Wednesday, 31 July 2019

The lights on Broadway are dimmed...

One of the last of the icons of the "Great White Way", Hal Prince has departed for Fabulon, at the ripe old age of 91.

In the pantheon of musical theatre history, there are many classics - The Pajama Game, Fiddler on the Roof, Damn Yankees, West Side Story, She Loves Me, Flora the Red Menace, Cabaret, Chicago, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music, Company, Pacific Overtures, Follies, Candide, Evita, The Phantom of the Opera, Kiss of the Spider Woman - and Hal Prince was the man behind them all! He produced and/or directed more than sixty ground-breaking productions, winning 21 Tony Awards, more than any other individual.

Of his circle - Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, Arthur Laurents, George Abbott, Betty Comden, Adolph Green and the rest - only Mr Sondheim is still with us. However, it is Mr Prince to whom so many people owe a huge debt for their own success; Sondheim, Lloyd-Webber, Sheldon Harnick and Kander & Ebb among them. Let's raise a toast to a man truly deserving of the title "legend"...

RIP, Harold Smith Prince (30th January 1928 - 31st July 2019)

Sunday, 28 July 2019

J'Adore Dior

Hils, Al and I sashayed our way to the fabulous Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) today for the latest blockbuster fashion exhibition - Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams.

Oh, my dears... the opulence! The style! The panache!

Will Gompertz, writing for the BBC agreed:
As you walk up to the imposing front door, your way is blocked by a black mannequin wearing the two-tone two-piece that defined both [his] inaugural 1947 show and Christian Dior.

The Bar Suit caused a sensation.

It was an extravagant, rebellious response to the grim austerity of post-war Europe. Instead of a dull boxy jacket and no-nonsense skirt that required minimal fabric or imagination to make, Dior presented a soft-shouldered, wasp-waisted silk jacket fanning out over the hips to reveal a long, dark blue pleated skirt, which took many metres of fabric to produce.

It was outrageously decadent in an era of rationing, but also fabulously exciting: a vision for the future that was colourful, opulent and beautiful... The fashionistas saw things differently. They absolutely loved what was immediately known as the New Look.

Christian Dior had arrived.

Why his work had such an immediate impact is obvious when you step over the threshold and into the first gallery. The designs he produced and the fabrics he used were the epitome of old-school glamour, with elegant lines - or silhouettes - cut from luxurious materials. They are a wonder to behold, at least on the outside.

I imagine the whalebone corsets and under-wired structures needed to retain the shape felt neither elegant nor luxurious. Still, Il faut souffrir pour être belle, as they say...

...There are galleries dedicated to historicism, the garden, the ateliers and, finally, a glitzy ballroom featuring animated glitter erupting across the ceiling and down the walls. The effect is only marginally compromised by non-slip rubber matting underfoot rather than a sprung wooden floor polished for dancing.

Christian Dior wasn't known for skimping on costs, and nor has the V&A.
With frocks designed by the great man himself, and by his successors Christian Dior, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri, hats by Stephen Jones, pieces worn by great style-setters of their day such as Margot Fonteyn, Princess Diana and Princess Margaret, and red-carpet numbers paraded by the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Nicole Kidman, Lupita Nyong’o and Rihanna; everything from the most outlandish to the most timelessly classic and wearable designs in post-War couture history, all bound together with the history of the House of Dior and its founder, this was definitely one of the most impressive shows of its kind we have been to - and quite rightly it has sold out for most of its (recently extended) run.

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams [if you can get a ticket] is on at the V&A until until Sunday 1st September 2019.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

'Cause it's worth it

The genius that is Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys was 65 years old this week.

I reserve
the right to live
my life this way
and I don't give
a damn when I
hear people say
I'll pay the price
that others pay

'cause it's worth it
Yes it's worth living for
'cause it's worth it
Yes it's worth living for

All hail.

Neil Francis Tennant (born 10th July 1954).

More Pet Shop Boys over at my other blog Give 'em the old Razzle Dazzle

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow!

"Somehow I seem to have been gently bypassed as a serious actor."

"In all my years as an actor, I had never been me - I had always hidden behind my glasses, moustaches and funny voices."

In all the hoo-ha and partying that accompanied our faboo Gay Pride weekend, we missed marking an important centenary in the annals of campery - the ebullient "Third Doctor" in Doctor Who, Mr Jon Pertwee!

Just about every child in the UK has grown up with one or other of the "Doctors", and from his debut in 1970 to his departure in '74, Jon Pertwee was mine. In hindsight, all his swishing of capes, velvet suits and enormous frilly collars, his penchant for vintage cars (his was "Bessie") and fine living, as well as for fighting monsters using the latest space technology (the "sonic screwdriver" and "the Whomobile" were every bit as exciting as the control room of the TARDIS) and "Venusian aikido" were probably great formative influences on little gay moi...

Outside his most famous role, Mr Pertwee was a well-respected actor and comedian. Prior to Who he was a Music Hall artiste, became a fixture on BBC radio including in The Navy Lark, and appeared in four Carry On films; and after his on-screen demise at the hands of the Planet of the Spiders, he became a beloved figure for a new generation of children as Worzel Gummidge, and cemented his louche on-screen persona as the host of the gameshow Whodunnit. He never quite shook off the mantle of "The Doctor" however, reappearing in The Three Doctors and many other Who-related shows, productions and conventions.

I still associate him with the role, almost half a century later.

John Devon Roland “Jon” Pertwee (7th July 1919 – 20th May 1996)

Friday, 5 July 2019

I'm not willing just to be tolerated

“Art produces ugly things which frequently become more beautiful with time. Fashion, on the other hand, produces beautiful things which always become ugly with time.”

“Living is a horizontal fall.”

“What the public criticizes in you, cultivate. It is you.”

“We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don't like?”

“A little too much is just enough for me.”

“I'm not willing just to be tolerated. That wounds my love of love and of liberty.”

“I am a lie that always speaks the truth.”

Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau (5th July 1889 – 11th October 1963)

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Monday, 1 July 2019

All I want is a photo in my wallet, a small remembrance of something more solid

[Photos from the great lady's photoshoot with Andy Warhol in 1980]

It's our Patron Saint of Pouting's 74th birthday today! How did that happen?

Not resting on her laurels one iota, Miss Debbie Harry (for it is of course she) has written her autobiography - titled Face It - which is due out in October. Of it, she said in an interview with Rolling Stone earlier this year: "I realised I have led a very full life and couldn’t possibly cover everything... It’s such a long period of time, and there’s so much to tell, that I couldn’t really isolate a lot of little stories and events... [it's about] the way we got through and maintained and continued and carried on through all that time from my sort of warped little perspective.”

Well, that's my birthday present sorted...

Many happy returns, Deborah Ann Harry (born Angela Trimble, 1st July 1945)