Goodbye Mikhael Gorbachev

The former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev has died at the age of 91.

Mikhail Gorbachev, who ended the Cold War without bloodshed but failed to prevent the collapse of the Soviet Union, has died aged 91, Russian hospital officials say.

The Central Clinical Hospital said in a statement that Mr Gorbachev died after a long illness. No other details were given.

Mr Gorbachev’s office said earlier that he was undergoing treatment in hospital. ABC News

I once shared a stage with Mr Gorbachev.

When I say ‘shared a stage’ what I really mean is that we were both on the same stage at the same time. Gorbachev was speaking to an audience and I was carrying his cup of tea.

It was May 1999 and the World Masters of Business was at the Burswood Dome in Perth. Some friends were staging the event and so I not only recorded all the voiceovers to introduce the guests, I got to be the stage manager on the day.

One of the things Mr Gorbachev requested was that he would have a very hot cup of tea placed on a table off to the side of his lectern.

At the last minute we realised that the cup of tea quite wasn’t ready so there was a lot of frantic activity to get it made and to a small table to the side of the main presentation area of the stage. It was essentially a storm in a tea cup.

By the time the tea was ready, my voice was already booming through the venue to introduce Mr Gorbachev to the stage so I couldn’t walk on and place it in full view of a crowd expecting to see a world leader appear.

We decided the best option was to let the introduction run, let him walk on stage and then while the attention was on him, I would quickly follow, put the cup on the table, then get off as quickly as possible.

It all went to plan and Mikhail Gorbachev was warmly welcomed.

He never drank the tea.

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A Wicked Night Out

The latest big Broadway musical to hit Perth opened last night. I took my beautiful daughter, Emily, off to Perth’s opening night of the Australian production of Wicked at the Burswood Entertainment Complex. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening with a magnificent show and wonderful company.

If you haven’t heard much about it the show gives a bit of the back story to the Wizard of Oz. It’s promoted as the untold story of the witches of Oz.

Wicked is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman. The story is based on the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, a parallel novel of the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz and L. Frank Baum’s classic story The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It is told from the perspective of the witches of the Land of Oz. – Wiki

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but I’m now a bit of a fan. The sets and lighting are incredible. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show with such elaborate and interesting sets. The live musicians, big voices and Stephen Schwartz’s music make it wonderful as a pure musical but the acting of the excellent cast just keeps drawing you in to the story.

I really didn’t expect it would be so funny. If you’re not into musicals, you’ll love it just for the comedy. Perth performer Lucy Durack played the ditzy Glinda to perfection and her comic timing was brilliant.

I’ve been to a few shows that I’ve absolutely loved but have still appreciated intermission for a bit of a break. I must say that when intermission arrived last night I would have been quite happy for the show to just roll on. I wanted to know what would happen next. It’s no wonder that Wicked has broken box office records around the world.

Wicked provided a wonderful evening out and a great excuse for a magnificent dad and daughter date.

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WA Flood Relief Concert

The WA Flood Relief Concert starts at 7:00 p.m. this Tuesday the 25th January at the Burswood Theatre.

Tod Johnston will be performing with both V Capri and Peace Love. Also performing will be Courtney Murphy and Murphy’s Lore, Damien Cripps Band, Magnificent 7, Groove Night Avenue, Juliet’s Diary, Dave Crosby and more.

You can hear Tod Johnston talking about the concert and those who will benefit by clicking the play button on the audio player below.

Everyone involved is donating their time and talents to raise money for the Queensland Flood Appeal as well as helping the victims of the Gascoyne floods and Lake Clifton bushfires.

Tickets are $40 or $45 and available now from Ticketek, or at the door on the night.


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CATS in Perth

CATSIt sometimes takes a while for me to get around to catching up with the rest of the world. CATS first opened in the West End in 1981 and then on Broadway in 1982. Almost thirty years later I finally got around to seeing a production of the musical for the first time.

CATS is now showing at the Burswood Theatre in Perth.

Composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, CATS is based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot and has won many awards, including both the Laurence Olivier Award and the Tony Award for Best Musical. The London production ran for twenty one years and the Broadway production ran for eighteen years, both setting long-run records. CATS has been performed around the world and has been translated into more than 20 languages.

I didn’t really know what to expect when Pauline and I turned up at Burswood last Tuesday for the opening night performance. I picked up our tickets at the box office and we were ushered to our third row seats. We were seated several minutes early which gave us time to appreciate the amazing set. In case you’re one of the few other people in the world who haven’t seen CATS I don’t think I’d be giving much away to tell you that the show is set in a massive rubbish tip. The designers have done an incredible job in creating a visually stunning backdrop for the show.

Once the show got underway we were captivated. CATS is incredibly physical and the performers combined extremely energetic dancing with challenging vocals and perfect timing.

I thought that as the night went on I might recognise a few of the songs, but in the end, it was only the wonderful Memory that I recognised. Mind you, that wasn’t really a problem. While some songs were more enjoyable than others, most generated an instant connection.

I don’t have the voice to sing the songs the cast sang. I don’t have the moves to dance like the cast can dance. I certainly don’t have the body to be able to wear the skin tight outfits worn by the cast. Thankfully the performers had it all.

While I considered that some scenes were a little over sensuous, the show overall is magnificent. If you get the opportunity, get out and see CATS so you can create a memory or two of your own.

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In the presence of greatness

glencsmpbell.jpgA 71 year old shouldn’t be able to do that.

I took my 11 year old daughter Emily to see Glen Campbell performing with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO) last night at the Burswood Theatre. The guy is absolutely amazing.

I’ve never really been a big Glen Campbell fan but many of his songs have helped fill out the soundtrack of my life. I was asked by WASO if I’d like the opportunity to interview Glen’s daughter Debby on 98five Sonshine FM just before Christmas. Debby travels and sings with her dad on some of his tours.

I enjoyed chatting to Debby (You can hear the interview by using the audio player at the bottom of this post.) and when I was asked if I’d like to go to the show I was more than happy to accept.

Having WASO involved always meant that it would be a spectacular show but it was even more impressive than I could have hoped.

Glen Campbell took to the stage and opened with Gentle On My Mind then Galveston and then continued to roll out hit after hit. His voice was in fine form but his guitar playing is extraordinary. Seeing him play the William Tell Overture on his 12 string electric guitar was breath taking. When he perched the guitar on top of his head and continued playing at lightning speed I just thought to myself that a guy of his age really shouldn’t be able to do that. The guy is 71 years of age but apparently no one has told his fingers that.

When Debby was introduced I was ready for a change of pace and possibly some good vocals. She blew me away. She has a magnificent voice and it amazes me that she isn’t recording and performing full time. As well as doing a few songs on her own she joined her father for a number of duets. Brilliant.

The song I was really wanting to hear was the first one after intermission. As soon as the orchestra started playing I knew that Witcheta Lineman was on the way. It’s a song I love and the performance didn’t dissapoint.

Towards the end of the evening Glen Campbell walked on with some bagpipes which he says are the most temperamental instrument he’s ever tried to master. He used the bagpipes to great effect during a moving rendition of Amazing Grace.

The evening was completed with a fantastic version of McArthur Park. It’s an incredible piece of music and the orchestra really got the opportunity to show just how good they are by performing faultlessly.

Oh … and about me saying that I’ve never really been a big Glen Campbell fan … I sure am now. I’ll be grabbing a greatest hits CD as soon as I can.

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