The piss, it is most distinctly being taken. I was flushed with excitement (or as close as I get to something like that) at the news that Almodovar’s fantabulous “Todo Sobre Mi Madre” is being adapted for the London stage, but then the Guardian ruined my browsing pleasure with this little news nugget.
I have absolutely had it. My record of exasperation in producers insisting on girls simply not up to the job while talented actresses with actual stamina sit around unemployed (or being wonderful in productions that nobody ever gets to hear about).
But this girl, while she can simper and sing fairly well has no training, no evidence that she can do more than prance around like a paint-by-numbers Julie Andrews impersonator, and they’re putting her up for something so demanding? Much like Evita, Funny Girl is all about the girl in the title. I used to work in the theatre that Barbra Streisand played when she brought the show to London, and to think of that history trampled all over for a quick buck is maddening. You know, musicals were huge in the seventies and eighties without help from Graham ‘(gay) nails on a blackboard’ Norton. A show like Funny Girl could be promoted well, with some actual originality, and they could put someone in it who would, in baseball terms, hit a home run every night. Those actresses still exist, even though there’s no attempt to make real stars out of them. Why bother when you can grab some eejit off the telly for three months, and what does it matter if she misses half the shows when the gullible public have paid for their tickets anyway?
I made my peace with Mamma Mia and its ilk, it can’t all be Sondheim musicals or Chekov seasons at the National. I’m all for the populist touch if it keeps Equity members in work. But we don’t seem to be that far away from Big Brother runners-up treading the boards at Drury Lane. Have we really set the bar so low that we’ll ignore quality just for a ‘name’? I’m not talking Hollywood names, that’s a legitimate draw and a chance for experienced actors to get back to their roots. I’m looking at you, great British public, it’ll be your fault if your abysmal Heat reading ways ruin an institution that really ought to retain some selectivity.