theatre

Charlie Hides as Cher

Charlie Hides

Charlie Hides has one of the funniest live shows I’ve seen in ages. He’s an English comedian – though originally from the United States – who dresses up and impersonates (with humour and affection) some of the great modern pop divas, including Cher, Madonna and Lady GaGa.

For the last couple of years, I’ve been enthusiastically sharing his Youtube videos with friends. The first one that made me laugh was a sketch about the apparent rivalry between Madonna and Lady GaGa. Since then, he’s gone on to incorporate a bunch of other characters including Lana Delray, Joan Rivers and others with the same level of affection and humour. Unlike many other comedians, I don’t think there’s anything nasty or malicious behind his humour.

In the last year or so he’s been doing live shows in London, and I’ve read about this development with a sense of longing and wonder. “There has to be a lot of video in his live shows to achieve what he does”, I whispered to Graeme in the minutes before his live show at Sydney’s “Gingers” began. There is. There are also lots of costumes changes, and a comedy routine which continues to shock and surprise over the course of about ninety minutes. He works hard.

The comedy of his live show was far more cutting edge, and definitely less politically correct, than you see on the Youtube clips. Overall it was a fantastic night which we both enjoyed very much. Hopefully he’ll be back for Mardi Gras again next year.

Photographer - Unsure, but looks like a theatre publicity shot. Happy to credit if I can find out the photographer.

Privates On Parade

“Meet the gang cos the boys are here, the boys to entertain you…” Nearly forty years after having first watched “It Ain’t Half Hot Mum”, the 1970s BBC sit-com, I can still remember and sing-a-long with the opening theme song.

Having spent most of my formative years just a few feet away from a 26″ Chrysler colour TV, it’s no surprise. Along with “It Ain’t Half Hot Mum”, there was a steady regular Friday night television diet courtesy of the ABC which included Dave Allen, The Two Ronnies and “The Trots”. And when I say “The Trots”, I mean trotting. Horses. Yes its true. Every Friday night, ABC TV in NSW (and probably elsewhere) used to regularly feature live coverage of trotting. They might have been done “The Dogs” also, though I don’t have that memory.

Yes it was a different world back then. Although it wasn’t evident to my young eyes, I’m sure if you looked closely at “It Ain’t Half Hot Mum” these days, there would be more than a hint of racism. I don’t think I will. But going to see “Privates On Parade” has re-ignited in me an interest in some of those BBC comedies of my youth.

The subject matter of “Privates On Parade” is similar to “It Ain’t Half Hot Mum”: both are based around the activities of a 1940s English Army Entertainment Troop. Although I’m sure the original play was the basis for the television show, the subject matter of the play is much darker, dealing openly with homosexuality (whereas it was only really hinted at in the TV show), and with death.

I thought the production by New Theatre (as part of Mardi Gras) was excellent. It’s a well written play (of course), though perhaps a little dated. so the company had good material to start with. While there could have been a propensity to ham things up a little, I thought the company did an excellent job in playing it straight, and allowing for the depth of the characters to show.

NBN Art

Totally Wired

“It’s a by-product of the NBN”, I was told by the woman running Lime Designs, an arts/crafts gift store at Salamanca Place. When I asked her what she was weaving the small basket with, she told me she had literally hundreds, if not thousands of kilometres of telephone wire at her home. The wire was one of the by-products of the roll-out of the National Broadband Network. As the wire was replaced by optic fibre, it was being discarded, and she was one of the eager people willing to make something with it.

Sue and I spent the day sight-seeing around Hobart, starting off looking at some of the galleries in the centre of Hobart, and having lunch at the Cascade Brewery, ahead of going on “Louisa’s Walk”, currently voted on Trip Advisor the best tourist attraction in Hobart. I think that assessment is probably a little over the top, as Hobart has much to offer, but it’s definitely pretty good.

Louisa's Walk

Louisa’s Walk

“Louisa’s Walk” takes the idea of the history walking tour up a notch. Instead of walking around Hobart and pointing at things and recounting facts about them in a fairly stock standard way, the tour takes the form of simple street theatre to recount the story of just one woman who came to Tasmania as a convict. As we chatted afterwards, the male actor told us it was the idea of his mother and her partner who were also semi-professional actors around Hobart who had the idea of creating some sustainable work for actors who would otherwise find it hard to make a living in a city of its size.

And why street theatre? One very obvious reason is there’s not a lot to see at the Female Factory, what was once home to up to 5,000 female convicts. Indeed, the historical records at the space document it was only recently the buildings were “restored”, having previously been used as goods yards, and even as a tennis court for a number of years. Unlike similar convict buildings here in Sydney, or even the male equivalent, Port Arthur in Tasmania, there’s really only the facade that remains.

After a return to our hotel for a little relaxation, we spent the evening at Sing A Long Sound of Music, an event organised by Tasmanian Gay & Lesbian Pride. As the name applies, we were all encouraged to sing a long and to interact the much-loved film. As both Sue and I love the film, it was a perfect way to finish up the day. Great songs, a terrific story, lots of laughter.

I Love Musicals

I Love Musicals

I Love Musicals

There was a moment of pure joy this morning at work when I noticed a package from Sweden in my in-tray. A few weeks ago on a whim I purchased t-shirt promoting the new album for Peter J√∂back. Peter’s name is a little hard to find, being found only the sleeve of the t-shirt. Instead, the phrase “I Love Musicals” (the name of Peter’s latest album) dominates. When I bought the shirt, I joked with a friend “this could well be the world’s gayest t-shirt”. When a colleague snapped a photograph of my wearing the shirt today (which I shared on social media) she agreed. In fact, it gave everyone at work a bit of a laugh today. In the midst of some busy times, it was great to see people go from wry grins to broad smiles as they looked at the shirt and agreed.

Co-incidentally, I went to a preview tonight of the new Sydney musical, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels“. The musical is based on the Steve Martin film about the two conmen who are themselves conned. I haven’t actually seen the film, so I went in without preconceptions. In fact, I was even prepared to be a little disappointed, as really good musicals are often few and far between. Many modern musicals, often based around movies or back catalogues, are often disappointing. They can seem like a hastily assembled pastiche.

Even though I haven’t seen the film, I didn’t get that impression from this. My colleague and friend I went with, who has seen the film, whispered in my ear “He’s completely ape-ing Steve Martin”. That was the only comparison she made between the movie and the film. From both our perspectives, though, this was a fun musical, with really clever lyrics, performed well, with humour and passion. The play was great fun to watch, and it seemed as if the actors were enjoying it as much as the audience. That’s high praise, since there are some really great performers in the show, including Tony Sheldon, Ann Wood, Matt Hetherington (who I thought was fabulous), John Wood and others. Overall it was a really wonderful night, and fabulous reminder of why “I Love Musicals”.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels