Odds and sods about the British rock band Slade

Friday, September 23, 2005

Slade meets Dickens

Last Tuesday I visited Don. We had lunch, did a bit of work during the afternoon, did a bit of talking and in the evening we drove to the town of Herning with his girlfriend to attend the dress rehearsal of that play "Oliver T." at the Team Theatre that was mentioned on Danish TV a few days ago. It was really good and in director Mikael Helmuth's version Slade's music plays an essential role.
In the press release from the theatre it says: "On stage are 6 professional actors, 17 extras and a 7-piece orchestra with both rock- and chamber-musicians. The musicians of the production do of course have music in common but quite extraordinary they all play renditions of songs written by the old glitter rock group Slade. Songs with lyrics that strangely enough could have been written by Charles Dickens himself. As an extra feather in the cap, the theatre has made contact with some of the members of the old band and Slade's drummer Don Powell has visited the theatre several times to attend rehearsals, just as he is expected to be among the guests at the original performance on September 22nd 2005."
Don actually thought that Mikael Helmuth was crazy the first time he heard that he would put Slade's music to Oliver Twist, but he - and all the rest of us - now knows better. It is amazing and I must admit that the play really blew me away.
The Oliver Twist-story itself has been re-written by writer Peter Hugge, changing perspectives, so that it is no longer the poor who are bad and the rich who are good. The picture painted of society is a bit more complicated in this version and the story comes out with a "happy" ending that is ever so much different from the one that Dickens wrote. And there are other changes. The prostitute Nancy has been renamed Jane in order to fit with Gudbuy T'Jane, but the goodbyes in this play are also quite different from Dickens'. The real masterstroke is, however, that The Artful Dodger is missing from the story line and has instead been turned into a narrator/singer. The guy playing this part is named Flemming Bang and believe it or not but HE actually sings like Noddy! He also masters the same showmanship as Nod, heck, he even looks a bit like him, I mean, the red hair and sideboards, as well as being a bit voluminous, you know. I was so (pleasantly) surprised. "Noddy Holder" as The Artful Dodger - who would have guessed?
Slade's music fits just perfect to that play. Right from the start when they open with Get Down And Get With It to a scene of the busy streets of London I couldn't help smiling from sheer joy. They had really put a lot of songs in there, the re-occurring theme being How Does It Feel. But also Gudbuy T'Jane, Far Far Away, Know Who You Are, Cum On Feel The Noize, MXE (which had everybody rolling with laughter because of the scene and the singer), Mama Weer All Crazee Now and god knows what, the favourite among the musicians and actors being Jim's Universe. It is marvellous! To top it off the play sports ingenious set design and lights.
The "Oliver T."-play only runs until October 14th 2005 and all shows are already almost sold out. I sure hope that this play is going to become an export article, as I'd wish for all non-Danish Slade-fans and theatre-fans to see this.


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