Tuesday, March 29, 2011

University and I

So, I've been neglecting RYB a little bit lately because I haven't been feeling that good. I went to the doctor and had some blood tests, and thankfully everything came back okay. Shortly after that, I started getting headaches. I've had a headache every day for the last month, but they've been really mild. Like, they don't even ache, but they hurt. So whatever, because now they're starting to get very infrequent and they're not really there at all. The doctor said that it's nothing to worry about, since over 9000 things cause headaches. Just some that apply to me:

I've still got this bug, I don't drink enough water, I don't eat enough proper food, headaches are big in the family, I squint too much, strain my eyes, don't sleep nearly enough, stress, not taking any pain killers, sleeping awkwardly, having 'Don't Cry for Me Argentina' in my head for the last week.

The list goes on. Then the list ends.

But really, with them disappearing, life is getting a lot easier. Uni is totally fantastic, the best thing I've ever done in my life. It's basically a rinse and repeat of my last post, but I'm just having such a fanastic time. Last week we went to GOMA's new 21st Century Artwork expo which is totally fantastic, there's so much good stuff to see there. My favourite was this huge table of white lego which you could play with and make whatever you wanted. Other highlights were the Balloon Room (a room filled with dozens of huge balloons) and The Pool Room, where you could stare down/up at people on the other side of the glass. If you get a chance to see it, I totally recommend. Tomorrow I'll be going for my 4th time - and it's free. D:

Ben, Keira, Me and Emily in the Balloon Room!
Blissssss. Also, I got into the YAIR program! I was originally auditioning for the acting part of it, but I didn't realize you actually needed to prepare a monologue, so the night before I wrote up some of my work and organized some compositions and threw them into a 'portfolio'. Yey. Anyway, I got asked if I wanted in, and even though I can't make the Thursday afternoons thanks to uni, they offered me a position of sound designer/composer. D: Big job, but I imagine it's going to be mostly ambience, which is a piece of cake to write. Dr. Heim asked if anyone wanted to perform in the Brisbane Writers Festival, so I said I wouldn't mind. Now I'm in! Woah! Details to follow on both.

Also, I got into La Boite's ambassador program! I was pretty bummed since they said they'd notify us by the 25th of March. When I didn't get in, I was a little annoyed and practised my Performing Skills monologue, but I thought that it was a waste of time anyway. I got home from hanging out with Anj and Erin for a nice night out, and I read my emails! It sure picked up my night! Then I noticed.
A compromise I suppose I can live with.
Anyway, I've been slack with the book! Here's the last weeks. The idea was I needed to 'doodle' over a bunch of pages; the cover, the title page, instructions page, copyright page. That's a pretty tricky task if you're trying to actually complete it.

Doodled on the front.
Why is this one so much bigger?

I also had to go through and dogtag my favourite pages. DONE. I want to get an early night now since I don't want a headache tomorrow. Life's looking pretty good at the moment. =)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wicked: Go for 'Defying Gravity in Act 1, stay for Act 2 Dialogue...

Emma Rix's 'Defying Gravity' could be one of the greatest musical moments ever.
Everyone is going gaga over 'Wicked', and fair enough, it's pretty good. James has been pimping it since '09, and everyone ensures me they'd sell off children in order to catch it, so I thought I'd better check it out. I'd say Wicked is an okay musical, but it'd be more accurate to say it's a great play with a good score. The only other experience I've had with Stephen Schwartz's music is 'Godspell', so this was far superior. Wicked has a quirky sense of humour, and with A grade technical aspects combined with a stellar cast, I totally recommend it.

The cast were amazing. Jenna Rix plays Elphaba, and she is probably the most talented musical theatre performer I've ever seen live. Her 'Defying Gravity' was the pinnacle of the show - it's soaring, powerful, breathtaking. There are not enough positive adjectives I van use to describe the piece. I would consider paying the whole price of the ticket again just to hear and see it again. Her other songs are excellent too - everytime she opens her mouth, out rolls melodies that are delivered with such conviction that it makes (almost) every scene she is in bearable. Her counterpart Glinda, player by Lucy Durack, is good too, but her upper soprano is drenched with vibrato overkill, which made me gasp with laughter during the opening. Her other fault is her acting, which gets in the way and compensates her singing. Only sometimes though, her 'Popular' is infectious and delightfully her own. She provides all kinds of dramatically and much needed comic relief, and she sounds lovely on her mezzo range. The rest of the cast I can't complain about, but special mention is needed for Bert Newton, who was downright charming and an absolute pleasure to see live. The cast is that they were under-utilised!

The music is pretty...chaotic? The score is a mixture of '90s retro synth, symphonic orchestration, and dreadful Schwartz guitars. Songs are catchy and punchy, but not all are immediately recognisable or memorable. The main Wicked theme is imposing and menacing, which is delicious to hear throughout the score in its various incarnations, and 'Defying Gravity' is an absolute show-stopper. One thing I think is important to apply to Wicked is that you need to see the show to 'get it'. The OBC recording is crammed full of songs which clock in just 2 minutes and seem sort of superfluous, but they work well in the show to set the mood or emphasise an important plot twist (and there are plenty in Wicked). Other songs are just made to be seen, such as 'Popular', 'Dancing Through Life', and 'Thank Goodness'. The worst song is the one I suspect is the most difficult to perform - 'No Good Deed' is utterly dreadful, there is nothing to it except for a bunch of anguished, albeit really impressive, belts from Elphaba. Très awful. Pretty much like listening to 'Now That I've Seen Her' from Miss Saigon. I actually turned to my Dad and grimly stated "That was fucking awful", and he solemnly agreed. think I'd need to see it again to wrap my head around the score.

The story is fun, and the set design and lighting was superb. The set has an amalgamation is various architecture, the most prominent is the steampunk clockwork which looks really cool. The sound design was pretty good but seemed tone a little muddy, but I suspect that was because I was sitting on the 2nd tier. The mixing and effects on the vocals were so good, especially on Defying Gravity (<3!).

So on a whole I really liked it, but the music was the weakest link (huh...). The production dies after Act 1 because the ending of it is flawless, you never reach an equivalent in Act 2. It's not as good as people made it out to be, but extremely entertaining and arguably the best thing on in Brisbane at the moment. Recommended, liked not loved, would go back again just to hear Rix's 'Defying Gravity'.

Tickets for Wicked range from $69.90 to $134.90, and is showing until April 2. Book by visiting QPAC's website or by calling 136 246.

(ETA: Book task up on Thursday I think).

Saturday, March 12, 2011

These Particular Angels Don't Sing Jazz Chords...

I'm 18! WE ARE MAN! I had a really nice day - I got up for uni and Mum said Happy Birthday and gave me presents (to be opened later), and then I headed off to uni. Amelia "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" everytime someone said my name, got me a bunch of Kitkats, and Nikki got me some chocolate and scratchies! =D We didn't win anything. =( I also got to meet up with Rhed and Maddy for lunch at the Pancake Manor, and Maddy presented me with a hip hop 'how to be a hipster' kit!

Glasses for the essential hipster; Coffee from an obscure location you've probably never heard of before, vintage book you probably haven't read, essential notepad, indie group ironically, Kitkats because I'm Sam.
Amelia organised it so we could go to the uni bar after our last lecture. It was me, Amelia, Nikki, Nick, Liam to start with, but we were then joined by Cameron, Joel, Maggie, Chris and Joel. I had a fantastic time at the Guild Bar! =D Amelia bought me my first and second drink, and after I tried to convince everyone that Clive Owen looks like Nicolas Cage, Cameron bought me another beer and a shot to stop me. =P I was a bit, uh, tipsy, by the end, but I hopped on the bus and went home and managed to sober up on the way. Mum cooked me steak and we had an awesome chocolate mousse cake from Breadtop! Thanks for the awesome night, guys!
Left to right: Liam, Nikki, Me, Amelia, Chris, Nick
This week I also had the great pleasure of attending Jason Robert Brown's one night Brisbane Concert. Brown is an exceptional pianist, with an even better talent at composing and collaborating repertoire for a fantastic 2 hour spectacle. He was joined on stage for a couple of times by Rachel Beck, who is an Australian singer who was pretty good too (I'll get to her later).

The evening got off to a pretty rocky start.

Angst, anger, romance - oh my!
With that in my mind, I bought a programme. But I did not enjoy it. =P Well partly because I'm stubborn, but mainly because it cost $15 AND IT WAS EIGHT PAGES LONG. I was still being a drama queen after and punched the program when the music in the theatre was playing 'A Miracle Would Happen' (from L5Y) and Cai asked if this was 'the one where the guy dies'.

Beck came back on stage to sing some more stuff, and she was lovely but sometimes...sucked. Who exactly was she racing with? Her voice has a wonderful and sweet texture, but she rushed way too much - I was upset with her 'Still Hurting' (which Mum painfully calls 'Jaime') because her first line was 'Jamieisover [DRAMATIC PAUSE] andJamieisgone'. She managed to slow down by the last verse, but the damage was done. The other little thing was, while she was a soprano, she struggled to belt out those top notes, and instead sung passages with more like a delicate, vibrato laden style.

Besides that, she was wonderfully flirty and sang with absolute conviction and confidence. She really added to the stage presence, but never stole the show from Brown - it was a wonderful connection and the chemistry between the two during their duet in the second half was one of the highlights of the evening. I was grinning by the end - I'm a big fan of the man, but don't own his entire works (which will soon change...) but every piece was entertaining. There was only one moment where I wanted to die, and that was during the excruciatingly long improvising during one piece (can't remember which), which I guess stems back to because of Chris Vale's 6 minute drum solos now means I can now only handle 30 second sections. He played 'The Old Hills of Home' which was tha besttt. Another awesome highlight was his showcasing of a newish song he'd written called 'Caravan of Angels', which involved us singing at the end to join in. He joked that we weren't allowed to sing with sharp 11ths and so on and gave the reasoning "These particular angels don't sing jazz chords". It was my favourite song of the night and was just too cool for school! =D He even finished off with an encore from Urban Cowboy, which I cheered at.

So after my fiasco with forgetting the Parade CD, I got outside and managed to be the first person to get in line for an autograph. YAY. He came out and said hello and I said hi, could you please sign here - and I mumbled about how I was gonna stick it in with my Parade soundtrack. He smiled (and thought YOU CRAZY, BOI!*), signed, and I said I had a great time and thanked him again. YEY.

This was this weeks book task - to commit a violent and sudden motion with the book. We chose the library as the perfect location for such an event. Filmed by the lovely Bonnie, of course.


Keen for the rest of uni too! Goodbye until tomorrow!