Sunday, November 6, 2011

Played the other evening the 1954 ‘A Star Is Born’ with Judy Garland and James Mason giving a terrific performance as Norman Mayne. Needless to say Judy was a great star anyway. The extras on the disc included a snatch of the 1937 version and trailer for the 1976 production starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson and I simply cannot wait not to watch it. Remakes can be pretty terrible. Whose great idea was this?

Driving back from Xania the following day and with ‘The Man That Got Away’ going round and around in my head, I remarked to Douglas that nearly all my favourite singers were/are female: Barbara Cook who I one heard live in concert in London – Wow! What a voice! What a consummate artiste! What an unforgettable experience!

Ella Fitzgerald who I also heard live, this time in Toronto out in the open air and equally as exciting as the Barbara Cook. Everything said about the former, repeat for the latter. Sarah Vaughan whose voice gives me that legendary tingling up the spine but who unfortunately I have only ever heard on record. And, of course, Judy. I have to admit without a blush to being a friend of Judy. Some men I suppose I can listen to with pleasure, Sinatra for example, but then he had the assistance of the brilliant Nelson Riddle, so it would seem women far exceed men when it comes to ballads. I’ve just created a profile to go with these Blogs and one of the questions asked is, ‘what is your favourite music?’ Well, a difficult one to answer as my musical tastes spread so wide: serious music of all kinds with the exception of some modern composers whose music is far too linear for my liking, songs from shows, ballads, Blue Grass, jazz, country and western, R and B. I don’t particularly go for rock ‘n roll, boy bands or girl bands (I couldn’t even name the latest) and I can’t be doing at all with rap. There are individual compositions that are favourites of course: Richard Strauss’ ‘Four Last Songs’, ‘Pavanne For A Dead Princess – Ravel, ‘Romeo and Juliet Overture, Tchaikovsky.

Many years ago a play of mine called ‘Bay Rum’ was produced at Buxton. It is a ghost story. Well, if Dickens and Wilkie Collins and Henry James can write ghost stories why can’t I? It’s not an eerie ghost story but a romantic one and, when I saw it at Buxton, I sat with delight through the first act it played so well, the audience with it all the way, getting all the laughs and obviously enjoying it. Then came the second half and I felt I would like to slide under my seat I was so embarrassed. It went down like a lead balloon. Now why did it bomb? I can’t understand it because all these years here I’ve been thinking it is a lousy piece of writing but, having just taken it out and reread it, it isn’t that at all. In fact it is quite delightful though a bit old-fashioned now and I still can’t see why the second half was such a flop when the writing is equal to the first half. Weird. Was it the direction? The performances? I just don’t know. Anyway I have spent the last two days correcting errors in the script and making a few teeny-weeny amendments. That’s all I felt it needed. Maybe someone will resurrect it and I will eventually solve the puzzle of the second half. Who knows?

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