The importance of Theatre…

This month was a time of ups and downs for me, as life usually is for most people. That is sort of just how life is. A few bumps and detours – thrills and spills.

This month however had a few extra thrills that I won’t soon forget.

I have -always- loved the theatre, but like most people growing up I never had the real opportunity to go and see a show. It’s expensive, and not something very close to home. The closest big productions are shown in Toronto – and that is a mad drive from my little city of Brantford. No.. it’s not a distance thing really, but have you tried to drive in Toronto? It’s nuts! The traffic, the people, the noise! It’s intimidating.

So it seemed that I could only live my live performance dreams through listening to musical soundtracks, and occasionally catching the performance of ‘Cats’ on television, or watching and rewatching the DVD’s of  ‘Les Mis’, ‘Moulin Rouge’ or ‘Phantom of the Opera’.

But a good friend of mine seems to be mad enough to love that kind of a drive (and mad enough to be a good friend of mine. Win – win for me at least!) and she also loves the theatre… so this was the perfect combination which lead me to seeing two completely different, but awesome shows.

POTTED POTTER, and WICKED.

‘Potted Potter’ was the first show and was utterly stunning. A hilarious and smart comedy which was rich in tone lively humour and fast paced. We had a seat in the upper lodges which looked down perfectly on the action, and the two stage actors (Brendan Murphey and James Percy) were on point! They played off each other perfectly, and neither of the missed a beat.

Also a special shout out to Daniel Clarkson who was the brilliant writer and creator of the show. And all the other talented people involved in the set design, lighting, production, and managing of the show. You guys did a fantastic job!

All the time watching the show I glanced about the audience and was thrilled to see the awe, wonder, and pure joy in people of all ages. It thrilled me. It made me remember when I was younger and wanted to experience this. It made me want to push kids I know to go out and watch a live production. To put away the silly little electronic devices that they are so reliant on and go LIVE a little.

I left the show with the applause still ringing in my ears, and clutching a little memorial owl to remind me of the awesome time I had. I can’t remember laughing that hard in quite a long time.

Less then a week later I was on my way, with my theatre buddy, back to Toronto with a new exhilaration under my sails. I had such a fantastic time at Potted Potter that I couldn’t wait to see WICKED! And I am so thankful to say that I was not disappointed!

First of all, the Ed Mirvish theatre is a glorious thing to behold!

In Brantford we have a beautiful theatre called the Sanderson Center. It is ornate and has plenty of painted murals and elegant touches.. well the Ed Mirvish looks like it devoured our theatre and became a giant monstrosity of elegance and opulence! While wading through an ocean of people I couldn’t help but stare at the murals and marble and rich décor. I felt like I was going to be tossed out for not bringing enough class to such a joint..

But we managed to swim to our seats near the front and stare at the stage which was already awe inspiring. Above us, a huge mechanical dragon head, with red glass eyes, and all around the stage a steampunk dream of gearwork and mechanical workings. Even the curtain which hid the stage was done up as a giant map of OZ, completely with glowing green emerald city..

Now let me just say – I’ve read all the books. I swallowed up Gregory Maguire’s ‘The Wicked Years’ series as quick as I could get my greedy little bookworm hands on them. I even had to wait for the last book “Out of Oz” to become available at Amazon. (trust me, it took a LONG TIME.)

So I was already bouncing on the edge of my seat as the scene opened and the show began.

Where do I start?

Look, I’m not going to ruin it for you. I won’t. I refuse to be that person. All I can say is this: I would see it again in a heartbeat. It was beautiful, magical, and makes my heart flutter thinking about it.

No it doesn’t play out the same in theatre as it does in the books… and that is OKAY! You can love both just as much! But it is a stunning production and the music gave me goosebumps.

So yes… this month has been one of ups and downs – but the downs can not dampen just how awesome some of the experiences have been. I will carry memories of these shows until my grave and it’s only made me crave more of these adventures. I now dream in musical technicolour as I ponder what other shows I can cram into my ordinary life.

Do yourself a favour… go see a live show if only once in your lifetime. Go see it even if you don’t really think it’s your thing. Just experience it at least once.

If you are anything like me, trust me… you won’t regret it.

-Crowskin

 

 

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Some Literary Halloween Treats..

For all you book loving gremlins and ghouls out there I thought I would share a small list of some strange and  relatively obscure novels with Halloween type themes for you to take a closer look at.

I completely understand that everyone has different tastes in their wordy appetite – so these are just my personal picks from some weird and wonderful books I’ve read over the years that reside in the creepy awesome section of my ‘favorite reads’ bookshelf!

I’ll include the Amazon.ca book link, and a mini review of each one, just so you can take a closer look and get a general idea of the book theme, cadence, and tone.

Shakespeare Undead: Lori Handelhand : This isn’t a complicated read, nor is it a literary masterpiece. It is however very entertaining, amusing, and satisfying. I finished it very quickly – but it was also a book I found I couldn’t put down.

It has been a while since I read this one, but it still brings back the warm-fuzzy tingles that twinge in any book-lovers soul when they recall the memories of a good read. If you were a fan of Pride Prejudice and Zombies the movie, or Warm Bodies – give it a look over – has a similar feel in parts though manages to hold up on it’s own.

Fat Vampire: A never coming of age story.. : Adam Rex : A mix of Parody and completely original comedy – this story is gold. It takes the current media portrayal of glamour-vampires (please don’t mention sparkles…) and flips the usual story on it’s head. Instead of simply pushing for the allure and romantic idealism of tween vampire captivation – it instead tells a hilarious, but far more impactful story. It is raw, brutal, light-hearted and in spots very touching as well.

This is a movie I would see, and Adams story flow and character development was well executed! I haven’t picked up any other books by him yet, but he’s definitely an author to look for if he keeps pumping out such raw and unique stories like this one…

Brains: A Zombie Memoir: Robin Becker : Zombies became real popular, real fast. With the popularity of ‘The Walking Dead’ and movies like ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ and ‘Warm Bodies’, we kind of got a lot of them all of a sudden filling the market. (Almost as if it were a plague… *bad rim shot noise in the distance..*)

Robin’s book however differs because of the story-telling position of the characters, as well as the unique way in which she tells their story. The main cast of characters are actually Zombies, and they are complex beautifully flawed individuals. It is a generally light-hearted, strange, sometimes gory tale – but it also has a slight undertone of sadness as well.

If you are anything like me, you will end the book rooting for the troupe of characters and feeling a twinge of remorse that the difficult journey is over. It will be a story, that although simple and unpolished in spots – it is definitely thought provoking and will leave you with a sense of completion, curiosity, and perhaps a bemused smile as your root for the underdogs.

Well those are my three picks for some spooky interesting fiction to take a closer look at this October season. Maybe check your own bookshelves for some spooky favorites that you can share with those you love this holiday season.

Sometimes some tricky tales are the perfect treat to curl up with on a dark and scary night!

 

 

Movie Review: Blade Runner 2049

For something a little different, I thought I would give my honest opinion of the movie “Blade Runner 2049” that I just finished watching a few hours ago.

First of all; I am a huge fan of the original Blade Runner. I first watched it while taking a ‘Villains in Literature’ course during my college years. Back then I did up a report on the movie as well, and explored a lot of the philosophy and familiarity to the original Prometheus and Frankenstein mythos. I also went in depth on who the real ‘villains’ were and what the character motivations broke down into.

But aside from all that I must say the movie itself is just a gorgeous and thought provoking piece. It has remained one of my favorites since then and still holds a fond spot in my heart when I occasionally rewatch it. Because of my love for the original – I was highly concerned when I first heard rumors that Hollywood was going to revisit this specific movie!

Luckily I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. Whew!

‘Blade Runner 2049’ is a sequel piece that follows up about 30 years in the future from the end of the original ‘Blade Runner’ movie. It’s musical score is hauntingly familiar and the atmosphere is highly on point to the original feel of the movie world. The gritty ‘cop noir’ feel remains and the story was not only respected, but added to without over complicating plot points or overshadowing the first movies lore.

I also adored all the throw back cues to the first movie including some of the same footage / audio being used in key places. It made it very cohesive without being a full on “oh my god, they are regurgitating the entire first movie!” information dump. Plus points on that one because follow-up movies sometimes rely too heavily on that.

The run time was almost three hours, which I personally didn’t mind. I understand some people may have been irritated at the slow draw for some of the scenes – but I honestly wasn’t. There were quite a few slow paces in the first movie and I feel it was key in places to take the dramatic moment to it’s furthest edges. It didn’t feel at all that they were simply padding the runtime, but rather building for dramatic effect.

Overall the movie hit all the geeky nostalgic moments, and drew me back into the brilliant world of Replicants. It fired up a new admiration for that cinematic world and the characters within it – and part of me hopes that there is a third movie somewhere down the lines because there are still questions awaiting answers! (Although for certain I am happy to leave those questions tauntingly unanswered if it means avoiding a movie that ruins this films run..)

The only real criticism I have are mainly technical details. Some of the music, although beautifully and hauntingly done – were far too sharp and loud. It was a little too obvious in places that the sharp mechanical noises were emphasised far too much for no real reason. This wasn’t part of the soundtrack, but after-effect noises that were added in for atmosphere, but not in relation to exactly what was going on screen. Sharp mechanical whines or grinding traffic noises that overshadowed the scene.

Perhaps this was an effect that will be lessened on the DVD or Blu-Ray copy – but at the theatre it became distracting fast!

Also – It isn’t a movie I would have wanted to see in 3D. I am very glad I went with a friend who also likes watching movies without all the special 3D effects. Look, it was awesome in movies like AVATAR – but this slower paced and less blaring action type movie just gets muddled up with too much special effects whizzing by. Do yourself a favour and watch it in standard regular ol’ format to get a real feel of it. It’s got enough snazzy atmosphere and visual effects to keep you entertained – I’m sure.

All in all it was one of the more enjoyable movies I’ve seen in a while. Five stars, and I can’t wait for it to become available for purchase!