Coco – the Musical returns

Coco Chanel

Coco, the 1969 Coco Chanel inspired Broadway Musical, is currently being revived by the Lilian Baylis Studio through to June 12 at Sadler’s Wells, London.

Coco Katherine Hepburn

The original had excellent credentials – written by My Fair Lady author Alan Jay Lerner, with music by Andre Previn and stage-sets by Cecil Beaton – yet it failed. Ostensibly it was to celebrate the (early) life of Coco Chanel but actually focused on a very narrow late period of it (1953/4, when she was out of love with the critics and financially near bankrupt) much to Coco Chanel’s chagrin. Her part was played by Katherine Hepburn. She gave a zesty performance and there were a number of promising titles like ‘A Woman Is How She Loves’ and ‘The Money Rings Out Like Freedom’ – but there were no show-stoppers, nothing out of the musical ordinary.

Musicals about fashion designers provide an opportunity to see the life’s arc of their creations and ‘Coco’ with its finale presents her works from 1919 to 1959 as a fashion show. I wonder how the Lilian Baylis Studio will catwalk her collection.

But musicals tend to be conservatively composed and Coco was no exception.

Alain Chamfort

Last year French singer and composer Alain Chamfort released an album of sixteen songs dedicated to the life of another French Fashion Designer Yves Saint Laurent called ‘Un Vie Saint Laurent’. It clearly lent itself to a musical and this idea has been taken up.

Fashion designers are a ripe subject for musicals – with their lives often as creative and eventful as their collections. The visual representation should not be taxing – a short step from Couturier to Costumer.

It is more whether the music can do them justice.

British Fashion Designers Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood would be fitting subjects for musicals, but the musical accompaniment would need to be an angular punky departure from the usual neutral ersatz string arrangements.

Perhaps Lily Allen for Westwood? Scott Walker for McQueen?!

Charlie’s Angels and Once Upon A Time – ABC’s 2011 Fall Schedule Picks


ABC are due to resurrect Charlie’s Angels as part of their 2011 Fall Schedule.

Charlie’s Angels is perhaps more known to its younger audience by the two films from 2000 and 2003 than the original 1970’s US TV series. Let us hope that it fares better than NBC’s attempted resurrection of the similar vintage Wonder Woman which sadly did not make it beyond the pilot. And better than NBC’s one series of the remodelled Bionic Woman. What is it about 1970’s shows and remakes?! I’m racking my memory for a successful reincarnation of a Seventies TV show – can anyone think of any?

One of the Shows Executive Producers is Drew Barrymore who played Angel Dylan Sanders in the two McG directed film versions. The Angels this time around are played by Annie Ilonzeh, Minka Kelly and Rachael Taylor. Their respective pasts have been on the wrong side of the law – Charlie’s Fallen Angels – will Charlie redeem them?

The preview I have seen looks promising – bluntly a team of woman crime-fighters kicking ass surely cannot fail?!

Another Fall outing from ABC is Once Upon A Time described as a ‘bold new vision of the world where fairytales and the modern day are about to collide.’ This synopsis and the preview I saw reminded me a little of the 1998 Andy Tennant directed, Drew Barrymore starred film Everafter – another modern re-imagining of a fairy-tale universe, but whereas Everafter was a romantic and hopeful Cinderella story Once Upon A Time forebodes a more thwarted and fearful tale, unhappy-ever-after.

Once Upon A Time comes from the producers of Lost who can certainly spin a yarn but one that can deliver us an ending?!

The princess of the story is Emma Swan who will be immediately recognizable to House fans as Doctor Allison Cameron, Doctor Gregory House’s colleague and prickly conscience, played by Jennifer Morrison.

Others on the side of good are Snow White played by Ginnifer Goodwin and Prince Charming by Josh Dallas. On the side of evil are Rumpelstiltskin played by Robert Carlyle and the Evil Queen by Lana Parilla. We Brits often get scripted as the Bad Guys by US Writers – though Carlyle is a slight departure in that he is Scottish not English!

Another modern fairy-tale TV show was the Bryan Fuller creation Pushing Daisies and I am hoping that Once Upon A Time is in its playful mischievous spirit.

Two welcome slices of escapism from ABC for the autumn and winter nights ahead.

Cry me out

Blogging Dangerously

I recently came upon this post ‘The Crazy In My Head: The Empathy Edition‘ on The Living Dangerously blog. The author opens with the line ‘I never cry’ and describes how in her personal and professional life tears are rarely wrung and when they are they are like blood from a stone. Except that is when it comes to her fictional world – books and television dramas in particular – then the tears flood.

It struck a chord. I did think to post a comment in response to it but then considered that the rambling words I would likely enter would be better suited to a post of my own! The blogger can have a pingback instead!

And it did not just strike a chord with me – all of the post’s comments expressed similar sentiments.

It is the same with me. I have lost close family members in the last three years and I certainly cried but I still wonder whether I should have shed more tears. Have I let it all out I wonder or am I still brimming with unspent emotion.

And it is not that I have a heart of glass. I can shed tears quite easily – but like this blogger at fictional melodramas not my own real-dramas.

The Grey Whistle Line sung by June Tabor and Maddy Prior or Over the Rainbow sung by Eva Cassidy and my tears can flow quickly. Likewise nearly any episode of Cold Case. Jane Eyre whether the Charlotte Bronte book or a TV or Cinema adaptation will always get me going.

Perhaps it is because it is emotionally easier? It pulls on our empathy whilst not overwhelming us in a way our own heart-aches and heart-breaks might.

But the tears that dry on my own tend to be of sadness and loss – the warm uplifting feeling I have when watching, for example Frank Capra’s ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, or listening to Emiliana Torrini’s ‘Today Has Been Okay‘ is not then confined to the screen or the vinyl record – these feelings I feel fully and freely with my own family and friends.

Perhaps then it is about vulnerability? Being able to empathize with another’s but not wanting to expose my own.

Perhaps I need some professional therapy.

Too much at ease in the second-hand daylight of my imaginary world, too little at ease in the first-hand daylight of my own trials and tribulations?

But as The Empathy Edition blog post amply illustrates it is a condition of the heart widely shared and which I take comfort from it not complete solace.

Wonder Woman Axed

Wonder Woman
The planned resurrection of Wonder Woman with Adrianne Palicki has been laid to rest by NBC.

Their rather vague reason being that it did not fit with their current schedule – what sort of schedule is it that it cannot accommodate Wonder Woman?! To rub salt into the super-healing wound NBC thought the pilot was great.

I had been looking forward to this remake too and was going to post on my hopes for the show and reflections of the 1970’s TV version with Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman Diane Prince.

Lynda Carter pearl ear-rings

While Wonder Woman’s male cohorts Superman, Batman and Spiderman have all continued to have Cinema and TV remakes Wonder Woman has tended to languish sadly in the background.

The first series of the 1970’s Wonder Woman was set in the 1940’s and most of her adversaries were aliens or German Nazi’s – the second and third series suddenly jumped forward to its then present day – and some of those assignments were more prosaic – shadowing teen rock stars and rich business men for example – but still contained its share of bizarre aliens.

I had been wondering how they would play Wonder Woman in 2011 and the synopsis was a promising one with her earthly job as a Billionaire CEO allowing her leave without question to take flight as Wonder Woman as danger called her.

One of her super-hero powers was her Lasso of Truth – truth was so much more black and white in the 1970’s – well before Watergate! – we now live in a digital world but where truth is ever less digital – how would such a Lasso fare upon lawyers, politicians and global-entrepreneurs?! Would it be confounded by the moral relativism of a spin-doctor for example!

Diane Prince would often don wide-frame glasses and have her hair-up to ensure she was not recognized as Wonder Woman! I enjoyed the Diane Prince character too, and also her 1970’s fashion outfits – more even that the Wonder Woman costume itself.

One costume to wear day-in day-out – a super-human sacrifice indeed!
Lynda Carter as Diana Prince

We have also had from NBC the recently demised Heroes an ensemble of super-heroes and super-villains with diverse and complex powers – sort of a superhero top-trumps.

Perhaps our modern palettes are now too sophisticated for the likes of Wonder Woman?

That though would depend on how it was written and played – would writer David E Kelley have kept it in the spirit of the 1970’s show or brought it up to date?

David E Kelley has written a lot of legal dramas such as Ally McBeal, Boston Legal and The Practice – and I did wonder how he would fare in the sci-fi realm (though Ally McBeal certainly had its share of fantasy sequences – remember the Dancing Baby?!).

A previous re-incarnation was to be written by Joss Whedon but which was abandoned – perhaps his subsequent Dollhouse was borne of that Wonder Woman spirit?

A film version is still touted for 2015 but I really do think Wonder Woman would work as a TV series and hope another network thinks so too.

Until then I will just have to content myself with the 1970’s Lynda Carter version in DVD Box-sets.

Suranne Jones – The Doctor’s Wife

Suranne Jones

Suranne Jones

The latest episode of Doctor Who finds him betrothed?

What an episode it is and what a performance by Suranne Jones – such a pity it had to be a terminal one.

The Doctor’s Wife was written by English author Neil Gaiman of Coraline and The Sandman fame among many others. And the script was as mind-bending as the scientific conundrums that littered it. The time-shifting in this latest series would leave even Quentin Tarantino breathless.

Michael Sheen is the voice of The House. (Though not his first such voice – he was the White Rabbit’s voice in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland). But what a CV he now has – previously, to sample but a few, Brian Clough, Tony Blair and Kenneth Williams – and now the Voice of the House – can he possibly top this?!

And the Doctor sheds a tear – I won’t plot-spoil if you have not yet seen it – and if not then you should watch for free on the BBC iPlayer in High Definition while you still can.

Suranne Jones’ performance as Idris the Doctor’s Wife (or Soul Mate? Same thing – or should be!) was delivered with relish – much verbal gymnastics and memorable lines – though the line about the Fish Fingers is in the same category as a previous episode in this series Knock Knock Who’s There one!

As herself

Not her first foray into the Doctor Who universe though – you may remember her as the Mona Lisa in the Sarah Jane Adventure ‘Mona Lisa’s Revenge’?

More known though for charismatic cops such as DC Laurie Franklin in the BBC’s Five Days and another DC, Rachel Bailey, in the recently commenced ITV series ‘Scott and Bailey’, where Scott is played by Lesley Sharp – which sounds in the spirit of Murder In Suburbia – and I digress!

Here she gets to play the TARDIS – sorry could not avoid that spoiler! – where her multi-dimensional space-time-mind confounds not just we the viewers but the Doctor himself.

As noted such a pity it was to be a terminal appearance – okay I can see I plot-spoiled from the very beginning of this post! – but she arrived and exited with a bang.

But does this mean the Doctor is left without a TARDIS? That is one plot-line at least I won’t spoil for you!

The Curse of the Black Spot – Lily Cole’s Siren Call

Sea Siren

Did you recognise this Sea Siren in the BBC Doctor Who episode The Curse of the Black Spot?

It was Lily Cole and has she ever been made up like this before? She’s a fashion model so perhaps at a Vivienne Westwood show! From Couturier to Costumier she wore it well.

Though – spoiler alert and look away now if you have not yet seen this episode! – it transpires that she is no Sea Siren rather the ships onboard holographic-medic gone awry protecting her crew and captives against injury and disease.

The pirates led by the currently ubiquitous Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey, Twenty Twelve) as Captain Avery referred to her as Cursed with the Doctor decrying this as how we describe anyone or thing that is beyond our understanding – to scientific enquiry we must look not defeatist superstitions. Stirring stuff for Saturday tea-time viewing.

Lily Cole’s performance was wordless if not soundless – she had to wail and screech but otherwise look spectral and mysterious, which she carried off, her being a model and all!