Wednesday, 28th January '09

The Opposite of War Isn't Peace - It's Creation!

And well said too. I just had the fortune of watching the full, high quality video of Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway and I have to say I can't imagine a more magical spectacle anywhere. Downright inspiring, and a completely essential addition to any musical lover's collection.

The Opening:

Whatever it was that they had tried to do with the movie didn't quite pan out in 2005 making - though I'll admit that depends on who you ask. I watched the movie cold (as in without any prior reading; temperature wise I was quite warm), jet lagged and curled up on Emma's couch in Brisbane, and I swear the whole affair made no sense whatsoever. Each song and dance item itself was marginally entertaining on its own, but the storyboarding so fragmented and the cinematography so stilted that I didn't even get a story, much less any excitement, out of it.

So given that I've never had the chance to see the real deal on Broadway, I approached this version with caution. I had always suspected there must be a magic to the Broadway production that the movie missed, and I pretty much expected the live filming to fall short in a similar way. Like watching a concert live, you never expect to feel your very soul pulse with the same exhilaration you'd feel seeing the rock star right in front of you.


I'll start with the production end - the end, I think, that made all the difference. You'd expect the cast to be sensational - and no doubt it was - but what I wasn't expecting was the brilliant use of the camera. None of that cheesy zooming in and out, crossfading and swooping vistas that plagued the Jekyll & Hyde recording (although arguably that particular piece of work was even more beleaguered by the presence of David Hasselhoff) - cinematic techniques that may work well on Lord of the Rings, but look plain silly when you just have one stage. Instead, dynamic editing, dramatic closeups and good old fashioned wide shots showing the whole stage. More things that worked well: a stationary set, artfully divided into several locals (you'll see this in the opening number, bizarrely enough, titled "Rent", right at the beginning of this entry) worked so well with film. Contrast the ridiculous effect of moving furniture when captured on film (Javert's suicide in Les Mis forming an exception).

And the cast. Oh ho ho. I have found my next upstart star to watch. You'll never have heard his name before, but Adam Kantor completely lit up the stage with an awesome performance as Mark Cohen. I'll say its not the toughest role to act, but Mark forms the focal point around which the story gathers, and may only have stage time second to the character of Roger Davis. Playing a character that leads the story through almost invariably forces one to step up to the role as leader of the ensemble cast - a role that must be so difficult to rise up to when it's your first professional work out of theatre school and you're the baby of the cast. But he did an almighty job of it, built up a great chemistry with Will Chase, and ran away with my heart in the process. He's so new right now you can barely Google him. He doesn't even have his own Wikepedia page yet (though if you were thickskinned enough you could try adding him on Facebook). But I tell you I see big things in his future.

Will Chase was equally awesome as Roger... props to the makeup team for the meticulous styling. Spiky hair, emo checkered tapered pants, guitar surgically grafted to the hand, and right down to the tattooed fingers and ghastly goth fingernails. Again, score for the filmed version, in which we get to appreciate every little detail. And he made it utterly believable. It would have been easy to play Roger as a one-dimensional angsty AIDS-carrying ex-heroin addict with dead ex-girlfriend rocker (as was painfully evident in the movie version), but he melded the pain of all that with a surly grouchiness displayed much around Mark and Collins, and showed the power of Mimi in his life with his bewildered sense of humour in "Light My Candle". He made Roger run the gamut of the audiences' emotions when he rejects Mimi's advances in "Another Day" and then reprises the same musical themes and rips its heart out with "Your Eyes".

Really, there's not one bad thing to say about the cast's performance. Eden Espinosa and Tracie Thomas' vocal range in "Take Me or Leave Me" and the former's complete conviction in "Over the Moon"; Justin Johnson's fabulous-darling! drag display in "Today 4 U"; the groove the Tom Collins actor gave "Santa Fe"... I could go on forever. Even the supporting cast was out of this world. Gwen Stewart's window-pane busting solo in Seasons of Love, the hilarious "honest living! honest living!" Chinese dude, and the beautiful "Will I?"... Overall, one just doesn't expect theatre to translate well into film. For one thing, TV acting is just... small. Broadway acting is larger than life. And yet they managed to perform scenes in way that just clicked beautifully onscreen and it was just inspiring to watch Mimi tear up at her death scene right on the spot.

The fact that it was filmed at the last and final ever live performance of 12 years must have played its part. If you've ever acted in a theatre piece which you've given even half a year of your life to before you'll know what the "Last Show Magic" is and here they were so very very full of it.

And all that is to say nothing of the genius of Jonathan Larson. I keep thinking how terribly the movie must have been done to obscure the musicality and story of the libretto. I loved the themes of understanding, bohemia, tolerance... thoughts and lessons all getting more and more valuable in this day and age. The music is that of an epic rock opera and yet... funny in its little ways. I refuse to say more. Go watch it.

I'm sold. But just in case you're not, here's a sample:

en ying snapped a shot of life @ 10:58 pm
[well, the pictures aren't going to take themselves!]

Saturday, 24th January '09

Ten for Ten

There have not been so many of us in one photo since JC. This is insane. And I f*ckin' love it. Shakey hands notwithstanding.

en ying snapped a shot of life @ 11:10 pm
[well, the pictures aren't going to take themselves!]

Monday, 19th January '09

How Insulting.

Charming, Hady.

Who needs to be in her right mind when she could have had $50,000. wink

en ying snapped a shot of life @ 11:37 pm
[well, the pictures aren't going to take themselves!]

Wednesday, 14th January '09

More Music Memes

And here we go again, because I've been writing so much of late that I can't find the energy to string a proper concept together into a real entry. I'm amazed I can lift my fingers sufficiently to do this as it is.

Well Qiong, here you go. By the way, I am taking up that challenge of constructing my own music meme. Problem is, I do have a concept, but the rules are going to be a bit complicated. You'll just have to make do with other not so original concepts until I figure out sufficient rules to make it work!

Here's how it works (surprise, surprise):

1. Put your iTunes, Windows Media Player, iPod, etc. on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. You must write that song name down no matter how silly it sounds.


My alter ego is: "A Lack of Colour" (Death Cab for Cutie)

When Iím in the shower I sing: "Don't Cry" (Seal)

My day will be like: "Too High" (Dave Matthews)

When Iím drunk I say: "I Cry" (Shane Ward)

Somewhere in my wedding vows I will include: "Signal Fire" (Snow Patrol)

My makeout song is: "So Sweet" (Jonathan Rice)

My deepest secret is: "You Made Me Love You" (Al Jolson)

Next time Iím in front of a crowd Iíll say: "Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?" (Moby)

Highschool was like: "Who's the Thief" (Jason Donovan, Linzi Hateley, Brothers, Female Ensemble & Children, from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat)

At my funeral they will play: "Jackie, Dressed in Cobras" (The New Pornographers)

If I reached the top of Mount Everest I would scream: "Birds Fly Backwards!!!!!" (Ed Harcourt) - ok, so the "!!!!!" were tacked for good measure, but this would indeed be an epiphany worthy of broadcast to the better half of Nepal.

My ultimate song for dancing is: "Ppr:Kut" (Linkin Park, Cheapshot & Jubacca feat. Rasco & Planet Asia)

What makes me happy is: "When a Man Loves a Woman" (Percy Sledge)

To cheer myself up I: "Go Your Own Way" (Fleetwood Mac)

The best thing about me is: "I Hope You're Happy Now" (Elvis Costello)

Iíll have a good day if I can just hear: "Side with the Seeds" (Wilco)

My last words will be: "White Room" (Cream) - isn't that what the schizophrenia patients see before they off themselves?

My best friend is like: "Bad Sneakers" (Steely Dan) - ahahahahahah.

What I did last night was: "What You Need" (Inxs) - aside from the tremendous amount of courage needed to confess to owning music by Inxs, what DO you need?

My theme song is: "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" (Westlife)

The story of my life is: "Granada" (Mario Lanza)

At my wedding they will play: "Blind as a Bat" (Meat Loaf)

My favourite thing to do is: "Bye Bye Blackbird" (Miles Davis)

Happiness is: "One More Angel in Heaven" (Nicolos Colicos, Aubrey Woods, Megan Kelly, Brothers & Wives, from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat)

I often think about: "Security of the First World" (Public Enemy)

My best friend always says: "One and Only" (Timbaland feat. Fallout Boy)

This is what I want to be when I grow up: "Warning" (Green Day)

My biggest fear is: "Horse Pills" (The Dandy Warhols) - indeed.

This is how I feel today: "Viva Forever" (The Spice Girls)

en ying snapped a shot of life @ 10:21 pm
[well, the pictures aren't going to take themselves!]

Thursday, 8th January '09

Au Revoir, Mon Petite ZŤbre

Sigh. Somehow I had the nagging feeling something would upset me about the upcoming Winter Olympics. Like seriously, getting tickets to both of the highly coveted men's short and long programmes was too good to be true.

And it's not like I actually let myself believe there was a chance of seeing him during the Os. His form had really dropped of late (injury) and whilst the training under Petrenko did sound promising, one really doesn't dare to hope. Something about how once I discover some young male hotshot skater, he fizzles out with a large "pfft" (*koffTimothyGoebelkoff*). So I never banked on seeing The Little Prince live, as it were, and the sudden confirmation that I will certainly not be doing so is... making me a lot sadder than I expected.

Grr. It's not like he's retiring from performance, but somehow he was So Fantastic that I really wanted to see him stay in competition shape a while longer. Brian Boitano aside, everyone that stops competing gets fat and lazy quite quickly. They say he'll retain his eligible status, but I don't harbour hopes for much of a comeback - the next Olympics in 2014 he'll be 29 (shit, I'll be 30... did I mention we share a birthday?). And he really deserves a gold medal, if for nothing else than those exquisite spin combinations. Eat more Swiss chocolate, right? (If you've never seen that god awful video of him then it's best you don't.)

Twenty-three just sounds so awfully young to be RETIRED, my poor Little Zebra.

Which is such a annoyingly act cute name, if you think about it. But somehow it works.

In any event, to mark the sad day I discovered this (as opposed to the day it actually was announced, which was rather awhile back in October), here is that post-retirement interview (I understand the barest minimum of the French), a homage to by SuperKampf (I understand nothing of the German) and the Vivaldi's Four Seasons programme (not his best, but it is the most iconic because of the stupid sunburnt-zebra-with-blue-stockings affair) once more.

(Update: Alex is da bomb and has done me a translation. *muack*. This is what German friends are for. Haha. big grin)

Interviewer: "Stťphane, you said you wanted to quit top-class sports. That hit us really hard because when you were on the ice, it touched our hearts. Not just mine, but the hearts of all Swiss who care about sports. And we never had the opportunity to say goodbye to you. You left world-class sports at a very young age and youíre leaving a very big void. It hurts us. We canít give you a lot but... this we can give you: wonderful flowers from our junior athletes who strive to be like you and an applause that shall carry you into your future."

en ying snapped a shot of life @ 11:53 pm
[well, the pictures aren't going to take themselves!]