Friday, October 18, 2013

guys.... white collar is back

Did you all watch White Collar last night?

of course you did because WHY WOULDN'T YOU!

anyways, it's all the ANGST and the PETER'S HEART IS BREAKING BECAUSE HE IS DOING THE TOUGH LOVE THING and Neal is all " but I thought you were proud of me" and the whole thing is DISTRESSING and  I just... I just... and Neal's dad is gone and his emotional inference is branded on the rest of the series forevermore and PETER CAN YOU STOP THINKING THAT NEAL is detaching his anklet for any other reason than HE WANTS TO SAVE YOU FROM PRISON

Also, if all of this whole "sign unofficial deal with Hagan and go to Hades for it and the darkside with Peter being framed" blows up, then I blame Elizabeth.  Because she is all pouty kryptonite for Neal who will do WHATEVER IT TAKES WHEN YOU ASK HIM TO DO WHATEVER IT TAKES!

ELIZABETH, you don't tell NEAL to do whatever it TAKES when it comes to Peter.  HE WILL NOT COLOUR INSIDE THE LINES

too many feelings.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Les Miserables: the new Powell production Round I

I saw the new production of Les Miserables running in Toronto for my first outing last night and because I am such a junkie, I may write about it again; but I wanted to note a few things that have changed in the production we all grew up with.

Les Miserables, in the golden age of the evolution of Blockbuster musicals, was always rather minimalist: what with its apt use of a revolve and the jigsaw pieces of the barricade and a few flashes and smoke  and fog machines as well as some expert lighting being the whole of its special effects.

Here, Powell has upped the ante- though still keeps the focus on the story and not on the things that go “bang” on stage with firecrackers…thank the Lord.  He has fleshed out a lot of the sets: from the factory where Fantine loses her job, to the ships where the Lovely Ladies prowl for prey to the gardens and house front at Valjean and Cosette’s digs at 55 Rue Plumet.  When we do get to the barricade scenes, we are looped into a narrow scope that ultimately feels like we are looking down the barrel of a city street. The students using everything from chairs to a spindling wheel to separate us, the audience, from their National Guard foe.

Powell uses several of Hugo’s own illustrations to give us a glimpse of industrial Paris: the technique is most enticing when it depicts sequences such as the rush through the sewers or Javert’s magnanimous ponderings on that infamous bridge above the Seine, the stars overhead like pinpricks in the black night he cannot rush from.

When the film first came out, I mentioned how beguiled I was that it added snippets from the literary source material evaded in the musical.   I really found the moment between Valjean and Petite Gervais ( the young ruffian he steals a sou from ) to be amplified here.  More still, the candlesticks and crosses are more present and front.   Character-wise, our cast excelled at directorial changes that saw a burgeoning closeness and paradox between (an excellent) Grantaire and Gavroche.  Gavroche is pained by Eponine’s death to the extent that those who recognize their familial relationship ( they are both Thenardiers) will be appeased. 

The orchestration is fabulous. Every melancholy, thematic and robust layer of the score is stripped and built and stripped and built, peeled back with the focus on a single strain of an instrument: powerful and swelling but never taking away from the prime voices.

Which leads me to Ramin Karimloo: our celebrity, Canadian-raised Valjean.  He is magnificent.  His literal youth allows for a ferocious Valjean at the beginning—before his conversion—and his heartfelt way of emoting everything with the resonance of pure and unadulterated compassion seeps through.  His initial bond with Cosette is charming.   I just cannot speak highly enough of him in the role.   And, for a girl who saw Colm Wilkinson on stage in the role several times, I was flabberghasted that Karimloo’s Bring Him Home could almost pre-empt Wilkinson’s definitive version. Karimloo’s voice –which in previous scenes has been seen as grating, over-powered, over-bearing, controlled, breathless and passionate—is pure and ethereal: a glistening tone that hushes the audience and lingers with the sweet pitch of his held last line.  This is a magnificent exercise in offering: Valjean, palms outstretched to heaven, tasting every word as it slips his lips and falls on Heavenly ears.  

Our Eponine was also of note. Melissa O’Neil has a great, thoroughly pop-styled voice that has influenced so much of Broadway of late; but her tomboyish demeanor and simultaneously tragic and light countenance propel her in fluid movement around Marius and  the stage. When she is finally fatally wounded, the duet A Little Fall of Rain is more than once truncated by her authentic moans and frightening groans of pain.  It was really authentic; more visceral than sweet and perhaps pounded the audience into the stark realization that this is not a romantic story: this is one of an unhappy soul hungering for the life her beloved can (and won’t) give her.

The Thenardiers are problematic for me because of their deprivation of any comic entitlement in the story. However, I know well that Boubil and Schonberg were in dire need of comic relief so, as per usual, they ham their way with guttural roars and a lot of physical comedy.  They “Sweeney Todd” it, as it were.

The One Day More choreography: synchronized marching, with slight feature of all of the characters winding round the plot’s intricate carousel is here amplified again: a fabulous maze that you don’t want to end, the harmonies blazing with the full effect of the orchestra. Good Lord people, I loved the film; but this feeling can never happen on screen. It needs to be experienced live.

Javert. Gah. Javert. What a dish of a role.  Earl Carpenter is all stoic and rigid with his voice as powerful as his presence. His suicide scene is one of my favourites of the story.    Here still, as before, the contrast between legalism and grace is vast and moving.   Valjean, touched by the Bishop of Digne’s act of unwarranted redemptive love is spun into a vortex of caring, of belief, of faith and humanity: moved by grace so that it propels his life.   Javert, as steadfast in his belief of God and righteousness, is a product of legalism and rigid law. When grace is offered him by Valjean he cannot fathom how he can live with it. Throwing himself off a bridge and sinking at the precipice of his thought that Valjean holds dominion.
Old Testament God. New Testament God.

The orchestra is brilliant. Cosette is no longer swathed in that ugly black dress ( no matter how source authentic it was for a time ) and all is well.

Seeing Les Miserables is a religious experience because the story is so drenched in redemption and grace.  You can’t shy or shirk its religious overtones, all gloriously central and propagating the life of the converted Valjean, so it is best to just run with it and let it over-take you

Dazzling new production. Seriously fast-paced; but loaning it a sense of visceral urgency, an energy mirroring the student’s fervor for change and the precipice of this cast of characters on the brink of something brilliant and light and that only Heaven can intercept with the replacement of the sword for ploughshare. 

Here's a  nice interview with Ramin.   He grew up like every Canadian---wanting to be a hockey player; but then ... then he saw Colm Wilkinson as Phantom:

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Remember When....

Remember that one time when Mindy kissed Danny on the cheek at that music festival?

Well, then this happened last night

and it was amazing and glorious and means a lot in my world

<3 p="">

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Happy Book Birthday ' My Hope is Found'

I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE Joanne Bischof's  Christy-nominated and achingly beautiful Appalachian setting and her gorgeous, finely-threaded prose.  You will too!

The final book in the exceptional Cadence of Grace series wraps up Lonnie and Gideon's long and arduous journey toward love and acceptance.

Read my review of Though My Heart is Torn here 
Read my review of Be Still My Soul here
Read my interview with Joanne here 
Visit Joanne on the web

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I'm a Les Miz Junkie

I'm kinda a Les Miserables junkie. I've seen it a billion times: in Toronto (where I live and often with Colm Wilkinson as Valjean ), on Broadway, in London's West End.  I am still trying to convince the world that multiple viewings is a sound financial investment.

I love it!  So the new production just had its opening night in T.O. last night starring the amazing CANADIAN! (holla!)  Ramin Karimloo and while I wasn't there, I have three trips planned in the near future ... so it's good to hear that the reviews are good:

Here and here and here 

isn't our friend Ramin a dish? the best-looking JVJ ever!

Apparently this revamped version is heading to Bway soon.   In other optimistic news, Cameron MacKintosh is going to re-mount my other favourite Miss Saigon which is long overdue. Because, honest to pete, my most recent experience with this show ( I'm a junkie for this, too) in 2010 was really scaled back.  Hopefully, it remounts splendiferously.  Long live the 80s/ 90s renaissance of musicals!

Tuesday, October 08, 2013


Guys, I am sorry.
I have been avoiding you.

I have been writing and at the ARCHIVES and researching for the new book and working on the new book's complicated proposal and, of course, working at my real job and socializing and stuff.

Anyways,   I am over at Novel Crossing again today talking about Vienna Prelude; because, why not?

Go to!

Also, it's almost thanksgiving! NOM NOM! gobble.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013


My friend, confidante, sage, partner-in-crime, half of the unending vaudeville act of life, Allison, has a new book out today and it is adorbs, you guys!

1920s: check! 
feisty heroine: check! 
1920s vernacular: check! 
flapper hair-dos: check!
adorkable hero who looks like John Krasinski: check! 
hero's name is Max: check! 

I'll be posting a full review of this on Novel Crossing eventually; but I wanted to give the book the little book release birthday party it deserves

so ---go buy it

note: Aimee Semple McPherson --the noted evangelist first mentioned in All For A Song also plays a role her; but you don't have to read both. This one can stand alone and is contained.


visit allison: