Movies: It's exactly ten years since I first discovered the delights of the British Animation Awards, and more specifically their Public Choice award. As part of their biannual roundup of the best animation being produced in Britain, they'd send a touring programme of new short films around the country, and get general audiences to vote on their favourite. The Belated Birthday Girl and I have had a blast doing just that in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014. This year, however, things are a bit more complicated. Various commitments of one sort or another mean we're only able to attend one of the three London screenings this year (which is a shame, because they've moved from BFI Southbank to the newly-restored Regent Street Cinema, which is lovely). But there have been a few other changes to the Public Choice voting that I'm worried about: primarily, that the number of screening venues has been reduced, and they're mostly colleges rather than public cinemas. Also, why isn't there any advertising work on the shortlist any more? Assuming that you can get to one of the screenings, the quality is as high as ever, if Programme 1 of the three is anything to go by. For me, the highlights from that selection are Rory Waudby-Tolley's Mr Madila, a variation on the Creature Comforts interview idea that rapidly shoots off in multiple other directions: and Owen Rixon's Toonocalypse, which is nothing less than a low-budget Edinburgh Cloverfield only not shit.
Music: This month's playlist... well, you know. Meanwhile, in other music news, you'll recall that last December I presented my Pick Of The Year CD for 2015, along with the usual competition to win a copy of the CD for yourselves. The idea this time was that you had to guess what my weight was at the time the compilation was announced. And once again, congratulations to Dave for his usual efforts in scooping the prize, even though I was slightly insulted by his overestimate. (He went for 83kg: the actual figure was 77kg.)
Theatre: It's always interesting when you come back from seeing a bit of theatre, do some research and realise there was something you missed. Here's a good example: Grey Gardens, running at the Southwark Playhouse in London until February 6th. With music by Scott Frankel, lyrics by Michael Korie and book by Doug Wright, it's the story of two of America's most famous cat ladies - Edith Bouvier Beale (Sheila Hancock) and 'Little' Edie Beale (Jenna Russell), the aunt and cousin respectively of Jackie Kennedy. By the early seventies they were living together in Grey Gardens, a derelict estate in the Hamptons. The musical comes in two halves - first looking at their heyday in 1941, then contrasting it with how they lived in 1973. It's an entertaining enough piece of work, but the audience reaction the night I was there seemed disproportionately crazed throughout. I was aware that the Maysles brothers had made a movie on the same subject in the seventies, so I looked it up on YouTube: and then I worked it out. What the audience was raving about, presumably, was that this is a pitch perfect conversion of a documentary film to a stage musical. The look, the performances and most of the dialogue are directly reproduced from the movie, which is one hell of a technical achievement. Scott Frankel's programme notes say that one of their aims in the show was to "connect with an audience of Grey Gardens neophytes," and it's definitely good enough to do that. But if you already know the film, then I suspect you'll have an infinitely better time.