Good things come in small packages
The Proms director, Roger Wright, took up his ukulele this week to join in with the hundreds of thronging musicians at the Royal Albert Hall, who were members and supporters of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. He gamely played along at times during the event, which included performances of Wagner's 'The Ride of the Valkyries' and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, as well as arrangements of songs by The Who, the Sex Pistols and Nirvana. Wright told me that he had begun to learn how to play the quirky instrument only six weeks ago, with the help of his two guitar playing children. "They taught me the basics so I could join in on the night," he said. "I play the piano and cello so it wasn't as easy for me to pick up as it was for them." His children named the two ukulele's in the family after their grandfathers, Frank and Donald.
The Cuban ballet star (and heart-throb) Carlos Acosta recently threw an extravagant party for the British ballet dancers who travelled to Havana to perform for the first time since Fidel Castro came to power in 1959. To mark the historic moment, he reportedly greeted every ballerina with a flower on entry to his Cuban home, while the men were given a cigar. The British dancers were treated like rock stars, according to a source, getting mobbed on the street for their autographs by a ballet-mad Cuban public.
Get well soon
Jem Finer, the musician and founding member of The Pogues, has just got back from Delhi with suspected giardia (a hideous stomach bug) but still intends to attend a performance of 234 Tibetan 'singing bowls' for his 1,000 minute 'Longplayer Live' show at the Roundhouse on 12 September. 'Longplayer' is a piece of music designed to last for 1,000 years, which started in 2000 and will continue without repetition until 2999. Some believe that the 'ommm' sounds emitted by singing bowls have sonic healing qualities. Maybe it will do something for his giardia.
The fashion of the opera
The Royal Opera House has invited a star of London's thriving cross-dressing scene, Jonny Woo, to feature in a festival celebrating contemporary art at Covent Garden. The 'Deloitte Ignite' takes place from 4 to 6 September and Woo – who has previously performed at the Soho Theatre and toured the East End with his 'Gay Bingo' – will feature on the final day. He will be hosting a transvestite fashion show directly inspired by characters from opera, after which there will be a vogue ball (inspired by the New York scene in the early 1990s), where people will be invited to don elaborate costumes and vogue the final night away.
Thank the stars for theatre's golden age
Michael Grandage, the director of the Donmar Warehouse in Covent Garden, said an ever increasing number of British film stars and Hollywood celebrities who were choosing to tread the boards of Theatreland in London's West End, had kicked off a golden age of the straight play. Grandage admitted that the presence of an actor of note in a cast helped the fortunes of a play considerably – ideally someone with a "high profile but also with theatre credentials; film stars known for their films, but who have also got a strong theatre pedigree", he suggested. What was particularly wonderful, he added, was "enticing" the likes of Jude Law (currently playing "Hamlet") back to theatre.Reuse content