Review: Ghost the Musical

Image is my own

Last weekend I took to the West End for some musical therapy, and ended up going to the Picadilly Theatre to see Ghost: The Musical. 

I went in with mixed expectations, given the London production is closing this October, and will be replaced with Viva Forever at the beginning of November. The show’s original cast, Caissie Levy and Richard Fleeshman, have since joined the Broadway production of the musical. They were then replaced with Siobhan Dillon and Mark Evans, whose performances are mastered and believable. It was a conscious choice to see the show of a movie I’ve not seen since a young age, although faithful fans of the original won’t be left disappointed at the story’s revival.

The effects are superbly executed, and cast members are forbidden from sharing the secrets of the visual illusions which take place in the show. Sceptics may be wary as to how, without cinematic effect, the audience can be forced to believe that Sam Wheat is a ghost, but not once did it cross my mind that he wasn’t. Although the show is closing this Autumn, it would be a pity if the London production wasn’t filmed and put out on DVD, I’d quite enjoy not having to trek to New York each time I want to have an emotional breakdown.

Suspend My Disbelief/I Had a Life leaves the audience pining for more at the intermission. Audiences know the story, we’ve all had a good old cry at Patrick Swayze, but there’s something fresh about the stage version which marks the audience with a raw sense of loss. We know Sam Wheat is dead- we even saw him die, but at the end of the show we have to accept his fate just as his lover has had to. The vicarious feeling of grief travels through the audience, and we’re left clutching at the final moments in which Sam hovered between life and death. I’ll admit, I bought the CD after the show finished just so I could clutch onto Sam’s last earthly moments even more.


Pot of Gold: Graduate, F, Seeking Success and a Vodka.

Image by Will Folsom

In the current state of the economy, a degree doesn’t give you a golden ticket straight into employment or an express route into a coveted internship. Graduates are expected to earn a salary of less than £20,000 a year, according to a survey at The results demonstrated that a third of graduates are still looking for employment after six months. At the end of 2011, figures showed that 18.9% of recent graduates remained unemployed, meaning that one in every five graduates had become a statistic for the broken promise of education.

Why do we lower our expectations and settle for anything less than we deserve? I’ve admitted to probably having to work a bar job to pay my bills while I build up my portfolio and do unpaid work experience. The most I can hope for is shaking Martinis, or gulp- pulling pints, also known as the less glamorous bar job. The first couple of years of a graduate are challenged with high expectations, and graduates are punched in the face with a brick wall of grim disappointment. Three years of education, student loans that I can’t pay back, and stress lines making their way across my face. Now where’s my compensation for that? My comfort is that I went to university before the tuition fee hike, so for the undergraduates of 2012, we are the lucky ones. This is another reason I will end up in New York, at least I could probably work in Times Square dressed as the Cookie Monster while I blog about it in my spare time instead of serving pints of Carling.

New graduates also have to embrace the use of networking. With even work experience becoming as competitive as job hunting, networking becomes paramount to our futures if we have any chance of getting one. I like to think of job hunting, and networking, like a graduate version of the Hunger Games. Brutal and unashamed, we’re utilising new tools for survival and practically wearing neon lights above our heads pleading ‘pick me’. The old shy girl act may work if you’re trying to endear people to you on a daily basis, but a meek mouse routine will get you no where in the professional world. Know what you need to know, and know it well.

A list of failures, job interviews, broken relationships, shattered friendships, the ties that bind us are our shared failures and our shared experiences. Where’s the support group for graduates, who have worked so hard only to be met with a road that leads to no where except home? Drinks are on me, so here’s to us.

Side Note: I consider my pot of gold in my need to find one, the desire to keep going and never to settle. That alone is truth that I haven’t given up.  Success lies in my accomplishments, and I will not see myself as a failure if I’m job hunting for the next year.  Human beings are selfish creatures, no matter how much we fight it, we look out for ourselves. I have one, maybe two people I’d put before myself. Oh, and my dog. Especially my dog. People are fickle, don’t ever allow yourself to compromise for anything less than victory.

Harlots and Satin Dresses: The Allure of Marilyn Monroe

Image courtesy of Flickr – quicheisinsane

Most women seem have to this need to inhabit a Norma Jean essence and a pinch of Old Hollywood classic glamour, an era which seems frivolous but in reality threw its own judgements and confinements of gender roles – in an era which regarded sex as shameful, Marilyn was a revolutionary image of sex in female form, with the conventions of a harlot in a beautiful blonde whirlwind suitable for family brunch. Monroe had her share of risque relationships and often endured the negative associations of her sexuality. She endured what could be considered as the 1950s version of slut shaming, as focus shifted to her private life. As we all experience our own little version of slut shaming in the age of social media where everything from the public and private sphere is shared with others, Marilyn becomes a poster girl for dealing with social misfortune.

2011 saw a Marilyn movie, onslaughts of Marilyn books, and 2012 welcomed a primetime tv show. Smash chronicles the development of a Broadway musical based on Marilyn Monroe. The role is fought for by the two female leads, Megan Hilty as Ivy Lynn, and Katherine McPhee as Karen Cartwright. Ivy is the living embodiment of the Marilyn spirit and a siren in her own right, difficult to work with and possessing a wall of insecurities and disasters that could easily rival Marilyn’s own struggles. Add to that some inappropriate relationships and some tantrums and you’ve got yourself a Marilyn. The show is careful to concentrate on her vivacious sexual image but also her sadness.

“She was also a drug-addicted, suicidal sexual icon the likes of which the world cannot get enough. She is an insanely provocative and timeless figure, not some sweet little gay male fantasy.” – Smash, 1×08.

Representations of Marilyn are desperate to channel her unhappiness. Marilyn has been condemned to a historic image which insists on the resurrection of the  insecurities which savaged her, the men that used her and the life that ruined her. Its her allure that keeps the Monroe spirit alive, but it is her flaws and quiet vulnerability that made her an inspiration for women. The sadness in the Monroe appeal lies in her death, how her life was shaped and how she became defined by her image. Her identity became paralysed by a caricature of herself and by the studio system’s control of her film roles. The studios clung to the dumb blonde stereotype, leading Marilyn to create her own production company in 1955.

One thing we can learn from Marilyn is that the faster you rise, the harder you’ll fall. The cultural obsession with Marilyn Monroe lies behind the desire to redefine her, to lose the victim and remove the little girl lost fixture that attached itself to Marilyn’s historic image. Without these cracks in the mirror, she becomes a less version of herself. Her legend lies in her downfall, and relies on the strife of her life to preserve her.  Her light dimmed and her sparkle faded, but that’s how we relate to her. We’re all a little selfish, and we’re all a little impatient. The truth is, we all fall eventually. Enjoy the trip.

“I don’t want to make money, I just want to be wonderful.” – Marilyn Monroe

Side Note: ‘I wanna be loved by you.’ Don’t we all feel that sometimes? Marilyn struggled with the loves of her life, but is still loved by men and admired by women. Being loved decades after your death is a nice little cherry on top of the cake. Not that Marilyn would survive purely from the love of the public, or admiration of her fans. We all want to be loved, not by anyone and everyone but by you and nobody else but you.

In regards to Smash, I’m totally Team Ivy. 100%. I love a temptress, and a good tantrum.

Four for You President Obama, You Go President Obama: Changing Immigration for the Youth of America

Image courtesy of White House Flickr stream

“Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you’ve done everything right your entire life—studied hard, worked hard, maybe even graduated at the top of your class—only to suddenly face the threat of deportation to a country that you know nothing about, with a language that you may not even speak.” – President Barack Obama, June 15th 2012.

President Obama issued an executive order to the Department of Homeland Security that will secure his place with the Hispanic demographic. In a struggling election year where Mitt Romney has recently outraised Obama for the first time in the race, it’s a bold move for the President. The Romney campaign recently raised a total of $76.8m compared to Obama’s $60m in May. The DREAM Act was initially part of President’s 2008 campaign, and one of the promises he made before taking office. Since then, the United States has seen the deportation of over one million immigrants.

The President assured reporters that the move does not give an easy route to US citizenship and is by no means an easy way out, but does offer temporary security to children of illegal immigrants. It means that those who have been in the US for over five years, been educated by the American education system, serve in the military, or were brought to the country before they turned 16 are safe from deportation. The other criteria these people must face is that they must hold no criminal record. The act essentially provides peace of mind to those who were raised on American soil, without the daily fear of deportation. It means that the country will not deport those that are in the country through no fault of their own, as long as they meet the specified criteria. The order is a bold move on the President’s part, but could quickly crumble under new leadership should Mr Obama lose the election.

This directive would allow the eligible to obtain work legally. However, the act will only be in effect for the next two years, and so will have to be passed by the next President. Clever move Team Obama, as Mitt Romney declined to comment when asked if he would support the act if he successfully takes election victory this November. Supporting the move and ticking the box to continue the act would not reflect well on Romney with his current supporters, given his reputation of a ideological flip flopper. Those pesky Republicans. This would persuade Hispanic voters- a demographic needed by Obama, to vote for the President’s re-elect and would also show positive progress on immigration reform, an issue which has not had much growth during Obama’s time in office.

President Obama announced the order during a speech made in the Rose Garden on Friday. The President was interrupted during his speech, and was asked why he would ‘favour foreign workers over Americans?’ President Obama told the reporter, ‘This is the right thing to do for the American people.’ And the right thing to do for the election campaign. Speaking of immigration, maybe Obama would like to give me teeny bit of help? I’d love a job in the White House – I could totally take Bo for a walk, I’m an excellent secret keeper.. I promise.

My reaction to this move can be summed in two words. Me gusta.


I’ll Be Your Lady in Shining Whatever: Why Men Need ‘Saving’

Image courtesy of flickr – AllisonKo

Women live in an age where we now have what we always wanted- a generation of men that have come to terms with strong women, and often fall victim to overpowering personalities or characteristics. Why is it that women see other women as a threat to the men in their life? The bond of sisterhood has crumbled and women no longer stand united against misogyny, but united against each other.

I have men in my life that I feel this need to protect, and I find a great sense of empowerment in that. That women don’t need a knight to saddle up his steed to come to their rescue, but that they can come to the rescue of others- even in the most unromantic way. We’ve cleaned up the mess, seen the bloodshed (literally- don’t underestimate the power of athletically built girls) and we’ve made the cups of tea or bought the jagerbombs, whatever the day calls for. Its a day where the possibility of needing men still exists, but their need for us is stronger.

They call it feeling threatened, but we call it a gut feeling. Bad eggs exist in both genders, and we have a tendency to be able to pin point the exact problem.

These women can be divided into four main groups;

The Bitchy Female Friend (also known as, me)
No explanation needed.

The Femme Fatale
The one all girls dread walking through their front door in the early hours. This girl weaves her way into a man’s life and brings a storm with her. I’m all for a good femme fatale archetype, and quite frankly the old Hollywood ideas of this type getting what she deserves at the end of her ninety minutes always bothers me. This woman  is the dangerous one, the one you don’t want to cross but don’t want to like. You can’t pinpoint her appeal but you know it’s there, she’s walking napalm.  You don’t trust her with your male friends, your boyfriend, her boyfriend, her male friends, or anyone else. But you keep her there. Safety in numbers.

The Maybe Crazy Girlfriend (but that ones okay)
This one can seem a little threatening to the men in your life, she’s changed him in ways probably for the better, although he now deems his own relationship to be the pinnacle of all that is good and moral in the world. Anyway, sometimes you hate each other, sometimes you don’t. Either way, its probably best to keep this one on your side.

The Definitely Crazy Girlfriend
The one we know is wrong. The one they think is ‘the one’. This girlfriend is the one who creeps her way back in, usually on the male that looks like your archetypal Ken doll figure, but his weaknesses take away from his attractiveness- also known as, The Doormat. I hate to be a bit sexist, but I deduct 100 man points for each time a man lets himself get walked all over- or each time he lets himself be given a black eye and refuses help. We watch the fights, assess the damage, and pick up the pieces. Only for said male to get himself back into the same situation over and over. This girl sees every girl as a threat, but sees you as one because she knows that you know exactly who she is.

Amidst these women we have the strong female figures; the mothers, sisters, best friends (bitchy or not), even the right girlfriend can be the strongest force in a man’s life. The interesting part is, all men need these women. The ‘lad’ culture that dominates the university lifestyle is quickly outgrown, and behind the success of a man often hides the intellect of a woman.

I read an article that girls should be taught to find good husbands, it is essentially Husband Hunting 101- be ambitious in relationships and your career. Ambition is one thing, but this reaffirms that women need a husband for a complete life- Snow White had to be kissed by a man before overthrowing a Queen and taking her crown, Cinderella had to be given the right shoe to break the shackles of her imprisonment, this idea of husband hunting suggests that women need that fairytale ending to have it all. What is having it all? There is the idea of being content with no man at all, what’s wrong with living alone with a cat and a tea cosy anyway? That’s a fairytale. Regardless of if your throne is a chair in a seedy apartment you share with your best friend with rent you can’t afford, or an office chair in a skyscraper, we build our own kingdoms.

Side note: They say, trust no man, fear no bitch, but why not embrace the bitch – two heads are better than one.

Quick Comment: Birth Certificates, Reptiles and Obama, Oh My.

Image courtesy of White House Flickr Stream

You’ve heard them all before. Obama’s not American. Obama’s not human. Obama runs a secret balloon animal society with Bo. Okay, so I totally made that last one up, excuse the hyperbolic example but I think you’re getting the point.

The birther row is back. Election time is rife of rumours and speculation to provoke doubt in the voter’s mind, and with Donald Trump endorsing Obama’s rival, Mitt Romney, the birther row was bound to resurrect itself and strike the Obama campaign with Trump still questioning the true nationality of the President. The original obsession with Obama’s heritage led the President to release his birth certificate, the rehashing of old questions surrounding the President’s nationality can only hurt the Romney campaign. It may sit well with the unsettled Republicans, but for the Romney campaign to be associated with this type of negative strike will isolate swing voters through the assumption that they are uneducated enough to jump on the Birther Bandwagon, which in 2012, is old news.

The problem with conspiracy theories is not the speculation behind them, but the vision which clouds them. The information the alternative ‘truth seekers’ consume is just as biased as that of a media giant. If journalists are controlled by codes of conduct, employers and ideologies, then the alternative thinkers are controlled by the will to seek anti establishment theories, in such a way a child who refuses discipline rebels against it’s overbearing parent. Journalists are getting a reputation in which they are seen as puppets to release information to the public, this assumes that audiences are stupid enough to consume every piece of bias that gets printed in contemporary media. The problem is the sourcing, journalists are required to find the best sources to make their stories plausible, conspiracy theorists rely on their own imagination and websites which conform to their own ideologies- if you’re looking for some weird conspiracy drama to suit your agenda, chances are you’ll find one. The internet is not a place where you can find unbiased information- everything has an agenda, and if there are bigger meanings or reasons behind particular people, events or terrorist attacks, then the public will never know. Take 9/11, George Bush has apparently been criticised for saying he saw the planes hit the towers on the television. Maybe he did know beforehand it would happen, or maybe he didn’t. Bush continually walked into a minefield in which he would make mistakes and end up ridiculed, and this is the comment people choose to attack. Journalists get thrown to the wolves, accused of not serving their readers or serving their purpose to report the truth, journalists are not creating a smoke screen to distract from the control of the government, they are doing their jobs in responsible reporting- which in case you weren’t aware, does not include speculation. I heard a theory that President Obama is actually a reptile, pretty suave looking lizard if you ask me.

The Atlantic Wire have a great article on the Obama conspiracies which I recommend, if you’re like me and into that kind of thing.

Side Note: I’m all for freedom of information, freedom of speech, and freedom of thought and yes I am aware the internet is the place to catalogue this. Don’t throw things at me, and if you do throw things at me, make sure it’s something edible.

Originally posted on November 6th on June 1st 2012.