PICASSO AT THE LAPIN AGILE

Posted 13th May 2016.

Written by Steve Martin.

Directed by Nola Dutton.

Performed 28th to 30th November & 2nd December 2006

at The Check Inn, Findel, Luxembourg.

A New World Theatre Club production.

Fantastic script, well paced & extremely funny. Boy did I enjoy this one.

Two of the regulars, twenty-somethings, Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein, argue about the art of physics and the physics of art as they try to impress and bed a pretty girl. Then the space/time/culture continuum ruptures, and they’re joined by a figure from the future who seems to be a prominent rocker from the 1950s.

LA CAGE AUX FOLLES

Posted 29th April 2016.

Written by Harvey Fierstein.

With music and lyrics by Jerry Herman.

Directed by Chris Wilson & Dominique Vitali.

Musical direction Philip Dutton.

Performed 25th to 28th October 2006

at the Théâtre Municipal, Esch-sur-Alzette.

A Pirate Productions production.

Help required. I have a clue as to who wrote the review below but I don't want to falsly attribute it. And I can't find the original (Google has let me down)! So, if you wrote this, or you know who did, please tell me so I can credit the correct person (Who did an excellent job by the way).

Thanks.


“What legend told and rumour has promised” said silver jacketed Georges, “we now bring live to our stage” and Cage aux Folles was up and running.in Esch’s Theatre Municipal, courtesy of Pirate Productions. There had been plenty of rumour and a hint of legend, and we were all agog.

And, appropriately, we duly goggled.

Immediately at the costumes – from the befeathered, besatined and bespangled chorus line (five o’clock shadow hidden with make-up) to the flamboyantly stylish dresses of the show-in-a-show’s star, Zaza. This threatens to be the swansong of Luxembourg theatre’s costumier of choice, Fay Wolstencroft; if so she is retiring undefeated.

It’s also difficult to imagine Dominique Vitali, who played Albin, who in turn plays Zaza, ever being defeated. I’m not sure if Albin/Zaza is supposed to be the central character, but Dominique made him/her such in the belting tradition of Ethel Merman and Rosalind Russell. He was of course over the top, but this was a night for over the top. Even further over was Randolph Melton Jr, Albin’s butler turned-maid, a scene stealer probably unmatched since Lassie came home.

David Mittel, Albin’s partner Georges, last played Fred in ‘A Christmas Carol’, unbelievably so, given the way here he exuded all the smooth urbanity of Gene Barry, the role’s creator, in succeeding in being more than a foil to Albin.

Everyone in the show performs. Mittel also acts, successfully projecting a bittersweet sense of genuine devotion to Albin. Plotwise, Albin is the one hard done by, asked to move out of his home so that Georges’ son Jean-Michel can pretend he has an acceptably bourgeois family. Yet here it was Georges, forced into an act he himself sees as betrayal, that one felt sorry for. Some feat.

Otherwise the stars of the show were the chorus, five cross-dressing, seven straight. Dancers are hard to find in the amateur theatre, but these had been whipped into near-perfect shape by Alison Kingsbury (puzzlingly entitled only assistant choreographer) through routines from tap (the kind that keeps one foot on the floor at all times) to Lido-style parades via the odd snippet from Swan Lake.

Bluebells they were not. The corps of the Bolshoi they were not. But neither of those are going to turn up in a seedy nightclub on the Riviera: 

This chorus might well.

The minor characters were all competently carried off: Clara Barker’s Jacqueline being particularly convincing. For Guillaume Borkhataria and Isabel Thépin as the would-be marrieds (“Our baby’s getting married…where did we go wrong?’) one can only have the same sympathy one always had for Zeppo in the early Marx Brothers films: they weren’t what people were there for.

In a final compliment of a long list, the direction – Dominique Vitali in tandem with Chris Wilson – was completely unobtrusive.

Ultimately, Cage aux Folles, despite its Broadway run and six Tony awards, fails to be a great musical because it has no great songs. Albin made the most of what there is, including I Am What I Am, but Georges (who did well with the best songs: Look Over There and Song on the Sand) suffered from mike overload when he tried for fortissimo, as did Jean-Michel. It hints at under-rehearsal with the orchestra and the electronics.

The 27-strong (really) orchestra was impeccable under Philip Dutton’s direction: for a sense of the lavishness of the show bear in mind the original show boasted only one more instrument than this.

Do Pirates have any money left?. Can we dream of Gypsy with Dominique to reassure us that everything is coming up roses?

THE RECOGNITION SCENE FROM ANASTASIA

Posted 29th April 2016.

Written by Marcelle Maurette and Guy Boulton.

Directed by Anne-Marie Bellefroid.

Performed 2nd June 2006

at the Centre des Arts Pluriels, Ettelbruck.

An AATG production for FEATS.

The second act scene from the Broadway hit, Anastasia, is tailored for two women. A scene of tremendous power and emotion as the Dowager Empress confronts the young girl who claims to be her granddaughter.

A Narrator introduces the play.

Challenge:

Light a play having never seen it, the script, the cast or the decor. Just an email from the Director.

Result:

Quite good really. Anne-Marie had a good idea of the lighting the piece required and communicated it without fluff or bluster. My first ever lighting job for AATG went down very well with an appreciative audience.

FEATS

Posted 29th April 2016.

Performed 2nd to 5th June 2006

at the Centre des Arts Pluriels, Ettelbruck.

A New World Theatre Club production for FEATS.

FEATS (The Festival of European Anglophone Theatrical Societies) is four days of competition among English-speaking amateur theatrical groups from all over Europe, traditionally held over the Pentecost (Whitsun) weekend. Each evening consists of first-class performances of three one-act plays starting at 19:00. The festival also includes a free Fringe Festival, consisting of various types of entertainment, which takes places throughout the afternoons during the festival. 

FEATS 2006 was hosted by the New World Theatre Club, Luxembourg and was under the patronage of the Luxembourg Minister for Culture, Higher Education and Research.

2006 was my big adventure as I took on the role of Performance Lighting Manager for the festival. Fortunately, John Brigg had already done the pre-FEATS planning, all I had to do was run the event. 

“All I had to do” is an understatement but at the end of five long days I am proud to say that I was a member of the crack team the put on an outstanding festival.

Working on any production for FEATS is, for me, a complete eye opener.

The task of having every lighting position and cue documented is always daunting and putting the whole package in place in less than 2 hours means you learn a lot very quickly. I’ve lit three productions so far for FEATS and really enjoy the challenge.

THORRABLOD

Posted 13th May 2016.

Written and directed by the Spuni team.

Performed 12th February 2006

at the Junglinster Cultural Centre, Junglinster, Luxembourg.

A Spuni production.

A mid-winter excuse for a celebration. Icelandic style.

Complete with Aquavit and putrid shark pieces.

My second Icelandic adventure. I don't speak Icelandic but didn't need to. A series of slapstick comedy routines and songs. 

Still laughing today! :-)