Friday, May 26, 2006

Pacific Overtures

Went to Leicester Haymarket to see Pacific Overtures, Stephen Sondheim's extraordinary musical about the first meeting between the Japanese and the American. Very good in many ways, and worth the trip, though I was a bit unsure about all the corporate sponsorship from a Japanese firm at the end. Very well sung and with a great dancer playing Admiral Perry.

I met the musical director, who didn't take much to the version of Sweeney Todd I'd seen in Manchester, with its singers also being the musicians etc... Now, I liked that; though I can see it wasn't the "correct" way to do it. Not being a fully trained musician, however, has its advantages. I've always thought that if something is done wrong but done in an interesting way, it's better than something done right in a boring way.

Not that Pacific Overtures in Leicester was boring: it was very good. Leicester itself is an interesting place, much better than I'd imagined. We stayed in a chintzy hotel, but there was a few really interesting buildings around, and we visited the New Walk gallery, which has an interesting collection of German expressionist paintings, including a lovely Franz Marc. There was also a small exhibition of drawings that included three drawings by Brenda Chamberlain - someone I'd seen connected with Forty's poetry but knew nothing about. She apparently killed herself in 1971, which is tragic; but she seems to have been an accomplished artist as well as a poet. Anyone out there knows anything about her, do get in touch.

There was also an Eileen Agar frottage which was lovely; and the main collection had a great Paul Nash, and a John Tunnard. All in all a good visit. Leicester seems to be the kind of place that you might not visit just to see for itself. You'd go there for a conference, or to see a musical, and you'd spend some time looking round its museums and enjoy yourself. But you wouldn't, for instance, visit its cathedral for its own sake, unless you were a Richard III fanatic and wanted to see the memorial stone laid in the apse.

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