Tuesday, April 30, 2013

REVIEW: The Full Monty (Manila)

Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium (Manila), Saturday April 27


The Full Monty, a musical based on the very successful 1997 British film of same title, opened on Broadway in 2000 to strong reviews. With the book written by Broadway veteran Terrence McNally, the location was moved from Sheffield to Buffalo, New York. The theme, however, remains pretty much the same with the emasculated jobless men dealing their angst and anxiety through the songs of David Yazbeck. I first saw this movie-turned-musical in New York back in 2001 and it was great fun, though my most vivid impression of the show was the ushers going around the theatre reprimanding people taking pictures and videos! The second time I saw it was when The Hong Kong Singers produced it in 2007 and it suffered a very imbalanced cast. The lead was weak, while some of the supporting cast members were so strong that one might have thought that they were imported from New York!

For this production by Viva-Atlantis Theatricals in Manila, it was entertaining enough, but I can’t help but feel that this must be the worst “Atlantis” production I have ever seen. There were no huge oversight, but there was that nagging sensation that there was something wrong…the singing was good but not fabulous…acting was either wooden or over-the-top…the accents were either off if not trite… the set was functional but cheap-looking…the sound was mono-directional…

Mark Bautista as the lead character Jerry was good but not great. His Jerry was a bit too young and sounded like a Sesame Street character. Arnell Ignacio’s Harold seems to be from the same neighborhood if not the same house... but less sincere. Marco Sison was an unbelievable “Big Black Man” Horse. Nino Alejandro was a miscast Ethan. If I can give out a Best Actor Award though for this production, it has to be to OJ Mariano. For somebody who didn’t look like a pigeon-chested shy loser, he managed to convince me that he was actually one. His “You Walk With Me” was for me the best performance of the evening. Jamie Wilson’s Dave was a pleasant surprise. In fact, I wouldn’t mind giving him a Best Actor Award too. He was believable and adorable. As for female members of the cast, only Ima Castro’s Vicki (wife of Arnell Ignacio’s Harold) and Jay Glorioso’s tough-talking seen-it-all Jeanette made any impression.

If you want an evening of light entertainment, go and see it... expect to be entertained but not to be blown away.

PS. In the above ad for the musical, I wonder why it says Terrence McNally (instead of david Yazbeck) is the composer of the musical.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

REVIEW: Time is of the Essence (如懷念也是有他限期)

It has come to a point that my review of the shows I have seen are so way overdue that I have no way of fully recovering from it. So here it is, I will just do a quick and more mini than mini review…

HK Arts Centre McAulay Studio, Sunday March 24


This has to be my first Cantonese play and I was most worried that I will not be able to understand it. Luckily this play written and directed by黎安之@HOS Studio was not a brainteaser. Mind you, it doesn’t mean that the play was simple or predictable, it was just that the language used was conversational. At the heart of the play is the idea of trust, its interpretation from somebody who has truly loved somebody in contrast to somebody who has been betrayed by love. There were a lot of philosophical turn-away-and-look-far TVB mini-series style of writing and acting... and that was not meant to sound negative. In fact, I sincerely enjoyed it and would recommend it. The ensemble, composed of黄國輝 (Gordon Wong)、林啟源、馬欣澄、唐家明 and 蘇詠瑜, was balanced and all gave a heartfelt performance. It is most heartening to have this as my first Cantonese play.

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REVIEW: Verdi's La Traviata

It has come to a point that my review of the shows I have seen are so way overdue that I have no way of fully recovering from it. So here it is, I will just do a quick and more mini than mini review…

HK Cultural Center Grand Theatre, Saturday March 23


This is my third La Traviata in six months (Opera Hong Kong in October and La Monnaie in December 2012), and this serves as a good finale (I don’t foresee seeing another La Traviata within the year!) In this wonderful staging for Teatro di San Carlo, award-winning film director Ferzan Özpetek and triple Oscar-winning art director Dante Ferretti (Hugo, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and The Aviator) infuse the opera with cinematic attention to details. Soprano Carmen Giannattasio as Violetta was effective in both dramatic and vocal front (in that order). Tenor Jose Bros, whom I last saw as Javier in Torroba’s Luisa Fernanda in Theatro Real Madrid in 2006, was vocally splendid and youthful. Rarely did I witness though the role Giorgio Germont stealing the show, but that is what baritone Simone Piazzola did exactly. His singing was remarkably fluid and with the kind of commitment that was compelling. Overall, this is the best La Traviata of the three!

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LA TRAVIATA

Creative Team:
Music: GIUSEPPE VERDI
Libretto: FRANCESCO MARIA PIAVE
Conductor: ROBERTO ABBADO
Director: FERZAN ÖZPETEK
Chorus Conductor: SALVATORE CAPUTO
Set: DANTE FERRETTI
Costume: ALESSANDRO LAI

Cast includes:
Violetta Valéry: CARMEN GIANNATTASIO
Alfredo Germont: JOSE BROS
Giorgio Germont: SIMONE PIAZZOLA
Flora Bervoix: GIUSEPPINA BRIDELLI

with the SAN CARLO ORCHESTRA and CHORUS

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REVIEW: Viva Verdi

It has come to a point that my review of the shows I have seen are so way overdue that I have no way of fully recovering from it. So here it is, I will just do a quick and more mini than mini review…

HK Cultural Centre Concert Hall, Friday March 22


2013 celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901) and the 41st Hong Kong Arts Festival celebrated it with an all-Verdi concert that featured maestro Roberto Abbado, together with the orchestra and chorus of Teatro di San Carlo. The evening successfully demonstrated the great extent of Verdi’s genius. The biggest surprise of the evening, however, was the chorus of Teatro di San Carlo. Having seen many choirs and choruses occupied the concert hall, I have to say that the chorus of Teatro di San Carlo exhibited the most power and command. While their affinity to the composer’s music must have contributed hugely, it was sheer glory to hear such fervor and empathy.

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VIVA VERDI

Programme:

Overture to Nabucco
Gli arredi festivi from Nabucco
Overture to Luisa Miller
Prelude to Attila
Prelude to Act 3 from I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata
O Signore dal tetto natio from I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata
Overture to La Forza del Destino
Overture to La Battaglia di Legnano
Vedi le fosche …Chi del gitano from Il Trovatore
Prelude to I Masnadieri
Libera me Domine from Requiem Mass (Soprano solo: MONICA TARONE)
Overture to I Vespri Siciliani
Va' pensiero from Nabucco

Conductor ROBERTO ABBADO
Choral Director SALVATORE CAPUTO

with the SAN CARLO ORCHESTRA and CHORUS

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REVIEW: Cimarosa's Il Marito Disperato

It has come to a point that my review of the shows I have seen are so way overdue that I have no way of fully recovering from it. So here it is, I will just do a quick and more mini than mini review…

HK Academy of Performing Art Lyric Theatre, Saturday March 16


This opera buffa (or comic opera) by Neapolitan composer Domenico Cimarosa was revitalised by comedian Paolo Rossi for the San Carlo Theatre of Napoli and presented as part of the 41st Hong Kong Arts Festival. Overall, it was just painful to seat through it. In my group of six friends, none enjoyed it and one left during the interval. The problem with this production is that Cimarosa’s music was not really that compelling, and it didn’t help with singers lacking in ability and not putting in enough attention. In the whole cast, there were only two that showed quality: Soprano Maria Grazia Schiavo (Gismonda) and tenor Yijie Shi (Valerio). In general, the acting of the ensemble was forced, corny and annoying. The only saving grace of this production is the orchestra, led by Christophe Rousset and the set designed by Nicola Rubertelli; but both were not enough to bring any joy to the audience.

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IL MARITO DISPERATO

Creative Team:
Music: DOMENICO CIMAROSA
Libretto: GIAMBATTISTA LORENZI
Conductor: CHRISTOPHE ROUSSET
Director/Costume: PAOLO ROSSI
Set: NICOLA RUBERTELLI

Cast includes:
Gismonda: MARIA GRAZIA SCHIAVO
Dorina: ELENA BELFIORE
Don Corbolone: ANDREA CONCETTI
Valerio: YIJIE SHI
Conte Fanfalucchi: FILIPPO MORAC
Marchese Castagnacci: ALFONSA ANTONIOZZI
Eugenia: PATRIZIA BICCIRE

with the SAN CARLO ORCHESTRA and CHORUS

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