Archive for April, 2010

Songs For A New World: Reason For A New Blog Post

Posted in Rants, The Life & Times Of Me with tags , , , , , , , on April 27, 2010 by darthtanion

Ahoy, hoy boys & girls.  I’m starting this blog post at 5:30 Ante Meridian (for those of you who don’t speak Latin that means “covered in cheese”) because I’m so excited I can’t sleep.  As I have mentioned in previous blog posts I recently auditioned for Harvest Rain Theatre Company & they liked me… they really liked me.  So much so that they have cast me in their upcoming production of… wait for it… oh I forgot,  it’s in the title of the blog post.  Yeah it’s Songs For A New World.  Kind of ruined my build up there.  Anyway here is a picture.

Songs For A New World

oooooooo... we all look like grown ups.

For those of you not familiar with Songs For A New World it’s a musical/song cycle written for four people, by Jason Robert Brown.  A man famous for writing music so hard it could be used to bludgeon someone to death with & for insisting everyone use all three of his names even though they are almost always abbreviated to just JRB.  This is a production that I am super excited about.  I don’t mean that in the boring, almost sarcastic, Oh-I’m-super-excited kind of way.  I mean that in the traditional, wow-I-think-my-brain-just-exploded-from-too-much-excitement kind of way.  Obviously, performing with an exploded brain does present certain challenges but I’m willing to give it a go.  This is for several reasons.  1)  I get to work with some fantastic people. These guys are some of the best that Brisbane has to offer.  It even says so in this completely impartial article right here.  2)  I have wanted to perform in this musical since I first moved to Brisbane.  There was a production happening just after I arrived here & I was basically told not to bother auditioning.  My ego was sufficiently bruised. 3)  This production of Songs For A New World is going to be different for any other you have ever seen.  Before I auditioned for the role I spoke to a friend who had seen it.  She said she thought it worked better as individual songs rather than as a show.  After talking with our director Tim O’Connor at the first rehearsal yesterday, I can assure you that is not going to be the case when we do it.  He has ideas that are so far from left field they are practically in the right field of the next field over.  (Does that even make sense?) Whatever you think you know about the show should be left at the door.  Don’t worry we’re not going to be re-arranging the music or experimenting with the inclusion of a live rhinoceros.  Tim just has ideas to, without changing anything, give the show much more cohesion & take it in directions no one ever thought of or been brave enough to try. It’s difficult to explain without giving away spoilers but trust me, it’s good.  Of course the most important reason for me to be excited is reason number 4) MY MUMMY IS COMING TO WATCH ME!!!

In all seriousness though, working with three professionals such as these is terrifying & exhilarating all at once.  Aside from the fact that these guys have all worked together before, Luke Kennedy has toured the world with The Ten Tenors & Angela & Naomi are not only well known Brisbane performers but are both part of the singing sensation I raved so much about in my last post, The Divas, so they are all pretty much amahzing.  (Divas fans will get that.)  If you don’t believe me here are a few videos I prepared earlier.

Wow… did you hear those harmonies?!?!  What’s that?  Not enough?  Well check this out.

I have never heard that song sung anywhere else by anyone else but I’m pretty certain this is the greatest version ever.   If you still aren’t convinced then I can only suggest you head over to www.harvestrain.com.au & get yourself some tickets to Songs For A New World.  You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll laugh at other people crying with laughter.  It’s going to be a fun sandwich.  I hope you’ll be part of it.

Are you coming to see the show?  Have you seen the show before?  Do you feel a live rhinoceros would help develop the characters?  Why not say so in the comments section below?

Unless there is a next time,
Goodbye forever.

Luke Venables
Official Star Trek Turtle Next Tester

Advertisements

The Divas: Looking Back On The Dummy Spit Of The Century

Posted in Review, Theatre with tags , , , on April 25, 2010 by darthtanion

Dear people who read this blog,
How have you been?  Apologies for not writing for so long but I’ve had  <insert lame excuse here> so I hope you understand.   With a tremendous amount of thanks to the good folks at Harvest Rain Theatre Company, I was fortunate enough to get the chance to go to see a group of women who have advertised themselves as five of “the greatest singers in the universe.”  This is a pretty hefty statement to live up to.  Especially while Lea Salonga & Ruthie Henshall remain in this plane of existence.  Did they bring the goods?  The only way to find out is to read…

The Divas – One Night Only: The Review

Divas A La Shed Door

Executive Summary: LOL!

Review: First thing first.  I’m going to be honest & up front & say that, for those of you who don’t know, Harvest Rain, the theatre company which put this group of girls together, has recently cast me in their next production.  While they have in NO way endorsed my opinions (I don’t even know if anyone from there has ever actually read my blog) this obviously presents certain issues.  If I say anything bad about the show I run the risk of getting beaten to the ground & spat on during rehearsals but if I say all good stuff nobody will believe me due to my conflict of interest.  To remedy this I have devised a devilishly clever solution.  I’m going to write my honest opinion &, to quote the immortal words of Genghis Khan, “Y’all can bite me!”

It occurs to me that many of you may not know exactly what The Divas are.  I think the only way I can put it is to say they are the brain child of someone who was beaten around the head by an elephant.  The idea is insane.  Five girls playing massively over the top divas who think they are God’s gift to… well, everything & everyone.  Including God.  How can anyone make this work?  Five characters, which are essentially the same, constantly fighting & bickering & trying to outdo one another?  Surely the show would eventually descend into chaos, disorder & long stretches of pointless, poorly ad libbed dialogue.  Having said that, maybe my executive summary didn’t really give a truly accurate description of my feelings towards the evening’s entertainment.  To put it another way, LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!!!!!!  Seriously, I laughed so hard I think I sprained a lung.  It was funnier than that video of the kid getting kicked in the head with the soccer ball.  You know the one.  If I’m truly being honest I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the show as much as I did. (Sorry guys.)  I had seen some of the YouTube videos & while they made me chuckle, it really didn’t seem like a concept that could fill a two-hour show.  I knew I would love the singing because I have heard all of these women sing before but I was pretty certain I would want to stab out my ears whenever they made jokes.  I was so wrong & I’m not just saying that because they had a picture of me in the foyer.

I can't decide who's cuter, me or... me.

Yes, there were lots of jokes where they singers were declaring how lucky the audience was to be seeing them or stealing the lime light from one another but it never once got too much.  They managed to balance it perfectly with some very touching moments.  I really was absolutely stunned because it couldn’t have been easy.  The singing was every bit as brilliant as expected.  These girls blend so well & while the comedy in the show was quite slapstick they all obviously take their music very seriously.  A lot of work had gone into the songs which were beautifully arranged by the amazing Maitlohn Drew.  I guess it would be fair to say that a lot of work has gone into all aspects of the show.  The way it sounded, the way it felt & of course the way it looked.  My better half spent the entire evening complaining about how she wanted every dress that was paraded onto the QPAC Concert Hall stage & I have to say that these ladies are definitely as easy on the eyes as they are on the ears.  At one point, one of the girls (not saying which one) entered from the wings & was greeted with a very prompt & not so subtle “PHWOAR!” from yours truly.  My expression was greeted with a very stern look from my date.

Lastly, I have to mention the wonderful charity with which this group has aligned themselves.  The Divas have formed a partnership with She Rescue Home (<- Click here to show them love) in Cambodia.  This a group that fights for one of the worthiest causes I have ever heard of.  An estimated 45% of young girls in Cambodia are forced into prostitution or human trafficking.  That’s a statistic that made me fall out of my chair & those chairs at QPAC are quite secure so falling out is no easy task.  She Rescue Home is fighting to change this (the statistic, not the chairs) & The Divas donate proceeds from their concerts to the cause.  I really hope they made a packet tonight because I don’t think anyone can imagine the horror to which these young children are subjected & in today’s world such cruelty cannot be tolerated.

So in summary this was the best night of theatre I’ve had for some time.  Good singing, good laughs, good lookers & all for a good cause.  The Divas have another concert coming up soon which will also benefit She Rescue Home so I encourage everyone to jump online & head over to www.thedivas.com.au & await further instruction.  I strongly suggest you see these girls before you (or they) die.  You’ll be glad you did.

In case you missed them here are all of those links again:
www.harvestrain.com.au
www.thedivas.com.au
www.sherescuehome.org

Did you see the show?  Did you wish you saw the show?  Have you been robbed by one of the members of The Divas?  We’d love to hear about it.  Leave a comment in the comment section.

Unless there is a next time,
Goodbye Forever.

Luke Venables
Lord Of The Flies’ Dance Partner

Blackbird: An Awkward Evening Of Theatre Or An Evening Of Awkward Theatre?

Posted in Review, Theatre with tags , , , on April 11, 2010 by darthtanion

Hello, hello, hell no, hello Ladies & Gentle People.  I hope you’ve had a wonderful life so far.  I have once again been fortunate enough to win tickets from Review Brisbane. (<- Click here to show them love.)  This time to La Boite‘s production of David Harrower’s Blackbird.  The timeless tale of a woman who confronts the man with whom she once had an intimate relationship when he was 40 & she was 12.  That’s right folks.  To paraphrase Grant Morrison: Stay close to the sick bag.  This is:

Blackbird: The Review

Blackbird

Executive Summary: A very enjoyable, if slightly icky, evening of theatre.

Review: I’m not really sure how to start this review.  I do want to say good things about Blackbird because it was really good but no matter how hard you try you just can’t get away from the sliminess of the subject matter.  The opening scene, while brilliantly done, just makes you squirm.  I’m really not complaining.  I knew what the play was about when I went in so I wasn’t expecting anything different but that didn’t make it any less awkward.  I’m not talking about “I’m sorry, I forgot your name” kind of awkward.  I mean “Oh dear Lord I’ve just barged into your house & discovered you sitting on the floor of the living room in your underpants crying into a half eaten tin of dog food while watching reruns of Baywatch in slow motion on mute with the soundtrack to Titanic crooning melodiously in the background” kind of awkward.  There’s a difference.  I was constantly sitting there thinking “Wow I’m really enjoying this… does that make me a sick person?” but despite this I still managed to have a good time which means La Boite accomplished their goal.  I really don’t think Harrower or director Mark Conaghan wanted the audience to feel all warm & fuzzy by the end of this 90 minute production.

When I first walked into the theatre I was struck by the size.  Only seating 95 patrons, it’s very small & incredibly intimate.  This really works to the shows advantage.  I think in a large theatre it would be too easy to “look away” or disconnect from the onstage action when you started to feel a little squeamish.  In this theatre, however, if you look away you feel like everybody knows it which makes every disgusting accusation, every heartfelt tear & every tortured scream that much more in your face.  This play was intended to be confrontational & this theatre certainly helps it achieve that.  This was also helped along by some simple but effecting set & lighting design choices.  While to some they may have seemed so simple they were almost incidental I thought they were exactly what they needed to be.

Of course the real driving forces behind this show were the actors themselves.  Kathryn Fray & Daniel Murphy bring a tremendous amount of passion & agony to the stage.  I think it would be very easy to let a show like this start to drag as there are very few changes in setting (basically, two people walk on, two people walk off, in between they have a bit of a chat) but Fray & Murphy really manage to keep you engaged throughout.  I do have to say, on the odd occasion, I just didn’t quite believe what they were saying or doing.  A lot of the physical stuff (throwing, kicking, punching) felt a little uncomfortable & Murphy seemed to start the show completely, 115%, out of his mind distraught & almost never varied.  That might be realistic but when you go to the theatre you don’t want realistic, you want the perception of realism.  Fray managed to give the audience a much wider range of emotions without making me feel like she was just changing for the sake of it.  If I’m being honest, the dialogue from both actors seemed a touch forced when it started to get graphic.  Almost as though they decided they had to add in some rude bits otherwise it wasn’t a serious play.  I know these sound like big complaints but in the grand scheme of things they weren’t.  There were times when I had to swallow a little heavier than usual & times when I even felt a swell of pity for the man who had committed such an unspeakable act.  Rest assured this is not an easy play to pull off but these two do a good job of it.

Blackbird is playing at The Roundhouse Theatre in Kelvin Grove from April 07 – April 25.  If you have an evening to spare, get along & support a little bit of independent theatre.  You might have to shower 15 times afterwards but you will have a good time.

Who Should See It:
-Anyone who likes confrontation in their theatrical outings
-Anyone who enjoys seeing something well done no matter how awkward it makes them feel
-Anyone who likes supporting independent theatre

Who Shouldn’t See It:
-Kids
-Anyone out for a laugh with friends
-Oversized harlequins with lisps

So have you seen Blackbird?  Do you want to see Blackbird?  Do you want to get a copy of the script & burn it in front of the author?  Why not leave a comment & let us know the details?  It’s easy, just click the link below.

Unless there is ever a next time,
Goodbye forever.

Luke Venables
Psychic Felafel Reader

Weird… Just Plain Weird

Posted in Rants, The Life & Times Of Me, YouTube with tags , , , , on April 9, 2010 by darthtanion

How’s it going ladies & gentlemen?  Well I hope.  I’m in a bit of a weird mood today.  Not sure why.  Perhaps it has something to do with the weird Police Office I spoke with.  Those of you who read my blog regularly will know I got robbed recently.  What you may not know is that they caught the criminal who made off with merchandise worth less than the shirt he probably wasn’t wearing & I found out a couple of things:

  1. He was riding a scooter.  Don’t ask me how they know this but I really wish I could have been there to see his face when he found out he had just struggled home on a scooter carrying armfuls of electronics that work less than my handyman since he fell off the room & landed in that coma &
  2. The rules which determine what a police officer can & can’t tell people about the person who broke into their cars is weird.  The conversation went a little something like this.

ME:  I think I’ll call the police station & find out how that criminal guy is getting on in court.  *Calls Police*
OFFICER:  AAAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!  Avast ye land lubber!!!!
ME:  Ermmm… hello.
OFFICER:  Ahoy matey.  State your name & business before I have ye keel hauled & made to eat me mother’s cooking.
ME:  Why are you speaking like a pirate.
OFFICER:  What?
ME:  The way your speaking… it makes you sound like a pirate.
PARROT IN BACKGROUND:  Sound like a pirate…  Sound like a pirate…
OFFICER:  Does it?
ME:  Errr… Yes.  Is it not supposed to?
OFFICER:  By Davey Jones it isn’t.
ME:  What are you supposed to sound like?
OFFICER:  A Frenchman.
ME:  A Frenchman?
OFFICER: Oui.
ME:  Fair enough.  My name is Luke, I’m calling about my car.  It got broken into a couple of weeks ago & I heard they caught the man & he went through court.
OFFICER:  Right ye be, that scallywag.  Hold ye horses while I transfer ye to me other phone.
ME:  *Wait*
OFFICER:  Now let me see.  Argh yes.  He still be going through children’s court.
ME:  Children’s Court?  So he’s a minor?
OFFICER:  I can’t tell ye that.
ME:  But you just said he was going through Children’s Court.
OFFICER:  Aye.
ME:   I’m assuming they don’t put adults through Children’s Court.
OFFICER:  They don’t no.
ME:  So I could take a guess?
OFFICER:  I don’t know ye well enough to know.

I said goodbye & hung up.  Perhaps I was confused by the French accent but the officer sounded almost offended that I would ask if the thief was a minor as though I had stumbled upon some dark secret.  You know that scene in all action movies where the good guy starts digging a little deeper than he should & the seemingly friendly but actually evil businessman says “I really think you let this go, Bruce Willis, before you end up dead like your friend.”?  Well it was like that.

So anyway, the point I’m trying to get across I’m trying to get across is that I’m feeling a little odd & perhaps that why I decided to post this:

Now you may notice this ad is a little different to some of the more common ones.  I have no idea what it’s about but I’m guessing it has something to do with chips & a demonic dog who can morph into the Bride of Chucky preening herself in the mirror before a night at the opera.

She crazy!!!

You've got to admit she's cute for a mass murderer.

I know there is a lot to choose from but I think probably the weirdest thing in the whole clip is this:

I don't get it.

WHAT?!?!

The dog is wearing pants?!?!   So let me get this straight… they put pants on Pervo the Wonder Dog when he is running on his hands but two seconds later it’s ok to have him do a dance consisting of moves which look like something a man wearing nothing but a trench coat might do in the back alley behind your local public toilet?  HOW DOES THIS SELL CHIPS?!?!  To make matters worse I watched another one of their ads.  It consists entirely of a girl hitting herself in the head with a potato!!  I give up.  I’m going home.

Unless there is ever a next time,
Goodbye forever.

Luke Venables
Alpha Centaurian Ice Skating Champion

Kick-Ass: Lodging A Foot In Your Booty

Posted in Movie, Review with tags , , on April 2, 2010 by darthtanion

In the words of the late, great Mark Twain: “Hello.”  I have returned from a relaxing evening of the finest in foreign cinema & once again decided to forcibly rub my opinion in everybody’s face as though it really matters.  Ladies & gentlemen, welcome to:

Kick-Ass: The Review

Kick-Ass

Executive Summary: This movie is so good it almost makes up for Wanted.

Review: Ordinarily when I review a movie I leave any bad things until the end.  This time however I’m going to say them now but only so I can get them out of the way because they are so incredibly obvious.  I have heard about people walking out of this movie because it is so vulgar so I’m going to put this as simply as possible.

IT INVOLVES A 12 YEAR OLD GIRL KILLING PEOPLE IN VIOLENT WAYS WHILE DROPPING THE ‘C’ BOMB!!!!!!

Ok, now I know that may have seemed a tad excessive but now you can’t say you didn’t know.  I guess I should have said “Spoiler Alert”.  If you’re going to walk out because the ‘C’ word offends you that’s fine but don’t complain about how shocked you are.  It’s a movie, which means it plays out the same way every time, so in every screening (including the one you see) that sweet, innocent little 12 year old is going to say that word.  If you don’t like it then don’t see it.  It doesn’t matter if you walk out or not.  Your ticket is still worth the same to the producers & investors as the guy next to you so why support it?  If you’re thinking to yourself “maybe it’s not as bad as everybody is making out” then just let me say:

IT’S AS BAD AS EVERYBODY IS MAKING OUT!!!!!!

There is just no two ways about it; this is an offensive movie & people are going to get offended.  Some people might be upset that I am about to praise such a controversial movie so highly (& believe me I’m going to praise it) but I’ve always believed that in a world where liberty itself seems to face persecution we should not only accept being offended from time to time but demand it.  How else do you know you’re living in a free country?

Right.  Now the good stuff.  THIS MOVIE IS AWESOME!!!  First I guess I should explain my so called “Executive Summary”.  Kick-Ass, as you may or may not know, is based on a comic by one of my all time favourite comic writers; Mark Millar.  One of his finest works is the mini series Wanted.  This was later made into a movie starring Angelina Jolie & James McAvoy.  The movie stank.  Maybe if I wasn’t such a die hard fan I would have enjoyed it because everybody tells me it was a good movie but I just plain hated it.  They diverted so far from the original story (in directions that were never an improvement) that you wouldn’t even call it an adaptation.  You would just call it a mistake.  Look at the best comic book movies of all time.  Batman, Iron Man, 300, Sin City & now Kick-Ass.  They all have one thing in common.  They stayed true to the original intent of the comic; They target the same audience.  This is one area that Kick-Ass excels.  InWanted they shied away from the really offensive stuff.  (Stuff too offensive for me to mention on a family friendly blog.)  While some may see that as noble, I just see it as lazy.  If the original story isn’t the one you want then write your own.  Stop trying to put a square peg in a mongoose’s nasal cavity.  It doesn’t fit.

Many people see vulgarity & violence as the last refuge of the talentless but this movie shows that true brilliance can shine through anything.  You just can’t deny that Matthew Vaughn has put together a very funny, sometimes touching, action hit, no matter how offended you are.  The jokes are hilarious, the fight scenes are fast & brutal &, when it needs to be, the emotion is beautiful.  All of the actors fit perfectly into their roles.  Yes, even the 12 year old with potty mouth.  Millar went out of his way to create a protagonist that is Jimmy Everyman times 10 to the power of Average Joe.  That is to say, he is nothing special & it works perfectly.  Mark Strong also plays a fantastic villain & while I don’t think the role is going to win him any Oscar awards, his portrayal of Frank D’Amico provides a strong platform for the really important characters to stand on while they wear spandex.

Needless to say I was not the only person in the cinema that enjoyed this movie.  The audience applauded several times throughout the screening & laughed constantly.  All of my friends that came with me had the time of their lives & the night was topped off with free Watermelon flavoured gum distributed upon leaving.  Mmmm… weird & unrelated to the movie we just saw but refreshing.

Who Should See It:
-Fans of the comic
-Fans of action comedies
-People in the mood for some light hearted mass murder
-Everyone!!

Who Shouldn’t See It:
-People who are easily offended
-People who are looking for a movie to take their grandmother to
-Computer generated elephants going through a growth spurt

Special Mention

I have to just give special mention to the funniest comment of the night.  Before the screening they had a small competition to give away some USB Flash Drives.  In short, they asked questions, people answered & won stuff.  The lady down the front asked “What is the name of the actor who plays Kick-Ass?” & while everyone was complaining about not being able to hear one lone voice piped up & said “Chuck Norris!”  It was greeted with applause.  Also, a big thank you to @REVIEWBRISBANE for the tickets.  If you don’t follow him on Twitter then start now.  If you don’t have a Twitter account sign up just so you can follow this guy.

Have you seen the movie?  Why not leave a comment & let everybody know about it.  Also, if you look up to the top right on the front page of this site you’ll see a ‘Sign Me Up’ button.  Why not give it a click & see what happens?

Unless there is a next time,
Goodbye forever.

Luke Venables
Chief Leopard Spot Eraser