Category Archives: Music

War Horse – the show

War Horse has made it to Melbourne!

war horse
After being premiered in London in 2007 , War Horse went on to win a number of awards including two Laurence Olivier Awards and five Tony Awards. It has been played at London’s National Theatre, the West End’s New London Theatre and New York’s Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Centre. And it has just hit Melbourne.

War Horse – the show – is based on a book by Michael Morpurgo. I have not read the book, but I have seen the movie by Steven Spielberg. The story is about Joey, the horse, and Albert, the boy who raises him. A strong bond develops between the two and Albert is heart-broken when his father sells Joey to the British cavalry at the outbreak of World War I. Joey is then shipped to France where he is caught up in enemy fire and goes through a number of terrible adventures between German and British troops. Amazingly, Albert who could not forget Joey and has enlisted, manages to find the horse and bring him home. Okay, the story is a bit lame, but it does captivate the mind. It’s not a light story, the movie itself is very graphic, and so is the show. One thing that kept bothering me is how much time is spent weeping over the horse when hundreds of thousands of soldiers are being killed – often in horrible circumstances – around him. I know that this is the story, but it is at the same time a little disturbing. There are differences between the movie and the show, the story takes shortcuts in the show, but that’s to be expected, and sometimes it’s even outright different. I have not read the book, so I don’t know what the original story is like.

War Horse is quite the spectacle. I was amazed at the life-size puppets, created by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company. They are totally amazing and look eerily real. It was wonderful to see those horses on stage and you quickly forget they are puppets. The way the ears move, the shiny eyes, the tail, the limbs, it’s all wonderful, really. If anything, that’s just worth going to see. The horses even gallop on stage! It was breathtaking. I found the second part too dark for my liking, but it’s all about the war after all. The episode with the French girl is puzzling – I found it lacked clarity in the show and didn’t add much. The casting was interesting, as the French girl is black in the show, and her mother white, so you have to assume the father was black – a very common thing nowadays (Thank God) but very unusual in 1915, especially in the Somme region. I can’t help wonder what the original girl was like in the book, does anyone know? Of course, the accents are fake (I, for one, can tell!) but they help wonderfully when the French, the British and the Germans are talking to each other. All together, a great show.

Here’s the movie trailer:

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Filed under Australia, Movies, Music, Theatre


I’ve been meaning to write a few words about COCORICO, a show that I went to see a few weeks ago, and which was part of Le French May Arts Festival here in Hong Kong. It is a duet made of two Frenchmen, Patrice Thibaud, a hilarious physical comedian, and Philippe Leygnac, an amazing musician. The show is in mime and with music. I hadn’t laughed that much in a long time. Thibaud is an expert at making you understand a situation with only a few gestures, and at making you scream with laughter at the same time. As for Leygnac, he is a genius – just visualise him playing the piano while his compadre keeps pushing the piano left, right and back, and you will understand what I mean. The show can be seen by people of all ages – in fact, children should rush to see it, I can guarantee you they will love it as much as adults do. Judging by the number of encore and the duration of the applause at the end, the audience lapped it up. The show is made of a series of tableaux, all linked by one element. It lasts about an hour and a half. I still haven’t got over the surprise created by Leygnac jumping out of a suitcase that had been standing at my feet for a few minutes. Ten stars!

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Filed under Arts, Hong Kong, Music, Theatre

Janet Jackson in concert in Hong Kong

I went to see Janet Jackson in concert last night in Hong Kong. It was her first concert from her new world tour (35 countries), and following her fans’ suggestions she had decided to start it in Hong Kong… on Valentine’s Day! It took place in the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre, which probably didn’t allow her to use the full features of a normal concert venue. In any case, it’s not what I would call “a venue that will allow Janet to be up close and personal in a much more intimate setting”, as her website mentions, but that was okay. Jackson moves well, and she didn’t spare her energy. The songs she performed were all hits, so people could sing along with her. I enjoyed the show. There are a few things which didn’t impress me though: I wish she interacted more with the audience for a start. Then, what is it about all the breaks in the show? I understand she needs time to change outfits and take a small rest, but these breaks were a bit boring and defused the energy. We had to sit through a slide show of her in various postures and dresses…. a real star. As for the last break, it was simply a black-out that lasted a few minutes…. In spite of all this, it was a good night. It’s not that often that we get artists of this calibre performing in Hong Kong.

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Filed under Hong Kong, Music

Free Royalty-free Music

I recently created a book trailer for my novel, The Wings of Leo Spencer, and I faced the same problem as anyone who wants to add music to a video-clip, be it for YouTube or any other short video website: music is copyrighted, in the same way as any kind of writing, photos etc. You don’t want to have to pay royalties for a thirty-second piece of music you used in one of your homemade video placed on YouTube! There is a lot of royalty-free music on the Web, but it is usually very expensive. While creating my book trailer, I stumbled upon Donosongs, an artist based in New York, and his website, which offers free royalty-free music for your own use. There are lots of different styles, and the music is pretty good. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to avoid trouble with the music they use for video-clips. Check it out. Dan-O is pretty cool.

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Filed under Arts, Books, Music