Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Tonight, three musical productions that mean a lot to me are closing.

Seeing the masterminds who plan the theatrical schedules around here have all decided May Day Eve is the perfect night for their show to close, I can only see one derniere in person... It's a shame. I would have loved to witness all of these final performances.

In any case, here are some thoughts about all three.

The first show closing tonight is Åbo Svenska Teater's Jesus Christ Superstar.

I saw this one eight times. And, for once, I feel that's a lot of times in the audience. I've gone more overboard with this show than with any other musical ever. Sure, it's only number three on my Most Watched list – but remembering it had a run of two and a half months... I definitely wouldn't have gone for eight times in ten weeks if the theatre had given Superstar a run of a sensible lenght. But the situation being as it is, it's been seeing it again now or never.

In any case, I went so overboard because this is truely one of the absolute best musicals I've ever seen. If not the absolute best?

I had impossibly high hopes for this production. Jesus Christ Superstar is a musical I've waited to see live for years. So when they announced this, my expectations went right through the roof. My favourite Jean Valjean, Alexander Lycke, back in Finland as Jesus, and the rest of the cast looking so good, too... Amazingly, reality managed to surpass all of my expectations. Every single aspect of the show worked for me. I've honestly at a loss of words to describe this production with. I can only say that, for me, it's one of the strongest theatrical experiences ever.

I've had other musical-related things to obsess about lately (see: the following entries on this list), so I haven't been actively mad about this production closing anymore... But just because I'm not shouting about it doesn't mean I'm okay with it. I'm still annoyed. To excitedly look forward to a show for a year only to have it for two months? I certainly didn't see that one coming!

I'm going to miss this production.

The second derniere is Turun kaupunginteatteri's Jekyll and Hyde.

I saw this show seven times in total, and fell deeper and deeper in love with it each time. At first, I was impressed, after two times I was infatuated, and now, after seven times – if you had asked me the day before I saw Superstar, I would've called this the best musical I've ever seen in Finland. Now, let's call it a tie! Jekyll and Hyde definitely stole my heart.

I mentioned it in my initial review that the plot of the show is very weak. Even though I've become an even bigger fan of the show after reviewing it, I still think so. There are major plotholes. But everything else here, from acting and singing to the most gorgeous sets and lights and costumes I've seen on any Finnish musical stage (they won a prize, so clearly others agree)... It was a fantastic production.

Maybe thanks to the weaknesses of the plot, the last few times I saw Jekyll and Hyde weren't really about observing the piece as a whole anymore. Instead, I decided to give my full attention to a couple of my favourite performances, even during the scenes that aren't really about those particular characters at all. Sometimes, it's a lot of fun to watch your favourite doing their thing in the background. That's the beauty of live theatre, and the point of seeing the same show multiple times, I guess. You get to decide which characters and subplots to follow.

This show fuels my imagination like no other. It has gotten me thinking about the characters and their lives before and after the events of the story, wondering about their fates, drawing little scenarios with them... Maybe it's just me subconsciously trying to patch the holes in the story, but nevertheless, it's great to see something that really gets my own imagination going. That way, I'll still be enjoying the show long after the production has closed.

I'm very glad Turun kaupunginteatteri decided to bring this show to Finland, and I'm so lucky to have been able to see it so many times. It has definitely earned its place on my list of favourites and I'll continue praising it long after tonight's derniere.

Tonight's third derniere is the one I'm actually seeing: Tampereen Teatteri's Les Misérables.

I saw this production nine times. In total, I've now seen Les Misérables 28 times. Seeing my track record, it'd be impossible to have a Finnish production of Les Mis close without me being there to witness it... Me and my friends booked our tickets to see this last show months ago.

Each one of my nine times in the TT Les Mis audience wasn't a success. Sometimes seeing the show was plain disappointing. I've discussed it previously that this production was pretty unbalanced: it had its good days and bad days, its strong performances and intolerable alternates, and you never quite knew what you were going to get.

Still, I'm sure tonight's final performance will be amazing. When this production has a good day, and luckily, majority of the performances I saw were of the better sort... I've seen a couple of the most moving, most amazing performances of Les Misérables I've ever witnessed in Tampereen Teatteri. I've no doubt the energy will be high during the last performance again, and I'm certain my favourite musical will make my heart beat faster once more.

I'm however not sad over this production closing. While it's good, it doesn't mean as much to me as Åbo Svenska Teater's Les Misérables meant, and I also feel it's had a good run. But suddenly not having a production of my favourite musical in Finland anymore, after over four years of either having one or knowing one is soon premiering..? That'll take some getting used to!

In any case, it's been one fantastic theatrical season around here, musical-wise. Many theatre fans around the world wish they could live closer to London or New York, but as a Finnish musical enthusiast, I have no reason to wish that. During the past few months, I've been spoiled by the theatrical scene of this country like never before.

And here's to hoping all my favourites will put on the derniere of a lifetime tonight.

Photos by Pette Rissanen, Robert Seger and Harri Hinkka (hover over them for specific info, as always).

Friday, April 18, 2014

Miserable in Denmark

I've now seen three productions of Les Misérables directed by Georg Malvius: Åbo Svenska Teater and Tampereen Teatteri here in Finland, and, last weekend, Aarhus Teater in Denmark.

I loudly dissed Tampereen Teatteri when they announced they would stage a replica of the ÅST production. So when a new replica of the recent Finnish Les Mis productions pops up in Denmark – naturally I'll travel a thousand kilometers to see it. Don't bother asking. I can't really explain how I came to this decision.

Aarhus Les Mis is, of course, essentially the same thing we've seen twice in Finland. Same sets and costumes and general direction (though I have to mention it felt less of a copy of the Finnish shows than the TT production feels of the ÅST production. Both TT and Aarhus replicate a lot of ÅST's blocking, but I felt the Danish production gives the actors more freedom when it comes to movement) – I don't think I have much to say about the production as a whole anymore.

So let's try a slightly different approach to reviewing this time.

Jean Valjean: Stig Rossen

Javert: Peter Jorde

Fantine: Christina Elisabeth Mørkøre

Thénardier: Anders Bircow

Mme Thénardier: Jenny Asterius Persson

Marius: Thomas Høj

Cosette: Isabel Schwartzbach

Éponine: Mercedesz Csampai

Enjolras: Christoffer Brodersen 

Overall, I'm glad I traveled to see this one.

Especially for Javert.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Top Blog!

Just a quick note this time...

Last week, I got some happy news. Some Superfluous Opinions has been listed as number four on Cision's list of Top 10 Finnish Culture-Related Blogs!

The whole list is as follows:
1. Kujerruksia
2. Herrasmiehen päiväkirja
3. Being Alive
4. Some Superfluous Opinions
5. Kulttuurin sekakäyttäjä
6. Kirjava Kukko
7. One Night In Theatre
8. Teatterikärpäsen puraisuja 2
9. 365 kulttuuritekoa
10. Kulttuurielämää Helsingissä
(Out of these, most are written in Finnish. One Night in Theatre also sometimes blogs in English.)

That's pretty neat, don't you think? Some of the things the ranking is based on are the number of readers and the amount of times links to the blog are shared on other websites – so it's of course thanks to you lovely readers that I made it this high on the list! Thanks for visiting and sharing, everybody!

And now, so this entry won't be just boring text and links, here's a little bonus... Watching and reviewing musicals wasn't the only thing I did during my Nordisk Turné in February. While visiting Copenhagen, I also got the chance to take a selfie with someone whose work has had a great impact on my life. Pictured, the blogger with Victor Hugo:

He looks delighted he gets to pose with me.

Once again, thanks so much for reading, everybody!