WELCOME TO THE WOOD – A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM REVIEW
photo: Grant Kretchik
photo: Grant Kretchik
Most of us know music legend, Madonna, is on her latest tour titled Madame X. She’s garnered headlines already because first off, this is Madonna – a sixty-one year old icon who is still actively performing, and well, she may have been late and a fan pushed a lawsuit against her tardiness. Who cares! It’s Madonna! Recently, I was one of the lucky people who were able to see her latest tour and I have so many thoughts I need to share with you.
I was first blue-balled by the Madame X tour. A great friend of mine dangled the idea of being a plus one the prior night, but a friend he had took him up on the offer. I was a little bummed, knowing the price of a Madonna ticket during the holidays wasn’t necessarily in budget. I would be blindsided when the same friend, who saw the show the night before, asked if I wanted to go – he was getting tickets – again. Obviously I couldn’t pass up the offer, especially if someone is wanting to see the show again; this had to be good. The two of us would head to The Wiltern, a swanky spot in Los Angeles’ Korea Town neighborhood.
Upon entering the establishment you are absolutely required to lock your phone in a secure, magnetic bag. Basically it’s like a pouch that has one of the retail stores detectors on it – and only an employee could release it for you. It’s legit unbreakable. It’s a little shocking at first. Our phones are not only probably our biggest addiction, but a comfort zone. Immediately you have to be a little insecure: I’m in my later 20s, so my phone is regularly superglued to my hand. #Triggered. After grabbing a cocktail and venturing to the restroom (which in my opinion had to of been better than a bathhouse in the ‘70s), it’s time to take your seats among the Madonna fans AKA your gay peers.
We were close to the stage. It’s not a grand ballroom or the Staples Center, it’s intimate. The people around us couldn’t be more friendly. Without the lifeline of our phones, it’s bizarre to remember what it’s like meeting strangers in person is like. The fun conversations with our neighborhoods didn’t last long, because shockingly, Madonna was on time! Time to start the show…
Right off the bat we are showcased a prologue of the show. Madonna tells us to basically let loose, we’re going to be uncomfortable, but at the end of the day this is art. It’s not a concert, but theater, artistry, and she’s making certain that we walk away with conversation rather than just “That was amazing!” and the like. This introduction is projected on a screen in front of the audience as “Madonna” types it out to us on a typewriter. With the punch of every letter, an African American performer is “shot” on stage – he moves with every hit of a bullet. Eventually, Madonna lights up the stage and performs her newest work but every so often treats us to an oldie that gets everyone up and dancing. It’s sensational, moving, and without question the best “concert” I’ve ever been too. Madonna takes you out of your world and introduces you into hers. It’s basically like a cult – and I was honored to drink the juice.
Madonna outperforms those who she has decades of age on. She does the splits not only on the stage, but upside down in the air while hanging from a harness. It’s insane – she was doing cirque de solei! A surprise was her children who performed along side her for a song, it was a tender moment if you knew what her children look like (my friend pointed them out to me). She speaks softly to the audience often. Seriously, I felt like we were having more of a chat with Madonna than watching her perform – and she did plenty of her songs, 80% new, 20% classics. The experience is magical and worth every penny. Her message is clear throughout: This is an inclusive, diverse environment. It’s Madonna’s world and she has invited us in. It’s magical and Madonna needs to be cherished at all costs.
However, there were a few scandalous moments during her performance. While the gunshots are a little alarming – seriously, there should perhaps be a warning before heading in (I didn’t see one) – she also protests against police brutality and is incredibly vocal against reigning President Donald Trump. I’m not a Trump supporter, but I’m also not a devote Liberal, so there were moments of intensity that pushed an agenda. But, this is Madonna and I knew what to expect and wasn’t going to be someone who’d walk out of the glorious performance I was watching. This is Madonna’s art and it’s a site to be seen by anyone. She’s truly the eighth World Wonder. You must see Madame X.
Shout out to the guy next to us who literally passed out and convulsed on the floor. I hope it was the magic of the performance that you fainted from and not a letter of the alphabet that is used as a party drug…
More at Instinct Magazine
he gunshots and fake blood splattering onto the motel bed made me flinch and look away from the stage toward my mother. She seemed unbothered, smiling and clapping her hands.
We were at my first Madonna concert. A mere 13-year-old, I had never seen anything like it before.
I had been expecting the 52-year-old singer to simply run through the hits my mom always turned up on the local oldies station. Instead, Madonna opened the concert by falling down from an elevated glass confession box she had shattered with a makeshift rifle. In a skintight black bodysuit, she began belting out a song off her new album that I had never even heard before.
Naturally, my life was changed.
The whole concert was a wonderfully weird, violent mess, and I loved every minute of it. By the end of it, Madonna had pretended to shoot and kill half of her backup dancers, stripped down to her lingerie and rolled around on a piano, whirled around a baton while dressed up as a cheerleader and transformed herself into a nun — all in the span of two hours. I was enthralled, yet also so confused.
This was my SoulCycle-loving, Lululemon-wearing, eye surgeon mother’s hero? The mother who constantly told me to cover up with a sweater before I left the house?
Like most people born in 1998, I’d thought of Madonna as a figure permanently stuck in the ‘80s, forever belting out “Like a Virgin” in an endless, outdated loop. The closer I began to look, however, the more I realized Madonna’s ubiquity, not just in the world but in my daily life.
Legend has it that I first appeared to the world as “Ray of Light” poured into the hospital room from my mother’s birthing CD. And while most kids grew up dancing along to the Wiggles, I jumped along to “Material Girl” and “Like a Prayer.” My bedtime reading was “The English Roses,” a children’s book written by, you guessed it, Madonna. I guess it was only a matter of time before I got on board.
Read full article at The Daily Californian
The Rebel Queen – Madonna by Donatella Versace.
The Keeping Up With the Kardashians stars attended the music legend’s show at The Wiltern in Los Angeles on Wednesday. According to a concertgoer, the sisters sat front row center for the over two-hour show that began close to 11 p.m. At one point during the concert, Madonna came off stage to sit and chat with Kim for the rest of the crowd to hear.
Madonna asked Kim if she was enjoying the show, with the reality star assuring the singer she was having the best time. “It’s so surreal,” Kim said into the mic. “I’m with my sister, Kourtney, and she used to play your records all the time when we were young.”
The “Like a Virgin” singer then told the mom of four she wanted to talk about motherhood. When she mentioned that three of her kids, Stelle, Estere and Mercy James, are all up late to be part of the show, she asked Kim if her kids stay up late. Kim said both she and the kids go to bed early, to which Madonna cried, “I don’t know how you wake up early and look so beautiful. I look like sh** in the morning. You must be drinking the right juice.” Kim exclaimed, “It’s eye masks.”
The concertgoer tells ET that Madonna then offered Kim some of her beer, but Kim told her she’s “not a big drinker.” Madonna replied, “Neither am I, but I’m so dehydrated. I’ll drink anything.” Before returning to the stage, the singer told Kim, “Well, I hope you’re having a great time. And if your sister misbehaves, I’m bringing her onstage with me.”
While no phones or cameras were allowed inside The Wiltern, Kourtney did post a video of herself entering the venue. She also posted an outfit pic.
Madonna is currently in the middle of her 10-date stay at The Wiltern on her Madame X Tour.
Full article at ETOnline
November 20, 2019 by Chauncey Dandridge
Pace University’s School of Performing Arts fall mainstage season will kick off on November 20 with a new Madonna-inspired adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Fourteen Madonna classics will be woven through the original spoken text of Shakespeare. The show is a collaboration between the acting and dance program at Pace.
The production, “Welcome to the Wood, A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is directed by Grant Kretchik, the head of the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Acting Program at the Pace School of Performing Arts, and choreographed by Jess Hendricks, featuring Pace’s BFA’s Commercial Dance dancers. The creative team is comprised entirely of Pace University students, including set designer Brett Martinez, costume designer Arin Goldsmith, lighting designer Elijah Sullivan, sound designer Julia Riley, and props master Colleen O’Brien. The production is stage managed by student Lindsay Jones and company managed by student Emily Huber. “It is as elegant as it is erotic, as sophisticated as it is sensual, and as timeless as it is tempting,” says director Kretchik.
I was invited to peek in during their final dress rehearsal on Tuesday night and was able to stay long enough to witness the first act. Scurrying down Spruce Street to the Schimmel Center of Pace University in downtown Manhattan, which houses the theatre in which the show is performed, I had no idea what to expect from this production. Before the show, campy elevator music style Madonna songs filled the auditorium and definitely set the tone for the self-aware delight, beauty, and bawdiness about to take place. It was actually quite endearing to see the younger college student crowd bopping and dancing to the songs. Being a huge Madonna fan, my feelings were obviously bias about the fantastic idea for the show, but that also would lean me to being a harsher critic than most. The show began with an elegant Shakespearian vibe with a slight juxtaposition of modern technology, almost easing you into the coming fanfare. Soon, classic Madonna songs from every era of her career were wonderfully and delightfully sewn into the fabric of the 400-year-old play as if they were meant to be all along. Even the floor design had similarities to the tiles in the background of promotional photos for her current “Madame X” Tour. The choreography was certainly fresh and frisky with occasional nods to some of Madonna’s wildest live performances and subtle references to some of her most iconic imagery. I’m actually not even sure some were intentional, but as a deeper kind of fan, I noticed them for sure.
Before the show, I had just enough time to ask director Grant Kretchik a few questions about the show and the creative process in turning this Shakespeare classic into a modern day boundary-pushing experience featuring the music of the queen of button pushing: Madonna.
CHAUNCEY: What made you decide to use Madonna songs to reinvent the story of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”?
GRANT KRETCHIK: It started as imagining THE WOODS (where the lovers escape to find their love) as a night club as a sophisticated labyrinth and then I wondered what this underground night club would feel like. I immediately landed on Vogue but specifically inspired by the MTV Awards from 1990! So that was a fine enough feeling- but now what? ? What kind of music is in this club, what’s the energy, the tone? I thought well maybe Vogue opens or closes the show. Again, “now what?” So I started digging deeper, played with a few different songs from the ’80s and ’90s from other artists but of course, Madonna kept coming up and I landed on Open Your Heart- a light bulb went off! I was like, “this is what Helena is feeling” but it’s not exactly what’s in the story. I hit on a few more Madonna songs. Mind you I did not set out to create this adaptation it’s only where I landed. As I continued to listen I kept rediscovering the power of sexual femininity that Madonna awoke in the ’80s and throughout her career. Simultaneously, I became conscious of the times we are in now. It drove me back to the text. I started realizing things about the script that I didn’t like such as a duty to society, oppressed female voices. I mean, come on Hermia’s father is willing to offer her to death if she doesn’t marry the man he picked for her. Helena is running around offering to be Demetrius’ dog if he will love her- absolutely awful and pathetic. I went back to Open Your Heart and was like, “what if I put this song in as a way for Helena to stand up to him and realize the power she has as a woman and as a sexual being? I still only thought it might be atomospheric in someway. Not long after I hit on the part in the text that Hermia and Lysander exchange “love tokens” I always thought of this as referring to intimate exchanges between them and then the 3rd light bulb came. What if it’s not about intimacy but rather he brings her gifts to woo her, such as diamond rings and 18k gold- mind was blown, Material Girl and Express Yourself. This crystallized everything for me and it was also the first moment I thought of the play as an adaptation where the songs could be driven by the characters and particularly the female ones. Now I was in deep and it had to be Madonna so I thew myself into her catalog. That is when the next part made sense to me. The king and the queen in the court are oppressed in their own way, ya know, ‘heavy is the head that wears the crown’ kinda thing? Hippolyta and Theseus too have to secretly escape to the club, which by this time I was calling “THE WOOD” and in this club, they were able to be free and role play as Titania and Oberon. Titania would teach the young female lovers how to express themselves and embrace their power. Now I was realizing I might be on to something interesting or at least interesting to me. Rounding out the process was inserting additional songs that were character driven but also would set tone such as; When Titania falls in love with the ass she could be made to feel Like a Virgin when she’s under the spell; when Puck (who becomes the DJ in the club) has to reverse the spell on the loves they would need to justify their love before coming out of THE WOOD changed. It went on and on. I was in a Madonna K hole- not that I’ve ever done K. Suddenly in the span between January to April, I had “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” as a Madonna dance party or so I hoped.
CHAUNCEY: How big of a Madonna fan are you?
GRANT: Oh this is not an easy answer. I love Madonna and always have but I never thought of myself as a “fan”. It’s deeper and at the same time simpler than that. In college, I took a course in anthropology and popular culture and the academic textbook had an entire chapter dedicated to Madonna. I always knew I loved the music- it was all around me growing up, she was controversial, sexy, could put out fun dance music. Now having worked on this I have become more aware of her as a storyteller in her lyrics. There are all these gems of thought provoking ideas that can go by as a blip because the music is so good. But it was in that class that I understood the influence this woman had on the world and on women as sexual creatures and a feminist- that was in 1999 and she has not stopped. I grew up with all women and it wasn’t easy for them- I had a new level of respect for Madonna. I am an admitted fan but with an artist who has the stamina and staying power like Madonna, that she is a part of the cultural narrative. It becomes a part of your story. When you grow up with artists you know them intimately because their music gets you through shit and it helps you to know yourself. Isn’t that what art can do, help you to know yourself? Madonna for me is my coming of age story. She’s been in all the moments of my life and I didn’t know it because she was in the background like a quiet and supportive friend.
I hope that my students from a newer generation are discovering her and her influence through this process. We are having a blast but I hope they are aware of how much Madonna and so many other female artists have moved the needle forward so they can express who they are today- and that story will continue to evolve but we must recognize and pay respect to those who came before.
The show runs Wednesday, November 20th through Sunday, November 24th with two matinees at The Schimmel Center of Pace University at 3 Spruce Street in lower Manhattan. For tickets please click here
More at Instinct Magazine
Best Remixed Recording:
“I Rise (Tracy Young’s Pride Intro Radio Remix)” — Tracy Young, remixer (Madonna)
“Mother’s Daughter (Wuki Remix)” — Wuki, remixer (Miley Cyrus)
“The One (High Contrast Remix)”– Lincoln Barrett, remixer (Jorja Smith)
“Swim (Ford. Remix)” — Luc Bradford, remixer (Mild Minds)
“Work It (Soulwax Remix)” — David Gerard C Dewaele & Stephen Antoine C Dewaele, remixers (Marie Davidson)
Madonna — Madame X
I get it: there’s just so much stuff out there. It’s impossible to keep track of all of the records that the critics are crying from the rafters about, let alone just getting down to the work of seeking out stuff that aligns with your own very niche taste. But still, there was no reason for us all to have ignored Madame X, the new record from Madonna. This is no late-career lip-service to a legacy; this is a new formulation of it, a bold restatement of purpose. We take Madge for granted sometimes, and that’s a problem.
More at Junkee.com
Here are the first pictures of the actual I’m Breathless pressed on yellow vinyl available as a Barnes & Noble Exclusive.
Next up in our discography is the remix EP ‘Remixed & Revisited’ released in November 2003 right in the middle of the American Life era. Remixed & Revisited included various remixes of several American Life tracks as well as the live performance of ‘Hollywood’ at the MTV Awards ceremony, ‘Into The Hollywood Groove’ and the previously unreleased ‘Your Honesty’.
Your Honesty was a demo track recorded at the time for the Bedtime Stories album but was never used. Madonna’s manager at the time (Caresse Henry) convinced Madonna to add the track to the EP as it was such a great tune.
For the discography we have collected 16 different pressings for you to view HERE
Confession: I’ve never cared much for “Like a Virgin.” Madonna’s 1984 single may be the first, if not the, signature song of her career, but it’s a trifle—a novelty, really—with its plucky, noncommittal guitar licks, sub-“Billie Jean” bassline, and the singer’s helium squeak of a voice. That last, integral element in particular has always irked me, as, from “Express Yourself” to “Don’t Tell Me,” Madonna has proven she’s capable of some deep, soulful performances. Of course, the vocals on “Like a Virgin” were allegedly employed by design, sped up to render Madonna’s voice more childlike and “virginal.” (It’s a trick she’s lamentably reprised on some of her more recent recordings.)
I’m in fairly good company, however, since both producer Nile Rodgers and Madonna herself aren’t particularly fond of “Like a Virgin” either, and she’s chosen to completely reinvent the song in masterful ways nearly every time she’s performed it. The single was released on Halloween in 1984, and this week also marks the 35th anniversary of the album of the same name. To commemorate this milestone, we’re taking a look back at three and a half decades of a song Madonna has mercifully, perpetually made shiny and new by sheer force of will and ingenuity.
MTV Video Music Awards (1984)
Feminists angered by Madonna’s choice of a belt buckle during her performance at the MTV VMAs in 1984 seemed to miss the fact that her groom was a mannequin and that she chose instead to consummate her vows with her wedding veil. By the time she’d descended her giant wedding cake, hit the floor, and rolled around on the stage, showing her knickers to the world, there was no confusion about what the M stood for in the giant MTV logo towering above her.
Music Video (1984)
Shot largely in St. Marks’s Square in Venice, Italy, the music video for “Like a Virgin” found Madonna playing Beauty to a man dressed as a Beast, specifically a lion (which not coincidentally happens to be the symbol of Mark the Evangelist). The singer is depicted as both virginal bride—sauntering impatiently through the basilica, undressing the furniture—and street harlot, hungrily prowling the bridges and canals of the Floating City.
Blond Ambition Tour (1990)
Ostensibly growing weary of her biggest hit, Madonna reinterpreted “Like a Virgin” with a Middle Eastern-inspired arrangement for her Blond Ambition Tour, casting herself as harem girl (the other “girls” being male dancers, natch, dressed in conical bras designed by Jean Paul Gautier). Having long shed her “Boy Toy” image for a more empowering, self-reliant brand of post-feminism, the Queen of Pop once again made it clear that “Like a Virgin” is first and foremost a paean to self-love.
The Girlie Show (1993)
The story goes that Madonna looked up Gene Kelly in 1993 to ask him to give her notes on her Girlie Show Tour, the sets and choreography of which were inspired by Hollywood musicals from the 1950s like Kelly’s Singin’ in the Rain. “Like a Virgin” was originally intended to be sung by a man, and Madge had been toying with the idea of paying homage to Marlene Dietrich and French cabaret singer Maurice Chevalier by dressing in drag for a slapstick-and-vaudeville version of “Like a Wirgin.” Kelly, then in his 80s, gave his stamp of approval, and the rest is, as they say, history.
MTV Video Music Awards (2003)
After putting the song into retirement for a decade, Madonna dusted “Like a Virgin” off for the 20th annual VMAs, this time playing the groom to Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera’s not-so-blushing brides in yet another gender-bending performance of her iconic hit.
Confessions Tour (2006)
In 2005, Madonna was thrown from her horse while riding at her country estate outside London, breaking her hand, three ribs, and her collarbone. The accident served as inspiration for her Confessions Tour the following year, which opened with an equestrian-themed segment. A knowing wink to the suggestion that there was nothing left of the pop star to reveal of herself, x-rays of her cracked bones were projected onto giant screens as she mounted a carousel horse, stroking the giant pole, and performing near-acrobatic moves to the beat of a discofied revamp of “Like a Virgin.” Back in the saddle, indeed.
MDNA Tour (2012)
Madonna ended up back on the floor for this striking, unexpectedly poignant rendition of “Like a Virgin” for 2012’s MDNA Tour. The delicate piano waltz was juxtaposed with the singer flashing her lady parts, defying those who’d for years squawked that the fiftysomething performer should put on her clothes and take a bow. Asking fans who likely paid a pretty penny for their front-row seats to throw money at her like a stripper might seem crass, but then this tour-de-force segues into MDNA’s “Love Spent,” a song about the dissolution of the so-called Material Girl’s marriage to Guy Ritchie, who reportedly got millions in a divorce settlement.
Rebel Heart Tour (2015)
After more than three decades performing the hit that made her a household name, Madonna took things back to basics for her Rebel Heart Tour, delivering a somewhat faithful rendition of “Like a Virgin” for fans around the globe. She didn’t roll on the floor and show the world her underwear, but she did hump the stage in homage to her infamous VMA performance and at one point stripped off her shirt.
See where “Like a Virgin” landed on our list of Every Madonna Single Ranked.
More at Slant Magazine
I have been visiting the mega record & CD fair in Utrecht since 1992 and it’s always been such a joyful event to look forward to. This edition has been no exception, to say it was crowded is an understatement, its popularity has only increased throughout the years, drawing more and more visitors every year.
Even though the fair doesn’t open until 9am, better get in line before 8.30 or you will be right at the end of the queue right near the entrance of the Jaarbeurshallen.
With two halls completely stuffed with thousands of records there’s something to please every collector. When it comes to Madonna collectibles there’s always a ton of vinyl to choose from. Dealers brought along a lot of vinyl from South Africa (even the rare 7″ editions with picture sleeve), Hungary, Poland, Brazil, Japan (A TON) and so much more. Madame X items items I spotted was the regular E.U. vinyl (with incorrect tracklisting) and one copy of the rainbow picture disc set (fnac edition), quite disappointing.
There were no insanely rare items this time (sadly some well known dealers are no longer there and some don’t get their merchandise through Live Nation anymore), there was one copy of the Celebration vinyl (350 EUR) and the Lucky Star 12″ sunglasses sleeve (price unknown).
I managed to score a few cute (and cheap) CD’s from various countries (pictured): The First Album (Germany 1st edition, still sealed), Like a Virgin (original Australian pressing), The Immaculate Collection (original Australian pressing and USA club edition), Ray of Light (South Africa), Remixed & Revisited (South Africa) and I’m Going To Tell You A Secret (Argentina). My favourite purchase is this original large genuine early photograph (not a cheap print).
You can still visit the record fair in Utrecht tomorrow, visit recordplanet.nl for more information
REMINDER – Mega Record & CD Fair | Jaarbeurs Utrecht, The Netherlands November 16 & 17, 2019 (DISCOUNT AVAILABLE)
Are you ready for world’s largest record fair at the Jaarbeurshallen in Utrecht on November 16 & 17? For our visitors we have a special discount code available, but is very limited so be quick: GRTS000455RXP
Buy your tickets and use the code through THIS LINK
Make sure to check your spam box if your tickets haven’t been delivered to your inbox within seconds.
Dear Crate Diggers,
Only one weeks to go before the 52nd Mega Record & Cd Fair will take place at Jaarbeurs Utrecht on Saturday the 16th and Sunday the 17th of November. At this fair cratediggers, vinyl lovers, musicians and over 600 dealers from all over the globe come together to buy records, attend the Omega vinyl auction and several book presentations, watch live performances by George ‘Little Green Bag’ Baker and Robert Jan Stips and visit exhibitions in the field of music. This Autumn, the fair will show a major photo exhibition with pictures made by photographer Frits van Swoll.
We are looking forward to meet you all at the unbeatable Mega Record & CD Fair in Utrecht!
Kind regards, the ARC Team
Many thanks to ARC