To be or not to be… an understudy

Oscar Wilde, three-quarter length portrait, fa...
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After yesterday’s post, I should tell you there are some perks to being a London lady of leisure.  Today I got invited to a free performance of Acts from An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde, currently on at the Vaudeville Theatre.

It was a chance for the understudy- actors to present themselves to agents and friends, showing off their skills. They only got to present a couple of scenes and in some cases had to rotate parts so everyone got a chance to shine. (A little patronising perhaps but so was the multiple opening and closing of the curtains for yet more applause at the end.)

It must be nerve wrecking and it showed for the poor actor playing Robert Chiltern (the character who is being blackmailed over some misconduct that happened 18 years earlier and that made him his fortune.)  The actor stumbled on one line and then lost his nerve, bless him: his performance never quite recovered. It did not help that a) his button then fell off during the scene and that b) his fellow-actor was so brilliant he just outshone him. We witnessed someone’s nightmare, live at the Vaudeville. Ouch.

His fellow-actor was playing the part of Lord Arthur Goring, Robert’s best friend and confidante – yes, to be fair he has best lines ( Ah, Mr Wilde…) but delivering them in style is the art of the actor.

The set was elaborate and because they only played a couple of scenes the curtain had to come down every time there was a scene change. The horror when the curtain came up again and Lord Goring was replaced by another actor… It threw everyone in the audience, as there was a great uncrumpling of papers: everyone trying to make sense of it by looking at the synopsis and the cast list. Poor Lord Goring II, he had a very hard act to follow.

Why would one do it? I don’t know. They are obviously talented enough to be in a West End play, but there was someone better and they got stuck as understudy.

I can’t imagine it’s for the money. That might come eventually  but I believe most actors don’t reach that point if they wouldn’t be loving what they did. There are easier ways to make money. Fame? There are a lot of unknown actors out there and there are easier routes to fame (

I’d like to think someone who sticks with a difficult path, has a passion for it. Talent is debatable and especially in art unquantifiable, never mind: genius is after all one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.

Cynics might dismiss this romantic notion as arty drivel and suggest that all budding thespians should try a real job (whatever that may mean these days) but then as the good Mr Wilde said himself:

What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Note about writing

A small pad of Post-It notes.
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A couple of days ago a friend approached me for advice: she wanted to start writing a blog but wasn’t sure she should as she feared she was not a writer… As far as I’m concerned once you start writing, you are a writer.  The writing might still be unqualified but it is written by you, thus you are the writer.

In the About-tab of this blog, I ramble something about ” it being a public Post-It to myself.”  about dreams and validation yadayada…  Sounds ambitious right? The problem with my ambitions is not dissimilar to this blog: potential…but unfocussed.

When I first started writing I confused the tag-words with the categories and somehow ended up with 99 categories. So I spent the last two days clearing up categories and refiling my posts.  I’ve established that my writing can be divided in four categories:

1.Me, Myself and Others 2.Theatre, Films, Books and All that Jazz 3. To Adventure ( travel and the things that happen to you.) 4. Ups and Downs of Write and Wrong (about writing and little struggles to get there…Pursue the dream! Pass the bucket!)

By restructuring I’m hoping the metaphor will push through in real life. There are times that I wonder why on earth I don’t dream about becoming a teacher, an account-manager (do people dream about that?), a vet…

I don’t know if I’ll be the one in a million whose dream comes true, but what else can a girl do but try? If…When I do get there, I will probably say I’ve been lucky and that I enjoyed every minute of the ride.The latter will be a lie, all will have been twists and turns, ups and downs like for anyone else who is pursuing a seemingly impossible dream.

I am not super-human, no better or worse than anyone else who just dreams their dream or has none.  I am as scared about the choices I make in my life as anyone else, I worry about having fucked up/being in the process of fucking up my life a couple of times a week. (I’m trying to kick the daily habit.) I worry about being useless to society and deluding myself into having qualities I don’t possess.

Still, hey ho here we are: first through circumstance, then through choice. Fear is fleeting and disappears once you face it and well,  gut feeling doesn’t lie. So I this is what I wrote my friend: Ditch the fear and do it!

PS: Will write about the Other Thing real soon!

The Phantom of the Opera

The 'boat scene' in Phantom is achieved using ...
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Yes there’s the film but there’s nothing like the real deal: tonight, courtesy of my sister who has a sixth sense for cool offers, we went to see The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre.

You have to hand it to Lord Lloyd Webber, he does understand the magic of live-performance. Even though it did mean that you were absolutely forbidden to make any pictures, even the poor Japanese tourist who tried to get a snap for posterity during the break. ( You also have not experienced live theatre until you have had parts translated to you in Japanese… thanks family with too young son…)

The show’s in its 24th year and our current Phantom is John Owen-Jones. He of Les Mis fame as Jean Valjean, though he also has the longest run as Phantom since he did a stint between 2001 and 2004: nearly 1400 performances. Catch this man if you can, his voice is amazing.

Set in an old theatre, the story recalls the time of grandeur, when a lot of operas were performed and visited by the well-to-do. The building is haunted though by a ghost with a preference for a particular chorus girl, Christine (Sofia Escobar). He teaches her to sing and tries to force the powers that be into casting her in lead-roles. This is obviously to the dismay of the prima donna, Carlotta ( Wendy Ferguson). The sponsors want to please their star but as they refuse the Phantom’s offers, he gets annoyed and starts mayhem.

I have to admit the story is a little creepy: a man with a facial deformity falls obsessively in love with a chorus-girl, who is a) much younger b) so in awe of him, potentially seeing him as an angel or at one point even her dead father ( Talking about issues…) She also has the problem of a suitor, Raoul the Vicomte who the Phantom doesn’t like.

Still it’s the Phantom’s trickery to get Christine’s attention and keep away from others, where the live performance gets its magic. People appearing from nowhere and disappearing into nowhere, fire-tricks and elaborate set designs that incorporate the shows-in-the-show and setting impressive atmospheres from rooftops and graveyards to the famous gondola scene, when the Phantom takes Christine to his lair through the mist… yeah still a bit creepy, but wonderful to see happening before your eyes.

I love that part of theatre, the fact that all the action is happening in real-time. (We were annoyingly reminded by a patron who forgot to turn his phone off.) Even for a Tuesday it was pretty full and there is something special about such a large group of people watching the stage silently and everyone’s engaged with the story. I know, the West-End might be considered all horribly commercial but I have to admit that the Phantom was top-entertainment: engaging, entertaining, spectacular.

The proof is in the audience subconsciously humming the classic songs on its way out, even the young Japanese boy.

Let Her Entertain You

This weekend I spent time with my gorgeous friend Rachel G. It was one of those perfect weekends doing nothing…
Well maybe watching a bit of telly, going out into town, having some food, some wine, watching a film. You know: perfect. A combination of a Glee episode ( yes maybe I am warming to it.), Rachel G’s British Sign Language skills and a previous post containing an all-singing and dancing Gwyneth, accumulated to finding the video below, so everyone feels included:

PS: Yes I am aware this is ASL, not BSL… but did you really notice the difference?

‘Cause Every Day would be a Friday…

Standing  5ft3 tall, I was thinking today how nice it would be to be another  say 4 inches taller? Only for those simple things: it would make me reach the kitchen cupboards easier, I would be able to wear like normal people’s trousers without having to resort to petit section (aka short arses section) or have random bits of jeans around my ankle… I would still be able to wear heels and not be ridiculously tall ( Ok maybe in the UK I would be, in the land of the Dutch not so much.) But for some reason my meanderings got me to the internet as you do and I would like to share the below with you on the Friday afternoon. I’m off for the weekend – so I hope you have a nice one too!! xx

Random Thursday Thoughts

On the internet today:

Victoria Secret Models show the love  (and some skin!) for Valentine’s Day.

See how showing skin is put between brackets, with exclamation mark to entice the audience to have a peek….  Hello?! They are underwear models! It’s their job to show some skin! Plus you won’t find them topless because they all sell bras!

Another thing I discovered today was a label for a shampoo bottle that had raspberry and silk extracts. The raspberry was depicted by a dark pink (you know… raspberry pink) fruit and then there was a coral coloured squirt of toothpaste which I guess would have to symbolise silk. I get that even a cute cartoon of the below, probably wouldn’t make it past the test-audience…

The Silk worm

Then this Thursday it’s my friend Rachel G’s birthday ( Hooray! Shout out!) and it is Chinese New Year. So long Tiger, hello Baby Bunny.pic by fanpop

This year should bring tranquility and peace. It’s time to catch your breath and work on things slowly. The idea behind this is that bunnies are milder tempered than the dramatic fighting Tiger. It’s a year to focus on home and relationships. So good luck for all you singles out there, this year might well be the year. Note: wonder why there are so many pregnant celebs out there? Rabbits. That’s all I have to say… Safe sex kids.

Or not and use this calm time to prepare for a little one next year in the year of the Almighty Dragon!

When merino turns to felt…

Make lemonade…

The first time around it was an accident, I put my merino cardigan in the wash and it came out fine. So I kept washing it in the washing machine as one does. Then I moved house. My cardigan shrank, but according to sources it was because I used the wrong program. Sources were wrong: second cardigan shrank today – argh! My own friggin’ fault of course, I guess handwash does mean handwash, annoying nevertheless.

Maybe this is an opportunity to change styles. Let’s pretend I had all the money in the world and did not manage to just miss the sales. By two days. Because that doesn’t annoy me. At all.

What would my wardrobe look like?

Usually I go by WWAD: What Would Audrey Do? You cannot really go wrong with that. Hence the cardigans. I have also gone through many ballerinas and I am short. So perhaps it is time to look outside the box a bit, which is why Reese is not included. Outside. Of. Box. ( Also considered Nicole Richie for a moment: too much accessories. Will not happen.)

It took me two hours to write this, anger has subsided but this was a difficult exercise, I fear that style icon I’ll never be!

Maybe it is because she flirted with the harajuku style, but Gwen Stefani also makes casual look cool
Michelle Williams, after the Creek
Drew Barrymore, yes cardigan but let's overlook that for now.
Penelope Cruz, casual chic.