Theater MOJO

I love getting my theater news from MOJO—The Music Magazine. It’s an important British rock mag, renowned for its mix of historical articles and reviews of current releases.

Recent issues have been consumed with what I suspect might have been one of the most notable theater events of 2014, a show which captivated the British media in general and which I’m truly sorry to have missed. It was the grand return of Kate Bush to the concert stage after 35 years, a comeback she devised as a no-holds-barred multi-media stage spectacle.

Here’s an excerpt from MOJO write Jim Irvin’s description of Kate Bush’s show at the Hammersmith Apollo in London:

A figure wanders onstage as the song comes to a rolling boil and conjures up a storm, lights pulse, thunder rumbles and confetti canyons explode. It’s snowing bits of yellowed paper carrying lines from Tennyson’s Idylls of the King that inspired [Bush’s] The Ninth Wave, the second side of Hounds of Love.

Suddenly we’re at sea, this gig has lurched overboard. A screen flickers on and there’s an astronomer telling the coastguard he has received a distress signal from a ship. Dialogue by novelist David Mitchell, no less. “And Dream of Sheep” is sung by Kate on film, in a life jacket, floating on water. Her character’s dilemma, stranded mid-ocean with no immediate hope of rescue, is played out on the screen, her dreams as she drifts in and out of consciousness are enacted on the stage. Earlier, Kate bid farewell to a “member of the team,” Adrian Noble, former artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, who helped stage this performance.

In the latest issue of MOJO—number 225, with David Bowie on the cover—there’s…

  • an article about the period in the mid-1970s when The Kinks “went from romantic pop perfectionists to theatrical art-rock crack-ups” with their concept albums Preservation, Soap Opera and Schoolboys in Disgrace.
  • playwright/novelist Ben Elton (We Will Rock You) and Michelle Rodriguez (Missy the Master on Doctor Who, who did Taming of the Shrew at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2008 and If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet at the Roundabout in New York in 2012) both featured in the “All Back to My Place” favorite-music questionnaire feature at the front of the magazine.
  • Pete Townshend writing about his decision to create an orchestral arrangement of his Who opera Quadrophenia.
  • a nostalgia piece about how Bronski Beat had a hit with “It Ain’t Necessarily So” 30 years ago in January 1985.
  • a query in the Ask Fred column, about a supposed “film called Island that starred Patti Smith,” to which the authoritative music historian Fred Dellar responds “Island wasn’t a film, it was a play,” describing the 1972 production of the Anthony Ingrassia work at LaMama ETC in which Smith co-starred with fellow New York rock scene icons Wayne County and Cherry Vanilla.

The free CD that comes with each issue of MOJO is devoted to “artists who influenced David Bowie,” including Jacques Brel, Anthony Newley and Lotte Lenya.

More MOJO is here.