Friday, 24 June 2011

My Disaster

I was dreading the day I dried up in any form of performance. It happens to everyone, and with such a busy schedule, I had a feeling it would be this term. In three of my classes we have an end of term performance of some sort, one of these pieces as mentioned in an earlier blog was a duologue from Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part 3.

I had rehearsed this piece for the dress rehearsal. As we took to the performance area I was relatively confident as I opened with the line "Good day my lord, why at your book so hard?". The scene started to unravel with some great moments. I think every time I have performed this piece I have discovered something new about the characters. Shakespeare uses a lot if imagery and if you can relate to that, I find it really helps.

Now on to Nick, I can't remember what I said about him last time. He is my scene partner, what can I say? This guy lives and breathes Shakespeare. He gets right into the language, and the character. He was familiar with this scene prior to going into this which gave him a head start over me, it also meant I have learned a lot from him. He is very much the underdog of the class, in the sense that he does not shout and scream, rather he has a touch of genius and comes up with things then brings them to life like no other. It is only in working closely with him that I have realised how much more he has in his acting toolbox than I first thought. He is superb, and if he wants to make it in acting, I honestly think he could.

Now back to my disaster. As I hit my monologue, something came over me. I can't really explain it - my focus was lost, I didn't even feel as though I was in the room anymore. Even with the prompts - nothing was there. I know they say a bad dress rehearsal is a good sign... but I am so pissed off like you wouldn't believe. I walked out of the room for a good 15 minutes to mull over the diabolical performance, and although it happens to everyone sooner or later, it just feels awful when it happens to you. I guess I have a week to get it right, but I won't lie, my confidence has taken a huge blow. I was the worst in the class on Thursday, hell even the guy who is usually rock bottom was better than me - and that is saying something!

I must admit, I was hoping this encounter with Shakespeare would inspire me, but I am yet to be convinced. Even seeing Kevin Spacey in Richard III (the play that follows the one I am performing) just two days before hand failed to reach me. Don't get me wrong. you can't fault the acting. I was just not inspired by it. Its long, the plot is unconvincing and a tad predictable at best. I have yet to work out why people see Shakespeare as one of the best play writes of all time. Though this said I did enjoy seeing David Tenant and Catherine Tate in a modernised version of Much Ado About Nothing... much lighter and energetic, but still not the best piece of theatre I have seen.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

And The Winner Is... (BGT The Final - Part 4)

And the winner of Britian's Got Talent 2011 is..... Jai McDowell.

Jai is a talented guy, I can't take that from him. Personally, however I didn't feel he was the strongest performer on the night. For me - if you are looking at the singers, Ronan Parke put so much more into his song - it came right from the heart and really showed off the power he has in his voice. Though really, and as cheesy as this will sound. They are all winnners. I am pretty sure Ronan, New Bounce and Michael will all come out of this with top selling albums and record deals as well as Jai, and I think rightfully so. All of the acts were talented, I am just gutted for little Ronan, as I felt his strength of character alone meant he deserved to win. Even when the news sunk in that he had not won, he was keen to give Jai a congratulatory hug and ensured he thanked everyone who voted for him before publicly congratulating Jai. Never before have I seen someone so valiant in defeat. He just seems such a likable guy!

I guess the biggest shock for me was seeing James Holby come in 8th. I felt he injected more passion into his act than any of the other finalists. I don't think the public necessarily appreciated ballet as much as they could have, as it is a less accessible medium than singing. For me James was a winner, and as long as he goes out with his head held high and keeps doing what he does best, then that is great. I really hope he doesn't get down hearted - remember he is only 11 and he has been through a lot. I really respect him for what he has achieved, and I really hope that he gets something out of the BGT experience.

It was no surprise that bubbly Jean Martyn came last. It has to be horrible to be told in front of the nation that you came 10th, however truthfully I think that is a fair result. Les Gibson's poor take on Simon Cowell landed him in 9th which came as no real surprise, though personally I would like to have seen Steven Hall much lower in the rankings.

None the less a great final, and good to see a singer win for the first time since Paul Potts or whatever he was called all those years ago. But the question now is - when will an act which is not singing or dancing win?

Saturday, 4 June 2011

If Only I Were A Judge (BGT The Final Part 3)

So on to the third blog for the Britian's Got Talent Final. I am writing this as I watch the show on ITV player at an ungodly hour, having successfully avoided all forms of media, so I didn't hear the result! From the previous two articles you will now know that going into this evenings show my favorites were Ronan Parke and James Hobley. Though between either of them and fame stand 8 other contestants all who are after the same prize. I won't lie, I would love to be a judge on that show, as I think between Michael, Amanda and the Hoff they have all been a bit too soft. There are acts that got through the auditions which were laughable and no way deserved to be in the semi-finals.

The first of these was Steven Hall. Quite how he found his way to the fsemi-inal selection I will never know. How he got through that - well thats another baffling question. He just resembles an older family member who has had too much to drink at a party. I honestly believe he makes a mockery of the term "dance", especially when there are real dancers out there who deserve fame much more than he does. If there was ever a glimmer of hope that he would raise his game, this was soon quashed. Sure his movements and lip sync were in time, but the energy levels simply were not there. Remove all the dancers he had on stage with him, the routine to me seemed simpler than his original audition, which is never good. Quite what the judges saw in him I don't know... is Simon turning soft?

Second up - Michael Collings. I really rated him in the auditions. I can't help but think his vocal range is limited, but his song choices work with that - it plays to his strengths. Playing the same song as his audition was wise - and could easily sway the evenings votes. This guy is going somewhere, regardless to whether he wins. I would expect Simon to snap him up win or lose, and I can almost guarantee he will have a cd in the charts in the coming months. Could he win? I don't think so, but he will be a star that is for certain.

Les Gibson following in the footsteps of last years finalist and fellow impressionist Paul Birling was someone who I was unsure about. Sure he is good but was he better than Paul Birling? if I am honest I didn't think so. I think its right that he was given another chance - but would he make an impact this evening? Frankly - no. I thought his Simon Cowell impersonation was sketchy at best, though his take on Michael McIntyre, The Hoff and Louis Walsh were pretty reasonable. Amanda echoed this. Personally I would find it farcical if he ended up in the last three. He is good, but he is not the most talented person in Britain thats for sure.

Now onto one of my favorites - James Hobley. I am so glad that he has got this far, and I sit here hoping that the judges, audience and general public get behind his performance, which was solid throughout with a beautiful ending. In terms of talent, this boy deserves to be number one. He has definitely sent the previous three acts packing in my books. As I said in my last article, what he brings to the stage is a passion that cannot be taught, a passion that shines through in his performances. I really don't know what market exists for a ballet dancer after BGT, maybe a role in Billy Elliot? I really don't know. But this kid deserves to go all the way!

Up next a pianist by the name of Paul Gbegbaje. I think this is an act that could get a bit old, as there is only so much you can do with a piano and stay entertaining. The choice of an original piece is risky at best, and my first impressions listening is that it was nothing special, though as the song came to life, his ability really shone through. Is this a winning performance? Again I have to say, I am really not sure. Of the people I have seen so far, he is in the top 3 but only just with James and Michael Collings ahead of him. However being just half way through the night can he hold on to that place? I really don't think so.

With Ronan Parke up next, Paul Gbegbaje's top 3 slot I felt would be very much short lived indeed. Ronan has such an amazing voice. His audition was phenomenal, which had all three judges on their feet. I just hoped that he would perform well under the stress that the tabloids have caused him in the last couple of days. Ronan lived up to his tag as the bookies favorite with a great choice of song which brought out the best in his voice. It is hard to believe such power could come from a twelve year old. As much as I would like James to win, I can't help but think Ronan has just snatched it - that was simply mind blowing - and those tears after such a great performance show just how much heart he puts in to every song he sings. Watch out Bieber... there is a new kid on the block!!!

Jean Martyn is another of the contestants I have been unsure of. I won't lie, as enthusiastic as she may be, I found her piece messy with the melodies not fitting with the bass notes, and her singing very much mediocre. If I am honest my most hated act of the final - Steven Hall may have been marginally better! Sure - a ton of energy - but it would be better suited to an asylum than a talent contest.

Jai McDowell is up next. Having seen Ronan perform so well, Jai has to really pull out all stops to be the better solo singing act. If I am truthful, I am not sure he has it in him, he always seems so nervous. But who knows he may just pull it off! My first impressions of the song are not that great, but Simon loved it... lets face it if Simon loves a singer their career in music is already made for them. He is good, and just like Michael Collings I feel there is a future for him in music, though I would be shocked if he won this competition.

I am a lover of dance and Razy Gogonea brings a real contrast to James Hobley's ballet routine. Having seen lots of street dancing and body popping in the last few years - he really needs to do a lot to impress. Don't forget the last three years have been won by choreographed routines. For me it is all a bit samey and seems to lack the heart and passion I have seen in other dancers. Razy was entertaining the first time I saw him, but truthfully the novelty has worn off now, and even the use of fire did little to sway my view on this - it was just a means of tarting up a routine I have seen too many times before.

Onto the final act of the night - New Bounce - the only boy band in the final. I am no lover of boy bands usually, as the vocal mixes are generally cringeworthy and the performances are often a bit cheesy. Would New Bounce be any different? They were better than most I will credit them with that. The group harmonies worked, but I wasn't so sure on the solo pieces. It was a worthy performance, but for me not good enough to break into the top three. Just like the other singers tonight, they have a future regardless of the outcome of this show.

So thats my take on the final, and below is how I would rank them based on the evenings performance for what they are worth. I am not a judge I know, but hey its good to have an opinion right?


Ronan Parke
James Hobley
Michael Collings
Paul Gbegbaje
New Bounce
Jai McDowell
Les Gibson
Razy Gogonea
Steven Hall
Jean Martyn

James The Underdog (BGT The Final - Part 2)

So in my blog from earlier today about Ronan Parke I mentioned my other favorite - James Hobley. You just have to read back a few blogs to know that Liam Mower is one of my biggest influences and that I love dance. So for those who know me, it should come as no surprise that I am rooting for James to win also. I honestly couldn't pick between Ronan and James, they both offer something that comes right from the heart and they are living the dream that they want to live, and fair play to them for being so committed at just 12 and 11 respectively.

I have sometimes been a bit skeptical of some of the younger finalists in the past, as I have wondered whether they use the "cute factor" or a tragic back story to win the hearts of the viewers. Take The Cheeky Monkeys from a couple of years back. technically they were nothing special, but they won over the hearts of the nation for being two cute little kids dancing to rock n roll numbers. I felt they got through in place of more talented acts because of the cute factor. i know it sounds harsh - but honestly - were they one of the best 10 acts? I really don't think so. With this in mind I think I am sometimes tougher on the child contestants because I feel they really have to prove their worth more than the adults, to show they have real talent not just a tragic story or a cute face.

Before this years contest I said that I hoped there were less dance acts in the final. This for me was because there have been too many dance troops in the last couple of years. I am of course pleased that dance has become more popular and socially acceptable as I love dance, and I go to some dance shows, but with George Sampson, Diversity and Spellbound winning the last 3 contests, I was adamant I wanted to see something that wasn't dance rooted win. That was until I saw James perform.

My heart stopped for a moment when I his routine started, I genuinely feared people would not appreciate the complexity, skill and passion that ballet dancers injected into their work. As it unfolded I was taken in by the elegance of the routine. For me it didn't matter that he was only 11 - his ballet was first class, and better than some adults I have seen. It appears that he managed to capture the hearts of the audience and of course a tearful Amanda Holden! I honestly believe that it was not his back story that people connected with - rather the passion which moulded every move he made up on that big stage.

Behind all this I was really taken back by the relaxed personality and passion to succeed - he hasn't let autism affect his passion to dance. He hasn't played on the fact that he is autistic to win people over. He has simply let the dancing do the talking. There is a great line in Billy Elliot where Mrs Wilkinson tells Billy that dancing has to come from inside, it can't just be a set of moves strung together. This is exactly what James has done. He has taken that passion and expressed it through dance.

The bookies favorite may well be Ronan, but no matter where James finishes, I will be proud of what he has achieved not only for himself, but also for ballet - in bringing the genre of dance to a wider audience. Hopefully misconceptions of boys in ballet can be forgotten, and the british public can open their minds to the beauty and elegance of ballet. I know that James can do it justice, and I really hope the public get behind him tonight.

Good luck James!

Its All About Ronan!!! (BGT The Final - Part 1)

So anyone who knows me will know that I am really into Britain's Got Talent. Unfortunately due to all of my commitments I haven't been able to watch it as much this year as I would have liked, though its been hard not to know whats been going on as BGT fever sweep across the nation.

The papers always have a lot to say about the show. How the producers pick the songs and routines etc... Sure it is manufactured, we all know that - its what makes good TV! This doesn't bother me as much as it used to. What I like is the weeks before all the live shows, it is here where ordinary people with extraordinary talents appear (as well as the not so normal people with no talent at all!). During the audition stages we got to see grass roots talent - acts that were from the heart, and not manipulated for the show or the british media. We see real people with real talents.

It was during these stages that a 12 year old boy from Norwich, named Ronan Parke shone through. Had you have missed Ronan back then, you won't have missed him this week as his face has been pasted al over the newspapers amidst allegations that he had been groomed to win this years contest over the last two years by Simon Cowell, a story which both deny. The claims were made in a blog by someone who claimed to be an executive at Sony. Though it is widely believed that this attack was made by fans loyal to Cheryl Cole who was brutally axed from another of Simon Cowell's shows recently.

Reading Ronan's response to these allegations, I now have so much respect for the kid. He has handled the situation like a true professional, and with such dignity. There are many older celebrities who could learn from him! Its great to see that his focus is still on the contest and that he has not been phased by some nasty individual who was intent on soiling his good name.

Do I think Ronan will win? Yes. He has a likability about him, a cool image, a great voice, and a passion for music which comes right from the heart. With great qualities like these, there is nothing stopping him from achieving his dream. Personally based on my love of dance I am tied between Ronan and James. I really like them both, however i think the marketability of music is much greater than that of ballet, which will give Ronan the edge on the public vote. Even if he were not to win, he has a career in music at his feet, and deservedly so. He has wowed so many people already that I see him being as big as Bieber if not bigger. One thing is for sure though, Ronan is a much better singer, and those that hate him are nothing more than jealous of what he has achieved.

The fact is there is a lot of hidden talent in the UK. Sometimes it does take a show like this to get them into the spotlight. No matter what has gone on in the media, nothing should be taken away from the kid. He has worked for hours with a singing coach over the last few years. The has put his heart and soul into every song he has sung, and it is his own self belief which has bought him to the spotlight. Long may that spotlight shine on! Good luck Ronan!