national concert hall & Theater
n hearing that Cole Porter’s Anything Goes was to be the choice for the traditional Hollywood Christmas concert last year, my first reaction was “why that one?” Sad to say my sole familiarity with the musical was the title ditty, which somehow sounds awfully dated these days when heard out of context. Just a couple of minutes into the performance on Christmas Day, however, Brook Hall’s vivacious, affectionate production found me eating my words. Hall did an amazing job with a largely local cast and with what by all accounts was a modest budget, managing to put on a production that sizzled with enthusiasm and obvious love for this remarkably clever and sophisticated musical. The story of Anything Goes is little more than a flimsy framework on which to hang a variety of humorous situations and a couple of exhilarating set pieces, but where it matters – in the songs, in the witty (and often surprisingly barbed) lyrics, and (of course) in the glorious music, it well and truly shows many modern and more superficially ‘fashionable’ musicals how it should be done. What really shone through on the night was the affection that almost all involved obviously felt for their roles in the production, and their sheer enjoyment carried them triumphantly through a few slightly ragged moments in an otherwise very convincing production. Chen Jiada as Moonface Martin and Hu Yuzhi as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh especially threw themselves into the musical’s two main comic roles, with hilarious success, in comparison with which the production’s two professional leads, Broadway singer Jeremy Benton and local pop star eVonne Hsu seemed just a little too slick, a tad too comfortable and, err, ‘professional’, although to be fair their roles (as the main romantic leads) are certainly less interesting and well-drawn than some of the more colorful figures surrounding them. The show was comprehensively stolen by the amazing Mandy Gaines, who wowed the audience with a breathtaking performance as Reno Sweeney. There can have been hardly a foot in the audience that didn’t tap along to her fabulous, powerful delivery of her big set piece, Blow, Gabriel, Blow, while her comic timing in the spoken dialogue elsewhere was almost always spot on. Another especially memorable aspect of a thoroughly memorable night was the quality of the dancing – not unexpected considering Hall’s pedigree as a choreographer, with a surprisingly intense and virtuosic dance scene between a couple of the sailors and their showgirl partners remaining an especially vivid memory, while Capt’n Ted Runcie and his band of just eight able musicians proved themselves expert accompanists, guiding the cast through the string of catchy and often surprisingly complex musical numbers with real verve. Runcie (as musical director) also deserves kudos for teasing impressively musical performances out of some of the local performers, for whom the English lyrics held no terrors. The National Concert Hall was packed for the Christmas Day performance, and the largely Taiwanese audience highly appreciative of this very first locally produced, English-language production of its kind in Taiwan. On the basis of the success achieved by Anything Goes, there’s definitely a market for similar shows in the future. What’s the plan for Christmas 2011, Brook?
NATIONAL CONCERT HALL
La Dame aux Camelias
Janet, Jean, Mariell
Tadashi Suzucki’s musical, based on a novel by Alexandre Dumas february 10 – 12
Fun Taiwan star Janet Hsieh and friends play violin works by Paganini, Tartini, Corigliano and others february 12 – 13
Nowy Teatr Warszawa – (A)POLLONIA february 19 – 20
Taipei Symphony Orchestra Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony february 22
The Pearl on Strings – Midori The Japanese violinist plays Bartok, plus Sibelius' Symphony no. 1 february 27
The River – Harp Music Theater Music for harp and voice by Debussy, Albeniz and others, with dance and multi-media effects february 28
for full details, please log on to the Culture express website at http://express.culture.gov.tw or take a copy of the monthly program from CKS Cultural Center, available from MRT stations, bookshops and ticketing offices. Publication of the National Theater and Concert Hall schedule in Centered on Taipei is sponsored by Cathay Life Insurance.
TICKETING OFFICES: • NTCH: (02) 2343 1647 • ERA: (02) 2709 3788
feb 2011 www.communitycenter.org.tw
2011/1/25 3:52:48 PM
An English language lifestyle magazine produced for the International Community in Taiwan.