Sunday, 26 May 2013

The Voice: Battles Weekend 2

It's all very well having a mammoth two hour show, but with the cutting out of all the non-essential chit chat (I know, I told them to do that) I'm watching with crossed legs ...

Travesty of the night was Alex getting through, where other much better voices didn't. What was Danny thinking? But with four acts leaving from each team next week, I guess it won't make much difference. I'll just hope my nine are among the twelve left standing: Abi; Adam; Ash; Lem; Jamie: Joseph; Leah; Cleo and Moni.

Team Danny went from hosting four of mine to just one - and unless Abi can be more commanding on stage, she won't last. He chose Mitchel over Ricardo, Abi over Laura, Sean over Paul and Karl over Nadeem. Mitchel deserved it, much as I'd have like to hear more from Ricardo. Laura I really enjoyed but want to see how far they can push the Ragga with Abi. Paul for me was just more exciting than Sean, while Nadeem's tone was so lovely and his vocal so pure, against the boy-bandish sound of Karl.

Team Tom were all fantastic and apart from Joseph v Diva really could have gone any way. A lovely country love story from Emma Jade and Mike saw Mike just get the nod, while Alys's more unusual voice took her through over Lareena. Ragsy and Colin were excellent, light and shade and really strong - I thought Colin might nick it but no, Ragsy got the vote. Diva are wonderful but Joseph just outshone them.

So far, so strong - Tom and Danny nail the song choices for their acts to bring out the best in them. If only we could say the same for Jessie and Will!

Mary J Blige, Jessie? Really - lots of attitude needed but Alex was merely annoying and Letitia intimidated. Never really got going. Letitia the far better vocally and Jessie puts her through - leaving Will and Danny to fight over Alex??! It's just ... weird. On the other hand/complete opposite end of the scale/and other cliches - Trevor versus Lem was bloody awesome, with a fantastic song choice they clearly both relished: Soul Man. Super epic battle, Trevor put through; Lem stolen by Will. Eventually. Jeez, Will, take your time!

Will, for some inexcusable reason, gave Liam and John the Phil Collins/Philip Bailey song, Easy Lover. The other coaches shared my *eek* at that. I couldn't choose between them, due to the screechyness. John is taken through; Jessie upset she can't steal Liam. Who I didn't take to, really, after initially liking him. Will made up for it with Emily v Moni which was another barnstormer and could have gone either way. The performance of Moni gets it - Emily's an artist, I'm sure she'll do well.

You can see all the battles on the website. The first of the knockout rounds airs at 8.30pm on Saturday; the second at 7.15pm on Sunday. Each act gets to choose their own 'killer' song they hope will see them through. Till then :)

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Snippets: Dancing on Ice; Strictly Confidential

Sadly, but perhaps not totally unexpectedly, Dancing on Ice is being axed by ITV.

I think it's a mistake, it still has a big audience in relation to other shows and only a few tweaks were needed in my opinion to make it more viewer-friendly.

Jayne and Chris spoke about their time on the show on Daybreak, calling it "absolutely fantastic" and promising not to hang up their skates. The show will finish after Series 9 next year, with a farewell tour planned.

And talking of tours, the Craig Revel Horwood written and produced Strictly Confidential will be touring in June and July, starring Lisa Riley, Natalie Lowe, Ian Waite and Artem Chigvintsev.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

A fairy tale beauty, re-awakened: Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty

An age old tale of magic and wonder, retold darkly and sensually - Disney this ain't! Matthew Bourne's Gothic Romance re-imagining of Sleeping Beauty won my heart.

Sumptuous was the word repeatedly popping into my head: sets, costumes and of course, the incredible score by Tchaikovsky, beautifully interpreted. Add to that the divine dancing, with Matthew's trademark capacity to interchange genres: contemporary ballet gave way to flashes of Paso Doble and balletic Argentine Tango in the palace of the bad vamps; devilish costumes in traditional Flamenco red and black intensified the passion and impending aggression. If the trailer doesn't make you wish you'd been there, I don't know what will:

Depending on if you believe the official Twitter or the official website, Tom Jackson Greaves or Adam Maskell (my money is on him for last night, at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury - but I was in the Upper Circle, so I could be wrong!), is the most charismatic of baddies as Caradoc, son of Carabosse (also played by him), in this most moving vampire love story since Buffy met Angel.

The decision to show Aurora first as a playful baby by way of animated puppetry was inspired; her transformation into a coquettish 16 year old - a captivating Hannah Vassallo - continued the playfulness; charming to all, innocent yet knowing.

There were audible gasps from the audience when good fairy Count Lilac 'turned' Aurora's young lover - for how else would he survive to awake her with a kiss? Those of us who'd seen the Imagine documentary of course, just nodded sagely. "Be careful, though, with those racquets!"

All ended as it should (after an awakening, subtle, but maybe a little too adult for under 11s) happily ever after, with every aspect of the whole production simply stunning. If you get the chance to see Sleeping Beauty or any of Matthew Bourne's New Adventures there's no decision to be made, just do it.

Follow Matthew on Twitter @New_Adventures and keep up to date on the website. News already there is that Swan Lake returns in the winter!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

The Voice: Battles Weekend 1

There were the epic ones, the so-so ones and a couple that made you want to gauge out your ears with a spoon.

In the epic category was Jamie versus LB - plus the added bonus in rehearsal of Tom showing his mastery, with the U2/BB King song When Love Comes To Town. Both compelling performers, LB sweet but Jamie's power just edged it for me. Three coaches plumped for LB but the man that mattered - Tom - chose Jamie: "I think I can see something that the other coaches can't." And then no-one stole LB, sadly.

Also at battle standard was Matt versus Jordan, with the dreaded Stevie Wonder Song of Death - doing a fabulous job with my samba song, Do I Do. Matt much more comfortable on stage - love the slide- Jordan so controlled vocally. Coaches split, Will takes Jordan through and Jessie steals Matt: "I have him nooow!"

Ash versus Adam was another power performance, but with a beautiful James Morrison song I Won't Let You Go, allowing them to both saaaannng, as Jessie would say. A close decision, won by Ash but with Danny already saying he would steal - Tom is chosen by Adam though, as he's listened to his music most.

Last of the battles I really enjoyed saw Leah versus CJ, with The Way You Make Me Feel, their interplay and dynamic was great and charismatic though CJ is, Leah definitely has more potential overall, vocally. Will duly takes her through but we lose CJ.

Good performances with not much to choose between them saw Andrea triumph over Alice, her raw emotion giving her the decision; Leanne beat Barbara & Carla, who to be fair, none of the coaches knew what to do with, all three showing their fantastic range, albeit with karaoke favourite 'Hero'. The much improved Cherelle got Tom's vote over the the accomplished Elise, surprisingly not stolen. I loved the falsetto/rap combo of De'Vide but Danny was Jessie's pick. Lovelle and Nate didn't quite give me the goosebumps I was hoping for, with No Air, although mighty close. Lovelle was my choice, and it was she who Jessie put through. Conor just nicked it for me, up against duo Smith and Jones, all of whom though sounded lovely. Danny agreed but no-one stole the couple.

Over in the *my ears, my ears* corner, due to a couple of shocking song choices by Jessie and Will, respectively, was Sarah v Katie with Katy Perry's 'E.T' which was a god-awful dirge fest so bad, I left it to go and check on my spuds. Two good voices, thoroughly ruined. Sarah got the nod; Katie bravely criticised the song, thus ensuring no-one stole her. And as for Nu Tarna v Cleo ... jeez, it was a case 'Finally' when it ended. What a racket. The mouthy one in Nu-Tarna needs to learn that being loud and shouty doesn't = personality. Cleo did enough to justify Will's choice. I'll hope for better from her next time.

So my team has lost two and now stands at twelve: Abi; Nadeem; Paul; Ricardo; Adam; Ash; Lem; Jamie; Joseph; Leah; Cleo and Moni.

Catch all the clips on the website and don't think it's all gone to pot when you tune in this week - it's Eurovision. The Voice will be back the week after. Till then folks.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

The Voice: Bring on the Battles!

All the teams are complete - especially mine, for which I've decided to ignore all the rules and have 14. Because I don't actually count, see, it's all just pretend!

Successfully through and who impressed me enough to swivel were Moni Tivony (Team Will), bravely going for Bob Marley and seriously impressing me and all four coaches - I reckon he could sing anything, really strong vocally; Abi Sempa, East meets West to great effect, thought her vocal simply lovely. Tom was twitching and finally Danny went. Good man - she completes his team. Gillingham lad, Joseph Apostol I thought would be Jessie all the way - his diction coupled with a beautiful voice saw her turn, but along with Tom - and Joe's mum's a big Tom fan ... he completes Team Tom. Jessie nabbed the other Medway lad, Chatham's Adam Barron, whose voice reminded me of a more gravelly Lou Rawls. The girlfriend needs to control herself though, really, that was a bit embarrassing. He won't die if he doesn't make it, chill out!

The ones I need to hear more of: CJ Edwards, the final auditionee and Will's last chance - I loved the hand claps at the start but I'm not sure how strong he is vocally, although he certainly has charisma. Letitia Grant-Brown (Team Jessie), controlled passion, quite raw, odd duff notes, impressively mature for a 17 year old. John Pritchard (Team Will) was quite different, I liked then I didn't then I did - didn't like the screechy ending.

The one that got away BIG TIME: Bronwen Lewis - a shame that Will and Jessie felt they had similar already, she had a lovely, original tone - Danny and Tom both upset they couldn't go.

The 'Nos': Adenike never hit the notes she needed due to nerves; Danny Foster (ex-Hearsay), although imaginatively reinventing a Spice Girls' song, and Jay Aston (ex-Bucks Fizz), just weren't vocally strong enough, while Brett Davison was far too boy-bandy. Others just not outstanding enough included Sophie Mendoza, Georgia Thursting, Julie Gordon, Rita Payne, Laine Hines and Rob Reynolds. The most gorgeous voice not to get through belonged to Gemma Louise Edwards, opera singer - but with an operatic duo already in his team and he the only coach with a spot left, Will just couldn't take her on.

So we're ready for the Battle Rounds! And this is where it can all get a bit canny, with The Twist! Acts the coaches were hankering after but didn't get could well be jettisoned by their existing coach, so will they pounce and steal someone at the expense of one of their own? These are the teams as they stand now, and my team is beyond complete: Abi; Nadeem; Paul; Ricardo; Adam; Ash, De'Vide; Lem; Jamie; Joseph; Carla&Barbara; Cleo; Leah; Moni.

Till next week :)