Thursday, January 24, 2013

Upcoming in Turku

My yesterday was all about Turku-based musicals. Besides hearing the first sneak peeks of Jekyll & Hyde the musical, I've found out about two other upcoming shows...

Jennie Storbacka and Anna Victoria Eriksson singing In His Eyes
First, I attended the press info and open house events for Turun kaupunginteatteri's spring 2013 season. (The press info was a rather exciting: there was a power outage during it.) Among the premieres is the first Finnish production of Jekyll & Hyde. 

I of course knew J&H is coming to town, but that's about it. I don't know much anything about the musical personally. Everyone knows the basics of the story, of course – but maybe, for the Finnish readers, Laura's article about the previous press info would be a good place to go if you want to learn about the musical adaptation in particular. I don't think it's useful to repeat Laura's text here – the info I attended didn't add much to her article. So maybe check it out first.

Riku Nieminen singing This Is the Moment
In the info, director Tuomas Parkkinen talked a bit about the theme of Jekyll & Hyde. He said it's been startling to work on the piece, remembering the inexplicably cruel crimes that have happened around the world lately. He mentioned how they decided to do the show years ago just because they had the right feeling about it, but how the musical, with its themes of good and evil, has started to feel very current to him now. He also said he thinks the piece handles its central theme of evil well.

Riku Nieminen, who plays the main role, was also present in the event. Parkkinen mentioned how he thinks Nieminen is one of the most talented actors of his generation and how he couldn't imagine anyone else in the role of Jekyll and Hyde. Nieminen himself said he feels his first lead role in a musical is, besides a huge challenge, a dream role.

Personally, I've been a bit wary of Nieminen as Jekyll/Hyde. Since I've only seen him do completely different sort of stuff before, I've had some doubts. But the press info calmed me down a bit: Nieminen also sung a bit from the show, and, in my opinion, he was rather good. You can decide for yourselves, though – here's my sad little recording of his rendition of Alkuun / The Way Back:

In the open house event in the evening, they sung more J&H songs. Besides This Is the Moment from Nieminen, I heard the female leads Jennie Storbacka and Anna Victoria Eriksson sung In His Eyes. I think they both sounded fantastic. The Finnish translation, then, seemed inoffensive – not especially good, but I don't feel like sending hate mail to everyone responsible, either. All in all, I'm getting excited about this!

But, as mentioned, Jekyll & Hyde wasn't the only big thing yesterday. Here are some pieces of news I also encountered, one after another:
Wow! I live in Turku at the moment, and it seems I'll be having fun in theatre for the next year or two!

 Firstly, Jesus Christ Superstar. In a Radio Vega's interview back in October, Les Misérables' director Georg Malvius mentioned Åbo Svenska Teater was considering doing JCS instead of Les Mis in 2010. So, I admit I've been wondering, ever since seeing the theatre's newest audition announcement, if it'll be JCS... I even admit I've been ranting to my friends about wanting ÅST to do this very show and who I'd like to see in the cast (let's be extra-honest: I admit these rants have been accompanied with a mad gleam in my eyes).

And yes! They'll really stage one of my favourite musicals! I love Jesus Christ Superstar. It's obvious the story is strong, and the score has some of my absolute favourite musical theatre songs. If I have to mention negatives, I don't like how it's such a sausage fest of a show, with a grand total of one female role – but remembering the source material, that can't really be helped. Well, I'd be more than okay with a female Herod, but I only know of one production where that has happened...

I've only seen the piece in concert form before. Since the brilliant Lahti concerts, I've been wishing to see a staged version of the show. It seems like an easy piece to do very wrong but an amazing one if done right.

So, my hopes are high and I'm feeling positive. I suppose the biggest problem, for me, is not going insane before the announce the cast. ÅST people, if you're reading this: this time, no hiding the cast until there's only a few months to go, like you did with Hair? Pretty please?

And must not forget Rocky Horror Show. I don't have much to say about that one – I've just been wanting to see it live for a while, so this is exciting news too. I doubt it'll become one of my absolute favourite musicals, it seems a bit too crazy for that, but I bet it'll be plenty of fun if watched in the right mood.

I can't but hope they'll go for a new translation, though. You can listen to a sample from the Finnish cast recording here – and if you're fortunate enough to understand Finnish, you'll soon understand why this translation won't do... It might be a crazy show, but the translation could still, ideally, make some slight amount of sense. (Can't help being quite pessimistic about anything happening to it, though.)

I'm actually surprised that three as interesting musicals as these are happening in one town almost at the same time. Sure, both Jesus Christ Superstar and Rocky Horror Show are nostalgia trips to some, but I think young people can also enjoy this repertoire. I'm glad no theatre in Turku is doing a classic in the vein of Fiddler on the Roof just to amuse the little old ladies. At least in the near future.  

Sources: Musikaalit-foorumi, MusikalNet at FB.

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