Saturday, November 26, 2011
The elderly couple tread gingerly through dying autumn leaves that feel crunchy, like cornflakes, under their shuffling feet.
They spot a Victorian styled wrought iron bench, in a sheltered wooded bower and slowly they approach it, so that they may rest their weary bones.
He takes out a clean, white handkerchief with which to dry the tiny spot of mould that sits on the bench, bleeding through the dappled droplets of rain from an earlier rain shower.
They both ease themselves down in silent companionship. She smoothes her clothes then takes his hand, weathered with the spidery veins of his advanced years, into her own as they sit in their peaceful spot.
The air is crisp and the late autumn sun feels silky against their upturned faces.
A strange aroma invades their senses, a musty odour with the tiniest hint of an oaky scent.
Suddenly, they hear a rustle from the trees behind them and turn to see a small woodland creature peep at them through the rustic leaves tinged with the russets and golds of the autumn season.
He helps her up from their peaceful spot and they slowly weave their way through the crunchy leaves once more.
Homeward bound, with thoughts of their warm, welcoming fire calling softly to them....
NOTE: This was a short prompted piece, led by the words: cornflakes, crispy, smooth, silky, dry, oaky, rustic, musty, crunchy, mould, strange, rustle, dead, veins and sports large' L' Plates!!
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Great Escapes. Well, mostly a week of great escapes that is.
It started on Tuesday as I made a heroic yet frantic attempt to dash through my day's manic to-do-list so that I could escape my at times frenetic home life in time to attend a twitter- themed Book launch. That is a deliberately long and unpunctuated sentence, so that you truly understand how crazy it can be trying to make an early escape from Chez Jazzy! The last minute doing of homework, making of dinners, timing of Darts (our suburban trains) whilst simultaneously attempting to beautify oneself is NOT for the faint hearted! But I did it and even made the early Dart into town. Although that did involve some last minute shoving of WiiBoy into the car while I drove
The Dart journey allowed a much needed breathing space, so that I could arrive fresh-faced in my head anyway to meet the lovely Nan P at the equally lovely Maria Duffy's launch of her first novel Any Dream Will Do, in DuBray Books Grafton Street . It was a very enjoyable evening and it was fantastic to see a writer get off to such a good start. Thanks for signing my copy of your book Maria, and it was good to see you juggling your motherhood/Author duties whilst doing so! I look forward to reading the book as I find the Tweet-Up Fom Hell concept very intriguing. Sure go buy it yourself to find out what happens!
Great Escape of his own. It was of course, all. my. fault! Sigh.
You see he was returning from his class Confirmation retreat and although I was 5 minutes early to collect him, the bus was already there but the children were still alighting.
He wasn't standing beside teacher as she'd told him to. Okay, no panic.....
He wasn't in the school carpark where I was told he'd moved on to. Still ok....
He wasn't ANYWHERE on the school grounds. Heart still in chest cavity where it belongs, but slowly migrating upwards.....
Driving on to the only other rendezvous place he could be I found the church carpark to be completely devoid of all children. Ok...out and out panic now, while heart leaps wildly into mouth and desperately banishing all thoughts of recent local reports of a near-child abduction......
The final Great Escape of the week was the best one of all as I made the same, mad dash thorough my day as I had on Tuesday, in order to make an even earlier Dart into town to meet Nan P again for a great night out! We enjoyed the Commitments last gig in the O2 back in March SO much that we bought tickets to go see them again in the more intimate setting of the Olympia Theatre.
Just like the last time I listened to their music on my iTouch on the Dart on the the way in and was overcome by an incredible urge to get up and sing and dance along! It's ok though, I managed to subdue that urge. Besides I was getting funny looks from other passengers at my seat-bopping actions! I bopped along while waiting at traffic lights too, as I walked up to the theatre. In fact, at one point I was in serious danger of staging my own solo flash-mob at the traffic lights on O'Connell Bridge!! Right on the main thoroughfare of our capital city!! But yet again I held back.
I saved myself for the theatre, where all bets were off once the Commitments band hit the stage. Then myself and the lively Nan P were free to reveal our inner Rock Chicks..... Hey, Hey, Hey Hey.... etc; etc; etc
It is short because this Rock Chick didn't wanna view the whole thing through a camera lens! Hey.... I wanted to Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey with the rest of 'em!
Truly a memorable night of fabulous music from a very talented band.
They should keep on going and record more songs. There really is a market for what they do!
Sunday, November 6, 2011
We had a fantastic evening out on Thursday, WiiBoy and I. I was looking forward to this evening for ages. You see we were meeting with my show pal couple and their son for tea, then off to our favourite Dublin show venue, the fabulous character- filled and chandaliered Gaiety Theatre, to see the Billie Barry Stage School show: The Time of Our Lives. Oh, the excitement!
Now, I know a lot of you reading this will be groaning at the mere mention of the Billie Barry Kids thinking, no doubt, of the oft hinted at BBKS (Billie Barry Kid Syndrome) which seemingly involves a large dollop of cheesy smiles accompanied with a side of perceived precociousness. Please let me try and dispel that rather unfair assessment....
Before I tell you about the show let me set the scene with our little pre-show, show pals reunion! Plus kids! The perpetual circle of life, eh?
It's about four years since we all met-up so a lot of catching up and 'oohing' and 'ahhing' over the boys, how tall they're getting, who they take after etc had to be done! Then we naturally turned to reminiscing about our own show days. All kinds of things were remembered! Pre-Opening number, side- stage jitters and how they ....ahem....presented themselves got a mention. As did the rather rude names we gave ourselves once when in an extremely giddy humour at one rehearsal! Those names will not be revealed here in order to
Although we ourselves were never Billie Barry Kids (more's the pity) we had the honour of dancing as seniors in two shows, two years apart, back in the 80's as the Billie Barry reins were been handed over from Mother to daughter. The daughter worked us hard for both performances which were each approximately 7 minutes long! We loved every minute of it, every single one. Side-stage nerves were nothing on how we felt on performing at a rehearsal, in their back garden portocabin, for the awe-inspiring Ms. Barry herself! She was always extremely encouraging to us but showed no facial reaction whilst we were dancing, so it was nerve racking to wait until the end to hear her judgement! Kept us all, boys included, on our twinkle toes, that's for sure!!
So, many moons after those thoroughly memorable (to us anyway!) performances, we arrive at the beloved Gaiety Theatre with our own children to see yet another generation of BBKs perform. First thing our boys notice? The chandelier!
The last time we saw a BB show we watched through a veil of excited tears, totally mesmerized by the performances on the stage before us. We knew it would be the same this time and we were not disappointed.
It was a long but thoroughly entertaining show. The whole production, concept, set and costumes were amazing, especially given these difficult financial times. The Billie Barry Show is now only every three years, so they can do it properly. Modern technology also played an important role in this production providing some exciting special effects and allowing dance styles seamlessly segue into mid-number tap dance routines.....without any mad, frantic changing of shoes!!
The choreography was absolutely fabulous for every single number, from babies right up to to seniors. We were totally enthralled. Well done to the very talented Lorraine Barry. We wanted to up there dancing with them Lorriane! A special mention has to go to the Musical Director Peter Beckett, who's musical arrangements were fantastic. I may have tweeted last week, in frustration at the disaster that is this year's XFactor and said that you can't dissect and re-create classic songs. Well you can... when you have a fantastic MD and talented students, that is! Peter had two original compositions in this show: The Gift (Finale) and Superheroes. Oh, and Peter...our apologies for our giddy behaviour at that rehearsal many moons ago. As far as I know you escaped a name-makeover. Although, I can't be 100% sure!
Some of you may still be thinking BBKS but I'll tell you something, those kids provided far more entertainment and professionalism than this year's XFactor.
Apart from the amazing production, choreography and music/singing we were totally blown away by the professionalism displayed by all, from such young performers. Their timing, entrances, exits, holding their final positions ets turned stage training into an art form! And all the beautifully pointed feet deserve a special mention. The most important thing for ANY aspiring dancer to learn! Everyone on that stage performed to the best of their ability, excelled even. To see the 'babies. perform was enchanting. The girl 'fairies' were lead by a front row of four 'older', more experienced girls, one of whom is a daughter of an ex-Billie Barry friend of ours. Dancing in her mother's footsteps, at the tender age of seven! Incredible maturity! Such a beautiful dancer. The boy 'Superheros' were great too and one very young and very enthusiastic Superhero charmed us all and had us in stitches! I'd go as far as to say that he stole the show!!
And all this done without a cheesy smile or any display of precociousness whatsoever. All we saw was bright eyes, smiles, enthusiasiam, professionalism and a level of maturity and stage presence that we achieved only in our late teens/early twenties!
That is the stage training provided by this school. Since 1964. The highlights of the many Theatre,TV and Film appearances by many BB students over the years takes up an impressive two pages in the programme!
There's also a list of some well known past pupils. A lot of other past pupils are pursuing successful careers here and in the UK. Some run their own stage schools!
This is a huge life experience for these children, learning their craft, immersed in fun and encouragement and making friendships for life.
Just like ours.
Stage schools like this provide a supportive outlet for talented children and help keep musical theatre alive.
Judging by the performances of Billie Barry's grandchildren I'd be hopeful that the school will be continuously in good hands for years to come.
I hope all the students involved in this production did indeed have the time of their lives. They will have fond memories of this for years to come, of that I have no doubt.
There is nothing like live performances and I now look forward to my next one which, co-incidentally stars a Billie Barry past pupil........
Committmets- Live at the Olympia on November 10th!
Note: Photo credit: heathermillan.com