Just blew in from the Windy City — A review of Calamity Jane (2019)

Live at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre
Starring Virginia Gay, Laura Bunting, Anthony Gooley, Christina O’Neill, Rob Johnson, Matthew Pearce and Tony Taylor

I love musicals. I love musicals a lot. Most of my favourites come from the “golden age of musicals” — think Gene Kelly, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra et al. One of my favourites from this particular period is Calamity Jane, which stars Doris Day as the eponymous character and Howard Keel as ‘Wild Bill’ Hickok. 

So it should go without saying that I was positively beside myself when I was gifted a ticket to see Calamity Jane live. And this wasn’t just any ticket. It wasn’t even a front row ticket. It was a freakin’ “you are sitting ON THE STAGE” ticket. Cut to actual footage of me.

So, how was it? In a word? Ah-MAY-zing. I don’t know if that counts as three words. The point is that it was an unbelievable experience and a delightful show.

Not only is the audience given the option to book a seat on the stage, but the cast frequently pop up in the audience and involve audience members in the narrative. The whole experience is delightfully immersive and I must admit being a little bit envious of the audience member who was given lines to read on the stage.

The audience interaction makes for some very funny moments but the show is just very funny in general. In the session I saw, I’m positive there were times that were improvised and that is one of my absolute favourite things about the theatre. Scripted humour is good but, when it lands, unscripted humour is great.

The entire cast did a phenomenal job, especially given that most of the actors played more than one role. The stand out for me was — rightfully so — Virginia Gay as Calamity Jane. Gay’s performance is captivating every time she is on the stage … or in the audience … or getting snacks. No, really. Someone give her all of the awards for this role. Then cast her in lots more things.

I cannot recommend Calamity Jane enough. If you’re in Australia and have a chance to check out this interactive and exciting take on the classic, you absolutely should. Did I mention you can sit on the stage? Because you can. 

Have you seen Calamity Jane live on stage? What was the last musical you saw live? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

– CJ

Comic Review: Cellies, vol. 1

I was perusing the comics available on NetGalley recently when this cleverly named collection jumped out at me. Cellies follows a group of retail employees at a cell phone store through midnight launches, parental drama and store romances.

Volume one of Cellies is a fun introduction to some interesting and varied characters. The staff feel like they’re your average underpaid and under-appreciated retail worker and their manager is a hoot. Though, I must admit, I never found myself really caring about the characters or what happened to them.

Interspersed throughout the main storyline are “real life” retail horror stories that have been drawn in the same style as Cellies. I think these in particular will resonate with anyone who has ever worked in retail. 

The art is quite cool and I loved the use of colour throughout the comics.

I enjoyed Cellies, vol. 1 as a very quick “slice of life” style read, but found it odd that the volume ended on a cliffhanger. Most collections I have read in the past end on the conclusion of the current story arc so that each collection can be read separately. 

While I did enjoy the first collection, I wasn’t hooked in enough to be super keen on checking out the next instalment in the series. I don’t feel like what I’ve read will be particularly memorable in the long run, but it was a quick read that gave me a few laughs.

 

Have you read Cellies? Is it worth continuing with or do you have another indie comic you’d like to recommend? Hit me up in the comments or on the Twitters.

– CJ

Weekly update: It’s a jolly holiday with Mary

Once again, Gothamites, happy New Year. I hope your holiday season was joyous and filled with the things that make you happiest.

Right, let’s get into my latest pop culture adventures.

Mary Poppins Returns

Speaking of happy holidays. I was fortunate enough to be gifted many tickets to the theatre last year. These were given to me as birthday presents, Christmas presents or ‘just because’ presents.

The last of these generous gifts for 2018 was a special screening of Mary Poppins Returns at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre.

How was it, I hear you ask? It was practically perfect in every way, of course! From the ridiculously talented Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda to the new soundtrack that is as magical as everyone’s favourite nanny. My favourite cameos were without a doubt Angela Lansbury and Meryl Streep, but Colin Firth and Dick Van Dyke were loads of fun too.

Kids young and old absolutely must revisit the magic of Mary Poppins. And if you can do so in a majestic old theatre, I highly recommend it.

RuPaul’s Drag Race: Season Nine

As a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race, I found season nine to be the most underwhelming by far. Only this collection of queens could make a musical about America’s most dramatic family seem dull. There were two queens that I grew to like and one of them ended up winning. And one queen, who I already thought was super, returned from a past season. Other than that, I found the rest of the contestants to be dull, insufferable or — shade of all shade — both.

I love Ross Matthews more with every season though.

Looking forward to diving into All Stars 3 next because I just adore Trixie and Shangela.

The Courtney Act Show

Not the Christmas special we deserve, but the one we need. Courtney Act takes to the stage to tackle important issues, give a Paralympian a drag makeover and sing beautiful Christmas songs with beautiful people. 

I didn’t know a lot of the celebrities featured, but I lovelovelove Bianca Del Rio, Adore Delano and Darienne Lake’s appearances. Bianca in particular is hilarious. 

It’s a glorious Christmas variety show, headed by a consummate performer and I hope Channel 4 gives Courtney a special every year. I also hope an Australian provider buys the licence to it so that I don’t have to wait a week to stumble across someone’s upload of it on YouTube.

A Simple Favour by Darcey Bell

I went to see the film adaptation of A Simple Favour when it was in cinemas and found it had several plot holes. I found this with the film adaptation of The Girl on the Train as well, but had read the book first so could fill in those blanks. I read A Simple Favour in the hopes the plot holes would be filled. And they were. The novel was good and answered questions I had, while also giving an insight into the characters who had intrigued me on the big screen.

I did enjoy the movie’s ending more than the book’s though. Don’t judge me. It was comedy gold.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum

I recently revisited The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, which was one of my absolute favourite and most read books as a child. I never quite appreciated how savage Glinda was though.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

I’m seeking some guidance on this one. I tried watching this Netflix series based on the Archie comics because I liked the first season of Riverdale despite the teen melodrama. 

(The only reason I haven’t revisited Riverdale for its second season is that the jump from 13 to 22 episodes makes me think there’s going to be a lot of fluff and padding in season two.)

I only managed to get through three episodes of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina before I had to turn it off. I just couldn’t handle any more teen melodrama up to and including a 16 year old girl lecturing her (probably) centuries old aunts then ending it with “do you understand me?”

There were a couple of things I liked. I thought Ambrose was an interesting character and would like to know more about his history. And I did chuckle at a few lines of dialogue.

Can any Gothamites advise if it’s worth powering through? Are the assorted accents ever explained? Does Salem ever get sassy? Let me know in the comments, but for the sake of other Gothamites: no spoilers, please!

 

That’s all from me this week, dear Gothamites. Agree, disagree or have thoughts on this week’s update? Leave a comment here or reach out on Twitter.

– CJ

 

P.S. One last thing before I go. I want to congratulate Courtney Act on her bid to represent Australia in Eurovision 2019. I just love the song ‘Fight for Love’ that Courtney has recorded for her entry into the competition. You can check it out here!

Castlevania: Season One

Review by CJ

Director:
Sam Deats

Writer:
Warren Ellis, Hitoshi Akamatsu (based on the series created by)

Starring:
Richard Armitage, James Callis, Alejandra Reynoso, Matt Frewer, Tony Amendola

Other notable appearances:
Graham McTavish, Emily Swallow

Running time:
22-25 minutes per episode

Number of episodes:
4

 

After humanity burns his wife at the stake, Dracula gives them one year to prepare for his army of demons. Trevor Belmont, the last in a long line of monster slayers, and his allies must band together to put an end to the heartbroken vampire’s vengeance.

Continue reading Castlevania: Season One

The Outsider by Stephen King (2018)

Review by CJ

Page count:
561 pages

ISBN:
9781501180989 

 

When an 11-year-old boy is horrifically murdered, all of the evidence points to the small town’s Little League coach, Terry Maitland.

It is only after Terry is publicly arrested that strong evidence is discovered that also proves his innocence.

With solid evidence indicating that Maitland both is and isn’t the murderer, it is up to a small group of officials and concerned citizens to uncover the truth — no matter how bizarre it may seem.

Continue reading The Outsider by Stephen King (2018)

Resistance is Futile.