REFLECTIONS | Berlin, Bar Jeder Vernunft

Recommended

Jack Woodhead’s new show Reflections is bruising, wounding cabaret in all its rabid, raucous splendour. After committing a murder – matricide – reflecting is Jack’s coping mechanism, a spectacular and intimate form of PTSD. Jack’s shimmering and darting reflections move with streamline precision towards redemption through loss of memory. In his own words, Jack searches “far and wide” for his forgotten inner child. He must remember what is forgotten, in order to forget what he remembers.

But did Jack murder his mother? Perhaps he’s just a little drunk, just a little lonely, sipping a tipple while sitting in a moth-eaten armchair in a cold flat in a dark windswept city no one has heard of. Perhaps he lives a life of quiet desperation that reaches sublime heights that no one will ever know.

Reflections is life seen through a peephole, magnified and whispered through art and alcohol. It shows how life can slap you around and you may just slap it back. It shows imagination as a corrective and rampart to reality. But though reality bites back, the siren call of the forgotten inner child, lured to the surface by alcohol, trauma, or simply by childlike wonder, can provide solace.

Somewhere between Beethoven and burlesque, with his band of four, Jack Woodhead manages to negotiate a musical metamorphosis from concert pianist to cabaret star. His dramatic make-up is only surpassed by his eccentric stage outfits. Flashy and provocative in nail varnish, leather, fur and sequins, he moves elegantly and sleekly across the stage. His performance is lightning fast, sharp as a razor and completely wacky.

Next playing 25 April and 13 June 2022 at Bar Jeder Vernunft, Berlin.

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INTERVIEW: @fantomedelopera

Interview

Twitter account @fantomedelopera tweets all about Gaston Leroux’s Le Fantôme de l’Opéra / The Phantom of the Opera, haunting the Palais Garnier since its 1909 serialization, and its many adaptations.

→ Tell us about your Twitter account, @fantomedelopera.

It was set up to be a kind of news service for anyone interested in the latest developments in the Phantom of the Opera world. But there’s a general focus on the novel and the 1925 film, as those are two personal favourites.

→ In your opinion, what has made Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical adaptation such a worldwide success?

It’s a phenomenal score, and the alchemy of the original production is hard to beat. Also, the story itself naturally lends itself to a theatrical setting, being of and about the theatre.

→ Recently, there have been some quite drastic changes to the production in London’s West End. Can you tell us more about that?

Yes, the producers have halved the orchestra, from twenty-seven down to fourteen, and veterans of the show have been unceremoniously fired.

Designer Maria Björnson’s opulent proscenium has been dismantled, with the central descending Angel – her favorite setpiece – removed altogether. Even the iconic boat scene has been impacted, with the candelabra no longer moving. The lighting is now far brighter and more saturated, too, and the Phantom no longer stalks the catwalk above the stage.

Lloyd Webber’s bizarre insistence that the 2021 version is “substantially identical” to the original, and remains director Hal Prince’s production “in its entirety”, has caused confusion amongst audiences who were promised an “enhanced” show. Prince, who died in July 2019, opposed changes to the production. The so-called “brilliant original” is no more in Britain. Some minor restaging aside, however, it can still be seen on Broadway and in Japan.

→ What’s the future for Gaston Leroux’s story? Do you think the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical will ever close?

I don’t think the Broadway production will outlast the end of this decade. France has recently played host to two straight-play adaptations. Several TV and film adaptations are planned, including a movie musical produced by John Legend, set in modern-day New Orleans. Every year a new graphic novel or computer game based on the Phantom of the Opera is released. Follow me on Twitter; I’ll keep you posted!

Follow @fantomedelopera on Twitter.

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INTERVIEW | Anna Ferrer, Magalí Sare & Manel Fortià

Interview

The Prickle spoke to Balearic singer and multi-instrumentalist Anna Ferrer, alongside Catalan jazz duo Magalí Sare & Manel Fortià. They will be performing at The Pheasantry in London on 5-6 April, as part of Spotlight on Catalan Culture – the UK’s largest festival of Catalan arts, music and culture taking place across the UK March – June 2022.

– What does the Spotlight on Catalan Culture festival mean to you?

FORTIÀ: It is a great opportunity that allows us to show what kind of music we do outside Catalonia and how the audience reacts to it.

SARE: I love the fact that a festival like this exists. It’s a very cool way for locals to discover new music and to create new bonds between these cultures.

– How about audience members who can’t speak Catalan, and are totally new to Catalan music and culture; do you think they will still have a good time?

SARE: Of course they will! And we will also explain the songs during the concert.

FERRER: The reality of what one wants to say, if it’s authentic and comes from the heart, can come through via other, much more intangible ways.

– Many people say music is universal: do you think that’s true?

FERRER: Humanity is universal, the feeling of belonging to a cultural net is universal… and music is one of the first forms of expression of a community. Without a doubt, yes: music is universal.

FORTIÀ: Sometimes I have played with musicians that didn’t speak the same language as me and it worked well. It is the magic part of the music.

– Fish and chips or roast dinner?

FERRER: Fish and chips.

SARE: Roast dinner.

FORTIÀ: Mediterranean food.

Book online for 5-6 April 2022 at Pizza Express Live.

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THE CONVERT | London, Above The Stag

Theatre - Recommended

Following a sell-out run as part of Above The Stag’s CONTACT Season in 2021, The Convert will return for a full production from June 2022. Chillingly informed by real techniques that are used against LGBTQ+ people, Ben Kavanagh’s imaginative and timely play pitches nightmarish forces against our unerasable, shining humanity.

Alix and Marcus have been brought to The Facility to be “corrected”. If their condition is cured they may leave and return to the society. But if they fail, they will be sent to the Other Place, away from their friends and family forever. Failure is not an option, but in this confounding institution, where they only have each other, the greatest threat to their success is their own love.

“The play got such a huge reaction last year, and I am absolutely delighted that it’s returning,” says Kavanagh, about the original run at the same theatre in 2021. “It’s exciting to be able to develop the play for a full production and to have it published alongside the run so that the powerful subject matter may reach a larger audience.”

Gene David Kirk returns to direct, and is excited about the new possibilities for the show. “We have the opportunity to deliver a highly entertaining and theatrical evening of great writing alongside the highest production values. I couldn’t be more excited.”

Audience members are invited to book tickets for the play’s gala night on Wednesday 15 June 2022: tickets are £20 and include a glass of bubbly, a signed copy of the newly published playscript, and a Q&A with the cast and creatives.

Playing 8 June – 3 July 2022 at Above The Stag, the UK’s LGBT+ theatre.

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INTERVIEW | Jacob Mann

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Multi-talented musician Jacob Mann is the driving force behind the Jacob Mann Big Band and Shrek Is Love.

– Where is home for you?

I was born and raised in Las Vegas, and then, aged eighteen, I moved to Los Angeles for college, and I’ve lived there ever since. The two cities are pretty close together, so I consider them both to be my home — Vegas is my hometown, and LA is my city of residence.

– You wear many hats: you’re a composer, arranger and bandleader, but you’re also a talented pianist and keyboard player both for studio recordings and live performances, and you also seem to love the production side of things. Is there one hat you wear more than others? Is there one hat you’re most comfortable wearing? Is there a hat you long to wear?

I really enjoy the variety that comes with being a musician. Some people ask what a normal month looks like for me, and I laugh and say I have no idea. If I can wake up and spend some part of the day thinking about music, regardless of the context, it feels like a victory. So I guess I’d say I enjoy all hats equally. Some hats I’d love to wear in the future would be writing for a full orchestra; scoring a TV show or film; playing in the house band of a talk show; and touring under my own name.

– Tell us about your latest album with the Jacob Mann Big Band, Greatest Hits Vol. 3 (2022).

I had the goal of releasing a full-length big band album before my thirtieth birthday, and I wanted to record two completely different big bands, in order to get more musicians involved. I tend to write music with specific people in mind, so having two separate bands was a nice opportunity to write different types of tunes. Each band recorded four charts, and we tracked the whole album in one day, which was exhausting, but a lot of fun – the bands brought this music to life in an incredible way; I’m really happy with how it turned out.

– What’s next for Jacob Mann?

Right now I’m working on some collaboration albums that I’m very excited about. I’m excited to keep writing, arranging, and playing whenever I can!

Visit Jacob Mann on Bandcamp to hear Jacob Mann Big Band’s new release, Greatest Hits Vol. 3.

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DISNEY IN CONCERT: A DREAM IS A WISH | Hong Kong, KITEC Star Hall

Recommended

The Hong Kong Symphonic Winds (HKSW) Symphony Orchestra are once again putting on a spectacular new concert that combines the thrill of a live orchestra with a cast of singers and clips from classic Disney movies on a cinema-style screen.

With only four special performances over the New Year’s Day public holiday weekend, audiences of all ages can enjoy orchestral selections from The Little Mermaid (1989); Beauty and the Beast (1991); Aladdin (1992); The Lion King (1994); Frozen (2013); and many more.

Although the HKSW Symphony Orchestra is a majority amateur ensemble, the standard is unbelievably high, conducted by celebrated conductor Fung Ka Hing. The gigantic ensemble fills the cavernous Star Hall at Kowloonbay, ably supported by extra percussion and rock instruments, in addition to wonderful sound tech.

The name of this concert is taken from the title song in Cinderella (1950): “A dream is a wish your heart makes”. This festive season, enjoy the magic of classic Disney songs, played as they’re meant to be played, in this family-friendly concert for all ages.

Playing 1 – 2 January 2022, 3rd Floor, Star Hall, Kowloonbay International Trade & Exhibition Centre, Kowloon.

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INTERVIEW | Septime Webre

Interview

Septime Webre is the artistic director of Hong Kong Ballet. He was kind enough to talk to us about Hong Kong Ballet’s new, upcoming production of The Nutcracker.

What made you decide it’s time for a new production of The Nutcracker?

The Nutcracker is a holiday tradition – the Christmas season just wouldn’t be the same without it! Our current production is almost ten years old, and it seemed like the right time for a make-over. The new production is set in early twentieth century Hong Kong, and is a celebration of Hong Kong’s culture, history and natural beauty – I think it will resonate with Hong Kong people.

What about all those audiences who still love the old production of The Nutcracker?

The essence of the previous production is to be found in the majestic Tchaikovsky score, and that remains intact. In fact, the music is the heart of The Nutcracker, and this new production provides the roadmap: it’s very much a return to the original ballet’s concepts, a charming story of a young girl’s marvellous journey to magical new lands.

What have been your major aims for Hong Kong Ballet, since taking on the role of artistic director in 2017?

We have long been one of Asia’s premier ballet companies—our goal is also to be its most forward-looking, with a focus on being cherished locally and respected globally.  We’ve endeavoured to reflect Hong Kong more thoroughly, while simultaneously raising the classical standards of the company. And we’re achieving our goals!

What’s next for Hong Kong Ballet?

So much exciting new work!  A major residency at M+, Hong Kong’s new signature contemporary art museum; the return of Yuri Ng’s lively Ballet Classics for Children: Swan Lake; a mixed bill which celebrates the rule-breakers of ballet; a new full-length ballet about the life of Coco Chanel, and more!

Playing 11 – 26 December 2021 at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Grand Theatre.

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STITCHES IN TIME | Hong Kong, Central MTR Station

Recommended

This exhibition is a showcase of hand-embroidered works of Ms Nikki Delport-Wepener and her students from the Les Designs Studio: a celebration of what can be achieved with the needle. The students are from many different countries, and it is this cosmopolitan mix that allows the uniqueness of the individual to shine through.

The common denominator is the love of hand stitching. The designs and techniques viewed throughout the exhibition are a culmination of many years of tuition and expertise from Nikki.

Nikki aims to increase the public’s awareness of the arts, and in particular, of mixed media hand embroidery. Nikki and her students share their joy in creative stitching by showcasing images of the lifestyle in Hong Kong, as well as the flora and fauna around the world.

These displays are a mixed range of Nikki’s stitches and techniques she teaches the students. The themes on display are based on flora around the world This particular display shows different interpretations of flowering plants, flowers in bloom, Fynbos, flower and creature samplers, decorated cheongsams and aprons that are created as two-dimensional and three-dimensional images; a variety of stitches and techniques have been used in each design, every embroidered piece has been carefully crafted over several months.

Check out the whole exhibition for free at Central MTR Exit J, 13 July – 10 September 2021.

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DISNEY IN CONCERT: MAGICAL MUSIC FROM THE MOVIES | Hong Kong, KITEC Star Hall

Recommended

This summer, the renowned Hong Kong Symphonic Winds Symphony Orchestra are inviting us to experience some of the most beloved Disney scores of all time, with Disney in Concert: Magical Music from the Movies. Joined by four powerhouse vocalists, and conducted by Fung Ka Hing, the orchestra play alongside perfectly synchronized projected video clips from iconic Disney films, so the whole family can enjoy.

Audiences will be treated to Disney’s most iconic scores and songs, including for the Oscar-winning animated features The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), and The Lion King (1994). Live action features like Mary Poppins (1964) and the swashbuckling Pirates of the Caribbean film series are also set to be particular crowdpleasers.

This is without doubt the perfect pick for a youngster’s first concert. Founded in 1987, The Hong Kong Symphonic Winds (HKSW) is the first amateur band in Hong Kong with considerable size and structure, devoted to promoting music education in the community. The standard is extremely high, with a number of top professional players among the ranks.

These family-friendly concerts are always extremely popular, so book early to avoid disappointment. There is no better way to fall in love with the magic of a live orchestra than through the magic of Disney.

Presentation licensed by Disney Concerts © All rights reserved

Book online now for 31 July and 1 August 2021.

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YOU’RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN | Hong Kong, HKAPA, Drama Theatre

Recommended

Based on Charles M. Schulz iconic comic strip about Snoopy and the “Peanuts” gang, this 1967 musical revue created by Clark Gesner and the original company has won a slew of awards over the years, including a successful run on Broadway. This is just a graduate showcase for the School of Drama Bachelor of Fine Arts students, but boy, you’d never know it: it plays like a professional version.

Despite the quintessentially American trappings with Thanksgiving and little league baseball, it is amazing how this musical takes on new meaning in Hong Kong. With a new Cantonese translation (Wong Cho-lam, Li Wing-hong), there are lots of fun updates like a reference to “Baby Shark” instead of “Frère Jacques”. Even accidentally, in Cantonese, Snoopy’s imaginary fight against “The Red Baron” takes on connotations of the fight against a “red” communist regime. But really, the central themes of school-bred anxiety in children, and “Give me a child till he’s seven, and I will show you the man”, are universal.

Though ostensibly a cast of “actors who sing”, as opposed to musical theatre students, the quality of the vocal ensemble, not to mention electrifying choreography (Tony Wong), is already professional standard.

The cartoon, cardboard-cutout set (Siu Jiou) is a huge part of the action, with a row of portholes serving as everything from traffic lights to Charlie Brown’s (Kwong Oon-hin) anxiety, shown through massive eyes shifting left and right. Get a ticket to the next graduate showcase; you might just be seeing the stars of tomorrow.

Follow the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts online.

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