Ankh-Morpork, the Discworld’s most notorious town is steeped in decadent squalor, with a corrosive aroma that would put most landfills to shame.
This is the setting of YMT’s stage adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s side-splitting novel, Soul Music. The town is the prime destination on the Disc, where many intrepid explorers go to seek fame and other people’s fortunes.
Enter Imp Y Celyn (literally translated ‘bud of the holly’) and his ensemble ‘The Band with Rocks In’ who begin taking the city by sonic storm. Soon a host of new bands spring up:
• We're Certainly Dwarfs (They Might Be Giants)
• The Whom (The Who)
• Lead Balloon (Led Zeppelin)
• Insanity (Madness)
• The Surreptitious Fabric (The Velvet Underground)
The city reverberates with the sound of tortured strings and the smashing of Stratocasters.
In tribute to Pratchett’s infamous Ankh-Morpork, YMT helps you decide which musical town is right for you. Leave behind the rain and rising rent; move to a city where there’s music in the air.
The smoke blackened spires of a grim Victorian London where murderous butchers and bakers stalk the streets.
• Gothic ambience
• Several specialist eateries
• Good standards of grooming amongst remaining city residents
• Cat abductions on the rise
• High rate of shaving related deaths
• Not suitable for vegetarians
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
A small snow clad town encircling a mysterious factory; a sweet scent hangs in the air promising hidden delights behind firmly locked gates.
• Rapidly expanding confection industry
• Generous employers
• Everlasting gobstoppers
• Industrial candy floss fogs
• Oompa Loompa stag parties
• Absurd dentistry bills
Prohibition era America. A city awash with bootleg booze, controlled by sparring mobsters with a penchant for pie.
• Classy speakeasies
• Discounted pies
• Mob wars
• High dry cleaning bills
• Not suitable for lactose intolerant residents
A glamorous metropolis where fame, fornication and murder go hand in hand.
• Stylish prison inmates
• Killer cabarets
• You’re only ever one shot away from stardom
• Murderous lovers
• Corrupt courtrooms
• Another captivating killing might lose you your limelight
The Wizard of Oz
An enchanted land filled to the brim with technicolor characters and strange, fantastical creatures.
• Well-maintained highways
• Excellent standard of hygiene (courtesy of munchkin spa)
• You’re the tallest person in town
• Evil witches
• Farmhouse related injuries
• Flying monkey infestations
It’s a difficult decision, so before you make the move come visit YMT in musical Ankh-Morpork this August!
Thursday, 28 August 2014 - 7:30pm to Sunday, 31 August 2014 - 7:30pm
Rose Theatre Kingston
This July the thumping sound of Drum ‘n’ Bass cascades down the corridors of Dunsinane. An ominous beat reverberates through the dank fog of YMT's dystopian reimagining of Shakespeare's perennial horror story Macbeth. The talented YMT cast bring a new twisted take on the things that could conceivably go bump in the night.
As the host of ghosts, witches, cybergoths and neon-clad ravers waltz towards us through the apocalyptic murk this summer, YMT takes a retrospective on past attempts to set The Bard to music. The triumphs and the tragedies!
West Side Story (Romeo & Juliet)
Director Jerome Robbins transported Shakespeare’s iconic romance, Romeo and Juliet, to the boroughs of 1960s New York, where the streetlight crossed lovers were reborn. Replacing swords with scissor kicks and punches with pliés this vibrant adaptation remains exhilarating and poignant today.
Fun Fact: In the film adaptation of the musical Elvis Presley was approached to play the lead role of Tony, but Col. Tom Parker turned the studio down. If Elvis had done the movie, he'd have ended up playing opposite real-life ex-girlfriend Natalie Wood.
The Lion King (Hamlet)
If Hamlet were equipped with claws and a skull-crushing jaw strength, would he have been less indecisive about killing (or even eating) his traitorous uncle? According to The Lion King: apparently not.
Disney’s winning formula:
• Substitute the poison with a stampede of wildebeest.
• Switch the ghost with a talkative cumulous cloud.
• Finally provide the play’s royal family with some extra fur, a tail and some pleasant baritones.
Fun Fact: A wildlife expert brought a lion, a baboon and some vultures to the film studio so the animators could study certain behaviours. For example, in the movie, Rafiki carries a staff, so the animators had the real baboon carry a long stick around so they could sketch him in different poses.
Kiss Me Kate (The Taming of the Shrew)
Kiss Me Kate tells the story of a theatre troupe’s haphazard attempt to stage a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew. As life begins to imitate art the ensemble unravels into a farcical explosion of metathetrical romance and murderous mobsters.
Near the dénouement the theatrical thugs who endanger the production find themselves trapped onstage. With nowhere to run they are forced to improvise a tribute to Shakespeare in which they explain that understanding The Bard is the key to romance, "Brush Up Your Shakespeare".
Fun Fact: The 1953 screenplay adaptation of the musical was originally filmed in 3D, which is why the actors often throw things (including themselves) at the audience.
It seems YMT’s Macbeth is in fine company! If you think The Bard could use a dose of dance or a medicinal jab of music then come join us at The Lyric Theatre Belfast this July!
Wednesday 23 July 2014 - 7:30pm to Tuesday 26 August 2014 - 7:30pm
BONUS: Not a musical but 10 Things I Hate About You, the high school bound adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew, is home to a short light-footed performance definitely worth sharing
*** (3 Stars)
Richmond Theatre, London - May 8, 2014
In a new version by Anya Reiss, Frank Wedekind’s controversial play of teenage angst is brought bang up to date by the supremely successful theatre company, Headlong. Written around 1890 (but first performed in 1906), Spring Awakening was last seen in London in its musical form at the Novello Theatre in 2009. Reiss’ play utilises webcams and a killer soundtrack in this truly Brechtian piece.
The story follows a group of teenagers as they deal with all the horrors of adolescence. Written in reaction to the increasing rates of teenage suicide due to a lack of education around adolescence in late 19th-Century Germany, Wedekind’s original is tinged with sadness and frustration.
Reiss’ adaptation doesn’t quite hit the mark when it comes to representing this and instead feels rather superficial in its reliance upon technical tricks and projections. At times it feels as if it’s trying to be too clever, ultimately leading to a sense of pretentiousness.
This is partly down to the Brechtian nature of the piece – a style that I am not convinced entirely works with hard-hitting subject matters. The copious amounts of breaking character can be confusing to audiences unfamiliar with this style.
Young audiences will love it, and rightly so, for this is truly boundary-pushing theatre. However, for me, it lacks the emotional punch of Duncan Sheik’s musical version and focuses too much on trying to be clever.
Spring Awakening is currently on a UK Tour. http://headlong.co.uk/work/spring-awakening/
Who are you wearing? YMT, obviously!
Here at YMT, we know we're undoubtedly the most stylish theatre company, like, ever. Celebrities all over the world are desperate to get their hands on a YMT Hoodie and why wouldn't they? They're ridiculously comfortable.
Check out who's been spotted wearing this year's must-have garment (no copyright intended).
Finally, Miley's decided to cover up a bit...
Harry Styles proves that to look exceptionally stylish all you need is a YMT Hoodie and a headband. (Liam, Zayn, and the other two are blatantly jealous).
Even the Queen herself can't get enough! (Bow down to Queen Bey).
Not to mention Pink and Captain Jack getting in on the action...
The wizarding world has just got more awesome (if that's possible). Elphie now looks fabulous defying gravity - grey is this year's pink - whilst Harry battles Voldemort safe in the knowledge that his YMT Hoodie has special healing powers.*
Look how warm and cosy Fantine looks... Oscar for best costume?
*YMT Hoodies do not actually have healing powers.
**** (4.5 Stars)
Minerva Theatre, Chichester - Friday 1 May, 2014
'Bitterly charming' is how I would describe Stevie By Hugh Whitemore. Yet it is equally a delight to witness such fantastic performances from the cast trio of Chris Larkin, Lynda Baron and the eponymous protagonist, Stevie, played by the enormously talented Zoë Wanamaker (who is also YMT's Patron!). Stevie’s pessimistic view of life and gritty humour is enormous fun; I couldn’t think of anyone better for the job than Wanamaker.
The play takes place in Stevie’s home at 1 Avondale Road, Palmers Green, London where she resides with Aunt (Lynda Baron). Stevie Smith, spends a lot of her time after work as a secretary, eating Battenberg cake and Ginger Nuts with her Aunt and writing poetry part-time. Her existence seems bleak and uninteresting to the naked eye yet her moving poetry shows pain and vulnerability as she reflects upon the comfort of her inevitable death.
The set is realistically cosy and welcoming with charred edges showing how Stevie’s personality would have seemed slightly 'rough around the edges'. Commendations have to be awarded to designer Simon Higlett for such a beautiful set.
Director, Christopher Morahan, aptly gives the script such wonderful justice and creates a brilliant night of dry and dark humour yet shows so much heart through the characters. The bitter-sweet ending left me with chills for the rest of the journey home, what a masterpiece of theatre!
The wonder of poetry is that it can spark discussions that can continue for hours on end, yet if poetry does not float your boat, the performances alone are worth seeing!
Stevie is playing at the Minerva, Chichester until May 24 - book your tickets here: http://www.cft.org.uk/5014/STEVIE/621
Photo: Alastair Muir