Tag Archives: theatre

That’s Entertainment.

First, an apology. I had intended to post long ago, but the fact that I’m rarely home, and when I am I’m doing other things  (O.K. “Call Of Duty”- See “Tin Soldier” coming eventually) means I’m now well behind schedule. Anyhoo….. As regular readers  know  I have made a number of shocking revelations in this blog over the years, and I’m about to add another: I’m not much of a fan of musical theatre. Are  you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.  Some months ago my sweetie informed me of the schedule at the theatre where she works. One show on the list was the Broadway production of Rogers and Hammerstein’s  “Cinderella”. Not my kind of thing by any metric, but as the father of a nine year old daughter, I know on which side my bread is buttered. It was a pretty easy decision as there was no danger of not being able to follow the plot and my daughter  has a penchant for the performing arts. Of course, it did cross my mind that a day out of this nature would win me plenty of credit at the bank of daughterly good will.

We took the boat across in plenty of time and picked up my sweetie who dropped us off before taking my son to the computer museum, so they both got some one on one time that day. I  had some idea of what to expect, but even so I was somewhat taken aback by the gender imbalance of the audience  as there appeared to be a total of about two dozen guys in the 3,000 strong audience, and most of them were grandfathers. Making a quick trip to the bathroom I had my choice of stalls, but across the hall the line for the Ladies seemed to stretch around the block.  This was 1 March, and I’m pretty sure there are still some moms waiting in line. I guess this is what it must have been like when The Beatles were on the Ed Sullivan show, only with higher pitched voices – the audience, I mean, not the performers. I suspect the average age was about twelve, taking into account all the mothers, of course. Tiaras and smart dresses abounded and more than a few of the younger element came in full Cinderella costume. I wonder if there is a theatre equivalent of football’s “Full kit wanker” ie, the guy who turns up to a football (soccer) match wearing not only a replica shirt but also shorts and socks as if somehow expecting to be called onto the pitch in an emergency.  If the leading lady and her understudy had been struck down unexpectedly  there would have been enough six to eight year olds in the audience for a full scale audition without the need for the costume department to worry.

Thankfully this didn’t occur, and the show opened on time. I have to state for those of you who haven’t seen this production that like almost all musical theatre, especially that of the classic R&H era, the show is fluff all the way down. Extremely well produced and engaging fluff, but fluff nonetheless. None of the songs are strong enough to survive outside the show but the production values, costumes and cast were of the highest quality,and for the best part of three hours everyone in the auditorium was lost in the story.   I will admit that I enjoyed myself as it was a very impressive production and Cinderella’s on stage costume changes were stunning in the extreme.  Of course, my daughter was riveted by the show and afterwards remarked that it didn’t seem like an almost three hour performance. It was very enjoyable and even though it is really not my thing at all, it was great to be able to sit back, relax and enjoy the willing suspension of disbelief required for a show like this. I’m not so sure I’d have been as keen to see “South Pacific” or “The Music Man”, but what the heck, who could refuse to take his nine year old daughter to see “Cinderella”?

So there  you have it. I have been to as many musicals as  my daughter who is less than 1/5 my age. I enjoyed the experience immensely and got to see the look of joy my daughter wore for the whole performance. It won’t become a regular experience on my part, but at least I have been spared the horrors inflicted on my sweetie, who as part of her job had to sit through not only “Dirty Dancing” but also “Mama Mia”. Thank Goodness my daughter has never heard of ABBA, although if the music of One Direction is turned into a musical ala Green Day I may be forced to reconsider living within a thousand miles of a stage.

 

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Shakespeare’s Sister.

“School play”. Two words guaranteed to strike dread into the heart of any parent. Usually such events involve sitting through a parade of nervous children clad in badly made cardboard cutouts of various U.S. states, or being subjected to such musical classics as “There Are Four Major Food Groups, Yes There Are”. (I have to add as an aside that my school play experiences involved  performances as Pontius Pilate, a classic example of typecasting if ever there was one, and appearing in blackface. Hey, it was the 70s, and we didn’t know any better, or maybe Catholics just don’t care about such things). Thankfully, this is not so at my son’s school. For the past couple of months the entire sixth grade were involved in a production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Not just the theatrical performance, but an exploration of the characters and their motivations and an exploration and  retelling of the story.

As you can imagine, the theatre was full of expectant parents, each one of them eager to see the fruits of two months’ work by their children. Elizabethan English is difficult at the best of times, but the entire cast gave their best effort in presenting a full blown production. My son is not the most demonstrative of people, so he was well cast as Vulpecula, one of King Oberon’s servants, and it was gratifying to see him throw himself into the role, delivering his lines with confidence and assurance; just what I would expect of him. My daughter is a natural born performer, so she was eager to see the play, and now can’t wait until she is a sixth grader and can participate in a production. She had some difficulty following the plot during the first performance, but at the matinee she got much more from it.

Of course, my Ex was there, with her boyfriend in tow. As I’ve said (see “Creep”), he’s an ignorant, freeloading redneck, so I’m not sure if he was there because he wanted to be, or because she expected him to be there. I have to say, that for the evening performance, he could at least have made the effort to dress up a little,  out of respect for the space, the occasion and the cast. But no, he turned up in his dirty baseball cap and cargo shorts. The first performance was not too bad, as they  were seated on the opposite side of the room, but for the matinee they were directly behind us, partly at my daughter’s behest, and partly due to the restricted options available to them due to their arrival shortly before the start.  While I was at least able to engage in polite conversation with my Ex, he again didn’t even have the grace to say a word.

The kids were with me that weekend, so we had to wait for my son at the stage door. I have to say, that I never expected to hear the words “Your son will be out soon, he’s just removing his makeup”. Needless to say, both of them slept soundly the first night. After the matinee, the cast all headed off to an after party while the parents broke down the set. The stage was disassembled and carried piece by piece to the barn for storage, the lighting removed, and so on. A task that was accomplished with much comradeship and cooperation, although a few more Allen keys would have been nice.

I had expected my son to be running on empty after the party, but  much to my surprise he jumped at the opportunity of a sleepover with some of his friends, the invitation having been extended as my daughter and I drove home. I think that the prospect of playing in the snow the following day was too much for him to resist, and who can blame him? Where he gets the energy from, I don’t know. I guess being 11 has a lot to do with it.

I have to say that I am immensely proud of my son for taking such an active interest in the play. He tends to be on the quiet side, yet when on stage it was as if he was in a different world. I did note some signs of nervousness among some of the cast, which is only to be expected, but he showed none of that. Bravo, son. Encore!

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