Uncle Vanya has opened!

I’m late to the party (been busy here) but this past Thursday Uncle Vanya, the new play Richard Armitage is in, has opened at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London. There was a press night and all. Leading up to the evening, Richard had posted this picture on his Instagram account:

2020 RA running in NYC

He was running to the press night, he said in the caption. I very much like this image! The handsomeness, the action, the jumping hair, the black and white, and even the plaid suit. He seems to quite like plaid now (see pics down below!).

Guylty has got RA net up and running after it’s recent move to another hosting platform (it’s looking great on first glimpse, Guylty, THANK YOU!) and has collected the reviews for the play there under the 24th January 2020 entry: http://richardarmitagenet.com/news/. Most reviews give the play 4 or 5 stars, and I saw one or two 3 star reviews. All around, this is sounding excellent!

2020-0123 Uncle Vanya opening night stage 01

After recently declaring he’s way past taking his shirt off in productions, Richard does take his shirt off in Uncle Vanya again after all! It does seem to be one of the highlight scenes of the play – not due to the shirtlessness, I understand, but due to the drunken mood in the scene that apparently contains a lot of humour (and yes, below I also cropped the image of Richard with his shirt off, couldn’t resist).

2020-0123 Uncle Vanya on stage2020-0123 Uncle Vanya on stage - RA no shirt cutout

Nope, I don’t quite see that dad bod you mentioned having, Mr Armitage! Joking aside, the play does seem to have a magic mix of drama and humour, which really makes me look forward to it even more.

There was an afterparty celebrating the play’s opening night with some nice images of the cast and Richard in another plaid suit.

2020-0123 Uncle Vanya opening night 012020-0123 Uncle Vanya opening night 03

I wasn’t too fond of it to begin with (I quite like the plaid but wasn’t sure about the green), but I admit that the suit has grown on me somewhat.

More pictures with cast members (click on images to enlarge)…

… with everyone looking very happy, as they should after such a successful night! In a month I will be able to see this for myself and I am already really looking forward to it. Not just because of Richard and the play sounding very good, but I’m really excited to see Ciarán Hinds and Toby Jones as well! I loved Ciarán in Persuasion and Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day and some other things I have seen him in and Toby is forever planted in my heart because of his work in The Painted Veil. Just four more weeks to wait before I head off to London…

Mrs Maisel, The Stranger & Uncle Vanya

It’s been pretty busy here with little time for blogging this past week. Besides work and family I’ve been binge-watching The Marvelous Mrs Maisel which I liked not quite as much as I had anticipated but I still did really enjoy it. I love that it’s all set in Jewish families at the end of the 1950s/beginning 60s and I really enjoy the every day humor (more than the stand up routines). My fave characters are Susie Myerson (played so brilliantly by Alex Borstein, in the left picture on the left) and Abe Weissman (played by Tony Shalhoub) who is Midge Maisel’s (Rachel Brosnahan’s) dad.

But Mrs Maisel is really just a side note here. I didn’t start this post to talk about that show, I came to gush about the one and only Richard Armitage and his new projects!

Yesterday a more extended trailer for his Netflix series The Stranger dropped:

I’ve gotta say, it really does look good! After the Berlin Station hype (a show I never really enjoyed despite the hype) I have been cautious to get excited about this project. However, after seeing the trailer I have got to say, my expectations have really risen! The Netflix page is already there, looks like this for me:

Netflix The Stranger RA

Guess I know what I’ll be doing with my evenings in two weeks time. It’ll be the first thing I watch on Netflix after watching and re-watching Anne with an E (which still needs to get renewed! Come on, get with the program, Netflix!).

Not only The Stranger is looking good! Richard’s play Uncle Vanya has opened in London this week and the first whisperings are also sounding very good. It’s looking beautiful too.

2020-0117 Uncle Vanya 012020-0117 Uncle Vanya 03

And some really nice and beautifully dramatic stage stills were released today; I just love the look of that decor and the costumes. Here are the images Richard is in (click on images to enlarge)…

I am also very curious to see Toby Jones and Ciaran Hinds. I don’t know Rosalind Eleazar but she does look lovely here.

Servetus has already been to 3 performances of Uncle Vanya, she wrote about them here, here and here. Guylty has written about stage door experiences here and here. There has been some sharing on Twitter, among others by the lovely Linda Sechzig (one of my partners in crime when we saw Richard in Newcastle two years ago)…

And now more than ever I am looking forward to next month, when I get to see all this for myself in London! I will only be going to one show (yeah, just can’t do more, I have a family budget to consider) but one is far better than none, right? This Richard Armitage year is starting out really well. 🙂

Deadpool & Anne of Green Gables

Yeah, sounds weird but there’s a reason these two are mentioned together. A week ago actor Ryan Reynolds tweeted about Anne with an E needing to be renewed:

I’m not a fan but when I see Ryan Reynolds in something I like him, he’s a huge name and having his endorsement has made the Anne fandom giddy with excitement. What I loved best is all the Deadpool movie references that are being made in picture edits. I haven’t seen Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool yet, even though my son tells me I should, but I am planning to in time. Amybeth McNulty, who plays Anne, apparently enjoyed the endorsement as well…

And fans didn’t fail to respond. Some of my fave picture reactions:

There were also some final episode ones that I enjoyed, but I didn’t want to spoil those here.

Today singer Sam Smith tweeted about loving Anne with an E.

Will that result in Sam Smith / Anne fan videos? I’ll check out YouTube soon and see. 🙂

Anne with an E, anyone?

I have always loved Anne of Green Gables. I first really learned about it when I saw the two TV movies with Megan Follows during my teens back in the mid-1980s (Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Green Gables: the Sequel). I adored them and over the years have come back to them again and again. I have read the books (albeit a long time ago) and thought nothing could top those 1980s adaptations. I loved Anne and I loved Anne with Gilbert and her long journey to finally realise that they belonged together. Here’s a fan video someone made to refresh the memory:

Then a year or two ago on Netflix I saw that there was a new adaptation called Anne with an E, which I thought could never top the Anne adaptations I already loved. I was curious, however, and decided to give it a chance. It promised to be an adaptation with more grit and yes, I can confirm that it is. Anne, after she comes to Marilla and Matthew, is traumatized by her childhood in her periods at the orphanage and families who couldn’t love her and put her to work. The story is the same, the characters are basically the same, but yet it’s also very different. Also, as this is a real TV series (with 7 episodes in the first season and 10 in the second), Anne with an E has much more time than those TV movies to delve deeper into Anne and her world.

annewithane flower crown

The story of Anne with an E strays from the books, most notably in Gilbert’s storyline at first, but in the rest of the story too. The stories touch on issues of trauma, bullying, sexual identity, racism, loss, feminism and even educational reform and yet also weaves seamlessly back into the Anne stories we already know, with her imagination and love of storytelling at the heart of her character. It’s Anne at the end of the 19th century but also adapated to modern age issues. It’s not a hit with everyone, I understand (considered too liberal, I guess?), but it is a hit with me. Is it better that 1980s Anne? I honestly couldn’t say! They are two very different adaptations with the same core and I just love them both.

Anne with an E Cuthberts

Amybeth McNulty makes a great Anne, I love Lucas Jade Zumann as Gilbert…

Anne-With-An-E-Gilbert-1411085Anne with an E

and I also love Geraldine James as Marilla and R.H. Thomson as Matthew.

Anne with an E Marilla Matthew

Anne’s bosom friend is of course Diana Barry, played by Dalila Bela…

Anne Diana

… and another friend, naive Ruby Gillis (played by Kyla Matthews), really cracks me up every time with her dreamy mooning over Gilbert…

Season 2 introduced the new character of Sebastian Lacroix, called Bash, from Trinidad (played by Dalmar Abuzeid) who becomes Gilbert’s best friend. He’s a delightful character.

There’s a great New York Times article on the show, with many more insights, should you care to read it. Here’s a trailer for season 1 of the show…

… and for season 2:

I recently checked back to see when a season 3 would finally happen and it turns out that season 3 has recently started airing in Canada! So, I’m tapping into that now with great excitement. The trailer for season 3:

As Anne and Gilbert grow older the story matures for them and so far the first 3 episodes have been so great that I have started making videos again! Should you want to see them (beware of spoilers!), they are over on the separate Anne with an E page I have set up under the Fan videos section on this site. The most recent, third episode was particularly heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time. I am now seriously and feverishly awaiting each new episode. With Suits now ended, I guess this is my new obsession!

Suits – the end!

Suits has now officially wrapped. I watched the finale and have got to admit to wiping away a tear or two. Yes, I’m going to do a whole recap here, with loads and loads of pictures (most of them my own screencaps), just so that I can relive the whole finale again and again whenever I choose to. 🙂 Click on the smaller images to enlarge them, they’re all worth it, I promise. And read on at your own peril, there will be lots of finale spoilers from here on in!

The 10th episode of the 9th season begins with Harvey Specter talking to Faye Richardson, the evil woman now overseeing the lawfirm, who has just fired one of the senior partners, Katrina. He (Gabriel Macht) comes home to Donna Paulsen (Sarah Rafferty), and she is able to distract him for the night…

The next day there’s an argument with Faye (ruthlessly portrayed by Denise Crosby) and that evening Harvey goes to see Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams, a most welcome guest-starring role!) and they concoct one last con to get rid of Faye.

Mike discusses the plan with Samantha Wheeler (Katherine Heigl) and Robert Zane (Wendell Pierce).

Alex Wheeler (Dulé Hill) involves Katrina Bennett (Amanda Schull).

Harvey discusses the con with Donna and Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman) at the office.

And Louis approaches Gretchen Bodinksi (played by awesome Aloma Wright) for help.

Harvey then approaches Donna alone. He has some doubts and wants to check with her. “You’ve always been my compass,” he tells her. She says she’s with him all the way and he then tells her about an ace he has in the hole should the con not end as planned. He will only pull that ace if Donna is in it with him. What that ace is, we don’t find out yet.

The first part of the plan is set in motion, with Katrina threatening Faye, and Faye isn’t happy and threatens Harvey. Harvey tells Donna they’ll have to move fast.

The next day the showdown with Faye begins, with Mike and Samantha coming in to play their part, staging a fight with Harvey.

Faye hastily and in anger, without reading, signs a paper that Gretchen has swapped during the heated debate, incriminating herself. The team start to gloat but Faye won’t back down (man, she’s a tough cookie!).

Harvey then asks to speak to her alone and gives Donna a long look before everyone leaves the conference room. You just know he’s going to play that “ace in the hole”. We still don’t find out what that ace is, though. Not yet.

Harvey then goes to the waiting team, exchanges an “it is done” look with Donna, and assures everyone that Faye Richardson is now indeed out. When asked how he did it, he enigmatically replies that he’s the best closer in town and that all they need to know is that he closed that deal.

Donna gives a litte rousing speech about how they all love each other and are family and that they won this because they stuck together, before they all head out for celebratory drinks.

All of this is wrapped up halfway through the episode, so I’m betting on good things coming up for our main characters for the rest of the episode and I wasn’t disappointed!

So, next we see Louis at his therapist’s office. Louis asks Dr. Stan Lipschitz (really brilliantly portrayed by Ray Proscia) to stop being his therapist and be his friend instead so that Stan can officiate Louis’ wedding. When Louis says that he can find another therapist should he need one in the future Stan says drily in an aside “that’s for sure!” I just cracked up at that.

We then cut to see Louis nervously pacing on his wedding day. Harvey comes to distract him and rile him up saying Louis isn’t “the prince of England” (nice little side joke, considering both actors attended the real prince of England’s wedding a year and a half ago) and that he looks like “Mr Peanut”. Donna then comes in, asking whether the distraction worked. If Louis is worked up about something else he will more easily accept that Donna is stepping in for bride Sheila’s sister as the sister is stuck somewhere.

Louis does accept the change of sister to Donna and then Harvey and Donna walk down the aisle. As Harvey takes Donna’s arm he says in an aside to her “Don’t get any ideas about us doing this anytime soon”. Donna laughs and tells him now’s not the time as they both then walk down the aisle together, looking every bit a bridal couple. The voice-over is Dr. Lipschitz talking about how two people that are perfect for each other have found each other. He’s talking about Louis and his bride Sheila but you just know those words hold true for Harvey and Donna as well. By the way,  I just adore Donna’s dress here, it’s so beautiful!

The guests look on curiously, with Mike seated next to his father-in-law Robert Zane. Mike’s wife & Robert’s daughter, Rachel (Meghan Markle), is alas absent from the cast for this finale episode, although at the end she does pop up 2 or 3 times in flashbacks.

Suits S09E10 finale (78) Suits_gallery_910_DuleHill_AmandaSchull_PatrickJAdams_WendellPierce_KatherineHeigl_25_1920x1080

The wedding ceremony also has some Dr. Lipschitz versus Louis ex-therapy banter that’s so funny that Harvey and Donna exchange a grin. Louis is marrying Sheila Sasz (pronounce that out loud quickly and you can understand why that’s a funny name, portrayed by Rachael Harris) who is 9 months pregnant.

And yes, of course the wedding is disrupted by Sheila’s water breaking! They rush through the vows and then head away for the hospital.

Louis, ever prepared, had arranged an ambulance on standby.

Meanwhile, back at the wedding reception, the party understandably ain’t hoppin’. Mike joins Donna and Harvey at their table, wondering what could make the party better.

And then Harvey has an idea, so he grabs Donna’s hand.

Yes,  you guessed it, he proposes to a totally surprised Donna!

He asks her to marry him right here, right now and she says of course she’ll marry him…

… but what about their families and a dress? He tells her she already looks gorgeous and they can do it again for their families. He doesn’t want to waste any more time.

“But what about rings? We don’t have any rings?” Donna asks. We as an audience already know that Harvey has his recently deceased mother’s ring in his pocket. And sure enough, he produces that. Awwwww!

They kiss in total happiness, with Darvey-shipper Mike looking on with a smile…

… and then get up, with Harvey announcing to everyone that there will be another wedding that day!

Mike butts in to congratulate and tell them he won’t be officiating as he isn’t licensed (little joke referencing his unlicensed time as a lawyer during the first 5 seasons of Suits).

Meanwhile in the hospital things aren’t going so well. Sheila and her baby are in danger and need to be taken in for an emergency c-section.

We hear Harvey speak in a voice-over, talking about not letting chances pass you by because a loved one can be snatched away from you in a second (like his mom recently was). It’s touching how those words are both joyful (in the wedding case) as well as angsty (in the endangered life of mother and child case). We cut back to the wedding where Donna and Harvey are ready to be married. They speak of their love for each other…

… meanwhile we go back to Louis who hears he has a baby daughter and all is well after all with mother and child. Oh, the joy and relief!

Now we can really celebrate as Harvey and Donna finally say “I do” and exchange rings!

Then Harvey may kiss his bride…

They then face their guests and news is also shared that Louis had a baby girl.

Donna tells Harvey she’d like to go see Louis. Harvey says, “And we will, but right now I want to dance with my wife.”

Harvey and Donna walk to the dancefloor. In passing Harvey and Mike briefly clasp hands and that’s when the tears came for me. Even though Mike left at the end of season 7, to me he and Harvey are still the heart of the show, together with Donna.

The dance, to Ed Sheeran’s song Perfect, is just beautiful and touching and yes, perfect. You just know that these two really will be together forever. After all they have been though, in all those years, they can weather anything.

We then cut to Louis, who meets his baby girl for the first time. We learn her name will be Lucy.  Oh, so sweet!Suits S09E10 finale (268)

Harvey and Donna, still in their festive clothes, come to meet the new baby. The way Donna adores the baby and Harvey and Donna share smiles, you can’t help but think this will be in their future as well!

Then we finally find out about the “ace in the hole”, the ace that helped remove Faye: Harvey and Donna are leaving the firm and moving to Seattle where Mike and Rachel live. Harvey is going to work with Mike at his firm! Harvey has sacrificed himself for the good of the firm, yet he also likes where he’s going, together with Donna. “I wanna do for the good guys for a change,” he says. It’s bittersweet. Harvey and Mike will be happily ever after together (yay!) but that means leaving Louis. But rest assured, they will always “be family” Donna says.

Now the real ending comes. We have Harvey and Donna back in the office, overlooking the ‘bullpen’ where the young and upcoming lawyers work. They are at peace with their choice to leave.

Harvey sees Mike in his office and a lovely reference is made to the pilot episode where Mike came in for a job interview with Harvey. Now the tables are turned and Harvey mock-applies for a job with Mike, using the same lines Mike had used so many years ago. Now that was just a lovely, full-circle moment!

We get to see another lovely moment where the remaining partners deservedly make Katrina the newest name partner.

And we get a brief moment of Sheila with baby Lucy.

Suits S09E10 finale (319)

This is the last day at the firm and Harvey is sitting pensively in his office. Donna comes in, tells him it’s time to go. He wants a few moments alone, “I’ll see you at home,” she says. He then tells her he could never had done any of this without her, Donna smiles as she leaves.

She walks to the elevator and sees Louis standing there, who is on his way to go see his wife and baby daughter.  As they get into the elevator together you see that on the wall Harvey’s name Specter has already been removed. Donna and Louis wordlessly hold hands as the elevator closes.

Harvey is still in his office, pensive, as images of former times come by on the screen.

He then picks up one of the basketballs in his office, has a last sip of whiskey…

… and off he goes into a new future.

Fade to black and this dedication…

Suits S09E10 finale (357)

… and I’m sitting there, blinking away a tear and very satisfied with how this show has wrapped up. Especially Harvey’s journey has been a wonderous one to me, seeing a hard-nosed, tough lawyer finding his own humanity and vulnerability. I’m totally good with this happily ever after. Thank you Suits team for this wonderful show! I’m going to miss it…