Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Shows and Showers

Well, it is another rainy Monday and back to the grind. After a wonderful holiday weekend, it has been back to work, back to doing dishes, back to the gym, and back to food made without butter or bacon. The march to Christmas begins now. I had a very nice visit with my aunt this weekend, and we got to do lots of fun things. On Friday, we caught the special matinee showing of Finian's Rainbow. Given my student rush ID-status, we had tickets up in the box (where u get to sit in a real seat, not the folding theater contraption) for only $27 a piece (what a deal!). On Broadway for the first time since the 1940's, this old-timey musical was nothing but a good time. Though the story and style of the musical are certainly not new or thought provoking, this production reinforces all the traditions and magic that are the foundations of musical comedy, rather than aiming for something or trying to reinvent the wheel. The set was splashy, colorful (given its many-hued title), simple yet stunning. The cast was quite excellent, not only showing their skill at dance and song, but also seeming to share their love of musical theatre. And one would certainly need that in full to excel in this musical. The story follows an Irish father and daughter, newly relocated to Rainbow Valley in the fictional state of Missitucky. There, they encounter the local sharecroppers, led by the hunky Cheyenne Jackson and sassy Terri White; a leprechaun named Og, and a bigoted senator who in the course of the show gets turned into a Black man. Though the show certainly does not avoid the term hokey or corny, it embraces instead of hides those qualities. The production felt very genuine, despite its strange and racially questionable subject matter, from the writing to the direction and individual performances. I felt this most deeply during the show's most noted song, "How Are Things in Glocca Morra," beautifully performed by Kate Baldwin (I'm betting she gets a Tony Nom), which tells of longing for home and family. Given I saw this during the Thanksgiving weekend, I was particularly struck by the song's sentiment and my own longings for home. The dancing was quite stellar with excellent choreography from the director-choreography employing jazz, ballet, Irish, and American popular dance into the work. Of particular note is the dream ballet sequence, oddly placed in the musical, but certainly ethereal and moving. A solo dance by Susan the Silent (the town's mute who communicates solely through dance - a little hokey I know), the piece is moving and reaches for deeper waters than other numbers in the show. Susan dances to the mostly unaccompanied harmonica music of a Black sharecropper, combining ballet and modern movements to a colloquially American sound. In the scene, she steals the pot of gold (ok - hokey), but through this action and the dance, we sense her longing, channeling a hidden womanly strength, rather than the cutesy, juvenile energy she employs earlier in the show. The show deals with racism in a pretty blunt manner: it is silly and wrong. Rather than trolling the depths or elaborating on this idea, the production simply let it be, without much comment. The senator looked bigoted and stupid, and everyone seemed to live in perfect harmony. One striking moment occurs when a young black servant is being taught to be a "proper waiter," saying 'Bosss' and taking on the characteristics of a Sambo. The scene is quite funny, but only a blip in the show, the actor's finally expression reading "now that's enough." We really enjoyed ourselves at this show, and it certainly was a welcome retreat from the cold winds of Black Friday.
The weekend also saw us briefly scrambling through the Macy's, observing the Black Friday madness, before scurrying off to the subway station for less crowded spots in New York. We visited Ground Zero (Nancy had never been there before), a much more solemn and silent scene. It was inspiring to see how much work has been done and how much more is in the works. The proposed 9/11 memorial looks quite stunning, reminding me of the tranquil memorials throughout the DC area. For dinner on Friday, we ventured down to Ten Bells, for more yummy oysters, sparkling rosé, salmon tartare, and prosciutto and goat cheese cigars. We had pondered going to the MOMA for Target Free Friday Nights, but the line was insurmountably huge, so we decided drinking and eating oysters seemed a much better idea. After brunch at Locale the next morning, I sent Aunt Nancy on her way, back to good old Indiana.
It has been really great to shows the past weeks; I am making a vow to myself to get to theatre more often since I am 1) in New York and 2) that's why I moved here. I am already having dreams about seeing A Little Night Music. It's on my absolute must list. In fact, it's already haunting my dreams. I had a nightmare I missed Angela Lansbury's number, much as I missed her performance in Blithe Spirit this spring (why, why, oh why did I go seeImpressionism). Somehow in this dream universe, I then was sitting with Ms. Lansbury, having a wonderful time, until the truth came out that I had yet again missed her performance. From there, things got ugly. It opens in the next couple weeks, and I am counting the days. Oh, and did I mention Catherine Zeta-Jones is in it? Check.
Book-wise, I have moved on from Alan Cumming's naughty Tommy's Tale to the Fitzgerald classic Tender is the Night. Things on the Locale front have been going ok. I had my best table thus far last Tuesday, when a visiting aunt and her nephew (a recurring theme) came in and spent about $260 on very nice wine and food. I am hoping we get some good holiday business over the next month, so I can buy Christmas gifts, theatre tickets, new underwear, and other important stuff like that. The next round of rehearsals is about to come up for "If This Ain't It," and we will see what those hold. There is a number in the show called "Waiting," and that is what I feel I am doing a lot of lately: waiting for Christmas, waiting until closing time at work, waiting for the train, waiting for this show to get going, waiting on my stolen Internet. Like I said, this is the March towards Christmas and it begins today. For now, it is head to the grind, looking to shake things up once the New Year has passed.

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