luscious_purple: Snagged on LJ (great news)
[personal profile] luscious_purple
Last weekend I was just SO happy for my friend Baroness Janina's elevation to the Order of the Laurel!! She looked relaxed and radiant. I presented her with a napkin on which I had embroidered a green laurel wreath. I didn't do the greatest job, but she said I did very well. To be honest, I wanted her to have *something* with a laurel wreath on it, in case her husband's health prevents them from going to Pennsic for the first time in, I dunno, maybe four decades.

Baron Rorik himself looked surprisingly good, considering all that he's been through (eight broken ribs, a heart stent, and lots of liver tests). I got to meet their son Andrew's new wife and her daughter, who is about 10 years old and is already like an instant granddaughter to Janina and Rorik.

Of course, Janina's and Rorik's household, Clan Cambion, was out in full force. There are SO many Laurels already in that household that, when it came time in Royal Court for a Laurel to speak on Janina's behalf, they all jumped up and played an amusing bit of court schtick: Andrew, wearing a marshal's tabard, stepped forward and said the honor would be decided with a shoot. So he had all these sexagenarian Laurels doing "rock, paper, scissors" against each other for the honor. :-)

Several other friends and acquaintances of mine received awards at this event (Bright Hills Baronial Birthday and Investiture). BUT! It was SO crowded in that hall. Bright Hills rents that VFD hall every February, and usually the event attracts 100-150 people. Last Saturday's attendance was 282!! (The Royal Presence, plus a baronial investiture, will attract a larger crowd.) I put my belongings on a shelf in the foyer, above the coat rack, because there was simply no place to stash my stuff in the main room.

The evening feast sold out earlier than I had expected, so I decided to ride up to the event with Sonya/Patches, who doesn't often eat SCA feasts because of her dietary restrictions. However, in celebration of Janina's Laurel, the members of Clan Cambion cooked huge piles of food for their own below-the-salt feast and invited the two of us to join them. There were enough vegetarian and gluten-free dishes to allow Patches to have something to eat as well.

In other news ... things are actually going well in other areas of my life. I actually have had a couple of potential clients approach me about additional writing jobs. I had an interview with one this past week and will probably have one with the other one soon. I am really, really hoping these come through, because I would love to diversify my income stream, so to speak. Plus, I need MORE money in general.

I don't often hear from Tall Dancer anymore, but he phoned me again around dinnertime as he was driving up to see his gaming friends in Kentucky. First time in at least a month, I think. He said he had lots of interesting news about his life, but it would have to wait until he drives back to Georgia on Monday, as he was just pulling up to his friends' house. Nothing like keeping me in suspense....

A Brief Pre-Vacation Note

Feb. 15th, 2019 03:31 pm
fauxklore: (travel)
[personal profile] fauxklore
You would think that somebody who travels as much as I do would be more organized about it. Instead, I inevitably end up in a pre-vacation panic and flurry of activity. Admittedly, this is not helped by being insanely busy at work and, hence, more exhausted than usual.

Which is to say that I will be gone just over a week. Assuming that is, that I manage to actually pack and get myself to the airport. It isn't clear how much internet access I will have as reports are mixed and not necessarily up to date.
nanila: (kusanagi: aww)
[personal profile] nanila
As you may have gathered from yesterday's post, I'm not a fan of Valentine's Day. However, as a regular donor to the Abortion Support Network, who help women to access safe, legal abortion from Ireland and Northern Ireland, I couldn't ignore their appeal to help establish branches in Malta and Gibraltar, where abortion is (functionally) totally illegal. I have donated to the campaign here; please consider doing so if you are able to as well. If you can't donate, please consider my donation to have been given on your behalf as well. ♥ ♥ ♥

I may have been drinking

Feb. 14th, 2019 10:33 pm
nanila: <user name=pearl_oquote site=livejournal.com> made this from something <user name=slodwick site=livejournal.com> said. (capslock)
[personal profile] nanila
A) Fuck Valentine's day

B) Donald Trump is a fucking racist wanker

C) Sense8 is awesome

Three Icons meme

Feb. 13th, 2019 10:18 pm
nanila: Will not be surviving the zombie apocalypse (me: braaains)
[personal profile] nanila
[livejournal.com profile] hamsterwoman choose three of my icons for me to explain.


“OMG iz fulla stars.” The problem with responding to this meme is that the last time I added an icon which wasn’t a Pokémon commission was probably about five years ago. I saw this somewhere and asked if I could use it. It’s for me “I’m going to write about geeky (space) science things” posts.


“If an opinion is worth having, it is worth having in capslock in public.” Once again, I’m pretty sure I got this off the [community profile] capslock_dreamwidth community. Possibly from [personal profile] azurelunatic? I DON’T KNOW. But the sentiment stands. I don’t ALL CAPS often but when I do, I MEAN IT.


“Will not survive the zombie apocalypse.” Ooh, now this one I think is particularly cool, and I don’t use it enough. A few years ago when I went to San Diego, I visited with My Mate Josh. One of the things Josh does as part of his living is operate an MRI scanner. You know, for SCIENCE. He asked if I wanted to have my brain scanned. Which, HELL YES I want my brain scanned, tyvm. So he scanned my brain, and then he did some fun visualisation with the data, and voila: I now have an icon featuring a view through the top of my skull into my brain. My brain appears in all respects to be physically healthy, at least, so clearly I will make a delicious dinner when the zombie apocalypse does finally strike.

I know the tradition is to continue the cycle of icon explainery by asking if others want me to choose three of theirs. However, I am already behind on comment replies and I do not see that getting better until the middle of next week at the earliest, so I ask forgiveness for taking without giving back in this instance.

Mostly About One Day University

Feb. 13th, 2019 04:30 pm
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[personal profile] fauxklore
Celebrity Death Watch: Rosamunde Pilcher wrote a lot of romance novels and some family sagas, of which the most famous was The Shell Seekers. .Yechiel Eckstein founded the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. Albert Finney was a film actor, who for some reason I tend to confuse with Alfred Drake and Ron Moody. A few of his more notable movies include Tom Jones, Erin Brockovich, and Big Fish. John Dingell was a Democratic congressman from Michigan who served 59 years in Congress. Patricia Nell Warren wrote The Front Runner, the first gay novel to make the New York Times best seller list. Tomi Ungerer was an illustrator, best known for creating Flat Stanley. Walter Jones was a Republican congressman from North Carolina, best known for inventing the term "freedom fries." Lyndon Larouche was a politician, Presidential candidate, anti-Semite, racist, possibly a Soviet agent. Hmm, reminds me of someone else.

Frank Robinson played baseball for several teams, including the Cincinnati Reds and the Baltimore Orioles. He was the only player to be named MVP for both the National League and American League. He later became the first black manager in major league history (for the Cleveland Indians) and went on to manage several other teams, including the Washington Nationals. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982.


Don’t Analyze This Dream: I was eating lunch in a conference room. On an airplane.


A Brief Rant About Reporting on Taxes: I am tired of seeing articles about people complaining about their refunds being lower. One’s refund could be lower because they are paying more taxes, but it could also be lower because their withholding was lower. Of course, one should ideally aim for not getting a refund at all, since that means you are lending money to the government at no interest. What actually matters is what one’s overall tax bill is. Many people’s will be higher because of the limits on deductions for state and local taxes, but many people’s will be lower because of reduced tax rates.


One Day University – Lectures: Saturday was One Day University. The morning had two lectures, while the afternoon had a short film festival.


The first lecture was by Andrew Porwancher of the University of Oklahoma on The Constitution: Enduring Myths and Hidden Truths. He was rather more enthusiastic about Alexander Hamilton than I’d have preferred, though he did also credit James Madison, George Washington, and Ben Franklin. But how does anybody talk about the Constitution without mentioning Gouverneur Morris, who wrote most of it? Despite that obvious flaw, Porwancher did have several interesting points. One of his key ones is that the three branches of government were not intended to be equal. The legislative branch was supposed to be the most powerful and the judiciary the weakest, with the executive branch in the middle. He went on to talk bout several amendments, starting with the specific part of the first amendment dealing with freedom of religion. His key point there was that there were interpretations of freedom of religion which did not require separation of church and state, but Jefferson’s views won out over Hamilton’s there, largely because of nativism in the form of a fear of Catholicism. He also noted that Article VI, Section 3, which forbids religious tests for serving in office is more significant in practical terms. He also made an interesting point re: the 2nd Amendment. Namely, that Madison’s original language included a conscientious objector clause, which suggests his intention was the military context, not the individual context, for the right to bear arms. Overall, he was an interesting and enthusiastic speaker, albeit more enthusiastic about Hamilton than I am.

The other lecture was by Wendy Schiller of Brown University on What’s Wrong With Congress? Can an 18th Century Structure Still Work? One of the main things she objected to was the staggering of Senate elections, so that only a third of the Senate is up for reelection each term, though I am skeptical about how much of a difference that makes. Mostly, what she claimed is wrong is: 1) polarization, which used to be only about race and trade now being about everything, and 2) the responsibility of the Senate for confirming judges and cabinet members. She talked a lot about changes in how the Senate was chosen, including the corruption that dominated the process when state legislatures chose Senators and the impact of reform intents that resulted in many states going without one or both Senators. The 17th Amendment in 1913 (direct election of Senators) fixed that. Other things she suggested (most of which I agree with) were proportional representation in the electoral college (which is already done in Montana and Nebraska) and which really has more to do with the President than with Congress, lengthening the House term to 4 years to reduce the amount of time spent electioneering versus legislating, making the House bigger (which would, in my opinion, make it harder to manage and make deals), and requiring independent commissions for redistricting. I am more skeptical about requiring gender, racial, ethnic, and economic diversity in redistricting, because I think that would be likely to dilute the influence of underrepresented groups. She also suggested term limits for the Supreme Court and removing term limits for the President, but did not discuss term limits for Congress. Personally, I think term limits for elective offices are a bad idea, though I would support other ways to reduce the perceived advantage of incumbents. Finally, she supported an increase in on-line and mail voting, which sounds great, until you look at research on voting integrity and realize that it is likely to disenfranchise large segments of the population.


One Day University – Short Film Festival: After a lunch break, during which I walked over to Poppa Box for some Korean-ish food, it was time for the Short Film Festival. For this purpose, short films were defined as being under 20 minutes. There were 10 films, with a short intermission after the sixth. There was only one movie I really disliked (Bob, which had what I thought was a cheap ending), I had seen one (The Gunfighter) before, though I can’t remember where, and thought it was funny, but could have been tighter if it were a bit shorter. My favorites were Super Powers, The Tailor, Bridget, and Tanghi Argentini. Overall, it was a fun way to spend a cold afternoon.
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[personal profile] cahwyguy

Imagine (and it isn’t hard) that Donald Trump has tweeted something insensitive and stereotypical against black or brown people. A bunch of white folk respond, “He isn’t being racist, and here’s why…”. The black and brown folk, on the other hand, instantly go: “That’s a dogwhistle. That’s a racist tweet.” Who do you think has a better case for recognizing racism? What do you think about those white folk?

Imagine Trump tweets something making fun of Native Americans including a dogwhistle. Most Americans think he’s just making fun of a political opponent, but it is the Native Americans that pick up on the whistle, and call him out for it.

Now, think about the recent tweet by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and look at the reaction to it. Look at the folks who are saying it wasn’t antisemitic, that it was just “criticism of Israel”. Now ask yourself (a) what do they have in common, and (b) are they Jewish. Now look at the reaction of the Jewish community, which picked up on the dogwhistle immediately. Now look at the reaction of the non-Jewish community to the reaction of the Jewish community, where they are calling them overly sensitive. As John Adams sang in 1776, “Do you see what I see?”

It really teaches you something about your friends.

For those that don’t “get” it, here’s a good explanation from an article in Tablet Magazine about why the tweet was an antisemitic dogwhistle:

… [the tweet] evoked the image of moneyed Jews paying off gentiles to subvert the national interest and control American politics for their own ends. Sometimes the villain in this delusion is George Soros, sometimes the Rothschilds, and other times “the Israel lobby.” In this particular case, Omar suggested that the reason America supports the Jewish state is because (((powerful interests))) have taken control of our democracy, seemingly against the will of its people. In reality, as decades of polling shows, American politicians are pro-Israel because American voters are pro-Israel and elect leaders who reflect their views. There is no conspiracy at work, only democracy. Policy on Israel is set by the 98 percent of Americans who are not Jewish, not the 2 percent who are, which is probably why that policy is more hawkish than many American Jews would like.

For those unfamiliar, there is an ages-old canard (look up the Protocols of the Elders of Zion) about a Zionist World Order pulling the strings of every nation. It has been used as the excuse for Jewish slaughter for years. The notions in the original tweet — while criticizing the US policies towards Israel, yes — had the implication of this monied order behind it. It is that implication that was the antisemitic part.

And, to clear some things up, because they’ve come up in other discussions:

  • Disagreeing with the behavior of the government of Israel is not antisemitic. One can wants the state of Israel to exist, and disagree with how her government and leaders behave. I want America to exist, and yet disagree with our current administration.)
  • I have no beef with Rep. Ilhan Omar: She’s entitled to her views, and more importantly, learned from this kerfuffle about the importance of perception of what you say being equally, if not more important, than the substance you intend. She has to answer to the people in her district for her behavior.
  • This has nothing to do with the religion of Rep. Omar: I’ve seen the same antisemitic attitude coming from white Christian Republicans. There is, however, one big difference: The Democratic party recognized it, condemned it, and the Rep. in question apologized. I haven’t seen equivalent reactions from Republican leadership when Republicans make antisemitic dogwhistles.

That last point is an important one, given the President has been calling for Rep. Omar’s resignation over the tweets: Pot, meet Kettle. The President has been making similar tweets, not only antisemitic ones, but racist and misogynistic ones. So have other Republicans. So until they set the example by resigning over their own behavior, until they call out those in their own party for behaving this way, and until they demonstrably change their behavior (as Rep. Omar has indicated she will, although time will tell), then they have no standing to make such calls. The Republicans do not get to be sanctimonious and high minded when policing their opposition, while ignoring the misbehavior in their own party.

But back to the reason for this post:  We trust that people of color can recognize racism directed against them better than white folks who haven’t been subjected to racism can. We trust that women can recognize sexist behavior and “toxic masculinity” better than guys brought up in the male dominated culture. So why is it that non-Jews cannot take the word of the bulk of the Jewish when we indicate that a statement is calling on traditional antisemitic tropes. What does it say about the person who doesn’t see it?

 

===> Click Here To Comment <==This entry was originally posted on Observations Along the Road as 🗯️ Antisemitism and the Eye of the Beholder ... and what that says of the Beholder by cahwyguy. Although you can comment on DW, please make comments on original post at the Wordpress blog using the link to the left. You can sign in with your LJ, DW, FB, or a myriad of other accounts. Note: Subsequent changes made to the post on the blog are not propagated by the SNAP Crossposter; please visit the original post to see the latest version. P.S.: If you see share buttons above, note that they do not work outside of the Wordpress blog.

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Anna Karenina (Actors Co-Op)C’mon, do you really expect something involving Russians, affairs, and political leaders to have a happy ending? Has the 2016 election taught you nothing?

But seriously, last weekend was a weekend of theatrical whiplash, going from the positive uplifting message of the musical 1776 to the sturm und drang-ish drama of the play Anna Karenina, adapted from the Leo Tolstoy novel by Helen Edmundson in 1992 and currently on-stage at Actors Co-op (FB) through March 17, 2019.

Anna Karenina is a classic of Russian literature, and (at least according to Wikipedia), some consider it the greatest novel ever written. I think that’s Russian propaganda. You can read the full gory synopsis on the Wikipedia page; here’s a 50,000 ft. view of the novel (also from the Wikipedia page):

Anna Karenina is the tragic story of Countess Anna Karenina, a married noblewoman and socialite, and her affair with the affluent Count Vronsky. The story starts when she arrives in the midst of a family broken up by her brother’s unbridled womanizing—something that prefigures her own later situation, though she would experience less tolerance by others. A bachelor, Vronsky is eager to marry Anna if she will agree to leave her husband Count Karenin, a senior government official, but she is vulnerable to the pressures of Russian social norms, the moral laws of the Russian Orthodox Church, her own insecurities, and Karenin’s indecision. Although Vronsky and Anna go to Italy, where they can be together, they have trouble making friends. Back in Russia, she is shunned, becoming further isolated and anxious, while Vronsky pursues his social life. Despite Vronsky’s reassurances, she grows increasingly possessive and paranoid about his imagined infidelity, fearing loss of control. A parallel story within the novel is that of Konstantin Lëvin or Ljovin, a wealthy country landowner who wants to marry Princess Kitty, sister to Princess Dolly and sister-in-law to Anna’s brother Prince Oblonsky. Konstantin has to propose twice before Kitty accepts. The novel details Konstantin’s difficulties managing his estate, his eventual marriage, and his struggle to accept the Christian faith, until the birth of his first child.

Edmundson’s adaptation (and director Heather Chesley (FB)’s staging and Stephen Gifford (FB)’s scenic design) makes this all much more abstract. You start with Anna and Constantine “Kostya” on a bare stage with four chairs, as if in an afterlife, haunted by ghosts of some sort. They are constantly asking where they are now, which is seemingly an expositional technique to establish place and allow them to introduce their separate parts of the story. They don’t meet in “real life” until somewhere late in the second act. Around them we see the action unfold with the other characters, with actors often playing multiple roles in the different threads of the stories. Yes, it does end with the suicide in the train station (c’mon, it’s a classic novel and a classic trope, so it shouldn’t be a spoiler), but it is all done very abstractly.

For me — and I’ll emphasize that this is my opinion — the story just didn’t grab me. I really can’t get into a complex tale of infidelity, shifting affairs, Russian societal position, and a fair amount of depression and lack of self worth. It just wasn’t my thing, but I’ll emphasize that’s why we subscribe to theatres: it brings us to shows we might not normally seek out on our own. But that also brings the risk that we might not like everything we see.

But just because I didn’t get into the story doesn’t mean I didn’t like the performances. Chesley brought out great performances in her acting team, and they were believable as their characters. This is especially true for the two leads: Eva Abramian (FB) as Anna Karenina and Joseph Barone (FB) as Constantine “Kostya” Levin. The two had good chemistry together and were fun to watch.

All of the other characters played both a “major” and a minor role, which makes it difficult to tier or group them. But I’ll try. We’ll start with Anna’s brother, Stiva, played by Michael Worden (FB) [also: Vassily the Bailiff, Petristsky, the Priest] and his wife, Dolly, played by  Lauren Thompson(FB) [also: Countess Vronsky]. Worden’s Stiva came across as a “bro” in modern speak: a man interested in womanizing and fun more than his family. In this, Worden portrayed him well. Thompson’s Dolly was more the dutiful wife, staying with a man she didn’t like for the sake of the marriage. Again, a strong portrayal.

Moving to Anna’s lovers, we have Bruce Ladd (FB) as Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin, her husband, and Garrett Botts (FB) as Count Alexei Vronsky, her lover [also: Nikolai]. I liked Ladd’s performance, but I’ve liked him ever since seeing him in A Man for All Seasons last year. He’s a great actor, and fun to watch. Botts was believable as the Russian Captain who was obsessed with Anna, after being obsessed with Kitty, after …. It was an interesting love triangle.

This brings us to Kostya’s object of affection: Kitty, played by Ivy Beech (FB) [also: Seriozha]. As Kitty, she was strong and believable in her emotional arc. As Seriozha, she was less believable, but that was primarily an age problem.

Lastly, there was the exceptional character actor in the Co-Op stable: Deborah Marlowe (FB), this time as Princess Betsy / Agatha / Governess / Railway Widow. Marlowe specializes in these small character roles, and always does them well.

There is one understudy listed in the program: Micah Kobayashi [u/s for Princess Betsy / Agatha / Governess / Railway Widow].

As noted earlier, Stephen Gifford (FB)’s scenic design was simple and abstract, supplemented by Lori Berg (FB)’s property design. This was supported by Vicki Conrad (FB)’s costume, hair, and makeup, which seemed, suitably, Russian and period. David B. Marling (FB)’s sound design provided good sound effects. Lisa D. Katz (FB)’s lighting established the place and mood well. Other production credits: Nora Feldman [Publicist]; Julie Hall (FB[Choreography]; Selah Victor (FB) [Production Manager]; Eric M. White (FB) [Stage Manager]; and Kay Bess (FB) [Producer].

Anna Karenina continues at Actors Co-op (FB) through March 17, 2019. It wasn’t my favorite story, but the performances are strong. If it is a story you’re into, then you’ll likely enjoy this production. Tickets are available through the Actors Co-Op Website. Discount tickets may be available on Goldstar.

***

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre (or music) critic; I am, however, a regular theatre and music audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted (or I’ll make a donation to the theatre, in lieu of payment). I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at 5 Star Theatricals (FB), the Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), and the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals). I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.

Upcoming Shows:

Presidents Day weekend brings  The Joy Wheel at Ruskin Group Theatre (FB) in Santa Monica.  The last weekend of February is our annual trek to the Anaheim Hills for Lizzie at the Chance Theatre (FB).

March starts with Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB), followed by the annual MRJ Regional Man of the Year dinner at Temple Beth Hillel. The next weekend brings “Disney’s Silly Symphony” at the Saroya [nee the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)] (FB). The third weekend of March brings Cats at the Hollywood Pantages (FB). The following weekend is Matilda at  5 Star Theatricals (FB) on Saturday, followed by Ada and the Engine at Theatre Unleashed (FB) (studio/stage) on Sunday. March concludes with us back at the Hollywood Pantages (FB) for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Lastly, looking into April: The month starts with Steel Magnolias at Actors Co-op (FB) and the MoTAS Men’s Seder. The next weekend has a hold for OERM.  April will also bring Fiddler on the Roof at the Hollywood Pantages (FB) and the annual visit to the Renaissance Pleasure Faire.

As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Better-LemonsMusicals in LA@ This StageFootlights, as well as productions I see on GoldstarLA Stage TixPlays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Note: Lastly, want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget.

===> Click Here To Comment <==This entry was originally posted on Observations Along the Road as 🎭 Russian Meddling and Affairs Destroy Lives | "Anna Karenina" @ Actors Co-Op by cahwyguy. Although you can comment on DW, please make comments on original post at the Wordpress blog using the link to the left. You can sign in with your LJ, DW, FB, or a myriad of other accounts. Note: Subsequent changes made to the post on the blog are not propagated by the SNAP Crossposter; please visit the original post to see the latest version. P.S.: If you see share buttons above, note that they do not work outside of the Wordpress blog.

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1776 (The Saroya/VPAC)There are those that would have you believe that the founders of our nation were perfect and infallible, working with a God-given drive to create America. Those folks would make you believe that their decisions were right then, and are right for now.  Those folks … would be wrong.

We have (well, most of us have) celebrated the rise of a new musical over the last few years that tells the story of the founding of America. A musical that has been playing to sold out houses, returning to cities over the country again and again (it will be returning to Los Angeles in March 2020). This musical, while framing the story in the modern immigrant narrative, shows the ugly personal and political battles that the founders engaged in. There was petty jealousy, there were strong disputes about how the county should move forward and establish itself. It wasn’t pretty, and the founders were far from perfect men. Even those protesting the history contain in the show aren’t trying to show the perfect of the men in the story, but to show them as even less perfect than the musical holds them out to be.

But this show wasn’t the first to put the creation of the nation on the musical stage. Fifty years ago — back in 1969 — another musical premiered that told the story of the creation of America — a musical that shared Broadway with the rock musical of its day, Hair — and bested it at the Tony Awards. That musical was 1776, with music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards, and book by Peter Stone, based on an original concept by Sherman Edwards.

1776 shares a moment in time with that other musical, Hamilton. focusing on a two to three month period in 1776. It shares only two characters with Hamilton: Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. But it makes the same point: this is a nation that is built on compromise with those you disagree with. It makes the same point: our nation was founded by imperfect, but passionate men. 1776 portrays our founders not as paragons of virtue, but as flawed men: gluttons, drunkards, womanizers, and much more. It shows how they were flying by the seats of their pants, and taking immense risks to create this nation.  It shows that many of the political battles of today existed at this nation’s founding: battles over taxes, battles over the treatment of minorities, the battles of Conservatives vs LIberals. When John Dickenson sings that people will follow the Conservatives because most people would rather protect the possibility of being rich than face the reality of being poor, that is something that one could sell in the poorest “red” precincts of this country. When Jefferson and Adams stand up for the rights of the Negro, this is a battle that is still being fought. And when Jefferson is forced to admit that he is a practitioner of that filthy practice of slavery, he is admitting complicity in the immoral practices of his time, just as the leadership of Virginia has been caught up today. It demonstrates that America was, and still is, a nation that is built upon imperfection and compromise.

So I think we have established that 1776 is an important musical to be seen — in the abstract. So why this production, and why now? First, because to see live theatre at the Saroya (nee VPAC) (FB) demonstrates that the San Fernando Valley wants first class musical theatre in the heart of the valley. Second, because in the political times we are facing today, it is important to remind ourselves of the need to compromise with those with whom we disagree, in furtherance of a larger and more important goal. Third, because the production team behind this production, McCoy – Rigby (FB), has a proven track record of doing strong theatre both at the southern edge of Los Angeles County, and now here in the valley. Lastly, because this production itself is very strong (I had only a few minor quibbles). Alas, however, the Saroya only bring in these shows for one weekend. We need to encourage them to do more theatre — both bringing in productions, as well as presenting on the Saroya stage, for the Saroya audience, more of the excellent work done by the Theatre department on campus.

This is not to say that 1776 doesn’t have its flaws. The roles for women in the production are both few and miniscule. They interact with the men more as wives; one is on for essentially two scenes and one song, and then disappears. Even some of the men have tiny roles: one song and gone. The production — mirroring those times — is excessively single hued, and does not hold up to broader casting well. There are extremely long stretches of dialogue with no music; at times this is more of a play with music than a musical. There is no latitude for creative staging: the show builds up to a single tableau at the end, and must do so for the story to work.  Lastly, as Wikipedia summarizes, there are numerous historical flaws and inaccuracies in the story. In the last case, yet again, this is just like that modern musical, Hamilton, which also adapts history for dramatic purpose.

But even in acknowledging the flaws in the work, the show is an important one to be seen for its message. Although this production has come to a close, if 1776 shows up again near you, go see it.

Luckily, the production team of Glenn Casale (FB) [Direction and Staging] and Jeff Rizzo (FB) [Musical Direction], were up to the task. They essentially used two scenic areas: the meeting room of the Continental Congress, and a space in front of a shuttered wall for all the other scenes. Within these limitations, they helped the story to unfold, with the help of the acting team.

In the lead performance position was Andy Umberger as John Adams (Mass.). Umberger captured the fire and the passion of the character well, and had a strong singing voice demonstrated in so many numbers. Working with Umberger was Peter Van Norden (FB) as Benjamin Franklin (Penn.). Van Norden’s was the one performance that didn’t set me on fire. It wasn’t bad, but he just didn’t seem to fit the character for some reason, which made the performance a little bit off. But that’s just my opinion. Rounding out the main trio was Caleb Shaw (FB)’s Thomas Jefferson (Virginia). He gave a strong and spirited performance, although his wig needed a touch more red in it to fit with the comment made by Adams about his being red-headed.

This brings us to the rest of the Continental Congress — or at least the subset thereof who are portrayed on stage. All get their moments; some even get songs :-).  The rest of the Congress consisted of:  Nick Santa Maria (FB) [John Hancock (Mass.)]; Jason Chacon (FB) [Dr. Josiah Bartlett (NH)]; Gordon Goodman (FB) [Stephen Hopkins (RI)]; Michael Dotson (FB) [Roger Sherman (Conn.)]; Jotapé Lockwood (FB) [Lewis Morris (NY)]; Victor E. Chan (FB) [Robert Livingston (NY)]; Mitchell McCollum (FB) [Rev. John Witherspoon (NJ)]; Michael Stone Forrest [John Dickinson (Penn.)]; Ted Barton (FB) [James Wilson (Penn.)]; Gary Lee Reed (FB) [Caesar Rodney (Del.)]; Matthew Kimbrough (FB) [Col. Thomas McKean (Del.)]; Brad Rupp (FB) [George Read (Del.)]; Peter Allen Vogt (FB) [Samuel Chase (Maryland)]; Michael Starr (FB) [Richard Henry Lee (Virginia)]; Joey Ruggiero (FB) [Joseph Hewes (N. Carolina)]; James Barbour (FB) [Edward Rutledge (S. Carolina)]; and Jordan Schneider (FB) [Dr. Lyman Hall (Georgia)]. Of these folks, most notable were Starr’s performance as Lee in “The Lees of Old Virginia”; Forrest’s strong performance as Dickinson in “Cool, Cool Considerate Men”, and Barbour’s Rutledge in “Molasses to Rum”. Non-musically, I liked Kimbrough’s McKean and Chan’s Livingston.

Supporting the Congress were Jordan Goodsell (FB) [Congressional Secretary, Charles Thomson]; Michael Rothhaar (FB) [Congressional Custodian, Andrew McNair]; Rodrigo Varandas (FB) [A Leather Apron /A Painter]; and Nick McKenna (FB) [A Courier]. Rothhaar was fund to watch throughout, but the standout performance was McKenna in “Mamma, Look Sharp”.

This brings us to the two women in the cast, who are relegated to ancillary characters: Teri Bibb (FB) as Abigail Adams and Ellie Wyman (FB) as Martha Jefferson. Wyman gave a standout performance both in voice and dance and playfulness during her one scene and one song (“He Played the Violin”). We see more of Bibb, but her character is more restrained. She does have a lovely singing voice.

Music was provided by 9-piece orchestra, conducted by Music Director Jeff Rizzo (FB). The Orchestra consisted of: Kathleen Robertson (FB[Concertmaster / Violin, and who coincidentally also played Violin for Hamilton when it was at the Pantages ];  Rachel Coosaia (FB) [Cello]; John Sawoski (FB) [Keyboard]; Jay Mason (FB) [Woodwinds]Adam Bhatia (FB) [Trumpet]; Dave Ryan [Trombone / Bass Trombone]; Mark Converse (FB) [Percussion]; and Tim Christensen [Bass / Contractor].

Turning to the production and creative team: I’ve already mentioned Stephen Gifford (FB)’s Scenic Design and how that worked well. It was supported by the Properties Design of Kevin Williams (FB). I should note that I missed the nice “rip” of the dates; but I understand the need for removable dates. The Costume Design of Shon Leblanc (FB) mostly worked well; however, the red heels on the black shoes of John Dickinson were a distraction. Other than that, both the costumes and the hair / wig / makeup design of Eb Bohks (FB) seemed reasonable period and were effective in conveying the characters. Again, this is an area where there is limited creativity, as the end result has to fit Trumbull’s tableau painting of the signing. The sound design of Philip G. Allen (FB) and Leon Rothenberg (FB) mostly worked well, although there were a few annoying sound drops that I’ll attribute to mistuning on the move from La Mirada to VPAC / Saroya. Jared A. Sayeg (FB)’s lighting conveyed place and mood well. Rounding out the production credits: Julia Flores (FB) [Casting Director]; Justen Asher (FB) [Technical Director]; Patti McCoy Jacob (FB) [General Manager]; Ana Lara (FB) , Lindsay Brooks (FB), and David Nestor (FB) [Production Management]John W. Calder III (FB) [Production Stage Manager]; Heidi Westrom (FB) [Asst. Stage Manager]; and David Elzer (FB) / Demand PR (FB) [Publicity]1776 was produced by McCoy Rigby Entertainment (FB), originally for The La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts (FB) .

1776 has closed at The Saroya, but a subsequent production from the same production team, Singing in the Rain, will be at The Saroya over the weekend of April 12. Tickets for Singing in the Rain are available through The Saroya online, and may be available on Goldstar.

***

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre (or music) critic; I am, however, a regular theatre and music audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted (or I’ll make a donation to the theatre, in lieu of payment). I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at 5 Star Theatricals (FB), the Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), and the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals). I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.

Upcoming Shows:

The day we saw 1776 was theatrical whiplash, as we ran out of the production to head over to Hollywood for Anna Karenina at Actors Co-op (FB).  Presidents Day weekend brings  The Joy Wheel at Ruskin Group Theatre (FB) in Santa Monica.  The last weekend of February is our annual trek to the Anaheim Hills for Lizzie at the Chance Theatre (FB).

March starts with Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB), followed by the annual MRJ Regional Man of the Year dinner at Temple Beth Hillel. The next weekend brings “Disney’s Silly Symphony” at the Saroya [nee the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)] (FB). The third weekend of March brings Cats at the Hollywood Pantages (FB). The following weekend is Matilda at  5 Star Theatricals (FB). March concludes with us back at the Hollywood Pantages (FB) for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Lastly, looking into April: The month starts with Steel Magnolias at Actors Co-op (FB) and the MoTAS Men’s Seder. The next weekend has a hold for OERM.  April will also bring Fiddler on the Roof at the Hollywood Pantages (FB) and the annual visit to the Renaissance Pleasure Faire.

As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Better-LemonsMusicals in LA@ This StageFootlights, as well as productions I see on GoldstarLA Stage TixPlays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Note: Lastly, want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget.

 

===> Click Here To Comment <==This entry was originally posted on Observations Along the Road as 🎭 Perfect Union, Imperfect Men | "1776" @ The Saroya by cahwyguy. Although you can comment on DW, please make comments on original post at the Wordpress blog using the link to the left. You can sign in with your LJ, DW, FB, or a myriad of other accounts. Note: Subsequent changes made to the post on the blog are not propagated by the SNAP Crossposter; please visit the original post to see the latest version. P.S.: If you see share buttons above, note that they do not work outside of the Wordpress blog.

Quality Street

Feb. 12th, 2019 09:18 pm
nanila: YAY (me: abby)
[personal profile] nanila
Today I bought a box of Quality Street chocolates on my way in to the office because I felt like I needed to share chocolate with my officemates to get through the day. I was delighted to discover that we all have different favourites. I am now convinced that this is a foolproof test of how well a team will get on with one another. Here are their preferences, with code names that actually suit them frighteningly well.

Christopher Robin - Toffee finger
Tigger - Orange Creme
Eeyore - Toffee Deluxe
Owl - Coconut Eclair
Kanga - Strawberry Delight
Me* - The Purple One
[Other team's Tigger - Caramel Swirl]
[Other team’s Owl - Fudge]

* An internet survey tells me I’m Pooh. I don't buy it.

Tasting Counter Celebration

Feb. 11th, 2019 10:09 am
lillibet: (Default)
[personal profile] lillibet
For her birthday, Alice's big ask was to go to the Tasting Counter for their nine course menu with non-alcoholic drink pairings. We did that on Friday night and it was a huge success. Alice has gotten extremely good about being willing to try just about anything, but I was still pleased and impressed by how completely she threw herself into the experience.

Here's the menu with our wine pairings:

tasting counter menu 1

Her pairings were:

• Sparkling Grapefruit Soda
• Sumac Lemonade
• Sichuan Peppercorn Ginger beer
• Barley & Wild Acres Farm Maple
• Blue Pea Tea & Celery Soda
• Chysanthemum & Salted Plum Soda
• Hibiscus & Burnt Orange
• Juniper, Dandelion, Bergamot
• Pine & Chamomile Flower
• Rooibos & White Sesame

Her favorite courses were the onion tart right at the beginning and the squab, which I agree was the best. The puff pastry around that was so flavorful that I asked the chef what fat they used. He said it's just plain butter--that they'd tried cultured butter and that was Too Much.

Her drinks were more interesting than good. Her favorites were the two at the beginning, which were a little too sweet for me. Of the later ones I liked the Pine & Chamomile best. But the Blue Pea Tea was an incredible color and it was an altogether fascinating experience.

Overall, I thought this one at least the best meal I've had there since the very first one and possibly even better. The sweet potato soup with duck liver crouton and truffle was a perfect example of the art of the chef: serving me something (in this case sweet potato) that I don't like, in a way that I find delicious, because of how well the flavors are handled and balanced. The dessert courses were both fascinating combinations of flavors and the tiny pipings of brown butter custard were up there with the best things I have ever tasted. As always, going there just makes me want to go back soon!

Alice was a marvelous dinner companion--I love how much she has learned about flavors and developed her own sense of taste and style. We had great conversation and all the staff were impressed with her poise and delight in what they were serving. Twelve is definitely off to a good start!

CSA cooking: tomato-vegetable soup

Feb. 10th, 2019 08:08 pm
cellio: (Default)
[personal profile] cellio

This is loosely adapted from this recipe suggested by the CSA. I omitted the bacon (of course), decided that they couldn't possibly have meant 3 quarts of broth (along with other liquids, to say nothing of the solids) for "8-10 servings", and used margarine instead of butter so it would be pareve. I also used the veggies I had on hand rather than their specific list.

So, in other words:

  • half stick margarine
  • 2 medium shallots and one medium red onion, chopped small
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped small
  • several shakes dried basil, a few shakes dried red pepper, black pepper

Cook the above over medium heat until the vegetables are soft (~8 minutes), stirring often.

  • 3 small carrots
  • 1 small parsnip
  • 1 rutabaga
  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 2 medium golden potatoes

Chop all that into reasonable sizes for eating out of a soup bowl, add to pot, cook another 5 minutes, stirring often.

  • 15oz can vegetable broth (I was going to use a quart but didn't know if it'd fit in my pot; future me: it would have just fit in the nice new 3.5-quart pot I used)

Stir, cook on high until simmering.

  • 25oz jar tomato sauce (this was from the farm; it's just tomatoes, apparently pureed; no other ingredients)
  • 0.25 cup apple cider vinegar
  • jar (12oz?) roasted red pepper slices

Add, reduce heat to low, cover (with a vent), cook 30 minutes.

We had it with hearty rye bread fresh and warm from the bread machine.

The Friday Five on a Sunday

Feb. 10th, 2019 09:11 pm
nanila: BEST POKEMON (snorlax)
[personal profile] nanila
  1. What size (twin, full, etc.) is your bed?
    King. We replaced our ancient double bloke-at-university-era bed with a very expensive John Lewis version when I discovered I was pregnant with Keiki, because I refused point-blank to carry another child to term on that mattress.

  2. How many pillows do you sleep with?
    I use one pillow and the bloke uses one pillow. We each have an additional chunky memory-foam pillow that we use when reading in bed.

  3. Do you have a weighted blanket? If so, does it help you?
    Er, I had to look this up. I have never used a weighted blanket and since I rarely suffer from insomnia, I probably wouldn't benefit from one.

  4. Do you sleep with any stuffed animals?
    Only the ones our children bring with them when they sneak into bed with us.

  5. Do you have to have the TV on to go to sleep?
    No, although we often listen to BBC Radio 4 comedy programmes (News Quiz, The Now Show, John Finnemore creations, Old Harry's Game) when it's time for lights out.

inspired by an episode of Dark

Feb. 10th, 2019 02:38 am
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
[personal profile] firecat
What if people walked around in real life with their theme music playing, the way it works in TV, movies, and (especially) operas?

StoryWorth: Special Talents

Feb. 9th, 2019 11:19 am
lillibet: (Default)
[personal profile] lillibet
What are some of your special talents?

I think of myself as fairly self-aware and unwilling to engage in false modesty. A few years ago I was part of an online bragging group--the idea was that people, especially women, tend to shy away from acknowledging their talents and hard work, believing that if something is easy for them, then it is simply easy and hardly worth doing. On the one hand it was great to have an environment in which I could brag about my accomplishments, both mundane and extraordinary. On the other hand I felt that I didn't get that much out of it because I have the great good fortune (and skill in crafting relationships) to have many people in my life to appreciate me and call my attention to the things I do well, as well as many opportunities to receive praise for my more public talents. It is still hard for me to publish a list like this without feeling horribly vain, and yet to believe that by claiming my own talents I can empower others to do likewise.

- I have beautiful handwriting.

- I have excellent reading comprehension. Those 99th percentile scores on standardized tests never seemed like a big deal, but the more time I spend working through texts with people, the clearer it is to me what a talent it is.

- I am a very good cook, both in terms of making tasty food and at putting food on the table in a timely fashion, in appropriate amounts, tailored to the tastes and restrictions of the diners.

- I am a good host. I am good at planning events and thinking of contingencies. I make people feel welcome in my home and comfortable here.

- I am an excellent public speaker. I have good diction and projection. I am not nervous, I do not giggle, or stammer, or make it look painful. I remember to slow down, to smile and pay attention to my body language. I can engage a crowd and convey the emotional content of my material clearly.

- I am a great gift-giver. I have the good fortune to be able to afford presents for people I love, but also the thoughtfulness and imagination to see what people will enjoy, but are unlikely to buy for themselves.

- I am a good friend. I remember names and details. I check in and keep in touch, but I'm also good at picking up where we left off and moving forward, despite the intervening years. I don't invest so much that I resent when it is not returned. I have a good enough sense of who my friends are and what our relationship is that I don't get mad at people for being themselves. I show up when you need me, or make sure that someone else does.

- I am an excellent storyteller. I can craft the smallest happening into a narrative with beginning, middle, and end. I can find the point of a story and make it clear to my listeners. I understand the difference between supporting detail and irrelevant minutia and more than one person has told me that they've learned, when I launch into a seeming non sequitur of a story, to just hold on because the connection is always there in the end.

- I am an excellent organizer. I can set up easily-maintained systems for keeping large amounts of information sorted and accessible--and then I actually do maintain them. I can make schedules and plans for groups large and small that keep people occupied without being overwhelmed. I can think about what people will need to anticipate problems and keep things running smoothly. And I'm good at building flexibility into the system and accepting the need to change plans and adapt to situations as I find them, without much regret for the previous version.

And I try to use my powers only for good.

Did I forget any talent you find particularly notable? What special talents do you have that you don't usually brag about?

StoryWorth: Keepsakes

Feb. 9th, 2019 11:21 am
lillibet: (Default)
[personal profile] lillibet
Do you have any keepsakes or heirlooms from your father?

Goodness, so many! I have tried to pare down and get rid of most of my parents’ things, but it’s an ongoing process. I have documents and photos of my father’s entire life in surprising detail, even after three months of paring down all the letters, papers, photographs, etc. There are two belt buckles with Liberty dollars from the year Dad was born that seem, on the one hand, like I could easily let them go, but on the other hand like something that would have no meaning to almost anyone else and don’t have much value in themselves.

The one thing that I really take joy in is a nondescript gray sweater of my dad’s. It fits me pretty well and is super warm and comfortable, with a high neck, so it makes a great extra layer on very cold days. I always enjoyed snagging my dad’s clothes—more than my mom’s, which rarely fit me—and it’s nice to feel as though he’s still keeping me warm.

But the thing that I think of as my real treasure from my dad is not the material things that I can touch, or read, or look at. It’s the things that I learned from witnessing his work and talking with him through forty-two wonderful years. He taught me how to hold an interesting conversation, how to tell a story—which I’m actually much better at than he ever was—how to lead groups, how to be self-confident. He thought I was an amazing person—”How did you get so wise,” he once asked me—and that joy in my self is the enduring legacy that I hold.One of my therapists once said that no matter how far down she drilled, there was always a sense of self-worth, a knowledge that I am loved and worthy of love. If you asked me about my father’s flaws I could go on at least this long, but his gift to me was that enduring belief that someone has always loved me. That’s my dad.

StoryWorth: Baby Stories

Feb. 9th, 2019 11:19 am
lillibet: (Default)
[personal profile] lillibet
What stories have you been told about yourself as a baby?

I think that it’s because my sisters were old enough to remember things that happened while I was a baby and to be part of they “hey, remember when E…” conversations, my babyhood comes up in conversation pretty frequently.

I’m planning to leave this post open and add to it as I remember different stories I have been told. Maybe Beckie or Anne will chime in with additions.


- holding up my head and focusing much earlier than expected

- first word “baby,” second word “Becca,” my sister

- calling myself Ebus, much to Mom’s puzzlement

- baby words: cugar, oo-oops, i-kippies

- calling Leo “Leelow”

- freaking people out by talking so early

- kicking on the wall to make Beckie take me into bed with her

- eating bologna wrapped around gherkins and the cat nibbling the bologna out of my fingers
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
[personal profile] firecat
(I'm from Michigan. Although I haven't seen snow in about 25 years, so I'd probably be bartering monogrammed yoga mats for a slice of cauliflower pizza, just like the Seattleites depicted in this here Twitter thread.)

https://twitter.com/DSilvermint/status/1093721980329574409

"I've never witnessed anything quite like Seattle grocery stores when locals are preparing to brave 4-5 inches of snow."
...
"Oh no. They've started looting. People running out of stores with armfuls of Yerba Mate tea."
"Wild packs of Goldendoodles are roaming the streets."
...
"I've been afraid to admit I'm originally from Minnesota. I'm too timid to lead the survivors."
...
"Why, just now I witnessed a young man letting several others huddle inside his beard for warmth."

(no subject)

Feb. 7th, 2019 10:32 am
firecat: campanella staring at a rock (curious campanella)
[personal profile] firecat
I've lost touch with some people I used to know, such that whenever their name appears in the sender line of an email, I know the email is a phishing spam. I sometimes feel sad about that. Usually not so much because I've lost touch with them, but that phishing spams are the primary reminder I get of their existence.
cahwyguy: (Default)
[personal profile] cahwyguy

Hello Dolly (Hollywood Pantages)If you’re like me, you always thought you had seen Hello, Dolly!. Sure, you listened to the cast album zillions of times. Sure, you’ve seen the movie … well, sometime in the past, and you thought Barbra Streisand was too young for the part, and why would she want Walter Matthau anyway? But you didn’t remember it that well. But when did you last see Hello, Dolly!, well done, on an actual stage?

If you’re like me, it was, well, I can’t remember if I have.

Seeing Betty Buckley (FB) in Hello, Dolly! Sunday evening at the  Hollywood Pantages (FB) was a revelation. It was a reminder of what theatre was in the golden age — the days of Gower Champion and David Merrick. It was also a reminder about how what you might remember as a fluff of a show — a star vehicle — has surprising relevance over 50 years after it first premiered.

For those who don’t remember the story, it is based on Thornton Wilder‘s 1938 comedy The Merchant of Yonkers, which Wilder revised and retitled The Matchmaker in 1955. In 1964, it was adapted into a musical by producer David Merrick, with lyrics and music by Jerry Herman and a book by Michael Stewart. It tells the story of Dolly Gallagher Levi, a widow whose business since her husband died is “meddling” — matchmaking, among numerous other businesses. She has recently arranged a match for Horace Vandergelder, a half-a-millionaire in Yonkers, but aims to get him to change his mind and marry her. She’s also helping Ambrose Kemper to marry Vandergelder’s niece, Ermengarde … but to do so she’s got to overcome Horace’s reluctance because the young man has no income. Vandergelder is planning to propose to Irene Molloy, a hatmaker in New York. In parallel, Vandergelder’s clerks also engineer a trip to New York for adventure. They run into Molloy’s shop, where they get involved with Molloy and her assistant, Minnie Fay. That gives you the basics: you can find a detailed synopsis on the Wikipedia page.

The story itself — unsurprisingly — is silly and a bit dated. The behavior reflects the attitudes of the 1890s, not today. But there are some really important messages in the story that I never realized, and that are really, really important. First and foremost is Dolly’s message, best captured in “Before the Parade Passes By”. Dolly had been in a deep funk after her husband died, and that become clear as the musical progresses. But what is clear is that the incidents shown in the musical reflect a turning point for her: a decision to get out of her depression and jump back into life. That’s a very important message — perhaps one that wasn’t as strongly recognized in the 1960s. Far too many people are depressed, and the best way out of that depression is to go out and live. To return to life. To do it before the parade — and life — passes you by.

The second message comes out at the end, and seems even more relevant in the days of Donald Trump. The goal of money is not to hoard it; it is not to be like a dragon pinching every penny (even that one in your pocket). Money is like manure, as Dolly notes: it works best when you treat it like fertilizer and spread it around, enabling those around you to grow. This is such an important lesson — and one that our current administration could well learn.

The messages in Dolly are made stronger with the right casting. Having seen Dolly now, I can say that Streisand was clearly too young for the part. So was Channing in 1964. So were many of the other actresses playing the role then. Dolly needs to be an older woman who is clearly returning to life, not a younger women with her life before her. This is one reason why this revival has worked so well. The women playing the role on Broadway — Midler, Peters — were the right age. Betty Buckley is the right age — and is an example of how older women are coming into their own, as the LA Times noted.

So before we get into the nuances of the performances of this cast, let me say again: Go see this show. This isn’t your father’s or grandfather’s creaky musical. If you watch closely, you’ll see a message that is truly relevant today.

Under the direction of Jerry Zaks and the choreography of Warren Carlyle (with Stephen Edlund (FB) [Assoc. Director]; and Sara Edwards (FB[Assoc. Choreographer], and David Chase [Dance Arrangements]), the production scintillates, shines, and entertains tremendously. This team seemingly permitted the cast and ensemble to explicitly have fun, to play the characters as characters (i.e., not hyper-realistic), and to just go with it. I have no idea whether the original director and choreographer Gower Champion permitted this, but it made this staging just a real joy to watch. I was just smiling through the entire show — it was that much fun.

In the lead position was Betty Buckley (FB). Before I saw the show, I was unsure whether she would be able to make this show her own, but from the moment of her entry — she did. She played to and with the audience; she was clearly having fun and was bringing the audience along for the ride. Buckley’s Dolly seemed to have two sides: the side that was the acknowledged character in the story, and the side that was the character in the show, knowing it was the show. Other characters did this as well (at times), encouraging the audience to go along with the gag — a “we know this is silly, but let’s have fun together”. Buckley’s voice handled the music well — although truth be told, this isn’t a show that requires a spectacular singing voice for Dolly, just a loud one. After all, Channing’s voice during her (shall we say) extended run was never the greatest (her voice was better in Gentlemen Prefer Blonds), but the character made up for it. Buckley had the voice, and the character. Buckley also had the age, which gave her character the right gravitas and experience for the role to actually make sense. I don’t think this was the case in the 1960s original, when Channing or Streisand were in their 20s and 30s (Merman and some of the others did have the right age, at that point). But in this revival, the age worked to the advantage of the character.

Also super-strong was Lewis J. Stadlen (FB)’s Horance Vandergelder. I was never enamored of David Hyde Pierce in the role — he didn’t have the age, and the curmudgeon-ness was forced. Stadlen, on the other hand, brings that in spades. It’s like Pangloss was on stage (which he was). He has the comic timing, the playfulness, and the experience to do the role right. In many ways, he harkens back to the original Vandergelder, David Burns, who was an old man at the time. He also makes a believable couple with Buckley’s Dolly; not something you could say for all the various Dolly/Vandergelder actor pairings.

In the supporting male positions were Nic Rouleau (🌟FB) [Corneilius Hackl] and Jess LeProtto (FB) [Barnaby Tucker]; the corresponding ladies were Analisa Leaming (FB) [Irene Molloy] and Kristen Hahn (FB) [Minnie Fay]. All had wonderful comic timing and expressions, and were strong singers and dancers. In particular, the comic playfulness of Rouleau was just a delight, and he seemed to take great joy in going above and beyond in the comedy department. Leaming found the right balance between being prim and proper and letting her hair down and letting the girl out. As for the other pairing of LeProtto and Hahn: LeProtto got the comedy and timidness of Barnaby well, and was an outstanding dancer in “Dancing”. Hahn caught my eye from the first moment she came on stage. She had the right aura of naive and nerd that made her pairing with LeProtto’s Barnaby work. All were strong.

The third tier of characters were Garett Hawe (FB) [Ambrose Kemper] and Morgan Kirner (FB) [Ermengarde]. This were almost literally one-note characters — certainly for Kirner, who seemed to only screech as a character. But they were strong in their dancing during the contest, and provided the necessary humor.

Rounding out the cast were the minor named characters (who were also part of the ensemble), as well as the unnamed ensemble members: Jessica Sheridan (FB) [Ernestina Money, Dolly Leviu/s]; Wally Dunn (FB) [Rudolph, Horace Vandergelderu/s]; Maddy Apple (FB) [Irene Molloyu/s]; Daniel Beeman (FB) [Court Clerk, Cornelius Hacklu/s]; Giovanni Bonaventura (FB) [Ambrose Kemperu/s]; Elizabeth Broadhurst (FB) [Irene Molloyu/s, Ernestinau/s]; Julian DeGuzman (FB) [Barnaby Tuckeru/s]; Alexandra Frohlinger (FB) [Ermengardeu/s, Minnie Fayu/s]; Dan Horn (FB); Corey Hummerston (FB) [Ambrose Kemperu/s]; Madison Johnson (FB) [Minnie Fayu/s]; Beth Kirkpatrick (FB) [Mrs. Rose, Dolly Leviu/s, Ernestinau/s]; Ben Lanham (FB); Kyle Samuel (FB); Scott Shedenhelm (FB) [Barnaby Tuckeru/s]; Timothy Shew  [Judge, Horace Vandergelderu/s]; Maria Cristina Slye (FB); Cassie Austin Taylor (FB); Davis Wayne (FB); Brandon L. Whitmore (🌟FB); and Connor Wince (FB). Swings were: Brittany Bohn (FB) [Asst. Dance Captain, Ermengardeu/s]; Whitney Cooper (FB); Nathan Keen (FB); and Ian Liberto (FB) [Dance Captain, Cornelius Hacklu/s]. Of these, a few stand out: Jessica Sheridan, not only for her comic playfulness as Ernestina, but her joy as she moved in the ensemble; and Wally Dunn for the fun he had as Rudolph during the waiter’s gallop. Additionally, all of the ensemble should be commended for the fun they were having, and how that fun was conveyed to the audience.

Musically, Jerry Herman’s music and lyrics were supplemented by the orchestrations of Larry Hochman. Music was realized under the music direction of Robert Billig (FB). The remaining members of the orchestra were ( indicates local musicans): Tim Laciano (FB) [Keyboard2, Assoc. Conductor]; Max Mamon (FB) [Keyboard1]; Rich Rosenzweig (FB) [Percussionist]; Jeffrey Wilfore [Trumpet1]; Jen Choi Fischer (FB) [Violin, Concertmaster]; Grace Oh (FB), Ina Veli [Violin]; Ira Glansbeek [Cello]; Michael Valerio [Acoustic Bass]; Richard Mitchell [Clarinet / Flute / Piccolo / Alto Sax]; Jeff Driskill [Flute / Clarinet / Alto Sax]; Sean Franz (FB) [Clarinet / Flute / Bass Clarinet / Tenor Sax]; Chad Smith [Clarinet / Baritone Sax / Bassoon];  John Fumo (FB) [Trumpet2]; Aaron Smith [Trumpet3]; Charlie Morillas (FB) [Trombone]; Juliane Gralle [Bass Tombone]; and Mary Ekler [Keyboard Sub]. Other music credits:  Eric Heinly (FB) [Orchestra Contractor];  Seymour Red Press [Music Coordinator]; Kimberlee Wertz [Assoc. Music Coordinator]; Emily Grishman Music Preparation [Music Copying].

Santo Loquasto did the Scenic and Costume Design. The scenic design was heavily traditional scrims and flats — no abuse of technology and projections here — with larger sets for Feed and Grain Shop, the Hat Shop, and the Harmonium Gardens. More spectacular were the costumes, with a remarkable use of color and bustles to provide a scenic rainbow on stage. In general, the scenic use of color in this show as something special. This was all supported by the hair, wigs, and makeup design of Campbell Young Associates. The sound design of Scott Lehrer was unusually clear in the Pantages space; it will be interesting to see how show sound evolves as musicals move to the Dolby. Natasha Katz (FB)’s lighting established time and mood well. Rounding out the production and creative credits were: Don Pippin [Vocal Arrangements];  Telsey + Company [Casting]; William Joseph Barnes [Production Supervisor]; Brian J. L’ecuyer [Production Stage Manager]; Karyn Meek [Stage Manager]; Amy Ramsdell [Asst. Stage Manager]; Allied Touring [Tour Marketing and Press]; Aurora Productions [Production Manager]; Neurosport [Physical Therapy]; and far too many producers and executive producers.

If I haven’t made it clear by now, go see Hello Dolly! You’ll be glad to be back where you belong. Hello, Dolly! continues at the Hollywood Pantages (FB) theatre through February 17, 2019. Get your tickets through the Pantages online box office; discount tickets may be available through Goldstar or TodayTix. The Pantages has announced their 2019-2020 season, and it’s a good one. You can read my thoughts on the season here.

***

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre (or music) critic; I am, however, a regular theatre and music audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted (or I’ll make a donation to the theatre, in lieu of payment). I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at 5 Star Theatricals (FB), the Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), and the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals). I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.

Upcoming Shows:

This coming weekend is busy, with 1776 at the Saroya [nee the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)] (FB) and then running over to Hollywood for Anna Karenina at Actors Co-op (FB).  Presidents Day weekend brings  The Joy Wheel at Ruskin Group Theatre (FB) in Santa Monica.  The last weekend of February is our annual trek to the Anaheim Hills for Lizzie at the Chance Theatre (FB).

March starts with Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB), followed by the annual MRJ Regional Man of the Year dinner at Temple Beth Hillel. The next weekend brings “Disney’s Silly Symphony” at the Saroya [nee the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)] (FB). The third weekend of March brings Cats at the Hollywood Pantages (FB). The following weekend is Matilda at  5 Star Theatricals (FB). March concludes with us back at the Hollywood Pantages (FB) for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Lastly, looking into April: The month starts with Steel Magnolias at Actors Co-op (FB) and the MoTAS Men’s Seder. The next weekend has a hold for OERM.  April will also bring Fiddler on the Roof at the Hollywood Pantages (FB) and the annual visit to the Renaissance Pleasure Faire.

As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Better-LemonsMusicals in LA@ This StageFootlights, as well as productions I see on GoldstarLA Stage TixPlays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Note: Lastly, want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget.

===> Click Here To Comment <==This entry was originally posted on Observations Along the Road as 🎭 How To Combat Depression | "Hello, Dolly!" @ Hollywood Pantages by cahwyguy. Although you can comment on DW, please make comments on original post at the Wordpress blog using the link to the left. You can sign in with your LJ, DW, FB, or a myriad of other accounts. Note: Subsequent changes made to the post on the blog are not propagated by the SNAP Crossposter; please visit the original post to see the latest version. P.S.: If you see share buttons above, note that they do not work outside of the Wordpress blog.

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