Sunday, 23 September 2007

The War Of The Worlds

Sarah found out that Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War Of The Worlds was touring as a live performance, so for our (early) birthdays I booked tickets and accommodation in the city, and Sarah came down to visit last weekend until Wednesday.
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I hadn't heard the musical version before, but apparently it's a cult favourite. A few people from work went as well, and in the anticipation leading up to the event I know the original recording was played more than a few times. Every so often, one fellow would announce, "Yep. It's that time again!" and on would go the headphones and off he'd go to Horsell Common. But for some reason - not wanting to spoil the experience perhaps - I didn't listen to it before the performance.

I went in quite naive. I knew almost nothing about it. I knew that it was originally a concept album, and not a stage production, but I had assumed that it had been adapted as a stage musical along the lines of Andrew Lloyd Webber's work. That wasn't the case; it was almost entirely true to the original recording, and the performance was more along the lines of an augmented concert than a stage musical. It had a huge screen onto which a montage of CGI and actors (live on stage and pre-recorded) was projected, and it had a huge model Fighting Machine that descended onto the stage to flash and bang when appropriate, but the centrepiece of the production was definitely the string orchestra, the band, and the singers.

For the first half I was focussed too much on the visual presentation and, whilst I wish it had been better, I realised that you were much better off closing your eyes and largely ignoring what was happening on stage, and just listening to the music. The CGI was terrible, and both of the singers in the first half were less than inspiring. Justin Hayward in particular performed very much like the aging rocker he is, tapping his foot and nodding his head and singing rock songs - as opposed to actually playing a role in a narrative.
The performances in the second half somewhat redeemed the show as a stage production, however. I've never bothered one way or the other to listen to Shannon Knoll before, but he performed well as the Parson Nathaniel, and Michael Falzon was excellent as the Artilleryman (best part of the show, I reckon).

Overall I think it was a good performance, and it was very enjoyable. More enjoyable, I think, for the thousands of people filling the auditorium who were listening with nostalgic ears (and there were thousands, packing the two-thirds of a gigantic olympic arena that had been converted into a concert venue), but it was definitely worthy of that nostalgia in its own right. I'll pick up the original recording. Thanks for the suggestion, Sarah!

1 comment:

melanie said...

tuesday, 25 september, 2007 16:40 MAT

someone went to the production in melbourne and said it was poo too. they weren't impressed either.

happy birthday to nick !


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