Posts Tagged ‘harry potter

02
Apr
17

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone In Concert

 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone In Concert

J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World & CineConcerts

Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre

Saturday April 1 2017

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

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We’re at Brisbane’s Convention and Exhibition Centre with a crowd that is not your ordinary theatre crowd, although perhaps it’s a new theatre-ish crowd, and we get some interesting looks ourselves, as if we’re the odd ones out. We’ve swept into the venue at the last second, having parked at QPAC because we always park at QPAC (it’s automatic now; the car can magically get itself there), which means that when the show is not there, a graceful-as-a-giraffe little run down Grey Street and across the road is required to get to the right box office. This mixed crowd, in the Convention Centre foyer, is not expecting an evening of live theatre.

They’re here for a movie concert, the first of a new genius series from CineConcerts, featuring your local symphony orchestra playing every note of a Harry Potter film shown on a 40-foot screen.

It may be a movie night but it’s an entirely theatrical event! The vibe is electric and a great number of hard-core fans are proudly wearing Gryffindor shirts, and ties and sweaters and robes. Everybody is so excited to be here.

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We take our seats moments before the house lights go down and when Conductor, QSO’s Sarah Hicks, appears, she is welcomed by appreciative applause. She smiles and asks if there’s anyone who’s never been to a live orchestral performance. Many hands go up, and she smiles encouragingly, inviting everyone to get involved. In true pantomime fashion, we should feel free to cheer for our hero and boo the villains. There’s no question about whether or not we’ve seen the film or read the book… No matter what our individual stories are, we’re in for a treat!

I wonder how the orchestra will precisely match the action, but only for half a second before Hicks raises her baton and the Warner Bros logo appears on screen as we hear the first sounds from the string section. A collective shiver runs through the Great Hall. It’s perfect. It’s actually intense. Every moment of the movie becomes sharper and more vital. The entire underscore, which we might forget is there sometimes, when we see the film at home or originally, in the surround sound cinema, comes alive. Every moment of discovery, joy, anticipation, trepidation, celebration and dread is able to be fully experienced, savoured.

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And unless we glance at the musicians on stage from time to time, or become mesmerised watching them at their craft, as I do while the harp plays to keep three-headed Fluffy asleep (it’s so beautiful, the sound of faerie slumber), or while the percussionists keep up with thousands of magical additions, intellectually, we almost take for granted that the music is live. But at the same time, soulfully, we’re experiencing something very special. Like a festival event, there’s a true communal feeling, a momentary connection with people we’ve never met, because we all just want Harry to defeat Voldemort! We know this is only the very beginning of an epic battle, which represents something for everyone. And it’s delightful to see this film again, so beautifully realised, and it’s so funny, I’d forgotten.

Poppy has been terrified for years by the more frightening moments in the film, and has never actually watched in its entirety, The Philosopher’s Stone or any of the subsequent films. I’d made this event a surprise so she couldn’t back out and offer her seat to someone else, and she was hesitant about it, telling me she might need to hide under my wrap when we know Voldemort is about to appear. Well, she did hide towards the end, but after settling into the first few magical bars of the music I saw a grin spread from ear to ear as Harry celebrated his 11th birthday and took off to Hogwarts with Hagrid. Guess what’s on in the background as I write this? Poppy has taken out the DVD box collection and put on The Philosopher’s Stone, and as we hear the familiar strains of John Williams’ evocative opening bars, she laments, “The music’s not as good!”

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Our Queensland Symphony Orchestra gives The Philosopher’s Stone a new, unique, incredibly magical quality, the full, rich sounds of the live music letting us dive in deeper, remember our original experience of the film and enjoy J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World all over again.

 

Don’t miss the next exciting event in the QSO / Cineconcert series on October 7 Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets 

 

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23
Mar
12

Dickens’ Women

Dickens’ Women

AMcK Fine Entertainment

QPAC Playhouse

Featuring Miriam Margoyles

Directed by Sonia Fraser

Reviewed by Michelle Bull

 

‘A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other 

Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

Tonight, I met some wonderful individuals that made me giggle and then in the next breath come close to tears. Tonight I was surprised, enthralled and captivated by both fascinating and fickle stories. I eavesdropped on conversations that transported me into another era. Tonight, the delightfully engaging Miriam Margolyes introduced me to Dickens’ Women.

 

 

Presented by AMcK Fine Entertainment, and written by Miriam Margolyes and Sonia Fraser (Director), Dickens Women draws from classics such as Nicholas Nickleby, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Little Dorrit, Bleak House and Great Expectations, combining sensitive insight into the life of Dickens himself, with a thoroughly entertaining exploration of his most colourful literary personalities.

 

 

Elegantly accompanied by John Martin on piano, this is an intimate conversation in which Margolyes shares her inherent fascination and love for the work of Charles Dickens, in a way that reveals the unavoidable humanity of the literary great and that of his celebrated characters.

The set itself is minimalistic, and effectively so. Reflecting the cosy ambiance of a period drawing room (complete with a portrait of Charles Dickens himself), the simple design is functional and not without its own story, Margolyes telling the story of Dickens favoured reading desk, a replica of which is used throughout the show. Different levels of staging and creative lighting design (Mark Hammer) are also used to effectively create a sense of intimacy and adaptability that suits the ever-changing environment of the show.

Margolyes embodiment of each character is compelling. Brought to life through a combination of skilful characterisation and infectious storytelling, Margolyes is careful not to alienate those of us who may not know each of Dickens’ characters as intimately as she. Each is seamlessly introduced to the audience, just as one would introduce one friend to another, biography and storytelling going hand in hand as parallels between the characters and Dickens’ own relationships are revealed, with no apologies for the often shocking and chauvinistic caricatures of Dickens’ imagination!

Margolyes management of Dickens’ text is beautiful and evident of a true respect for the contours and nuances of the English language. I found myself at times luxuriating in the sheer poetry of the words themselves. Her eloquent and stylish delivery creates a believable portrayal of each individual, her voice and physicality taking on each character in comprehensive detail. The transformation is instantaneous, as she expertly switches between a young flippish seventeen year old girl (Little Nell) to that of a stately matron (Mrs Jarley), (Old Curiosity Shop). Her portrayal of the delightful interaction between Mr Bumble and Mrs Corney (Oliver Twist), is hilarious, her physicality and comic timing making this particular scene one of my personal favourites!

The show is not without its sombre moments and it’s within these that Margolyes performs with a sense of poise and stillness that is captivating to watch. Her portrayal of both the tormented Miss Wade (Little Dorrit) and the dottery Miss Flite (Bleak House) highlights the fragility and essential humanity of these characters. Heartbreakingly and honestly beautiful.

Miriam Margolyes is undoubtedly one of the finest character actors of her time and in her performance of Dickens’ Women, demonstrates her passion for Charles Dickens’ work. The show flows seamlessly from story to biography to character play, in turn giving a wonderful introduction to the life, women and works of a literary great. Dickens’ Women is a show that in it’s exploration of Dickens’ characters of yesterday, draws parallels with our lives today as it delves into a wonderful writer’s imagination and inspires all those who love a good story.

 

“They’re not just voices on their own. There’s a person inside there. You’ve got to get inside the person…”

 

09
Feb
12

Dickens 200th Anniversary: Dickens’ Women

Did you know it was Charles Dickens’ birthday on Tuesday? He would have been 200 years old!

The British Council has an exciting schedule of events in 2012, to celebrate worldwide, Dickens’ 200th anniversary. We are lucky enough to welcome the return of the extraordinary BAFTA®-winning actress, Miriam Margolyes, in her one-woman show, Dickens’ Women.

Andrew Denton is a big fan of Margolyes:

Miriam Margolyes is just a little different to most actors. She has done Dickens … she has been a penguin, a sheepdog and a glow-worm. You may also know her as Professor Sprout from Harry Potter. Her CV is as unlikely as the woman herself.’ 

In Dickens’ Women, Margolyes will bring to life 23 of Charles Dickens’ most affecting female (and male!) characters, including Mrs Micawber from David Copperfield, Miss Havisham in Great Expectations and the grotesque Mrs Gramp in Martin Chuzzlewit. “They are real to me,” she says.

“Dickens’ women were chosen not only because they are some of the most colourful and entertaining characters in his writing, but because they were based on real people in his life; people he fought with and cared for, loved and hated,” explains Miriam. “In this way, the play is as much about the man himself, as it is about the 23 characters. These characters are drawn from his novels & sketches, including his most popular such as Oliver Twist, Great Expectations and Nicholas Nickleby. Some characters are famous & iconic, others are lesser-known creations from Dickens’ books, but all offer a unique glimpse into the real-life Charles Dickens.”

For Margolyes, it all comes down to the voice. She once said, “Voices are people,” and recently, when speaking with Sharon Verghis of the Weekend Australian review (February 4th -5th 2012), “Voices betray people perhaps in ways they never imagine.” This reveals a lot about the woman (more vulnerable than one would think, according to Verghis) and about her characters (“the mixture of evil and comedy that is particularly Dickensian.”)

Margolyes’ career began within the BBC Drama Department, in radio roles and voiceovers and quickly spanned TV (Blackadder), film (The Age of Innocence) and theatre (she was Madame Morrible in the original West End production of Wicked).

Miriam Margolyes as Madame Morrible in the original West End production of Wicked

“Directors are always saying to me, ‘A bit less, Miriam’.

And with Dickens, you don’t have to do that.”

Miriam Margolyes in conversation with Sharon Verghis

Dickens’ Women was developed by self-confessed “Dickens’ tragic”, Miriam Margolyes and Sonia Fraser for the 1989 Edinburgh Festival. It has since travelled worldwide, including London, Jerusalem, Santa Cruz, New York, Boston, Sydney, and all over India. In 1992, Dickens’ Women was nominated for the prestigious Olivier Award. 2012 will be busy for Miriam Margolyes; she is also appearing in the ABC’s new series Phryne Fisher Murder Mysteries based on the best selling series by Kerry Greenwood and set in the 1920s in Melbourne. Miriam will play Mrs Prudence Stanley, Phryne’s Aunt.

Don’t miss the opportunity to see Miriam Margolyes live on stage, only at the QPAC Playhouse and the Gold Coast Arts Centre in March.

What:             Miriam Margolyes in Dickens’ Women in BRISBANE

                           Presented by Andrew McKinnon Fine Entertainment

Venue:           Playhouse, Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC)

Date:              March 22 – 24

Website:      www.dickenswomen.com

Tickets:       www.qpac.com.au

What:             Miriam Margolyes in Dickens’ Women – GOLD COAST

                           Presented by Andrew McKinnon Fine Entertainment

Venue:           Gold Coast Arts Centre

Date:              March 21

Website:        www.dickenswomen.com

Tickets:         http://www.theartscentregc.com.au

Miriam Margolye – Biography

She is a British award-winning actress who has achieved success on both sides of the Atlantic as well as in Australia. Winner of the BAFTA Best Supporting Actress award in 1993 for The Age of Innocence, she also received Best Supporting Actress at the 1989 LA Critics Circle Awards for her role in Little Dorrit and a Sony Radio Award for Best Actress in 1993 for her unabridged recording of Oliver Twist. She was the voice of the Matchmaker in Mulan & Fly, and the mother dog in one of Australia’s most successful films Babe.
Major film credits during her long and celebrated career include Yentl, Little Shop of Horrors, I Love You To Death, End of Days, Sunshine,Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence, Cold Comfort Farm and Magnolia. She starred in Stephen Hopkins’ The Life and Death of Peter Sellers,Modigliani, Istvan Szabo’s Being Julia and Ladies in Lavender (dir. Charles Dance, with Dames Smith & Dench). Margolyes was Professor Sprout in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Most recently, Margolyes appeared in The Dukes, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (with Simon Pegg) and Blind Man’s Bluff.
Most memorable TV credits include Old Flames, Freud, Life and Loves of a She Devil, Blackadder, The Girls of Slender Means, Oliver Twist, The History Man, Vanity Fair and Supply and Demand. Her 2004 BBC TV documentary series Dickens in America was a worldwide success. In May 2010, she starred in the UK TV series, MERLIN.
In 2002, H.M The Queen awarded Miriam the Order of the British Empire for her services to Drama.

In the early years of the twenty-first century, we still sometimes see the world as a ‘Dickensian’ place. On the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’s birth, we look at how his example and his creations live on. Dickens was one of the greatest of Victorians, but this seminar is about the Dickens who continues to be our contemporary. What do today’s writers still learn from him? What do readers of fiction expect because of him? What would he write – and what would he write about – if he were alive today? Dickens was a writer who broke the rules of tasteful composition. He revelled in caricature and hyperbole; he rifled the language for absurd idioms and resonant clichés; he loved the grotesque. Are his stylistic freedoms still available to writers today? He was also a satirist who was confident he knew the difference between good and evil. He was always ready to step into his novel to exhort or lecture his readers. Can contemporary novelists draw on the same moral fervour? He wrote novels that seemed to be about what was called ‘the condition of England’; he sometimes seemed to anatomise a whole nation. Do we still hope that novelists will take on such a task? Is it even possible to do so?

– Professor John Mullan

Dickens' Dream (unfinished) by Robert William Buss (1804 - 1875)

06
Feb
12

A Very Potter Musical

A Very Potter Musical

Lost Boys Theatre Company

Metro Arts Studio

2nd – 4th February 2012

If you’ve seen on YouTube, A Very Potter Musical (Book & Score by Darren Criss & A.J. Holmes), you’re already either a big fan or a hater. Haters gonna’ hate, y’all. But the big fans got themselves and their friends along to Metro Arts on the weekend to see The Lost Boys Theatre Company’s stellar starter production. Yes, it was their debut on the Brisbane theatre scene. Yes, there are some things that will improve in future with a little more attention to detail across the board but this was a great, fun, free show, delivered confidently, by a new, fun-loving company who deserves our support.

The brainchild of Joshua Correa (Director) and Sarah Harvey (Producer), the Lost Boys are a group of very young, very talented performers who claim they are “not trying to be the BEST theatre company, just the COOLEST.” A few of the faces are familiar because, well, performers gonna’ perform, aren’t they?

This is not the production you’ll see online. Starkid Productions, a group of music, theatre and dance students from the University of Michigan’s School of Music, created a cheeky parody (for $150) for their families and friends, of J.K. Rowling’s successful stories about The Boy Who Lived and helped by other comedies such as Starship and Me and My Dick – I didn’t make that up – very quickly discovered a worldwide cult fan base of epic proportions. A Very Potter Musical Act 1 Scene 1 has over 8 million hits on YouTube!

If you’ve been living under a rock or at Pigfarts, on Mars, you might not know the story so here’s a brief synopsis. Reluctant kid wizard, Harry Potter (The Boy Who Lived), returns for a new year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry with his friends, Hermione and Ron, basically to study as little as possible and to kill Harry’s nemesis, Voldemort (The Dark Lord), who is living parasitically at the back of Professor Quirrell’s head. What the Lost Boys have done very well is to make this production their own and in doing so, they have improved on the original.

This Harry Potter is written as a self-absorbed, fame-affected prick and Dakota Striplin, last seen (with Tom Oliver and Emma Taviani) in Oscar Theatre Company’s Spring Awakening (2011), plays it to the hilt, as well as playing guitar throughout, which gives him a real rock star quality – including the unlikeable bits brought about by fame and fortune – lifting the game from the outset. Another notable improvement is that Clay English has choreographed where Starkid has not and despite seeing all of English’s best Broadway/YTT moves in the opening number, the energy and parody benefit.

The band was split, with the drummer on stage, and not just onstage but upstage dead centre, a spot that would otherwise have made a convenient entrance and exit. I hated seeing the tabs either side pushed aside to make way for the performers. The band is terrific (only Musical Director, Ben Murray, is credited in the program), however; early on they drown out unamplified voices. Now, in the small Studio space, the voices shouldn’t need amplification but if you’ve got a loud band and inexperienced singers without the vocal strength required to fill even that small space, do amplify them (or box your band)! Tough gig, Joel Redding (Sound Designer). A simple, open set serves the performers well (Set Designer Daniel Harvey) and, ably lit by Michael Rogerson (Lighting Designer), we focus on the characters and their ridiculous, OTT antics.

Emma Taviani is a sweet, book-hugging Hermione, The Bold and The Beautiful of this production, complete with fixed gazes out front prior to her exits. Tom Oliver is a continuously snacking, hilarious Ron Weasley. This role allows Oliver’s comic and vocal ability to come through in a most relaxed manner. As Severus Snape, Cameron Whitton is the ultimate sneering, gliding, glaring, suspicious professor, making the most of his sweeping and dramatic entrances and exits. In boxer shorts, blue cape and rainbow hat, is Robert Pigdon as Dumbledore, more oddball than endearing, with an odd NYC accent that seemed out of place (as it does in the original). I should mention at this point, in case you’re imagining that due to its British origin, this is a British story with British accents, the vast majority of characters speak (and sing) in American accents. Do the American accents make the show funnier? Not really, just more American. And which generation is enjoying the additional American-accented course language? I wonder. On the other hand, scene-stealer, Lauren Neilson, played pretty Draco Malfoy as the British snob that he is. Although Neilson seemed at first inexperienced or insecure, mimicking the original performance, she warmed to the role, rose to its challenges and ended up delivering a better version of it with some fabulous comedy, mostly in the form of completely over the top choreographed…well, everything! Her every line was supported by fluid and controlled athletic-balletic-Matrix moves that had the audience falling about laughing until we are crying. I would like to see even more time taken over these moves, now that the joke has been tried and tested in front of an audience (and executed with far greater competence than that which we see on YouTube). But sadly, the season is done. Neilson could not have executed many of her moves without the able assistance of her comical henchmen, Lachlan Geraghty (Crabbe) and Nic Mohr (Goyle). Some great character work there. Sally Lloyd was lovely as Ginny Weasely and would certainly develop vocal strength and greater confidence before the end of a longer run.

Together, Anthony Craig as Professor Quirrell and George Kennedy as Voldemort, were bosom buddies of the most bizarre kind. The cooperative work of this kooky couple was fantastic and Kennedy’s song and dance number a showstopper. The ensemble was complete with Dallin Williams (Cedric Diggory), Allison Nipperess (Neville Longbottom), Kristen Barros (Mrs Weasley/Pansy), Kelly Smith (Bellatrix Le’strange), Samantha Lan (Lavender Brown) and Lauren Jimmieson (Cho Chang).

A Very Potter Musical is a wonderfully, funny, quirky show, with catchy, toe-tapping tunes and politically incorrect jibes and in-jokes, which the true fans of Harry Potter must drink up just as easily as their butterbeer, which, strangely, was not available at the theatre, nor downstairs at Verve. An oversight? Too short a season to offer it? Not necessary? I’ve provided a recipe below so you may BYO (Brew Your Own) the next time this show comes to Brisbane. Despite the lack of butterbeer (or chocolate frogs for that matter), the diverse pool of talent involved in this production indicates that The Lost Boys Theatre Company is one to watch and this, their debut effort, performed for free, is one to applaud.

The Lost Boys had the kind support of Vast AV, Metro Arts, Elisabeth Harvey, Christian Aas

and Harvest Rain Theatre Company

Butterbeer recipe courtesy of misterhope.com