Sunday, March 2, 2014

It Happens When You Make Plans

"What is Life, Alex?"

Sadly, the Michael Bolton concert was canceled due to illness, but I'm not as inconvenienced as probably a lot of concert goers are since I only live 15 minutes (or three and a half Clay Aiken songs) from the venue.

Get well, Michael. Now I get to see the Oscars in my pajamas. (How they'll all fit in my pajamas, I don't know.)

I should take this opportunity to catch up, but the shows are over or ending soon, so there doesn't seem much point. But for the record, what I haven't caught up on are the following:

  • Chaplin's Back--a screening of The Idle Class and The Kid with Chaplin's original scores performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Marin Alsop conducting. 
  • An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin--two old pros, old friends, telling the story of a relationship through concert versions of show songs.
  • Violet--musical journey of a young woman hoping a televangelist will heal her scarred face, and of her awakening to love without prejudice.
  • The Importance of Being Earnest--where the wit of Wilde is the star of the show, but the sets were gorgeous, too.

  • I'm a sucker for simplicity in stagecraft, but both Violet and Earnest were stunning. In the case of Violet at Ford's, the sets were evolving constantly with the journey, both geographically and temporally.

    With Earnest at STC's Lansburgh venue, the stunningly beautiful works of art that were Algie's London flat (Act I) and the garden behind Jack's country house (Acts II and III) were by necessity static. Too elaborate to move, for one thing, but also it would be terribly distracting from the dialogue if there were a lot of movement on stage. The whole point of the play is to hear the aphorisms that Wilde so masterfully crafted. Put the actors on their spots and let them say the lines clearly so the audience can pay attention.

    I've argued this point whenever I see dance movies that have a lot of camera movement. Drives me crazy. When the subject is in motion, keep the camera still.

    The same strategy worked for the Patti and Mandy show. It was about their relationship, and what they brought out of the music to tell that story. They were accompanied by Paul Ford, Mandy's pianist/musical director, and a bass (didn't catch the name and it's not in the program. Sorry). The simplicity of this arrangement kept the focus squarely on Patti and Mandy. My favorite part was when Mandy introduced the Evita section by telling the story of their both auditioning for what would become their iconic and career-making roles and how nervous they were before the first preview performance. Mandy reassured Patti then that he would be her friend--and they still are. Definitely an awww moment, and very touching, no matter how often they tell the exact same story to other audiences.

    Working backwards to the Chaplin show--what a great way to see a movie. The music is often my favorite thing about a film (see, for instance, my comments about The Right Stuff), and if it's done right, it doesn't draw attention to itself. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra gorgeously played this music, which Chaplin, astonishingly, composed 50 years after the films were made.

    Which is another point I've argued before: that art evolves and lives to inspire other artists.

    Love, hosaa
    stuffing Oscars into my pajamas.... or something

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