Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Spam Chicago A Lot

Okay, I'm not suggesting either that we should send lots of junk email to people in Chicago (either the city or the musical that bears its name). Nor tinned meat products from Hornell. (Did I get that name right?) The subject of this particular blog is merely an ugly squishing together of a couple of musical titles, viz. Spamalot and Chicago, as a way of appearing to bring together two topics that are completely unrelated other than by the fact that both have had some of my attention over the last couple of days.

First, the spam thing. Actually, I don't mean to talk about the musical at all. However, I wonder if anyone other than me has noticed a significant (four- or five-fold) increased in the amount of junk mail they are receiving? This has happened to me in the last few days. I first noticed it on Saturday morning. Instead of the usual 5 - 10 messages in gmail junk folder, there were 40 or 50. And thus has it continued for the last few days. I've also had a few instances recently of emails I send not reaching their destinations, or emails sent to me that fail to materialise. I wonder whether the global email system is finally melting down under pressure from the low-life scum who send unsolicited commercial email. And the various scam things.

So, now to the other topic, which this time does concern a musical: Chicago. My cousin and his wife visited us at the weekend, and one of the main things we had planned was to go and see a big west end show. We agreed in advance that Chicago was the best option, mostly because it enjoyed the most popular appeal amongst the four of us. Admittedly, my cousin being a rugby-playing chap, seeing musicals isn't high on his list of priorities, bless 'im. The one thing that made me slightly worried was that the part of Mama Morton is currently being played by Kelly Osbourne. This doesn't strike me as the most inspired bit of casting, nor a decision in which consideration of talent was a factor.
However, the reviews had been surprisingly favourable, and having now seen her performance, I have to admit that the reviewers were probably bribed. Whilst she did manage, most - but not all - of the time, to hit the notes relatively well, she could only do so by maintaining a singular focus on that task to the detriment of anything else. Such as moving. Or acting. Or putting any emotion, comedy, life or spark into the performance. Thus, I was witness to a performance of a hugely funny song (When You're Good To Mama) made to sound dull and lifeless. The young Osbourne was also pretty useless when it came to speaking parts. She delivered the lines, but someone might have considered that an ability to speak isn't quite enough to pull off a decent performance in a show.

In fairness, she wasn't the only disappointment. The guy playing Amos was wrong, wrong, wrong. If only Kelly Osbourne could have played him. At least his character is meant to be dull, dull, dull. And he was, but not in an entertaining and moving way. Just dull.

Billy Flynn was also a disappointment, and couldn't carry his lines above the chorus, so ended up spending most of his best numbers being drowned out by the backing singers.

The two leads, though, were great. Highlights in an otherwise disappointing evening. Well, them and the hot bodies of the male chorus line girls. Wow! Those were worth seeing.

I think the most entertaining part of the evening was when my cousin's chair broke about 5 minutes before the interval. Completely. The cast iron supports just snapped right through. One of the staff (or perhaps they're colleagues these days) tried to find us different seats together, but couldn't. They did find two spare ones in the stalls. I suggested that my Lovely Husband™ (who is scared of heights, and was struggling being in the Upper Circle) and cousin's wife (who was most keen to see a musical) should take them. A good move all round, I reckon.

From their better, and much more expensive seats, those two enjoyed the second half much more than we did, and came away much happier with the experience as a whole. I suspect that even a better seat wouldn't have created a better impression for me. The film was great. The stage show ... it's some songs very loosely strung together, with a minimal set, and none of the glitz that one might reasonably expect, given the cost of the tickets.

I know - I'm a Grumpy Old Man!


David said...

I am such a fan of musicals but
didn't even like the film "Chicago".

How bad must that stage production
have been!

I think there is an "X-factor" generation
who thinks a musical is someone they
"know" getting up and performing.

There is even a rumour going about, though I don't believe it personally, that people in the past actually acquired their celebrity status through a convincing dramatic portrayal in a musical.

Tickersoid said...

The Daily Mail said she was starting to look like a circus clown.