13 July 2008

Did I tell you about the time when...

A few items from the trip that I somehow missed before.

In London, we went to two musicals, the first of which was Wicked. This is based on the book of the same name by Gregory Maguire, which I read several years ago. The book is very good, telling the "true" story of the Wicked Witch of the West. It gives all the "extra details" that are omitted from the popular version of the story The Wizard of Oz. As an English teacher, I really enjoy how a story like this can be created, completely turning a popular story on its head without actually contradicting anything from the original. I also enjoyed the political dimension of the story as it examines the control of power by the wizard and the media campaign enacted to turn the people against the "wicked" witch.

Unfortunately, most of that was stripped away from the play, leaving a rather bland version of the story instead. And they absolutely butchered the ending. The performances were good enough, but the musical version of the story is lacking. If you have seen this performance, do yourself a favour and read the book.

Our second musical was Avenue Q, the story of a recent college graduate (with an English degree, no less!) who is ready to take on the real world. Unfortunately, he quickly discovers that he can't find a job and most of the world isn't interested in being changed. He settles in a neighbourhood of other struggling young adults and even a few monsters. As a group, they start to figure out what real life is all about, or at least how to deal with it.

This play was quite a surprise for me. It's a musical with puppets, and it is irreverent, crude and outrageously funny. In other words, it isn't your typical musical, and chances are, you have never seen anything like it. If you have the chance to see this one, I'd do it.

Also in London, we happened upon a film site on one of the many bridges on the River Thymes. We asked someone in the crew what it was for, and we were told The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. When we got back to the hotel, we looked it up and saw that is was starring Australian Heath Ledger. A week later, we heard that he was found dead in his New York apartment.

While we were in India, the Indian cricket team was touring Australia. When we met people and told them we lived in Australia, the cricket always came up. I was told by several people that I looked like either Ricky Ponting (left) or Adam Gilchrist (right). Ponting is the team captain and Gilchrist was on his farewell tour, so both guys were getting plenty of facetime on TV. I figure that accounts for why I was told I looked like them, since I don't particularly think I resemble either.

And Weet-bix agrees with me. During the summer, they ran a Face2Face campaign, which enabled you to upload a photo and would tell you which player you most resemble. When we got back to Australia, Heather found a suitable photo of me and submitted it. Face2Face returned with Stuart Clark, pictured below. Of course, the picture she chose was a few years old when my hair was much shorter, which I think accounts for the selection. I'm sure a more recent picture would yield different results, but alas, Face2Face is no longer available.

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