which WS Gilbert flung out like a literary Catherine-wheel. Gorgeous. I recant. I regret the years of avoiding G&S.
As it’s the first of the month, we’re taking a brief moment to remind ourselves of the biggest news stories from the month just closed. What were the headlines that got readers clicking most? Any surprises? Our Top 10 News stories from October 2017 are listed below with summaries and links to read more.
The night after Imelda Staunton picked up her Olivier award for best actress in a musical in Gypsy, her successor is a rock solid certainty. With such tumultuous reception at the Coliseum, there is no doubt that Glenn Close must win for Sunset Boulevard in which, like Staunton, she plays a deluded and flawed tragic hero of the entertainment business.
This luminous production of Philip Glass‘ 1983 opera Akhnaten bathes the senses in rich sonic and visual colour that sears the tantalising character of the titular Egyptian pharaoh – and his revolutionary reign – into the brain. Director Phelim McDermott takes Glass’ score and extends the composition so that bodies, costumes, light and juggled objects become additional instruments played in harmony with the orchestra to create a decorous whole. It’s been a long time since a show has held me completely transfixed from start to finish yet, with a running time of 2hrs 55 (including two intervals), Akhnaten doesn’t feels overlong for a second.
I’ve not updated my diary of a theatre addict for six weeks now — I was last here on January 31 — since when I’ve seen all of 49 shows, including outings to Newbury, Dartford, Clwyd, Manchester, Bromley and Cardiff, plus a week in New York. I’ve also taken an active part in two more shows by appearing onstage as a contestant in a theatrical re-run of Mr and Mrs with husband (so it was really Mr and Mr, we’re pictured above with host Samuel Holmes) and as part of David Bedella and Friends, his monthly chat show at the St James Studio.
With such an abundance of grand guignol, it’s best perhaps to let the music propel you through the three indulgent hours. Although not peppered with telly advertising favourites, Vincenzo Bellini’s score is often melodic, lucid and occasionally painfully beautiful, as well as presenting one of the toughest challenges to the soprano voice, Norma having been the defining high-point of careers like Joan Sutherland or Maria Callas.