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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘musicals

[URBAN NOTE] Some Saturday links

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait considers the possibility that our model for the evolution of galaxies might be partially disproven by Big Data.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly reports how she did her latest article for the New York Times.
  • Centauri Dreams notes the beginning of a search for habitable-zone planets around Alpha Centauri A and B.
  • The Crux looks at how the skull trophies of the ancient Maya help explain civilizational collapse.
  • D-Brief notes new evidence suggesting that our humble, seemingly stable Sun can produce superflares.
  • Dead Things reports on the latest informed speculation about the sense of smell of Tyrannosaurus Rex.
  • The Dragon’s Tales shares the NASA report on its progress towards the Lunar Gateway station.
  • Gizmodo looks at the growing number of China’s beautiful, deadly, blooms of bioluminescent algae.
  • io9 reports that Stjepan Sejic has a new series with DC, exploring the inner life of Harley Quinn.
  • JSTOR Daily looks at an example of a feminist musical, the Chantal Akerman The Eighties.
  • Language Hat links to a review of a dystopian novel by Yoko Tawada, The Emissary, imagining a future Japan where the learning of foreign languages is banned.
  • Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns and Money reiterates that history, and the writing of history, is an actual profession with skills and procedures writers in the field need to know.
  • Liam Shaw writes at the LRB Blog about how people in London, late in the Second World War, coped with the terrifying attacks of V2 rockets.
  • The Map Room Blog links to a new book, Wayfinding, about the neuroscience of navigation.
  • Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution reviews a Robert Zubrin book advocating the colonization of space and finds himself unconvinced.
  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at the ancient comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko explored by the ESA Rosetta probe.
  • Roads and Kingdoms provides tips for visitors to the Paraguay capital of Asuncion.
  • Peter Rukavina reports that, on the day the new PEI legislature came in, 105% of Island electricity came from windpower.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel argues that, in searching for life, we should not look for exoplanets very like Earth.
  • Strange Company shares another weekend collection of diverse links.
  • Understanding Society’s Daniel Little shares the views of Margaret Gilbert on social facts.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Kadyrov might dream of a broad Greater Chechnya, achieved at the expense of neighbouring republics.
  • Arnold Zwicky considers some superhero identity crises, of Superman and of others.

[MUSIC] Five music links: The Music Man, Raine Maida, David Bowie, 70s, Erland Cooper

  • JSTOR Daily reports on how the 1962 movie The Music Man, based on the earlier musical, became a major Cold War export of the US even as small-town America was changing.
  • This Global News interview with Raine Maida, lead singer of Our Lady Peace, makes me positive-nostalgic for the 1990s.
  • NPR reported on the discovery of David Bowie’s first demo, from 1963, some time ago, but this still amazes me.
  • At In Media Res, Russell Arben Fox took a look at the 1970s song “Hot Child in the City”.
  • The Island Review interviewed multi-instrumentalist Erland Cooper and shared some of his music, inspired by the culture and the sound of the Orkneys.

[LINK] “The Coming Holocaust”

Wonkman has noted the rapid proliferation of Anne of Green Gables-themed musicals on Prince Edward Island.

The first musical opened in 1965. The second in 2005. If this rate of growth is maintained, there will be:

– 3 competing musicals by 2029
– 4 by 2045
– 5 by 2058
– 10 by 2098
– 50 by 2191
– 100 by 2231
– 250 by 2284
– 1000 by 2364
– 2500 by 2416

The year 2718 will be pivotal, because in that year the number of productions of “Anne of Green Gables” will outstrip the population of the Island, even accounting for population growth. (Assuming the current rate of 1.7% per annum can be maintained.)

Shortly thereafter, in 2762, there will be two productions running for every man, woman and child in PEI.

By 2865, there will be ten.

He looks forward to a great proliferation of Anne musicals, making use of all sorts of avant-garde tricks to sustain an Anne musical-based economy. Remarkable!

Written by Randy McDonald

January 29, 2014 at 12:04 am

[REVIEW] Anne & Gilbert

I first heard of Anne & Gilbert in the national media, through a MacLean’s report claiming that the Charlottetown Festival was upset that a rival Anne musical was performing literally just down the street. The Festival, operating out of the Confederation Centre of the Arts, has been running the musical Anne of Green Gables since 1964. It’s not far wrong to say that the musical helps define modern Prince Edward Island’s identity, and it’s certainly correct to say that it helps sustain the economy. I was a bit dubious of this argument even before I saw the older musical being advertised on the back of the handout I received turning up at the newer on the last day of my August visit to Prince Edward Island, never mind when I saw the tickets being offered for sale at one of the adjacent Anne-themed stores. I really wanted to see this musical at least once, and I wasn’t disappointed. As it turns out, Anne & Gilbert perfectly supplements Anne of Green Gables, being a worthy sequel to the musical beloved by millions.

Anne & Gilbert is a two-act musical adapting Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island, the second and third books in the Anne series. Anne of Avonlea follows Anne and Gilbert as they teach school in neighbouring North Shore communities, while Anne of the Island chronicles their adventures on the mainland attending Redmond University (modeled on Halifax’s Dalhousie). All the while the two are working through their complex relationship, as others do theirs and everyone, it seems, is waiting for Anne to acknowledge how she feels about her long-time rival and friend.

The Guild, 115 Richmond Street

In 2013, Anne & Gilbert was staged in the theatrical space of The Guild, an old Royal Bank of Canada building in Charlottetown converted two decades ago to a community art space. Located at 115 Richmond Street, the Guild is in the middle of the downtown, perfectly placed to serve as the venue for the musical Anne and Gilbert.

The theatre space itself is long and narrow, the 144-seat tiered seating facing a shallow stage. Sitting in the front row, I was on the same level as the actors, just a few metres away. It’s to the credit of the director and designer that they made this space work.

Anne & Gilbert is a well-written musical. Composed by Jeff Hochhauser, Nancy White, and Bob Johnston, it does a good job of adapting the source material, each novel getting its own act. I was pleased to see that Anne & Gilbert passes the Bechdel test, too, with Marilla Cuthbert and Rachel Lynde developing their relationship at length, even sharing the song “Our Duty”. The music is quite good. YouTube has playlists, here and here; embedded below is a recording of “Gilbert Loves Anne of Green Gables”.

(My favourite songs were the coy “Polishing Silver”, “You’re Island Through and Through”, “A Jonah Day”, “Seesaw Girl”, and “Just When I’d Given Up Hope”.)

Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe, from Anne & Gilbert, 2013

The actors, too, were good. The above photo by Alanna Jankov (originally found at Arts East) shows a scene from the 2013 production of Anne & Gilbert at The Guild in Charlottetown, as Anne Shirley (played by Emily Denny) and Gilbert Blythe (played by Patrick Cook) converse. Denny and Cook are very convincing leads. Additional standouts for me were Morgan Wagner, who did a very good job with her role as wealthy debutante student Philippa Gordon, and Brieonna Locche, who made Anne’s sometime-rival Josie Pye a very sympathetic character. (The Guild’s website has more performance photos here.)

I definitely recommend Anne & Gilbert for theatre-goers on Prince Edward Island. The musical will be staged again this year at The Guild, tickets being available individually as well as offered as part of a package ($C57.97 per person including the musical as well as tickets to different Anne and Montgomery-related sites on the North Shore).

Written by Randy McDonald

January 28, 2014 at 7:16 pm


Before I watched Rent last night with J., that enormously popular Jonathan Larson musical brought only two things to my mind. The first was the catchy Pet Shop Boys song “Rent”, with its cynical “I love you/you pay my rent” lyric. The second was a particularly hostile article from the Atlantic Monthly in the mid-1990s, one that held up Rent as the central example of all that was wrong in Broadway.

Even after watching the film version in its entirely, and having listened to the soundtrack album in bits and pieces, I don’t feel competent enough to judge Rent as a musical. Perhaps contrary to stereotype, I’m not a musical fan. It is true that, in watching the film, certain plot holes jumped out at me. Why is the character of Angel, so frequently cited as an inspiration to the group later on, so underdeveloped in the first part? Is the character of Joanne a reasonable one considering North American hierarchies of race and power? Why was Maureen’s performance-art protest so important? Couldn’t Chris Columbus have done something, in a movie with most of the action taking place in December 1989, about a lyrical reference to 1991’s Thelma and Louisa?

Rent as a story doesn’t quite hold together for me. Perhaps appropriately enough–perhaps appropriately given the genre, can anyone tell me?–it works together as a string of songs. I’m not being particularly original in identifying “I’ll Cover You” as the standout track, but it is. The contrasting characters of responsibly Bohemian Marc and recklessly enthusiastic Mimi hold court over the assembled characters, as I suspect Larson intended them to. Rent might not be the best story, but it has the virtue of combining action and music rather nicely. It was worth seeing for that.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 12, 2006 at 4:48 pm

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