Skip to main content

Review of The Planets: An HD Odyssey by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

I very nearly wasn't at The Planets, as following a tremendous lack of understanding of the popularity of the show, less than two weeks before show night, I was without ticket and languishing upon the sold out waiting list. However the stars (or planets) aligned and a precious seat, and a good one, became available. Therefore when I wasn't in the Derngate foyer being mistaken as staff and asked about food options or help to carry peoples instruments, I sat transfixed in my seat in row N.

The line-up for this show was what I happily described as my desert island classical selection, all well known to me, all favourites. As well as Holst's The Planets themselves, we had a warm-up pre-interval act which featured Richard Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra, Johann Strauss II's Blue Danube, Toccata And Fugue In D Minor from Bach, Beethoven's Symphony No.7 Allegretto and John Williams' Star Wars main theme. Possibly a few of the names might not be familiar to you, however pop them into YouTube and I assure you, all will become clear. Mostly I will imagine like myself, you will have heard them in a film or two. They are all well used, and really quite brilliant. Hearing them live was something else.

Back at the podium, following his lively presentation at last years The Music Of John Williams, was conductor Robert Ziegler. He is a very lively personality and as last years pre-show talk showed, knowledgeable of the material and fully encompassing of being inventive with a classical concert to bring a different type of audience to the venues. It worked last year and clearly by the demographic in the theatre on this night, it had clearly worked again.

The show piece of this event was the after interval presentation of The Planets and its HD accompanying images of the planets themselves. I myself, while I enjoyed every moment of the music, was most absorbed oddly by the pre-interval music as the second half did drift away somewhat in enjoyment by what sadly turned into the distraction that was the HD presentation, rather than a delight. The opening piece of Mars was where is peaked and shot its bolt, as the overwhelming wealth of footage of the red planet could never be matched as we progressed through the solar system. The images became a rather garbled mess of colours and spinning images at times, which while I don't doubt represent well these alien worlds, were poorly presented occasionally. The timing however was second to none, as at suitable peaks and switches in the music, the images shifted on screen.

So yes, the music was sublime. The largest orchestra I have seen to date, 91, filled the Derngate auditorium with gorgeous sound under the briskly waved baton of Ziegler and the music is where the show worked brilliantly. Saying that the HD presentation was a failure would be wrong, as it had clearly created an absorbed new audience across the ages, and packed the Derngate to its very edges. It just at times seemed a little flimsy compared to the pure musical background of previous concerts.

««««


Performance reviewed: Sunday 26th June, 2016 at the Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton.

The Planets: An HD Presentation was a single night performance at the Royal & Derngate on Sunday 26th June, 2016 and ended its tour.

For further details visit the Royal & Derngate website at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/

Popular posts from this blog

Review of The Worst Witch at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

Jill Murphy's The Worst Witch first appeared in print in 1974, bringing its tale of an academy for witches to the first of a few generations. It was a long time before a certain boy wizard made his first appearance in a school of his own, and doesn't Emma Reeves, adaptor for the stage, know it. There are many a jibe at the HP universe in this stage version, that even I, someone who has never read or watched any of them (yes, really), could pick up.

Mildred Hubble arrives by mistake at the wrong university, a "normal" or "pleb" far removed from the rest of the students at Miss Cackle's Academy. Here she meets friends and enemies, and a certain evil twin bent on world domination.

Reeves' adaptation starts off slightly shakily as we are presented with what at first threatens to be a cheap rip-off of the mega stage hit The Play That Goes Wrong as we are introduced to the premise that this is a play put on by the students, complete with copycat stage ma…

Review of The Pillowman at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

The Pillowman sounds such a friendly title, and to be fair, his story is one of the lighter aspects of Martin McDonagh's script. It still involves dead children though, if you want to get a clear vision of how dark this play is.

Set in a police state of the future, Katurian (Toby Pugh) is taken in for the content of his often violent stories and a similarity to a spate of recent child killings. Here in detention cell 13, his police captors, Tupolski (Adrian Wyman) and Ariel (Steve While) play good cop, bad cop while holding over the threat of violence against Katurian's mentally disabled brother Michal (Patrick Morgan), being held in another cell.

The Pillowman is clearly a very warped story, with the blackest of black comedy, and often also very offensive with it's racial stereotyping and disability. In fact, it is no surprise that a couple left in the interval, as I would happily admit that this play is far from everyone. I like a good black comedy though, and lifting an …

Review of Broadway Lights And West End Nights at Northampton College

I have followed the acting course at the University of Northampton for the last five years now, but this Saturday I experienced the Level 3 Musical Theatre group at Northampton College for the first time, as they presented a performance by their first and second-year students. The evidence from this first encounter suggests that there is some very good talent on its way through this course.

The evening presented a nicely varied selection of performances from six shows, Avenue Q, Rent, The Lion King, Cats, Mary Poppins and Sweet Charity, both providing some lovely singing routines and a few of pure dance, allowing the students to show many of their, very obvious, skills.

From the collection of 21 routines presented, there were a few standout moments, the best of which for myself was Mungojerrie & Rumpleteazer performed by Tom Kalek and Lily Cushway. This was a routine of such polish that I would happily have watched on any stage, never mind a student performance. Kaley and Cushway…