October 12th, 2014


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.

Avoidance - my passive aggressive moments

Two shows in two days, each with friends I needed to hug and acquaintances and ex-friends I need to avoid.

Last night, West Side Story had some shining lights, six woman I have been in shows with who were excellent in their roles. One of those shows the director and choreographer were in. The directing sucked. It was so bad... and the choreography had its moments, but those were far outweighed by a male cast who couldn't dance but were given complex routines anyway. I was spared the choreographer, he was in another show across the Bay, which is part of the reason the dances were a FAIL.  After the show I saw the director as soon as I came out of the building, but luckily he was deep in conversation with a couple of other people, didn't see me, and someone I did know came over to chat with me when I got to the other side of the courtyard.

Today, Utopia, Ltd. was 12 flavors of brilliant, but two flavors of not so much. Normally I would have gone over to M and D for hugs despite their so-so performances. But there was drama:
M was married with 4 kids. His wife and the kids were regulars in the theater. D is a much younger woman who started doing shows in this group about 3 years ago. Last year M dumped his wife & kids to run off with D. I used to like them both, a lot, but just can't face them now. Both have gained about 50 lbs since they got together, which is sad but kind of revenge of sorts.

Again, I saw them as soon as I stepped out of the theater, but managed to maneuver away without them seeing me, and found the other dozen people I wanted to congratulate. 

Backing up:
I woke up way late, emailed Janice that I could come over after the show to help fix her PC and TV remote.

Did my morning stuff, grabbed a banana and drove to the parking garage a couple of blocks from the theater.  12:30 pm and it was already 85°! Indian Summer is racist, so how about Native American Summer? First Nations Summer? Indigenous Peoples' Summer? 

Ate the banana in the parking garage, walked to the theater but it was too early for the box office so I parked my butt outside and people watched. Lovely day, lots of women in not a lot of clothing.

Utopia, Ltd.  is the least-performed Gilbert & Sullivan show, for a number of reasons. One is it requires a large chorus, another is there are no songs which are particularly memorable, and a third is it is a tactless slam at British values of the previous century, which haven't applied for a couple of generations. Lyric Theater's production was superb from all angles, especially the very strong and talented chorus. Very well-directed, excellent casting, a lot of enjoyable choreography, the orchestra was just right, and did a good job with music they had never seen before and was sometimes booby trapped with oddball time signatures and syncopations. No mikes, Montgomery Theater is kind to people who can project, which was all but one speaking part. Costumes for Act I, the tropical utopia, were fantastic, and included a lot of improvisation. Imagine a bra made of bamboo worn as a hat, with a cup on each side of the head. Act II was after Anglicization which made the men's costumes easy but they kind of blew it on most of the women's costumes. They should have gone Victorian, but instead put the females in, well, whatever they could come up with.

Long story short, they nailed it, and I was happy to have seen it.

Home for a snack, then to Janice's, where it took half an hour to ride her PC of the nasty RegCleaner Pro pop-up which never dies. And then got her remote back in sync with her TV and cable box. We had tried to do that over the phone last night but whatever idiot man friend was over kept giving wrong answers. No, the red/black/gold connectors do not go to the cable box. Yes, there IS an HDMI cable connected to the slot marked "HDMI" and it goes to the blu-ray player, not the cable box. All that needed to be done was to manually put the TV input on TV (aka cable) and then turn the TV off. From then on the remote worked fine.

Home, beef pot pie for dinner, with Domino on the arm of the recliner trying to put her nose inside it, but when I offered her the bowl to lick she wanted none of it.

Watched South Park and Shark Tank on Tivo. Tivo missed recording the Seahawks game, but they lost so that's okay. All my teams lost. SF Giants, Raiders, Orioles. But the NY Jets also lost, so that counts for something. I have a new logo for them:

Plans for tomorrow:
Work (team meeting at 10)
MNF (Hooters is still a possibility, but after halftime)