Harriet Thorpe to host and narrate West End concert of new LGBT musical FACING EAST, to benefit Stonewall and Pride in London

Facing East The Musical Banner
FACING EAST IN CONCERT at Shaftesbury Avenue’s Lyric Theatre will be hosted by the WICKED and AB FAB regular and will feature Rebecca Lock, Alasdair Harvey, Peter DiCesare and Michael Vinsen

Based on Carol Lynn Pearson’s stirring play, FACING EAST is a new and intimate musical by David Rigano and Mark-Eugene Garcia.
FACING EAST follows an upstanding American Mormon couple who unexpectedly meet their gay son’s partner whilst dealing with his death. When they’re forced to face a reality long ignored, they must balance their beliefs with their emotions and make peace with this stranger in order to make peace with their loss.

Harriet ThorpeMichael VinsenRebecca Lockofficial pride

Now making its UK premiere for one night only at the West End’s Lyric Theatre, this is one of the first opportunities to hear the soaring new score of this emerging musical following workshops in Dallas and Chicago and ahead of its first fully staged production in 2016. Starring Alasdair Harvey (WE WILL ROCK YOU), Rebecca Lock (PHANTOM), Peter DiCesare (FACING EAST Dallas), Michael Vinsen (THE BOOK OF MORMON) and narrated by Harriet Thorpe (WICKED), FACING EAST IN CONCERT is a truly unique opportunity to be amongst the first to witness this powerful new musical as it completes its development. The performance supports Stonewall, one of the UK’s top LGBT organisations, and Pride in London.
Facing East London Poster

Announcing the concert, producer Nathan Gardner said “We’re delighted to be able to present our show in London, and with such an incredible cast and team. We believe that theatre can make a difference, and it’s an honour to be presenting FACING EAST in support of Pride in London, and Stonewall. We’ve always wanted it to be the show that gives back, and it’s a privilege to be able to support these two organisations that do so much for the LGBT community.”
Tickets, priced from £10 up are now on sale at the Lyric Theatre, by phoning 0844 482 9674 or Online at FacingEastTheMusical.com. All ticket prices include a £1 restoration levy, No booking fees apply to tickets purchased direct in person, by telephone or online. Special rates for groups, schools, concessions and access bookers are available – please contact the box office for further information.

Nathan Gardner and Stephen McGill in association with Deborah Barrigan, Danny Brooke, Sean Bryan, and Joel Marvin present
FACING EAST IN CONCERT
Music by David Rigano
Book and Lyrics by Mark-Eugene Garcia
Based on the play by Carol Lynn Pearson
Featuring Rebecca Lock, Alasdair Harvey, Peter DiCesare, and Michael Vinsen
Hosted and narrated by Harriet Thorpe
Monday 22 June 2015, 7:30pm
Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London
Proudly supporting Stonewall and Pride In London

For more information, or to book online, please visit FacingEastTheMusical.com.

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Travelling North America & beyond!

I forgot I had so many blogs on so many sites… excuses I know. We all have them don’t we?

Been away for about a year & a half now travelling the north American continent. Travelled to a lot of American states & fell in LOVE with Canada – and also found my soul mate (cliché I know) who just so happens to be a mix of both!
I’ve experienced a lot over the time away, and coming back to the UK & Europe I noticed that the grass IS greener over there. A BIG eye opener in certain ways.

oh hey Canada!

As such I have a few blogs in mind to compare all the similarities and differences I have personally noticed. Hopefully you’ll all enjoy reading me moan & praise things as I go!

I also have finally taken a BIG jump in terms of career prospects & life goals. Theatre it seems has taken me in (again!) as you’ll see in the next blog going up. I hope to be updating this more often with a behind the scenes look at what I’m up to when working on various projects. It’s going to be an exciting summer that’s for sure!!

Cloud Atlas Review

For the past couple of months I have been in a creative rut. Lack of inspiration and energy have really come down hard for me until I got Cloud Atlas on DVD!

Cloud AtlasSo bold and daring a film to adapt David Mitchells 2004 novel amazes me that no one has given it the publicity it deserves. Adapted for the screen by the Wachowskis and Tom Tyker the film follows the multiple tales across six different time eras. Each one containing its own message, whilst still being tied to the other in some way. Its thought provoking and engaging throughout. Of course that means its now a total marmite film! Critics have no idea what to make of this film it seems, one minute praising it for its interesting cinematography and editing, then claiming its too confusing and dull.

With such comments coming from reviewers the Wachowskis themselves came out talking on the films reception in an interview on the A.V. Club website. Andy stating “…as soon as (critics) encounter a piece of art they don’t fully understand the first time going through it, they think it’s the fault of the movie or the art.” One thing from the interview that really got my attention was from Lana “We don’t want to say, “We’re making this into mean this.” What we find is that the most interesting art is open to a spectrum of interpretation.”
This really rang out to me as when we look back at films from early cinema we hold them up as art, something to be looked at in wonder at the technical mastery of its time, or the beauty in its emotions and speech. But can we do the same for modern cinema? Critics either love or hate things, and its all relative and personal at the end of the day, but can we not just feel indifferent about this art form?

Of course the film has some negative points, a few of the story lines drag more than they need to at points, and yes, some of the race changes are VERY noticeable. Whilst it was obvious it didn’t really detract from my enjoyment of the film and it even made me giggle seeing Hugo Weaving play the strict Nurse Noakes during one of the tales. Why people are calling this film confusing is beyond me, it’s no more confusing than Inception was to be honest – although I would say Inception was an easier concept to keep up with. The editing in the film adds SO much more powerful punch, cutting between stories at moments of similarity and juxtaposition.

My interpretation from the film is the big question on what makes humanity what it is? In all the stories we see the good and the bad, constantly being repeated over the years. “Why do we keep making the same mistakes?” as Luisa Rey states. Our compassion for one another as humans is transcendent of social class, gender, sexuality, even creation. At the end of the day the one truth is that we are all the same, we label ourselves and others. “Truth is singular. Its ‘versions’ are mistruths” Sonmi-451. These are just some of the things that move me and made me think and debate in my head – It has really sparked off in there!

One quote that sums up the whole film for me (and made me and my friend cry and almost stand up clapping in the cinema):

Haskell Moore: “There is a natural order to this world and those who try to upend it do not fair fell. This movement will never survive, if you join them you and your entire family will be shunned; at best you’ll exist as pariah to be spat on and beaten, at worst lynched or crucified. And for what? For what? No matter what you do it will never amount to anything but a single drop in a limitless ocean.”
Adam Ewing: “What is an ocean, but a multitude of drops?”

Final verdict:
I say give Cloud Atlas a chance, ignore those negative reviews about it, get your own opinion of this beautiful film! (Also pick up the book)

8/10

So have you seen the film? what are your views on it? Let me know in the comments section! 

Star Trek Into Darkness Review

HOLY SHIT THIS IS AMAZING. 
Boldly going into my top films collection!
End.
lol

The Enterprise and her crew are still having a few teething problems it seems when it comes to StarFleet’s codes and regulations, something that has to be quickly sorted out as terror bombings in London, and subsequent murder of more innocents in another, the crew are tasked by Admiral Marcus (RoboCop’s Peter Weller) to go deep into Klingon territory and hunt down John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) for his war crimes. But all is not what it seems, with a few twists and turns along the way things go from bad to worse for the crew and StarFleet becomes a very questionable federation!

Much like the first time round its the bromance between Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) that the film focuses in on. Having had their destinies changed by Nero in the first film their characters are conflicted, both within themselves and with each other. You can see Spock struggling with his emotional human side vs his logical vulcan side, especially when it comes to his relationship with Uhura (Zoe Saldana). Whilst Kirk covers his self-doubt to do the job with his smug attitude.

Right, I was going to do this almost spoiler free, with spoilers at the end for those that want it, but I want to geek out here! so apologies for that people but yeah…
(Skip to after spoilers/ final verdict)

Spoilers ahead!! 

‘Into Darkness’ is an alternate timeline ‘Wrath of Khan’ BUT only slightly. You can pat yourself on the back now for guessing that from the first teaser trailer Trekkers 😉 Given the 2009’s huge success for impressing even the non Star Trek fans and rebooting a failing franchise, maybe the bar was set too high for this second movie? A BIG risk was taken by Abrams and co. when rebooting and giving the Trek verse an alternate timeline, I can’t help but feel they played it safe with the story this time around. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a brilliant take, but given they could go anywhere, do anything almost, they didn’t? I can’t work out if its lazy or playing it safe. I guess it’s hard to keep hardcore fans happy but still making it light enough for newcomers to the Trek verse to keep up?

Yes John Harrison is Khan Noonien Singh – BUT no back story was given apart from he and his crew were frozen, so no SS Botany Bay etc. With having recently re-watched the Wrath of Khan (thanks Film4!) It was useful to see how Ricardo Montalban’s Khan was portrayed compared to Benedict’s. To be honest they’re both as good as each other, but I will have to give it to Cumberbatch simply for the sheer brutality of his Khan. The most original Khan done that was brutal was put creepy critters in people’s ears and quote Moby Dick at a screen (though rather epic to be fair!). This Khan, wipes out a whole patrol of klingons and their ships single-handedly. This Khan brutally crushes the admirals head in front of his daughters very eyes (cue THE scream from the trailers) It’s implied gore not seen on-screen for obvious reasons, but he’s terrifying! I finally see why everyone was raving about Cumberbatch now. Not being a fan of that Doctor Whoish written Sherlock series I didn’t get his interpretation of Holmes AT ALL. Having not seen him in anything else I was simply left wondering why so many people (mainly girls on tumblr) were going mental for him. But now I get it, the mans voice just screams evil power, he was born to play villains and is wonderfully cast as this films!

Next on the spoils – Indeed we were all right, they do the death scene from Wrath of Khan, but this time its Kirk not Spock that dies from radiation. I know I’m gonna be cast out by Trekkers (if I haven’t already) here but… I preferred it this way round! As moving as it was to see much beloved Spock die in Wrath of Khan, Kirk dying hit me harder.

Over the two movies we’ve seen this young Kirk lose his father, lose his replacement father in Pike, and now with his only surviving family left, his crew, in danger hell yes he’ll make the sacrifice play. Once the danger is over, things play out almost identically to Wrath of Khan. Scottie calls Spock to come down, he races through to engineering to see a broken Scottie look towards the core. There pressed upon the glass is Kirk. And so started the sniffs and out came the tissues to nearly all the female Trekkers in the audience. Their exchange is so moving, it all ending with the pair finally realising that they have become the closet of friends too late. “I’m scared Spock”. Hands to the glass. Spock sheds a tear(!) then screams “KHAAAANNNNNN!!!” (and I had to hold back all the emotions!)

Seriously SO much better than the original – maybe because Shatner’s hammy acting always ruins the scene for me in WOK – but this role reversal works for the reboot so well. All the way through the film Spock has been a vulcan through and through, and in this moment his love for his friend and hatred for Khan break into his human side and boy does he go on a rampage after Khan in the films closing moments! My Jaw hit the floor and at one point I even blurted out in glee a ‘holy shit!’

Now no film is without sin and a few plot holes did occur during the film. But by the time you had them in your head they were blasted away at warp speed and never lingered on too long, which for me was fine. For example, near the end the Enterprise gets shot out of warp by the Admiral’s dreadnought ship above the Earth yet no other Star Fleet vessel comes to investigate this or anyone try to hail either ship. Do Star Fleet make a habit of ignoring whats happening in orbit of Earth until the ships are falling towards them?

Apart from Kirk, Spock, & Scottie the rest of the crew members seem to be just there. McCoy serves as a simple metaphor machine which is all well and good, especially when even Kirk says “would you stop with all these metaphors?!” but I feel they’ve missed out on showing the entire crew as a family. Uhura is only used when she and Spock have to argue about his emotionless behaviour or to speak Klingon that one time (though she made it sound almost sexy haha). They feel under-used and its a shame as that was and still is one of the reboots best parts – its casting is perfect!

Another part that stood out to me as annoying was where Spock calls future Spock on New Vulcan to ask about this mysterious Khan and if he had come into contact with him. It just seems like an excuse to bring Nimoy back into the film, it just seemed a bit pointless to the plot given where it was used. It doesn’t add anything to newcomers, it only reminds Trekkers again that this is an alternate timeline version of Wrath of Khan. 

Now one gripe a lot of Trekkies have with the reboot films is that it’s too action orientated, which I can see their point, but hold the fuck up, apart from ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’, they have all been action/adventure films. So don’t act like the original films were grand space dramas like the TV show, they weren’t! I can however see this film potentially polarising a lot of Trek fans, some will love it and some will hate it for retreading a popular storyline/character. Its focus on the action and not the exploration is actually addressed within the film itself if you pay attention!

Spoilers over with! 

If you’re not a fan of Star Trek go and see this movie, you’ll soon become one! If you are a fan of Star Trek go and see it and be highly entertained by one of this summers awesome films. Take pride in seeing something we’ve loved for a long time be viewed by millions more in a positive light rather than being simply passed over. I look forward to hearing about a third in the series of films!

Final verdict:

Overall I’m putting this up there as my favourite Star Trek film. Regardless of its plot holes it’s wonderfully paced, exciting, funny, smart and well acted throughout with standout performances again by Pine & Quinto. I am already making plans to see this movie again over the weekend!

8.5/10 

(Oh and Noel Clark’s “I can’t say what I do because it spoils” on his TV rounds: Na, it don’t, he blows up what is presumed to be a Star Fleet records bank for John Harrison after he saves his daughter’s life. That’s it. It’s like 2 lines and some stares for no more than 3/4mins max! The woman who takes over the helm has more lines/ screen time than him LOL)

So have you seen the film yet? what are your views on JJ’s modern take on Star Trek? Let me know in the comments section! 

Happy endings?

As an aspiring writer I had noticed something very interesting in 2012 when it came to the world of game writing. I find this a fascinating industry for writers to be in, but can’t help but wonder if you have to sell out before you can make it? Over the year we saw a lot of game trilogies come to an end, yet the third act to nearly all of them have left a sour taste in every gamers mouths it seems.

Looking back at the start of 2012 we had Mass Effect 3. The space epic created by Bioware this game managed to redefine player controlled story in a game. Players could choose how to react to situations throughout each game and would have to deal with the consequences of those actions. It worked very well during the first game and was made even better by the second; choices from the first were taken over to the second and onward to the third and final part.

That’s a lot of content to write for, a lot of alternative options to be taken at every step, the team of writers done a wonderful job… until the last few moments of Mass Effect 3 that is. It seems with their lead writer from Mass Effect 1 (and co-lead writer for ME2) Drew Karpyshyn gone they forgot about the overall arc and what we were left with was an ending so bad it caused a media storm over fan reactions to it. How did a game praised for its brilliant writing become shamed by it? Was this unavoidable though? The games ending can’t please everyone after all and the writers have to end it as best they can given the varied choices throughout all 3 games. But I can’t help but feel that laziness was the issue here, having one ending painted 3 different colours to give the illusion of choice does not sit well with audiences Bioware learnt. They since have had to go back and “re-edit” the endings for free because of their poor choices… how ironic.

Towards the end of the year another big series of games came to an end; Assassins Creed 3 has a similar tale of third act woes. I question if the writing team had any say on matters when it came to AC3; the ending was so poorly written I was left speechless – had I really invested 3 games (well 5 if we count the two large DLC editions) for such a throw away ending? what happened to this great story arc? When the first game came out way back in 2007 the story itself had a deadline – Desmond Miles had to stop the Templars before December 21st 2012. The writers had five years to work through two more games to conclude this story, yet by AC2 in 2009 this overall arc was put way into the background it seemed. Two further games came out (Brotherhood 2010 & Revelations 2011) and still no big advancements had been made on their overall arc. As a player you knew 2012 was vastly approaching in actual time now and it was frustrating. Could it be the production company “milking it” as it were – what was a trilogy became a game that was being released every year since 2010.

assassins-creed-1-2-3-altair-ezio-connor

I can’t understand how writers can lose sight of their overall story arc. Are the writers even to blame in the industry though? Lead writers leaving before the end of their created arcs as in Mass Effect 3 – was this to do with Directors, Producers, Designers, Publishers wanting more control over the story? Maybe Assassins creed 3 is an example of why these people shouldn’t have a say in story, who knows what happened there at the moment. If you have writers that can create amazing worlds and characters that excite your audience don’t force them to change what they’re doing! There’s only so much “It was our creative vision” and “artistic integrity” an audience can take.

HMV & Blockbuster vs New Media

“The production of too many useful things results in too many useless people” Karl Marx. 

A lot of people seem to be mourning the ‘death’ of the High Street these days, but is it dying or just evolving to our needs? Two big chains on our high streets go into administration and whilst I feel bad for those employed by HMV & Blockbuster, I also think that more job loss could still come to those within certain retail areas as our shopping experiences evolve.

Francis Barraud's painting of the fox terrier Nipper.

‘His Masters Voice’
Francis Barraud’s painting of the fox terrier Nipper.

This week HMV and Blockbuster have gone into administration and boy did that make headlines! HMV having been founded in 1921 most of us have grown up with this company and have gotten used to its presence on the high street. But did we forget about what was always there? I for one always forgot that they have an online store as well as a high street store not far from me; so when it came to getting the latest DVD, Blu Ray or CD I would instantly turn to Play.com & Amazon forgetting HMV entirely. Are we then to blame for HMV’s departure? I don’t think we are. Sure I have memories of going into the stores and spending hours there going through their collections, but who has time anymore? We’d rather browse on our phones, laptops, computers and tablets.

With most of our entertainment retail being done online now, where do all those who were employed within the stores now go for jobs? We’ve made the act of buying products easier with the use of the internet but there are still BIG improvements that need to be done in terms of quality of service. How many times have you experienced problems with online services only to call/email/online message the company to ask for help and got held in a queue or got an incompetent person? Why am I having to wait 4-6 business days for my dvd to be delivered to my house when I could drive to the warehouse and collect it quicker? It’s here that I think companies now need to employ those who have been made jobless due to no fault of their own.

It is interesting though that even though the entertainment stores are suffering the clothing stores are not. Given the popularity of online stores such as Asos.com many of the high street stores still exists and are still getting the customers in. I for one do not like buying clothing online due to the fact that in one shop I could be a small size, then in another store a medium size. So trying on before buying just creates less hassle for me!

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A lot of blame(?) has been put on the digital forms of music and film. Via iTunes, Napster, Spotify etc. you can now download the latest movies to add to your virtual collection. Equally the rise in services such as Love Film & Netflix offering you streaming services of films could be blamed for people not leaving the comfort of their homes to purchase or rent the latest films from stores. Blockbuster was hit the hardest here I feel as they too slowly accepted the changes in how we as customers want to get our media. Ajay Bhalla, a professor at Cass business school, noted “The company, like HMV, failed to transform its business model early enough. When it did, it found a fundamentally altered competitive landscape where the platform model had destroyed the traditional retail one.” 

I’m not overly sold on this whole virtual library stuff to be honest. I still enjoy owning a physical library of CDs, Vinyl’s, DVDs, Blu Rays. There is something pleasing about it, the album art, the box art, the ease of use. If I transferred over to digital there seems to be a lot of strings attached to that decision, strings I don’t agree with as such.

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In a few years time we might be seeing very different shops along the high street , gone will be the entertainment stores and in their place will be more independent stores selling more specialist items. For example a friend of mine recently got back into knitting but when her needle broke she was almost at a loss for where to go to get one; she ended up finding a replacement one the same day from a local charity shop. Sure she could get one online, but wait 3-4 days for it? It will be interesting to see if anyone buys HMV or Blockbuster to keep the brand about, but would they be back on our high streets as a physical store, or more virtual?

But what do you think about it all? Are we to blame or do these companies need to simply get with the times? Let me know in the comments 😀