Music from Stage and Screen
with Jo Connop
Nominated in the HBA Awards 2019 for Best Specialist Music Programme
If you love visiting the theatre, the movies, watching TV or all of the above this is the BHBN show for you!
I’ll do my best to pack in as many pop tunes used on the silver screen and the smallscreen, show tunes and film scores as a one hour show allows.
For added fun there are a number of features, including both some regular ones and some ad hoc seasonal specials. Regular features include ‘the Overture’ – exactly that, from a film, show or Opera, ‘The Composers’ Zone’ where I showcase a piece of music from a particular composer whilst sharing a bit of a biog about their life and career, ‘The Awards Ceremony’ – a piece of music that has won either an Academy Award, BAFTA, Tony or Olivier Award and to bow out ‘the Final Score’ – an epic piece of instrumental music.
So, grab your popcorn and your opera glasses and take to that great central seat in row F of the stalls and join me, Jo Connop every Monday afternoon at 4pm for BHBN’s ‘Stage and Screen’.
JO ON LOCATION WITH WITH NOTEBOOK, PEN AND OF COURSE A BOX OF POPCORN!
My Beautiful Laundrette Birmingham Repertory Theatre
Picture South London in the mid-1980’s. Now consider the conditions of the era – Conservative government, mass unemployment, widespread homophobia and racism from all quarters, homelessness, the rise of the ‘yuppy’ – and some fanstastic hi-NRG electro pop music.
Now meet Omar – this story’s young, intelligent, but naive mixed race protagonist, in the no-man’s land before the college term starts his ailing, widowed father sends him to work for his wheeler-dealer adulterous brother – Omar’s uncle Nasser. After witnessing Nasser’s infidelity on his first day at work Omar is promoted to ‘executive’ – which leads to his role as manager of his uncle’s not-so-beautiful laundrette.
Jonny is a skinhead – and, thankfully, not a very good one at that. Sensitive, easily led, but practical, he’s a former schoolmate of Omar. After a family party one night Omar and some of his family run into Jonny’s gang. When Omar and Jonny recognise each other a violent attack is avoided – and Omar’s hot-headed and ruthless cousin Saleem sees that Omar’s negotiation skills could be very advantageous for his questionable business dealings.
Reunited with his friend, Omar offers Jonny a job at the laundrette. When Omar is enlisted to pick up something from the airport for Saleem, he realises that his cousin is trading and that the goods will enable him and Jonny to revamp the laundrette if they sell them – which they do – at a local nightclub. The rather aptly renamed renamed ‘Powders’ places a whole new complexion on the term ‘money laundering’.
Meanwhile, Omar and Jonny realise that their feelings for each other extend beyond mere friendship, a fact which is not lost on Saleem’s spoilt, but clever sister, Tania. She is the subject of the family’s latest arranged marriage plot, which involves Omar – in no way helped, by her subservient mother and sister-in-law, to break free of tradition.
Tania’s criticism of her father’s mistress, Rachel, for depending on men too much falls flat on it’s face when Rachel askes ‘and who supports you?’ reminding us that judgement is never a good stance to take and that no-one’s behaviour is purely ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
The play deals with themes of homophobia, racism, women’s rights, class, privilege, morality and, above all, love.
No pop act from the era has immortalised the 1980’s zeitgeist more perfectly than the Pet Shop Boys and it is the perfect fusion of storytelling and music that makes this play feel so authentic.
When we hear the key lyrics to Tennant and Lowe’s ‘Paninaro’ during a violent scene – ‘Passion, love, sex, money, violence, religion, injustice and death’, it’s almost as if the duo knew thirty-odd years ago what the music would be used for in 2019 and that both the music and the story would still be relevant.
Along with the classic Pet Shop Boys tunes there are new pieces written for the show, most notably ‘No Boundaries’ – aspiration, or affirmation? That is very much up to us. 7/10
Doctor Sleep Review
Back in 1980 Stanley Kubrick terrified a generation of cinemagoers with his big-screen adaptation of Stephen King’s hit novel ‘The Shining’. nearly 40 years later director Mike Flanagan has set out to round off the story by attempting to answer some of the questions that were left hanging in the air at the end of the first movie, whilst bringing in the millenial generation into the equation.
‘Doctor Sleep’ shines the spotlight on a middle-aged Danny Torrance, played by Ewan MacGregor, and tells the story of his life from 1980 and the present day.
Intercut footage from ‘The Shining’ along with some great lookalike casting fill in the gaps over the years as we learn about Danny’s state of mind along the way. The highs, the lows and the punctuation mark that sees him starting afresh in a new town.
This movie, however, is far from being merely a biography of Danny Torrance. Just as Dick Halloran (played by Hong-Kong Phooey voice artist Scatman Crothers in ‘The Shining’, now portrayed by Carl Lumbly) once became Danny’s mentor, Danny himself is needed by a youngster with the ability to ‘shine’ who has landed themselves in a spot of bother.
This movie’s menace comes in the form of a malignant being that goes by the name of ‘Rose the Hat’, played by Rebecca Ferguson, and her band of baddies who prey on young children – warning – there are some very distressing scenes relating to their appetites!
The movie’s strength lies in its loyalty to the ‘Kubrick style’ – the camera angles, the sound effects and music used in ‘The Shining’ all making for pleasing continuity.
Indeed, without giving too much away, when THAT hotel in Colorado enters the story, it is almost like seeing an old friend.
There are some nice side stories covered, particularly in the nursing home where Danny works as an orderly – and when MacGregor’s natural impersonation of Dad Jack has us believing that he really is the son of Jack Nicholson.
Less impressive are the predictable behaviours of the antagonists – but I can almost forgive that, beacause the rest of the movie is so impressive.
A satisfying sequel with a good cast. 8/10