Friday, August 19, 2005

Theatre in the round

I was browsing in Halifax a few weeks back & took a look in an old-fashioned non-chain record shop in the Borough Arcade. It is the very antithesis of an HMV, with a very 70s feel (other than vinyl being replaced by CD of course.) It reminded me of some of the alternative stores in Newcastle of my youth, particularly in the Handiside Arcade and down the West Road.

After an appropriate rummage, I bought a Janis Joplin greatest hits album, although I wasn't entirely certain why. Eventually, I placed the reference...

At the top of the Pavilion Building in Piccadilly Circus, used to live an exhibition run by Madame Tussauds, known as Rock Circus. (now sadly extinct).

After visiting the various set pieces, you made your way upstairs (up the Stairway to Heaven, no prizes for guessing the background music there!) You were then ushered into a revolving theatre for a remarkable animatronics show hosted by Tim Rice and starring the Beatles, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, a couple of others, and... Janis Joplin.

The first time I saw the show, I had no idea who she was and this must have been very common, because next time I visited, her name was projected using Gobos so there was no doubt. She was sitting on a park bench (with hedgerows either side) and after a brief talk, she hauled herself to her feet & sand a bit of "Me and Bobby McGee" accompanied by authentic 60's style hippy lighting. The tune has obviosly lurked in my subconscious for the last decade or so, enough to buy an album on spec all these years later. Assuming Tim Rice had a hand in the content, he may well be a JJ fan. I'm not certain I am yet...

Two other memories of the rock circus- the preparatory music was "Song for Guy" whilst you took your seat (bench) and they played the guitar riff from "Peaches" as they rotated the auditorium between the three major sets then back to the original position for the Beatles to perform (& recreate) Sargeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's club band.

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