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Posts Tagged ‘musicals’

I want to have lunch with the younger generation.  I want them to turn off their cell phones and not text while we’re having this lunch.  That will be the biggest challenge-to convince them that they don’t have to be connected for the hour we would spend eating together.  I worry about them.  What do they talk about?  What do they text?

The classic films are lost…the movies today are okay, don’t get me wrong.  Still, do they know that the movies of today wouldn’t be possible without the classics that came before them?  The filming of yesteryear set the tone for so many of the accomplishments made in film-making today.  I think back to Song of the South and Mary Poppins…putting people into animation.  This made Who Framed Roger Rabbit possible-putting animation into live-action.  The classic musicals created so many cultural moments.  Singin’ in the Rain, Hello Dolly, Brigadoon, On the Town.

Even classic children’s literature is falling to the wayside.  My sons have read only one American Tall Tale in school.  I make sure at home that they read a variety of Tall Tales.  We also read Aesop’s Fables, Hans Christian Andersen.  Of course, we’re still in our Grimm phase.  We read “Little Snow White” last night.  The text is full of such rich words and vibrant images.  These pieces of literature help children develop their imaginations and learn about the basics of crafting a story.

Music is different too.  I know, I know, I sound like that stereotypical old person (no, I’m not old…) “back in my day” but I’m serious.  Someone said to me recently that in a class about the history of rock he had just learned about a band called The Queen or something like that.  I said do you mean Queen?  He said, yeah, yeah, that’s the name.  Now obviously I’m biased about that particular band, but how does one get to their 20s and not know Queen?  Or the major shifts in music and how each change brought about new genres.  Why do youngins need to take a class to learn this stuff?  I suppose the radio is no longer in existence in their worlds…did “Radio Gaga” and “Video Killed the Radio Star” really come to pass?

I know there are cycles to culture.  I know the pendulum will swing back again.  I know it’s ironic that I’m posting this on the internet, one of the causes in this shift.  Why and how do they feel the need to be connected all the time?  I have survived for so long without being connected 24/7.  Yet so often I sit with people of the younger generation who cannot turn off their phone or tablet or the soon-to-be archaic laptop.  Radios don’t matter, they have 8,000 songs programmed on the teeny-tiny player.

If you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, friend of someone younger than 25, take them somewhere and make them disconnect.  Help them experience life with a person and not an electronic device.  I’m battling right now with my sons.  They are obsessed with the telly and on-demand.  They can’t get enough of the computer and online video games (based on the shows from the telly).  It’s ridiculous.  They get so angry when I say no.  So I say no more frequently.  When they don’t get angry anymore, I won’t have to say no as much.

Tomorrow night is the Earth Hour at 8:30pm.  Turn off your lights, phones, tablets, computers, any and all electronic devices and devices charged by electricity.  Talk to each other.  Laugh with each other.  Tell ghost stories.  Inspire each other.  Sing “Hello Dolly” or “Dream On” or “Radio Gaga”.  Go ahead, sing it with the clapping.  Or go for “We Will Rock You” with the clap/clap/stomp.  Go for it.  Turn off everything and be connected the old-fashioned way.

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Here I am back to reality.  The show is over…Mame was a blast and I miss it terribly already.  The fun part though is that my sons are doing bits from the show every day-walking like Ito, writing in their notepads like Gooch, and singing “Bosom Buddies”, although they only know a few of the lyrics.  They simply repeat those lines over and over.

My sons, as I may have written already, did a wonderful job with the Halloween decorations (yes, I will take pictures tomorrow).  We’re going to the fabric store tomorrow to get the supplies for their costumes.  I’ll drag out the sewing machine and whip up a clown costume and a Headless Horseman cape.  The boys declared this evening that they want to trick or treat with their friends, not Daddy and me.  Whoa, slow down on the growing up stuff!  The compromise will be they can go with their friends while one of us trails behind, one house back, to give them their independence.

Many moons ago I wrote about rediscovering my audacity.  That is still a quest and I am still making progress.  Our little family has a number of our own rules, guidelines, if you will.  Our own way of doing things and that’s perfectly fine by me.  Embracing that each day takes some effort, but when I am self-aware, it happens.  As I work on being my audacious self, I am also working on developing that sense in my sons.  And in my house, which has suffered at the hands of Mame.

But never fear…yard sale weekend is here.  I told the boys simply not to look at the toys I’ll be hauling out because they haven’t asked for them in six months.  I promised them none of the important ones were going on the block.  As their faces showed scenes of Toy Story playing in their mind’s eyes, I reminded them even Andy outgrew his toys.  I also told them they would still have the thousands of toys on the floors to entertain them (yes, probably literally thousands if you count each Lego individually).  Purging the unneeded items out of my attic and shed and backyard, oh my.

And the funniest thing happened today.  I had been in tense, psycho-mode (just ask my hubby) and then work provided me with a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment that it had not done in a while.  As usual the details aren’t dreadfully important, but to sum up, I rock at physics.  Sure, I know nothing about the field of physics other than an apple fell on Newton’s head, but physics was fun tonight.  I felt energized when I got home.  We then had our late supper, together, the four of us.  Then the boys and I went over their homework, dinosaurs were played with, fervent debates took place about who likes paleontology more, teeth were brushed, and blankets were tucked.  I still had energy and did some grading, laundry, and cleaning.  Even replaced the light bulb in the bathroom.  Good times, good times.

Finally, here I sit washed over with a feeling of calmness.  Simplicity has been around even amidst the chaos of the past few months.  Grace has been my friend as I’ve needed it.  Okay, I’ve been spazzy about the mess in the house, but I’m getting better.  I’ve realized that I literally say the same things over and over.  Lately, as I begin to say them again, I stop myself and save the energy.  Perhaps that’s how I managed to do so much tonight.

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It’s at the theater…I’ve been in rehearsals.  Lots of them.  Mame opens tomorrow night.  Actually upon looking at my clock, it opens tonight!  Theater is such a wonderful place, experience, way to live.  I love that as we stand around during rehearsal someone can ask, “Is it Christmas yet?” and the reply of “In about five minutes” makes sense.  If you know the musical Mame, it features among many wonderful songs, “Need a Little Christmas.”

I have two great numbers in the show.  Please understand–I am not boasting that I am necessarily great  performing them, but rather that they are two great numbers to perform.  “Bosom Buddies” and, my favorite, “Man in the Moon” are very funny songs.  I have truly enjoyed working to perform these songs to even the smallest percentage of ability with which Bea Arthur naturally performed these songs when she originated the role.  Vera is the type of role where one can almost selfishly not care if the audience finds it funny because it’s just so bloody fun to perform!  Obviously, I do hope the audience enjoys it because as all actors know, if there is no audience, there is no show.  Fortunately, one person counts as an audience.  I’ve played to some small houses in my day.  However, I know there will be at least five people there at opening night.  My hubby and sons will be there watching the show with my folks.  I don’t think my folks have ever missed a show that I’ve been in, except for the time I was doing children’s theater.  They couldn’t get into the schools.  I do think they saw the dinosaur play at the state museum.  (Wow, if only I had known I would one day have a son who planned on being a paleontologist, I would have filmed that show!)

There is a smell in a theater that many would probably find unfriendly, but I simply love it.  It’s the stink of all the previous shows.  It sounds less than pleasant, but I love it.  I’ve said it before (possibly in an earlier post even) and I’ll say it again.  Theater is a place where you wear random clothes that you don’t know the origin of, share make-up without fear of cooties, and throw modesty right out the window because you only have a minute for the costume change so it doesn’t matter how many people backstage see you in your undergarments.  During a show, everyone has got your back.  We all check for skirts tucked into pantyhose, smudges on faces, and props being in the correct spot.  You’ve got each others’ back because you don’t know what could go wrong.  It’s great when it all goes right, and most times it does.  But when it goes wrong, you’ve got to work together so the audience doesn’t know something happened that wasn’t supposed to.   And all of that contributes to the smell.

The lyrics may be corny to some, but there is no business like show business.  Would I love to make my living doing this?  Of course.  Do I?  Nope.  But in whatever way I can, I will keep theater in my life.  Wow, that may be the corniest sentence I’ve written since junior high school.  Corny, but true.

Still, that’s not the only thing going on in my life.  My third grader and first grader have started off their school years with flair.  My oldest is quite excited to be in the “fast paced” math class (even though he always said he was bad at math).  My youngest was writing down all the words he knows how to spell.  I suggested “evil”.  He said, with perfect timing, “What about macabre instead?”  Oh, my six year old…he’s a hoot.

My hubby just celebrated his birthday on Wednesday though we had a double surprise birthday party for my mother and him a couple of weeks ago.  Now he’s Miner 49er plus 1-hee hee.

Still, the time is late and I must away.  So I leave you with this…

 

The butcher, the baker, the grocer, the clerk

Are secretly unhappy men because

The butcher, the baker, the grocer, the clerk

Get paid for what they do but no applause

They’d gladly bid their dreary jobs goodbye

For anything theatrical, and why?

 

There’s no business like show business

Like no business I know

Everything about it is appealing

Everything the traffic will allow

Nowhere could you get that happy feeling

When you are stealing that extra bow

 

There’s no people like show people

They smile when they are low

Even with a turkey that you know will fold

You may be stranded out in the cold

Still you wouldn’t ‘change for a sack of gold

Let’s go on with the show

 

The costumes, the scenery, the make-up, the props

The audience that lifts you when you’re down

The headaches, the heartaches, the backaches, the flops

The sheriff who escorts you out of town

The opening when your heart beats like a drum

The closing when the customers won’t come

 

There’s no business like show business

Like no business I know

You get word before the show has started

That your favorite uncle died at dawn

Top of that, your ma and pa have parted

You’re broken-hearted, but you go on

 

There’s no people like show people

They don’t run out of dough

Angels come from everywhere with lots of jack

And when you lose it there’s no attack

Where could you get money that you don’t give back

Let’s go on with the show

 

The cowboys, the tumblers, the wrestlers, the clowns

The roustabouts that move the show at dawn

The music, the spotlight, the people, the towns

Your baggage with the labels pasted on

The sawdust and the horses and the smell (there’s that smell again–see I didn’t make it up-it’s real)

The towel you’ve taken from the last hotel

 

There’s no business like show business

Like no business I know

Traveling through the country will be thrilling

Standing out in front on opening nights

Smiling as you watch the theater filling

And there’s your billing out there in lights

 

There’s no people like show people

They smile when they are low

Yesterday they told you you would not go far

That night you open and there you are

Next day on your dressing room they’ve hung a star

Let’s go on with the show

Let’s go on with the show

 

 

 

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my plate is full.  My goodness, I do like a full plate.  The question is will I eat everything I put on it?  Remember how your parents always taught you to only take the food you knew you would eat?  If you wanted/needed more, you could always go back for seconds?   I think at the moment I am working a salad, dinner, and dessert plate.  Perhaps I should have waited to take seconds.

I am having a blast doing all of the things I am doing.  For the first time in a while I am doing some things I really want to do.  But (there’s often a but), doing all of these things requires time.  And it seems they all come due at around the same time.  I suppose that’s the part I’m concerned about.  If only they had been spread out a wee bit more.  If only I had the foresight to realize they were all going to come due now…ah, well, such is life.

That is why one simply has to embrace what one is doing and enjoy each moment.  The tricky thing is my confidence level is severely low for one of the things I am doing.  The play I am rehearsing for is the first one I’ve done in over three years (…I think I have referenced this before) and the first musical (requiring singing and dancing AT THE SAME TIME!) in over a decade.  I’ll admit I’m a bit rusty.  I feel like the Tin Man but without a Dorothy to oil my mouth, arms, and legs.  I do know I have heart so I trust it will kick in all the way once I’m finally off book, but this is new territory for me.  I have faith that the old adage will prove true, it’s like riding a bike.  You never forget.  Well, as long as I don’t forget my lines.

But, listen to me whining.  I have a happy family, a messy home, and we survived an earthquake and a hurricane all in a week with little to no damage.  And no tornado (sorry, Dorothy).  No, this time in the theatrical zone of proximal development will pass.  I just don’t like the uncomfortable phase.  But who really likes be uncomfortable?  Not a lot of people or we wouldn’t be spending so much money on our mattresses.

Sleep well, gentle reader.  I’m going to my comfortable bed.

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No, I am not referring to that light that Mater runs away from, but rather the light, usually a bare bulb in a tall lamp, left on in a theater overnight.  Many reasons exist for the origin of the ghost light-superstition, keep ghosts away, appease ghosts that live there, one story even says it was a clause in the equity contract.  I like to think it’s to provide light for the ghosts that live in the theater so they can perform their shows at night.

Theaters are naturally creepy places when you think about it.  Hundreds, thousands of people have performed on the stage, many more have sat in the seats of the audience, plus all the staff working to keep a theater running (especially the one who sweeps the stage at night—love that person).   Each person who enters a theater leaves an imprint of their souls there.  The characters from the minds of the playwrights live their entire lives in a theater.  Their only existence is on a stage being witnessed by nameless people who involve themselves in the characters’ lives for a few hours.  People connect with the human experience in a theater and have done so since the beginning of recorded history.  That is why theater will never disappear in my humble opinion.

We grapple with our human existence daily.  To sit in a chair (granted, usually an uncomfortable one, yet we keep coming back) for two or three hours and give in to the world created by the playwright, director, actors, and so many other staff members creating the production is an amazing experience.  Think about—first you have all of the people involved in creating the show.  They set aside any personal differences to work for one goal-a great show that connects with an audience.  Perhaps it’s a comedy to lighten the mood when the real world is grim, or a musical to bring one back to childhood when you sang songs as you went through your day (I never did stop doing that!).  Then think of the audience.  Again, a large group of people coming together, putting aside differences, and agreeing to sit in the dark together, suspending disbelief to enter a world that they know will only exist for the time they are all together.  The level of trust demonstrated in a theater is overwhelming.  The audience trusts they will be transported to another world and the actors trust there will be an audience there to witness the world they’ve made.  It’s one of the greatest things I have ever experienced in my life and I hope to continue experiencing it for as long as I am able.

My sons like the theater I’m rehearsing in now.  They think it is a wee bit creepy, as most theaters usually are.  The imprints of the many souls who have experienced emotion in their walls are there infusing the space with energy.  Where else do people wear other people’s clothes so readily?  Or walk around barefoot during rehearsal even though you know the floors have seen better days?  Or throw away normal modesty because you only have 30 seconds for that costume change?  Stories are told and retold because each generation struggles and celebrates the human experience.

Remember what Shakespeare said…the play is the thing… (okay, in that case it’s the way to catch the king)…shall we try this classic?  All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.  Go see a play…give theaters a reason to keep that ghost light shining.

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If I could have lunch with Kenneth Branagh, the first topic of conversation would be too difficult to pick. However, I do know that early on, perhaps after ordering drinks, we would need to cover the critics who disliked Love’s Labour’s Lost because they did not believe those four men would break out into song and dance. In my home we do break out into song and dance on quite a regular basis, however that is not the critical problem with these particular reviews. The critical problem is how these critics ever got hired when suspension of disbelief is one of the cornerstones of theatrical devices?

While it is more common for folks to sing and dance during their day than many people realize, I grant you that not everyone does. Still anything that happens in a play, a film, a television show, or a video game requires some suspension of disbelief. One has to give into the world they’ve entered through their entertainment choice and surrender to the world of the director. If Kenneth wants us to believe these four chaps would sing and dance, it is our obligation, our pleasure really, to believe it. I’ll give you that I had reservations about Matthew Lillard (so fabulous as Shaggy) as to whether or not he’d pull it off, but he did. If Kenneth and the choreographer could get Lillard to move as gracefully as he did, the suspension of disbelief becomes even easier to accomplish.

The Kelly/Astaire style dancing of Adrian Lester brings back the glory days of the musical, particularly as he dances around the room in that one scene. The combination of his dancing, the choreography and the directing make that scene such an image of fluidity and beauty. The variety of dancing and music chosen touched upon so many of the glorious musicals that it brought together three of my favorite things: musicals, Shakespeare and Branagh.

Am I biased toward Kenneth’s work? Of course, I find the majority of it wonderful and watch it repeatedly. Those critics need to go to back college and take a refresher course on Theater Appreciation to remember the standard devices employed since the days of Sophocles to entertain the masses. While the film will be remembered as one earning, at best, mixed reviews (and those reviews being the weapon that took the life out of a three picture deal at Miramax), those who love the same three things I do happily suspend our disbelief when entering the world of Love’s Labour’s Lost.

Having covered that topic, Kenneth and I would order appetizers and continue the conversation.

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