Grease Capetown

Jan Leeming

Shoreham 2007

Shoreham Airshow 2007
Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.



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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.


Date: 13th March 2010


We always take advantage of the excellent Artistic fare which is always on offer at one or other of the many excellent theatrical establishments in and around Cape Town.  A few years ago we saw Phantom at the Artscape Theatre.  Phantom is one of the few Lloyd Webber Musicals I like and have seen it half a dozen times in London.  But I must say, the production out here was more enjoyable.  It was faithful to the London staging but we were able to hear every word.

Wish I could say the same about Grease which we saw last week.  There was great enthusiasm and I'm sure a lot of talent but WHY OH WHY does no one teach these performers to enunciate - I'm not asking for the fruity voices of Opera singers but it would be nice to have some idea what they are singing and talking about - in fact the dialogue was worse than the singing.  At least with the songs, we know them from years gone by so we could just enjoy the general effect but with the dialogue it was almost impossible to work out what they were talking about - the young lady playing Patty spoke so quickly and elided her words to the extent that you had no idea what she was saying.  Mind you, I must say that OVER AMPLIFICATION does exacerbate the problem.  These days, performers don't rely on their own lungs - they not only have personal microphones but they are further amplified by the Sound System. Actually I coined a name for this kind of singing over 20 years ago - the Andrew Lloyd Webber nasal screech.  If you are a singer you should use your breathing technique, lungs,  and your mouth as an amplifier but you can get a much higher note - albeit more tinny - by amplifying nasally - I don't know how better to describe it. 

In fact my feeling were born out this week by an article in the International Express entitled 'Is Music Making us Deaf' and it dealt with over-amplification and the fact that 'a host of rock stars who were exposed to amplified music earlier in their careers now suffer from hearing  problems including Phil Collins and Pete Townshend'

It's been going on for a good 30 years or more.  At a time when I read News in the UK and went to innumerable Charity Balls in the West End, I often found myself unable to talk to the person next to me because of immense over-amplification of the music.  You could feel the vibrations through your chest as you can when the occasional youngster pulls up alongside you at traffic lights with music absolutely blaring from a ghetto blaster type car radio.  I used to be astonished at the height and number of Sound Amplifiers on the Stages at places like The Hilton, The Grosvenor and The Mayfair.  I wondered even then if the sound engineers had partial deafness and that's why they so grossly over amplified the sound.

There was a criticism some months ago in a British newspaper with regard to Speech content in films and TV.  The worst offenders are the Americans but even our films and TV are falling into the same trap.  I contend that the Director, Editors, Sound-men, Actors and Actresses are so used to the script that they forget the audience only have one 'go at it'.  We are not conversant with the script and have to pick up the nuance of the story from that with which we are presented - and all too often that's muffled, or lazy speech.  I'm not asking for a return to the incredibly 'posh' voices and vowels of the Upper Classes and the BBC in the 50's and 60's but there must be a compromise between that and the sloppy speech of today.

(On I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, they have a team who have to transcribe everything which the Celebrities say - at the Wrap Party several young ladies came up and said how pleased they were that they'd had no trouble understanding me)  Speech is communication and that communication is hampered if people gabble or don't enunciate properly.  On a recent Come Dine with Me, Javeen referred to me as 'Posh' - I'm not Posh, I just speak clearly and most people understand me.

It is so lovely to have my computer back and working.  I really felt as though I was without a limb for a fortnight. 

Bye for now,  Jan

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