Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic

Plan B

Plan A was to be at the ham radio convention most of the morning, have Satyrbucks with Janice at 2, and see West Side Story at 8. Two out of 3.
Drove to the Marriott where the conference was, the same one I went to at lunchtime yesterday, and was turned away at the entrance because there was no parking available. The reason there was no parking available is the conference took up the entire visitors' parking lot with outdoor displays. This is in addition to a full ballroom of indoor displays. There was no parking available in the neighborhood, it being all software companies, and the tow trucks were being extra vigilant because there was an even at Levi's Stadium and at the convention center about a mile away.

So I went home and vegged. Domino was happy to have me back.

I did meet up with Janice, but it was a short meeting because she had booked something for 3:30. Back home, watched some college football, read some stuff on the upcoming election and printed my ticket to the NASA Ames tour next Saturday. And saw online that they had also picked that day for the SBMT to hold a memorial for the twin who died. Crap. I wanted to be there. I did not know her well enough for the memorial to be more important to me than the 1st time in my Bay Area lifetime when NASA has opened to tours.

West Side Story was a mixed bag. I went, finally, against my better judgment because I knew the director, choreographer, both leading ladies and three of the dancers. The reason it was against my better judgment are many and varied:

1. The director was in Brigadoon and he kind of phoned it in. I was not expecting a brilliant directing job
2. The choreographer I have worked with a couple of times before, and he overworks his whole cast (including making non-dancers dance)
3. The choreographer must have been phoning it in because he also had a major role in Kiss Me Kate, rehearsals and shows concurrent with WSS
4. It's a Leonard Bernstein score, and extremely difficult to play. I expected a community theater orchestra to butcher it
5. Anita and Maria were played by two of the girls from Little Shop of Horrors, who did not need to sing or act nearly at the level required for this, and I had seen little evidence they could act, and none that they could sing that well.
6. The publicity photos showed them wearing mikes on the middle of their foreheads, pointing down. That will make for choppy spoken words and distorted singing. And it's ugly and distracting, except in Bollywood.

When I read the director's note in the program one more popped up: They were doing the original Broadway version, which has some scenes in awkward places and is not as succinct as the movie. The OB version only ran for 4 months, and the only Tonys it won were for scenic design and Jerome Robbins' choreography, neither of which woud translate to Stage 1's production.

So the good news. Leslie (Maria) turns out to have a coloratura soprano voice hidden inside her. And she can act adequately. Danielle (Anita) also has a terrific soprano-to-alto voice with a strong belt voice, and she can act superbly. And she can dance well too. The woman who played the foil to Anita in America sang, danced and acted better than average and is cute as a button. So is her sister. I have seen them both before on this stage.

The kid playing Tony has a beautiful voice, but acts like a wooden plank, and kept coming in late on his music, and running out of breath. There was no charisma with Leslie.

The bad news is the directing was horrible, the choreography was lame, and not well rehearsed, but a large part of it was casting men who can't dance because they needed warm bodies, and then expecting them to master long, complicated routines.

My dancer friends were very good, but they had very little to work with.

The orchestra was at the back of the stage, 35 pieces, behind a tall chain link fence, with the conductor's back to us. That's twelve flavors of FAIL. It's a huge stage, they could easily had put a smaller, more functional orchestra on stage left or right facing the stage, and still had as much real estate as the show needed.

Set changes were awkward and stupid. After the rumble, two dead guys are left on center stage, and when the lights go down they get up and exit. At the end, after Tony dies and Maria is done going insane, the lights go down and both of them get up and exit.

There were several times when there should have been a pause for applause after a musical number, but the director had them just rush right into the next scene, killing the moment. When he did this after I Have A Love I was furious.

The orchestra was not up to the task, but they came close. The conductor looked bored, but who can tell, we only saw his back.

I'm glad I saw Leslie and Danielle, but it wasn't worth full price.

Plans for tomorrow:
Janice needs help with her TV remote, but I may not have time. I want to try the ham convention again. And I have a ticket for a 2 pm show in SJ.

They went for a single company bow at the end. No individual acknowledgment for anyone. That sucks.

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