London or Bust: a review of “Guys and Dolls”

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to catch the new production of “Guys and Dolls” playing at the Piccadilly Theatre. Before I go any further, let me produce my union card for the International Federation of Geeks now and get it out of the way. While I always make the effort to see a show when I am in London, this time I made the journey from Switzerland to England for the sole purpose of seeing Ewan McGregor sing and dance around on stage.

Art? Culture? Support the theatre? Nah. I was in it for the Scotsman.

Now on to the show. It was quite simply marvellous! I didn’t expect it to be so wonderful. I had thought it would be good. Very good, even. I had also thought that Ewan would be the standout. He wasn’t. He was one strong part of a stellar cast. It was so amazing there were points in the play where I forgot Mr McGregor was in it. I admire him for being brave enough to select a project where he was part of a larger whole instead of seeking out a “star vehicle.”

During the “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” number the guy singing the lead (Martyn Ellis) was so amazing that he got a three or four minute wildly enthusiastic ovation. Some people were even standing. This was in the middle of the show! I’d never seen anything like it. The actors had to stand frozen on the stage for the duration waiting for it to be quiet enough to start up again.

But back to Ewan. He was fabulous as Sky Masterson. The only time I made a SW/Ewan connection was when Sky belted out “Luck, be a Lady Tonight” and I heard Obi-Wan up there singing “Luke be a Jedi tonight!” I blame “The Simpsons” for that. The rest of the time I saw and heard Sky. He could sing. He could dance. He was funny, sarcastic, and earnest — a compelling combination.

We asked about the possibility of a cast CD and were told that it is in the works. They hope it will be ready in the next few months. There are also plans underway to sell it via the internet.

I asked at the box office about ticket availability. They said that the show is sold out (except for Weds. matinees) until August. But that they release the front row (18 seats) and standing room space (2X18) at 10 AM the morning of a show (at the theatre box office). The tickets cost £20 and each person can buy a maximum of two. He said people were queuing starting at 5 AM. The theatre is dark on Sundays.

So, in short, London or bust! If there is any way you can get there, do it.

CJ’s Own Really Spoiler-Free Review!

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Revenge of the Sith, yesterday. Unlike some of the other reviewers, I will have no problem staying spoiler-free as I am still fairly incoherent about it.

Bottom line? This movie is Star Wars. This is what everyone has been waiting to see.

It’s not to say that it’s a perfect movie. But it’s fun. It’s shocking. And it’s powerful.

Bring tissues. Granted, I cry at commercials. I needed three tissues to make it through. Adjust your needs accordingly. But there has been talk that a certain CJer was still crying fifteen minutes after the movie ended. I cried 10 minutes after and probably would’ve gone more if I hadn’t spotted my face in the mirror. (Big, red nose. Blood-shot eyes. It wasn’t pretty.)

Parents go first. I now know why LFL has been tap-dancing around this while, at the same time, telling parents to be cautious. To say much detail about why anyone younger than probably 10 shouldn’t see it without some parental guidance would be to give away a major plot point.

Suffice to say that the level of usual Star Wars violence (limbs, etc) is at a much higher volume. The storyline involves some heavy-duty topics. And there are several scenes that contain amazingly graphic images.

I am, quite frankly, surprised the film didn’t get an R rating for those graphic shots, alone.

Parents really need to go first so they can decide how their younglings will respond. It’s pretty intense. And you’ll probably want to be poised to cover eyes. But given how fast this movie goes, you need to see it once so you know when to dive over to cover their eyes.

Overcome. At this point, I don’t think I’m still responding with the joyous glow of first viewing when I say that I think this ranks right up there at the top of the Star Wars films. You have a bit of everything in this one. I think most hardcore fans will be pleased. And it will give us much fodder for the intense fan debates we all know and love.

A day after seeing it, I still find myself distracted by memories of the film. I’m still trying to think about things in the story. This one’s staying with me.

And I really want to watch the Classic Trilogy right now….

A Great Book for Lucas Fans

Just picked up the book The Cinema of George Lucas by Marcus Hearn.

This is an amazing look at George from birth through Episode 3. The author divides up his life into various sections including: birth through USC, Student Films, THX-1138, American Graffiti, ANH, ESB, ROTJ, “The lost years” (my quote, not his) and the Prequels.

Besides the tons of personal pictures, there are some interesting shots from his films. He’s also included shooting schedules and other nifty bits for many films. And there are descriptions of each film that help with his more obscure student works. There are also interviews with folks I haven’t seen interviewed for a Lucas biography.

Very throughly researched. It’s HUGE; weighing in at a solid 4.5 pounds. And, thus far, it’s proving to be an enjoyable read.

Just resist opening the last 20 or so pages of the book and you can avoid any Episode 3 spoilage.

It’s priced at a quite reasonable $50 for a book that’s so large and printed on such high quality paper. (Of course, you can get it cheaper almost everywhere.) A worthy investment for any film buff and almost every Lucas fan.