Monday, 30 August 2010

Osteria del Toro, Te Aro (30th August 2010)

When I last saw Rissa at the Harem Honey Hunt, she mentioned that her and Ben had planned to celebrate their 2-year anniversary (2-years since they first met) at Osteria del Toro that night but didn’t end up going there for dinner. Hmm, I wonder if they would be keen to do a double dinner date ('they' I mean Rissa actually, for the boys would jump at the idea of having dinner together while us girls tend to save a few special places for dates for two) since I’ve been meaning to bring Jono to the restaurant too as he’s not been there before…I emailed Rissa suggesting the double date and she said yes! Great, so double date it is then :)

I headed over to Osteria del Toro after work around 6pm and Jono was already at the bar ordering us Peroni beers. I like the restaurant, so beautifully decorated giving it such grandeur yet buzzing with chatter and glasses clicking like a busy Italian/Spanish family restaurant. I’ve been here a few times and the last time I stepped foot into this place was probably over a year ago when my buddy Scott was still in NZ. I wasn’t aware the restaurant had a special paella night on Mondays where a giant Valencian-style paella is cooked right in the middle of the restaurant – you can get a paella dish with a Torres wine or St Moritz beer from Barcelona for $25 which was a very good deal. Perhaps that’s why the restaurant was so busy on a Monday night! I hadn’t thought about booking as I wasn’t expecting such a crowd – lucky we were in early and didn’t have to wait to be seated.

Turned out, I was the only person at our table who had been to this restaurant. “Osteria del Toro virgins,” said Jono cheekily. Yes indeed! We chatted and caught up with what has been happening in our lives over our shared entrees of Hummus Dip (chickpeas, sesame and garlic with pita bread) and Spanish Chorizo. Both delicious and frankly, I would have loved more but need to leave room for my main. Several other tables had ordered the Zorba’s Famous Saganaki Cheese (Greek sheep cheese flamed with ouzo) and the staff would all shout ‘Opa!’ at the flash of flames as the waiter/waitress serves the entrée at the respective tables. We’ll have to try this the next time we come here – it sounded and looked really interesting! Us girls had the paella special for our mains (ooo, huge prawns and mussels!) while Ben tried their rabbit dish and Jono had the Fatima Tagine, and we all shared a side serving of vegetables. The paella was very good but I didn’t like the tagine as much as I thought I did. It was my favourite dish at Osteria del Toro though having tried some from Jono’s main tonight, I actually much prefer the Moroccan lamb shank recipe courtesy of Scott - we've made it at home a few times and it always hits the spot. I guess paella is my new favourite now...

Cost each couple around $85 all up for our beers and food, a reasonable price for a restaurant of such class (one would have thought it would cost much more just because the place looked expensive). A great place to come to for special occasions or if you want to impress :)

Osteria Del Toro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

It was a lovely double date and Jono and I got to dodge the rain with a ride home in Rissa’s car (no need to get wet walking from the bus stop home yay!). Thanks Rissa and Ben for the fun evening – let’s catch up again soon!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Harem Honey Hunt (21st August 2010)

Some 3 weeks ago, Catherine Prescott, the creator of Miss Burlesque New Zealand and also Wellington based burlesque dance troupe, The Harem Honeys, asked me to perform at her upcoming event, The Harem Honey Hunt, a competition to seek 2 local female talents to join The Harem Honeys. Yes, finally I’ve got a gig! It has been very quiet in the performing front since my last show at Footlight Follies in April and this would be a good opportunity for me to curb my performing itch AND come up with a new routine too :)

The past 3 weeks had gone past in a flash busy with work and social activities, and with Jono not around most of the week due to his performance in Palmerston North, I made the most of my solo time finding my music, putting my costume together, nutting out the dance routine and rehearsing my dance at Webb St Studios. I had several ideas of what I could do this time round and eventually settled for a kimono dressing gown with a baby pink bow belt (purchased from TradeMe), parasol (bought from Wilkin Formal Wear on Lambton Quay for $19.50), and found a well-known Chinese oldies song from album Shanghai Jazz titled “Gei Wo Yi Ge Wen” (translates to “Give Me A Kiss” and is actually a Chinese cover for the English country tune “Seven Lonely Days” by Patsy Cline) re-recorded with a jazz base that was cheerful and catchy. I had to purchase and have the CD shipped in direct from Sydney from the composer/producer of the album, John Huie himself! I could have used the original version of this Chinese song from the 1950-60s sang by Zhang Lu but the audience would probably cringe listening to the singing of a somewhat high-pitched voice of a now deceased Chinese woman. I’m not sure the audience would appreciate the introduction to Chinese oldies if I had used the original version…

Of course, my costume would not be complete without a trip to see my fabulous milliner, Amy, who made a gorgeously striking headpiece for me to match the costume – it had a huge red hibiscus and even a little butterfly at the side :) It’s funny that every time I see Amy with regards to my costume/routine, she would send me on a shopping task to get other bits and pieces to complete my look. This time, she put me on a task to find stockings and slip-on heels. I had a lesson in the difference between stockings and stay-ups; the former has cloth while the latter has a sticky band at the top and not suitable to use with garters which I had figured out by now after the last few shows using stay-up lace stockings with my garters – what a pain it was to secure the garters to the lace! There’s still SO much to learn for baby burlesque performer me!!

Finally, tonight’s the night where I will be debuting my new dance routine using the parasol – I can’t wait till it’s all done and over with! I know, I know…even though I’m not competing this time, I still can’t help but feel nervous and wonder how the crowd would react to my new performance (or maybe I’m just nervous because Mum’s coming to see my show??). As you all know, my previous routines were focused on dance itself with lots of smiles and making lots of eye contact with the audience, being cute with tease, but most of all, standing out from the other burlesque performers in that I do not take off my clothes. The parasol routine is no exception – just the heels and stockings are coming off! Oh, you wouldn’t believe how much research and practice I had to do to master the art of stocking removal with my teeth!! Thank god for YouTube – one could learn almost ANYTHING and it’s a key source in my research for my routines, make-up and hairdos ;) Frankly, it takes a lot of time, effort and cost for a performance that is only 4 minutes long. It isn’t about the money (I spend more $$ than what I get paid), but love for arts and performing. And I hope the audience would love my performance too, at the very least, brings a smile to their faces from my cute dance ;)

I arrived at Ruby Lounge on Bond St around 6pm for the performers briefing and met several new faces, including another Harem Honey, gorgeous red head Nicole (stage name Ruby Smooch) who will be debuting tonight, the 5 contestants vying for the 2 spots in the Harem Honey troupe, and Shay, MC for the night, better known as drag queen Felicity Frockacinno. It was interesting to have some of them come up to me to shake my hand, having identified me as Shanghai Rose, while others thought I was another competitor. No, no, I’m not competing – once was enough!

I spent the next 3 hours chatting with people as I waited till the show officially started at 9pm. What a long wait – I just want to get it done and over with! Mum arrived around 7.30pm and shortly, Amy and her mum arrived too so I had some company for awhile, us four chatting and laughing together. I’ve previously seen Amy’s mum at WOW – she was one of the pre-show entertainers dressed up as a frumpy lady, telling people off for no particular reason. I wonder what she’ll be doing this year as she too, like me and Amy, would be back helping out at WOW. She’s definitely not mean like frumpy lady but such a joy to be with!

Around 8.30pm, I headed to the dressing room for last minute checks on my attire and make-up before the show. So far, I’ve not performed at a venue that had a proper dressing room – this time it was the male washroom! Ok, I’m no big shot or diva but it would be nice to have a proper dressing room with good lighting and a full-length mirror rather than a tiny washroom and several of us crammed inside trying to get dressed, put on make-up and not bump into one another (or the male urinals that kept flushing when it senses motion). Hmm, perhaps this what they call the performers lifestyle, grungy places to get ready for a shot in the spotlight…Thankfully, I was well-prepared knowing this would happen so had my make-up and hair all done at home. All I need to do now is slip into my kimono dressing gown :) Shay was also in the washroom getting ready for the show and I felt I was invading his space when I had to change in the shared facility, more so than him invading my privacy (changing in front of a man but he’s gay so that shouldn’t matter). He’s totally ok with it so OK!

If you thought having to get ready for a burlesque show is hard work, wait till you watch how a drag queen gets ready. I was in total awe (and apologized for staring) as I watched Shay morph into Felicity – tucking away his man bits, cellophane taping himself from bum to chest so that the bum and chest would protrude and tummy sucked in, the vast amount of make-up on the face and dramatic false eye-lashes, not to mention wearing stocking on the head and sticking on a wig with spirit gum! It took SO much effort just for her to look diva-licious, with friends Shirley and another drag queen, Nikita van der Kamp (she’s Miss Drag Wellington 2010 and also one of the judges) helping out. Even I chipped in to get him ready, looking for things as instructed from his pile of stuff thrown all over the floor. I knew that dressing in drag is hard work but had never imagined it would be this hard until I witnessed it myself today. I salute you, Shay/Felicity! You’re amazing!!

Around 9.30pm, the show finally began with Felicity opening with a song and teasing dance with lots of shimmying that got the crowd cheering wildly. The next performance was by the current Harem Honeys made up of Kimberley Grace, Rosa Belle and Ruby Smooch, followed by my parasol performance, and solo performances by Miss La Belle, Kimberley Grace and Rosa Belle. I’m glad I was the 3rd act – that meant I got to watch the rest of the show! Hehe…I joined Amy and our mums in the audience most of the evening (was stuck in the dressing area till the end of part 1 as I couldn't get past the crowd to where Mum was at), catching up with friends during the breaks. Mum looked so proud of me and like Amy and her mum, they were all showering me with compliments on my performance. Aww, thanks *hugs* This was the first time I had performed at Ruby Lounge and I must say, I’m not a fan of a carpeted stage (and one that also had a pillar/pole slightly off the middle of the stage) – there were several moments where a heel got caught and I had to steady myself, smoothing my moves over and conscious not to show worry on my face but smile as if nothing happened. I also had to be really careful not to get my parasol caught by the drapes on the ceiling – the drapes, though looked classy with the interior design, were impractical from a performers point of view as it heighten moves which meant certain moves didn’t look as obvious as it should (on stage, moves have to be exaggerated so that people sitting far back could see it). But despite its challenges, I would say my performance went well :)

A short 20-minute break and then it was time for the Q&A section where Felicity asked each of the 5 contestants a question, either of their opinion on burlesque or how they felt about becoming part of the Harem Honeys. Amy and I were rather taken aback when one of the girls said that burlesque is about showing a bit of pink. Huh?? That sounded like showing way too much…definitely not what I foresee myself doing in public…Each girl then performed their routine: a pole dance, a fan dance and 3 others performing burlesque dances with use of the chair.

Hey, the woman sitting in front of me is wearing the identical costume I wore for the Miss Burlesque New Zealand competition! Black ruffle knickers with garters strapped on lace stockings and the ivory corset - the only difference was she had a black fascinator and was white i.e. not Asian. How bizarre to find someone copying my look!

Another 20-minute break and more performances followed, this time with Felicity kicking it off, performing her song and dance “Dildos Are Forever”, a rendition to James Bond movie theme song “Diamonds Are Forever” with change in lyrics and actions to suit, getting the audience laughing in stitches. Felicity Frockaccino is a wonderful presenter and totally knows how to rock the party! Next up was a repeat performance of Elevator (ob)Scene by Miss La Belle and Courtenay L’amour (they performed this at the recent Burlesque Masquerade Ball, also held here at Ruby Lounge), Anastasia with her tribal belly dance, Miss Taken (that’s Shirley!) singing “Fever” as Harem Honeys Rosa Belle and Kimberley Grace danced, Ruby Smooch’s debut performance (ooo, love her shinny costume and sultry moves) and Kimberley Grace closing off with her fan and chair dance, the same one she performed at Miss Burlesque New Zealand 2010. Perhaps it would have been a better idea to slot me into the second half of the performances instead of the 3rd act so that it gave more variety (and a break from seeing tassels and knickers) to the show. Towards of the end of the second act, I could feel the audience getting restless, possibly having seen too many performances that all ended with stripping off clothes (someone in the audience shouted “just take it off!” – whatever happened to enjoying the tease?), or perhaps just too many performances altogether so the show felt as if dragging on into the night. Hmm…

It was very clear which 2 girls would win the competition as their performances really stood out. Congrats to Mia Cherie and Athena Di Lure who will now join the Harem Honeys! Both girls did a brilliant job in their respective routines, showcasing their neo-burlesque style performances to alternative/rock music and the crowd loved them :) Look forward to see them in action again soon!

General admission tickets for the show varied from $10 - $25 and as performer, I got 2 free general admission tickets, one for Mum and another for Rissa. Rissa had brought along Ben and Sam as well who all saw my performance – thanks guys for coming! I hope you all enjoyed the show :) Pity Jono couldn’t be here tonight – he has missed every one of my show except the very first one at Dr Sketchy because our show schedules always clash. For those of you who missed out, here’s the YouTube video of my performance taken by Ravi Kambhoj:

Photos taken tonight:

Around 12.30am, the show ended and it was time for me to send Mum home. “Gosh, what would my neighbours think, this lady in her 50s, out partying past midnight!” said Mum and we both cracked up laughing. Hey, fun doesn’t stop with age you know, plus it’s not like you have a curfew at your age, Mum!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

The December Brother (17th August 2010)

Jono and I are off to see another play tonight! I had won a double pass to see play The December Brother at Downstage Theatre from, a Wellington events website. Jono tells me that I’m very good at winning freebies – hehe, that is quite true. Lucky me! And a plus for Jono too because he gets to come along with me to all the events :) Keep the freebies coming in!

Headed over to Cha, one of our regular dining places on Courtenay Place for dinner at 6pm. I like Cha – the food is consistently good and they are speedy so on nights like tonight where we needed a quick eat, Cha’s a good place to go to. They also have a wide range of teas to choose from their drinks menu, from traditional to bubble teas – we would always try a traditional or herbal tea we’ve not ordered previously, curious to find out what a tea that ‘heals internal organs’ or ‘great for circulation’ taste like, often laughing as we read the translated benefits of the teas because some just didn’t quite make sense in English. We tried Long Jing (aka Dragon Well) tea today, a variety of green tea said to be good for the respiratory system (we just think it sounded interesting, not so much its benefits). Jono had a Yang Chou fried rice (Cantonese-style fried rice with barbecued pork, shrimp, eggs and peas) while I had one of my all-time favourites at Cha, Chicken and Salted Fish with Tofu casserole served sizzling in a small claypot with a side serving of rice. Yum!

Headed over to Downstage Theatre at 6.15pm and thank god I picked up our tickets beforehand! A very busy night at the theatre for tonight was a special show with family and friends of the cast as well as students from various art institutions in the audience, plus a ‘meet the cast’ session after the show where the audience could find out more about the play and the actors. A near full house, we were seated 3rd to last row in the stall seats downstairs – not the best seats in the sense I’ve to peer over the head of the person in front of me just to see the front-most part of the stage which is a little annoying…

I wasn’t sure what to expect from The December Brother – I have heard about it some time ago that it was partly based on the David Bain trial (a controversial murder case where Kiwi man David Bain was convicted for murdering his parents and siblings, sentence to 13 years of life sentence and last year, acquitted in a retrial and is now a free man). Hmm, perhaps too serious for a Tuesday night?

The show started at 6.30pm with a pre-show skit of a tired young man on the wheel, driving half asleep and eventually crashing. Very cleverly done where one actor was just the head of the driver, another as the hands on the wheel, and a third person wearing the red sweater. The head would move about as the man drifts in and out of dreamland, abruptly interrupted by bright lights (from a coming vehicle) or a popped balloon (perhaps stirred from his dream or as he drove past a bump). I had thought it was part of the actual play itself but this was just a skit campaigning driving safety by the local council – an innovative way to bring the message across to the public :)

The December Brother is a Seeyd Theatre Company production, written and directed by Tim Spite and had 3 acts in the 2-hour long play. Act one was an adaptation of Tim’s father, Tony Spite’s real life story, who was adopted at birth and went on a search to find his long lost family. The search was fruitful in finding Tony’s half-sibling (rather peculiar that the half-sister first found out about her half-brother through an astrologer’s reading) and biological mother (played by Brad McCormick – yes, a man playing a female role, just the voice and action, not outlook i.e. in dressing) but way too complicated with the mix of half brothers and sisters, and a god-father who later became his step-father, and the god-mother who was also the mother’s cousin, blah, blah…I was utterly lost with who trees up to who and how everyone was related to each other when Tony (played by Tim himself) reiterated the connections for each time as he discovered new pieces of his jigsaw puzzle (can someone sit down with me and actually draw me a family tree??). It was a light-hearted portrayal of Tony’s findings and along the act, the audience had the opportunity to see photos taken throughout Tony’s life of him and his family (existing and newly discovered) on the projection screen. Oh, did I mention Tony Spite was in the audience too? :)

Act 2 was based on the Crown and Defence versions of the David Bain trial. The stage had thick red tapes to show the layout of the rooms in the Bain house and the actors playing family members asleep in their grids i.e. own rooms. The Crown version had David Bain (played by Hadleigh Walker, whom I’ve seen in the movie, The Predicament, at the recent NZ Film Festival) shooting his 5 family members while the Defence version had Robin Bain (David’s father played by Tim), killing his family members and then himself while David was out doing his morning paper run. Both versions showed a full frame-by-frame account of what could have occurred that morning, David/Robin shooting the family members one by one with a rifle, the violent struggle with brother/son Stephen (Brad had to act as if strangled by his own shirt when he fought Hadleigh and later Tim), the washing of blood-stained clothes in the washing machine (there was a brief moment of full frontal nudity as Tim had to take off all his clothes – I suppose older men i.e. Robin Bain in this instance, do not wear boxers or brief under their track pants…), David/Robin leaving a note on the computer that stated “sorry, you are the only one who deserved to stay”, and David shooting Robin or Robin shooting himself, before a devastated David rang 111 in great distress to report the deaths in the house.

A 15-minute interval followed after Act 2 and Jono and I went to the bar to get some ice-cream as we continued to discuss the David Bain trial. Frankly, it is difficult to pinpoint if it was the son or father who conducted the mass murder (the account of events as portrayed in Act 2 showed clearly that the actual story can sway either way and with all the other Bains dead, that didn’t help David’s claim of his innocence) and one has got to be severely estranged with his own family or momentarily insane to shoot all your blood ties in one go. I feel sorry for David Bain who has to remember such a horrific event for the rest of his living days, whether he was the murderer or not.

Back to our seats and the thick red tapes from before now had jars and jars of yellow-coloured liquid in them. Hmm, I wonder what they are for…The final act was a dramatic tie together of the two contrasting stories from Act 1 and 2 in a fictitious story of a woman learning she was adopted (played by Nikki MacDonnell) and how, in the search for her family discovered the dark secret of her prisoner half-brother (played by Brad), that it was he who killed both his parents. Brad also played the role of the eccentric mother who had a detailed diary of urine samples (so that was what the jars represent – they aren’t really urine samples, really, just coloured water) and ideas that her husband was the devil. Tim got the audience laughing in stiches when he was the gay Defence lawyer and also the aunt in this act. I nearly peed myself in hysterical laughter watching Tim pretend to be an old woman who was so happy to have visitors but had much trouble bending down to take a seat (and it didn’t help that Hadleigh keep accepting the old lady’s offers of tea and biscuits, making the old lady get up again, shuffling to the kitchen and repeat a whole exercise of getting her bum to the chair). Oh, it was just SO funny!

Given it was only the 2nd show of the season (show season from 14th August till 11th September), the cast did an excellent job and though there were minor errors in the lines spoken which the actors very quickly corrected, the performance had a smooth transition and I was most impressed with how the sound and lighting collaboration with the actors’ movements were exactly on time (there were hardly any actual props used – almost all were movements with ‘imaginary’ props). The actors were able to play their multiple roles (most times, the boys had to play female roles) amazingly and remember so many lines! Though thought-provoking, it definitely was not as dark or too serious as I’ve first thought – the show got quite a lot of laughs out of the audience too, and me, of course :) I strongly recommend that you check out the play – it is one not to be missed!

My high school classmate, Meng Li said in her last email that she reckons amongst our friends, I live the most colourful life. Hmm, I must admit, my life is rather colourful, with lots of interesting happenings, events to go to, places to visit, people I meet etc…and I LOVE it! Better still, I’ve got someone I love who enjoys the same lifestyle too :)

Oh, and this is the final week of rehearsals before my parasol performance on Saturday. Hope the audience would enjoy my new routine! I think it’s rather cute ;P

Friday, 13 August 2010

Maureen's leaving do (13th Friday 2010)

Today is Maureen’s last day in our team – this is the 2nd team co-ordinator that is leaving us and it is sad to see her go. Maureen’s taken over many of the administrative and financial day-to-day tasks I once did when I first started work in Telecom which I’ve subsequently passed on to her due to my role change to a data analyst. She’s a bubbly spark and always brings sunshine to the office – we’ll miss you, Maureen! Must keep in touch!!

As part of her leaving do, Nicky’s organised a game of mini-golf for the team at 4pm today. I had no intention of playing and was planning to take photographs but got roped in last minute by Nicky as she needed another person to make up the numbers for the teams. Ok, ok, I’ll play! The course of 5 holes was set on our floor with different obstacles, all cleverly architected by Nicky’s husband Matt (fyi, her hubby is Matthew Bell, local cricket team player). 5 teams of 4 people each were randomly put together and each team had to come up with a team name. I was in team Triple Bogeys (Luke’s ingenious name for the team) with boys Luke, Jesse and Jai. We were then randomly paired in our teams so that a pair each from 2 teams will play the course together (mainly to prevent cheating in scores). Jesse and I were paired up to play against Michael and Wilson from team The Sultans of Swing (haha!). Oh, and did I mention I’ve NEVER played mini-golf before? This shall be interesting…

So us 4 started off at Hole 2: The Boardroom, trying to hit the ball with a putter in 6 shots so that the ball would go around the meeting table and attempted to hit it into the hole. Gah, why wouldn’t you go in??! I nearly got my first ball into the hole but hit it a bit too hard and it went past the hole instead! Grr…Hole 1: Playtime worked out much better for me, using kids golf clubs and having to manoeuvre past stuff toys which posed as obstacles to get to the hole. I got my ball in within 3 hits! Yay!!

The most challenging (but fun!) hole was Hole 5: Water Hazard. Matt had set up a ramp, two buckets of water and a net at the end of it. The goal was to hit the tennis ball (yep, tennis ball) hard enough that it’ll head up the ramp, miss the water and into the net. Right, if it was only that easy…the number of times I watched the balls (mine included) go up the ramp and off swimming…Some of the boys did pretty well, getting a hole in one!

The game continued on with lots of laughter and noise all round the floor – everyone was having a great time and most have forgotten that we were still in the office (the office had turned into a playground). Hole 4: The Back Door was located by my manager, Chris’ desk (thankfully he’s gone home), where we had to putt the ball into one of the coloured rings to gain minus points towards our scores (in this game, the less strokes/score, the better). 3 strokes for me again! I’m starting to get the hang of it :) And the final hole, Hole 3: Under The Radar – you couldn’t even tell where the hole was on the other side of the divider so we had to take a rough guess, putt the ball and hope it stops within the boundaries of the bright yellow “Caution” tape. Hmm, not so well on this one…eee…

Our scores are then tallied up and Team Four Play (Jeremy, Ashvin, Frans and Steve) won overall – congrats! Drinks and pizza followed after the game. I’m glad I gave it a go – it was fun! Photos taken at mini-golf:

With Jono not around this weekend, I had better wisely spend my time nutting out this new dance routine I’m debuting at my upcoming performance next Saturday. Still needs quite a bit of work to get the moves polished and perfected!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

The Great Gatsby (11th August 2010)

Jono’s taking me to see the play The Great Gatsby at Circa Theatre tonight – yay! I love plays :) Went to his office around 5.30pm to have leftovers for dinner together. Mum and I have been ‘passing the parcel’ these days, swapping food we’ve made extra for ourselves with each other, and tonight’s dinner was her stir-fry noodles which we heated up and ate at the communal kitchen at Jono’s office. “Hmm, I’m still hungry…” said Jono. The meal wasn’t enough for two so we made a quick stop at Enigma on Courtenay Place for coffee and cake before walking over to Circa Theatre for the 6.30pm show.

The play was an adaptation of the novel, The Great Gatsby, written by American writer, F. Scott Fitzgerald about the chronicles of life in American society post-World War I. Cost us $38 each and the queue was all the way from the ticketing counter to the front door when we arrived, 15 minutes before the show started. Luckily, we had already booked out tickets in advance! I was quite surprised to find such a crowd for a mid-week show, mostly elderly folk with a few dressed up in the 1920s era to suit the theme.

The show was 2 hours long with a 15-minute interval and started off with jazz music played on the grand piano on stage, accompanied by the sultry voice of one of the female actors singing and Ray Henwood narrating throughout the play (he was playing the role of older Nick Carraway, retelling stories from his past). Younger Nick (played by Guy Langford) comes from an aristocratic family and was finding his ways in business and life after returning from serving in the war. He found himself settling in Long Island, New York, renting a bungalow next to a mansion of the wealthy yet mysterious Jay Gatsby (played by Nathan Meister), a man known for throwing lavish parties for the hundreds in his residence. Nick also stumbles into the life of his second cousin, Daisy (played by Miranda Manasiadis), a wealthy, pampered yet troubled woman, married to Tom (played by Paul Harrop, whom we had seen in The Nero Show), who Nick soon learns from Daisy’s friend, a well-known female golfer, Jordon (played by Erin Banks, previously seen in The Clean House), that Tom has a mistress named Myrtle (played by Jessica Robinson) in New York City. Gatsby turned out to have once fallen in love with Daisy and still hoping she would return to him. He befriended Nick and had him arrange for Daisy and Gatsby to meet at Nick’s house, and subsequently rekindled their love and the affair began. Oh, but Tom, having first-hand experience in extra-marital affairs comforts them, informing Gatsby that Daisy no longer loves him and this was the end of their little affair. In another household, Wilson (played by Danny Mulheron), Mrytle’s husband, also suspects his wife having an affair and in an argument, Mrytle runs outside to the road as Daisy and Gatsby in their depressed state approached in their vehicle, hit and killed Mrytle instantly. A complicated story of love affairs and hatred where no one wins, ending with heartache and death.

I love Ray Henwood’s voice, so deep and soothing, and I’m really impressed how the old man can remember that many lines! Danny Mulheron entertained us on the piano, flitting between the role of the pianist, Wilson and several other characters speaking in different accents. He was amazing! All 8 actors played their multiples roles brilliantly, with singing and jazz dancing in between acts that tickled our hearts, and very clever use of props too! The show season runs from 31st July – 28th August so there’s still 2 weeks left to check it out (and for you to find out the full story of the play). I highly recommend it!

Thanks Jono for taking me to the play xoxo :)

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Meeting of the mums (10th August 2010)

My mum’s meeting Jono’s mum tonight!! Cheryl’s in town for the day and suggested catching up over dinner before she headed back to Palmy and invited my mum to come along. Eek, I’ve never had my mum meet the bf’s mum before! Strangely, I’m not as nervous as I was when Jono first met Mum, perhaps because that meeting went well (that’s all that matters, isn’t it, Mum liking Jono and they get along? :P) and given both Cheryl and Mum are easy-going folks with a good sense of humour AND spoke a common language despite the different accents, they would get on ok. Jono, on the other hand, seemed more nervous about the meeting of the mums when I asked him how he felt, haha! I’m sure it’ll be alright :)

The four of us went over to Satay Kajang on Dixon Street around 6pm for dinner. I’ve not been here for a long time and since Jono was keen to have Malaysian tonight, I suggested coming here as it was near his office. Satay Kajang is slightly more expensive compared to your normal day Malaysian restaurant, with mains starting from $10 and they serve alcohol too (the extra cost goes towards ambience and alcohol license). We were the first lot of customers in the restaurant but shortly, more tables were filled with hungry patrons. Over a shared starter of mixed satay, our individual mains (I had their kuey teow) and drinks, we chatted and laughed over all sorts. And the mums did pretty well, getting to know each other, happily chatting away and sharing stories of their lives and travels. I looked across the table to catch Jono’s eyes who was also beaming back at me – I’m glad it’s going so well :)

I was once told that Satay Kajang was (still is?) the roti chanai supplier to all other Malaysian restaurants in town. Food should be pretty good then, one would think but disappointingly the food was not as good as I had expected for the price we paid. It was average; I’ve had better for the same price (or cheaper!). Felt somewhat bad as I was the one who suggested the place – not how I would have liked Cheryl’s introduction to Malaysian cuisine. Will have to bring Cheryl to better Malaysian restaurant another day!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Walk along Makara beach (8th August 2010)

Ah, a sunny day! Time to get up and out for a walk!! Got Jono out of bed around 10am to have pancakes for breakfast and shower, and around 11.30am, headed out on a scenic drive to Makara beach for a short walk in the sun. I’ve been to Makara beach several times with Claus and Chris previously but Jono's never been to Makara beach before – a first for him! :)

Makara beach is usually quiet as it is exposed to strong winds (I’ve driven here in the past with the intention to do a walk but ended up driving back as it was too windy) but it was calm today and lots of people were out on a walk along the beach too. Dogs of all sorts were running happily along the shore, stopping now and again to sniff on rocks and the occasional dead carcass. Jono caught a dog chewing on a disgusting fish carcass (eww…) – the dog owner realised this when she heard Jono calling out ‘hey, no!’ at her dog and ordered her dog to ‘drop it’ though the dog seemed adamant to keep its new-found treasure and wouldn’t let go. A few curious ones came by to play with us and we saw a little scruffy 3-legged dog that despite its handicap was a very happy and excited little thing, running alongside his young master. As I watched the dog owners and their dogs enjoy their beach walk together, I couldn’t help but suddenly yearn to have a dog too. There was just a special unexplainable relationship between man and dog, a bond/love of pure devotion. Hmm, but I think I’ll need a house that can fit a dog first…

We did a leisurely 1.5-hour return walk from the parking lot till a bit over Wharehou Bay, stopping to skim pebbles (I can never do it – mine goes ‘plop’ into the water!), take photos and admire nature along the way. We had to walk and occasionally climb through rocks once we went past the end of the walking track – Jono got me to climb up a massive rock where we sat together soaking in the sun and panoramic view. Ah, this is just wonderful – I love the outdoors especially when the sun’s out and of course, spending time with my baby :)

Gee, we’re pretty high up, babe…Me and my short legs are of no help with rock climbing, having to super stretch out and heave myself to reach the next step. And when I was beginning to relax sitting high up on the rock, Jono decided it was time to continue on our walk and headed down first without me. Hey, come back! How am I going to get down the rock now??! Managed to climb down the same way I went up (climbing up was way easier than down) with Jono standing nearby to catch me in case I slipped (thank you!).

Around 2pm, we began heading back towards the car and stopped at Café Makara, the only café in the area for coffees and shared a chicken cranberry and brie Panini for lunch before heading home. The café was packed and we had to keep an eye out for a table indoors (the ones indoors had a clear view towards the sea). Quick, quick, those people are leaving! Hmm, you know, this place could do with some refurbishing…we both agreed that the café looked rather run-down and could do with some work. Perhaps they didn’t see the need to since they were the only café opened in the area – why bother when they are getting 100% of the customers anyway?

This was the only weekend Jono is in town for he’ll be spending the next 2 weekends in Palmy (and most of the week actually) as the Jesus Christ Superstar musical opens next week – it was really nice to have Jono all to myself and spend a fun and enjoyable sunny Sunday outdoors with him :) Photos taken during our walk today: