Saturday, December 20, 2008

I saw the Met Opera simulcast of Massenet's Thais December 20. This was the first of the simulcasts I've made it to, and I hope it won't be the last. It was delightful to get to see the performers close up, and I was impressed with the sound. I have mixed feelings about the back stage set changing and interviewing and commentary. Part of me wants to focus just on the performance, though other parts of me are curious about how the performers and designers think about their work. And the juvenile in me enjoys hearing stage hands mutter expletives as they struggle to make the set changes or run behind interviewees to be seen.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I saw The Little Prince at UNC Playmakers Rep December 14. What a lovely production and really beautifully performed. I was quite moved for days afterward, and now want to read the book. (I've only read an excerpt in French in high school before, from conversations with the Fox, which seem much more poignant now as a grown-up.)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Saw Chicago at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium December 7 with mom and D&R. I was impressed with the excellent singing and dancing, and liked the production design. And the sound was excellent, which surprised me in that space.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Saw UNC Opera Poulenc's The Breasts of Tiresias. What a strange piece! And short and with funny and lovely bits. It was well-performed by the UNC students, with a particularly unexpectedly funny fortune teller.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Went to the NC Master Chorale's performance of Stravinsky's Les Noces, and a chamber chorus and ballet that preceded it Menotti's The Unicorn, the Gorgorn and the Manticore.

The chorus and ballet piece was charming, though a little odd to me, both because of the extremely wordy narrative and conversational text sung by the chorus, but also because of the fairy-tale surreal story of an eccentric who kept pets like a unicorn.

The performance of Les Noces was clearly diligently prepared (they got through it briskly and with gusto), though the performance struck me most of all as frenetic. And because I've studied and sung Russian folk music, the diction and style of singing kept distracting me. I admire them for giving it a good go.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Went to Art During the Reign of Philip III -- El Greco to Velazquez at the Nasher at Duke. Actually, I went twice -- once on my own and once with a friend of mine. It was a pretty impressive little show, and nicely curated. The paintings and sculptures were grouped thematically (Mary, saints, still life, et al.) to make it easy to compare different treatments of the same subjects. And there were a couple of cool things to see side-by-side -- similar subjects by the same artist and similar compositions by different artists, and similar themes by different artists. I was particularly impressed by an adoration of the magi by Maino. TV program here.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

I went to Sweeney Todd at Duke. It was an interesting production. A few of the actors' or directors' choices were interesting, but it wasn't particularly inspiring and I wasn't really in the mood to be there, so I left at intermission. I'm glad I went, though.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Saw Absinthe at Spiegelworld in New York. Wow, I was impressed with the performances. I think every act had something to recommend it -- straps, swinger clowns, balloon, skaters, pair balancing, hoops and hand balancing and contortion, duo static trapeze, tumbling, and maybe another one or two that's slipped my mind now. And it was great to be just a couple rows away from the action. I'm definitely keen to go to another show there, even if not this year.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saw New York City Waterfalls by Olafur Eliasson: the one in Brooklyn at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, another between Piers 4 and 5 near the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and a fourth on the north shore of Governors Island. I was charmed by the waterfall under the Brooklyn bridge. The other two that I saw just looked like giant scaffolds with water flowing down the side like a big fountain. I suppose the combination of the bridge pier masking the scaffolding, and the juxtaposition of a waterfall under a busy old bridge made that one work for me. Glad I made a point to go.
I (and hundreds of other people) participated in the Improv Everywhere MP3 Experiment 2008 in New York City on Governor's Island. It was lots of fun to see hundreds of other people in red, blue, yellow and green shirts looking knowingly at each other and anticipating a fun bit in the afternoon. I wore my Dartmouth 'GREEN' shirt and got a few smiles and snickers and a few recent- and soon-to-be Dartmouth graduates introduced themselves. The Improv Everywhere site gives good coverage of what the event is actually like, so I won't elaborate on it here. Plus I've only found one picture where I can tell I'm in it.. It's certainly different and fun to be participating/playing/performing/having fun than just reading about it and looking at pictures and imagining it. It was also nice to see Charlie Todd there in the fray.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Saw Ka with DK in Las Vegas. I was afraid it would basically be an apparatus/scenery-driven show, but was pleased that it was better than that. In particular, the duo strap act in the second half was quite impressive, as was the big spinning apparatus act. In addition, the moving stage platform that went towards vertical (and was covered with arrows and ripples) was a platform for engaging acts. While quite simple, the bird puppetry was lovely. I wasn't quite as taken in as other Cirque du Soleil shows, but was not disappointed, either.
Saw Tropic Thunder with DK and really enjoyed it. It reminded me lots of South Park's sensibility, but live action with a big budget, and quite well done.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Saw Le Reve in Las Vegas with DK. It was cool to be in a smaller venue (than O) and seated in the round around the water. The mood and such for the show was well done, but I wasn't impressed by anything in the show. I felt like it was a lot of people on winches. If there weren't winches, I think I'd have been bored to tears. I much preferred O, which had a lot more variety and lots more impressive acts.
I've now seen both the world's largest cut diamond and the world's largest rhinestone. DK and I went to the Liberace Museum in Las Vegas. It was pretty cool, actually. A bunch of fancy cars and pianos and outfits, staffed by friendly people.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I went to the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington. Unfortunately, it just didn't do much for me. The harbor location is lovely, the flow around, to and from, and on top of the building seemed awkward, and the monumental cone is, well, monumental. It was interesting to watch glassblowers at work (and have seen that other places before), and there was lots of art glass, particularly lots of Chihuly. It's clear to me that the skill required to create the works is impressive, they just didn't grab me. As I reflected on that, I was thinking that just being around one Chihuly piece would probably be more engaging for me than being around hundreds.

The one thing that I did particularly like was the exhibit Contrasts: A Glass Primer. From their own description: "The exhibition is comprised of international, historically important, and visually stunning works of glass art that are grouped to illustrate opposing ideas, techniques, and styles." It was quite engaging, and got me to look at the items with much more engagement than just "that's lovely" or "that's impressive" or "I don't care for that".

Saturday, August 16, 2008

At the NC G&L Film Festival last night, I saw a particularly beautiful short about a boy who discovers he has a crush on his piano teacher done without words called Trystan. The last movie I remember being quite so charmed and enthralled by the visual storytelling was the Triplets of Belleville. Mmm...

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Saw the Carolina Chocolate Drops string band then The Great Debaters movie at the NC Museum of Art outdoors with Dan. The group was good fun with some lively playing and dancing and singing (on-stage and off-). The movie was well-done and engaging.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

I saw Brideshead Revisited last night. (As I approached the cinema, I saw the marquee said Eraserhead and not Brideshead and I was briefly confused.) I liked it -- it's the first costume drama I've seen in a while, and I'd forgotten how engrossed I get in them. And the whole thing just seemed very well crafted to me all around from concept and plot to dialog to cinematography, with none of the craftsmanship calling attention to itself.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

GALA Choruses Festival in Miami, July 12-15. Highlights for me (besides our chorus singing) were Coro Allegro, Boston, Washington D.C. and Atlanta Gay Men's Choruses (with a sighting of a friend of mine I didn't expect to see), and San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus's USS Metaphor (with great lines like 'I want to speak with your top man'.)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Leslie Jordan at Progress Energy Center July 11 was a fun one-man show. Lots of laughs, some tender moments and no doubt that he has great performing (and ad libbing) chops. Honestly, I don't think I'd really heard of him before, but on a friend's recommendation went, and I'm glad I did.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pilobolus at American Dance Festival June 19, 2008

I liked one of the new pieces (Laterna Magica), and kind of liked their new projection/puppetry one, but wanted more physicality than was in it. The bodily engagement of the dancers and the fun they have is something that draws me in, and I just didn't get much of that in that new piece. Since I saw them here, I won't be heading to New York to see them.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Radio Gals, Raleigh Little Theatre, Sutton Theatre, June 6, 2008 -- When with Chris N and enjoyed the fun show. Well performed, cute, sometimes a bit of a pastiche and fluffy, and fun. Looking forward to more shows at the Raleigh Little Theatre.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

NC Pride Band May 17th.
Went to see the NC Pride Band (as in concert band) concert tonight. I didn't know what to expect, and my heart sank during the first number which sounded note-y/play-by-numbers, and I heard intonation problems throughout.Fortunately, the rest of their playing was pretty solid and fun. The Duffy piece called Snakes was mercifully short. (Snakes in a band!) And they had a sax quartet play, and I liked them (I'm not fond of sax). And there was a jazz band from Atlanta (called MetroGnomes, heh) that was excellent. Now I want to play in a jazz band. (I still don't want to play sax, though.)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Avenue Q May 7 In Raleigh
Great Show, Great to see it again. (Blogger ate both my previous write-ups so I'm not writing any more.)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bent April 25 by the Raleigh Ensemble Players. This was a rich, intimate, deep, challenging performance.

The play follows Max's life from dissolute young partying life in Berlin in the 1930s to his time at Dachau concentration camp. He confronts everything from cold-blooded murderousness to grace around him and many sides of himself from manipulative self-promotion to overwhelming love.

The performance was done with a small audience (I think there were about 40 of us) moving through dark shifting spaces at the barked orders of guards in swastika-emblazoned uniforms to stand and sit around events as they unfolded. There was no hint of a third wall.

The actors themselves generally got me to forget that I was watching actors playing parts, which doesn't happen so often or easily for me. It was the occasional slip of southern drawl onto a word or a brush against someone in the audience that reminded me of their being actors. I was impressed.

It seems rare for me to see in a play (or most anything, for that matter) an earnest and wide-ranging set of situations, conflicts, values, emotions and motivations that is both difficult because it gets at painful things that happen in life and yet engaging as a story rather than a lecture or schematic. To be faced again and again with people in terribly difficult and often shocking situations and see what they do and wonder what I would do and why and how to decide what to do is both uncomfortable and a way to learn more about myself and what goes on with other people.

I don't think I can write positively enough to convey how much I value having gone to the performance. At the same time, I remember that only a few years ago, I just don't think I'd have been ready to go to the show or, if I had, that it would have touched me and moved me the way it does now.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum performed by the Pauper Players, April 24 at UNC. This was a modestly-budgeted and -staged (most or all student) production of the show (which I'd never seen before, but had heard a couple of songs from). The performances were solidly comic and musical (with just one number sounding off to me). I was impressed with the energy and willingness to really go for large silly performing, while keeping a fast tight pace and sounding good -- Lovely, even. I'm looking forward to the next Pauper show, and think I'll enjoy seeing this particular show another time.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

NC Master Chorale April 19 - Verdi Requiem was well done. I wished I could hear more of the chorus, generally and in relation to the orchestra too often. I was actually most impressed with the pre-show talk by one of the cellists about the piece, the history around requiem compositions, and the performance itself.
Monty Python's Spamalot April 19, 2008 in Raleigh was fun and well-performed and well-staged. Glad I saw it, enjoyed it, and don't feel the need to see it again. Kind of like a nice dessert that's pleasant enough but doesn't call out to be had again.

Monday, March 03, 2008

A New Brain by Pauper Players at UNC Cabaret space

Enjoyed the solid performance and spare production with H. Was happy to see TK in the show. Was particularly moved by the sailing song (the song itself, the performance and the performer). Looking forward to more Pauper Players shows.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Hedwig and the Angry Inch February 22 in Raleigh at Legends Well-performed and -staged. Only one song really grabbed me (The Origin of Love, I think is the title). I'm glad I brought ear plugs, and I'm glad there wasn't much smoking.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Drowsy Chaperone February 12-17, 2008 in Raleigh at Broadway Series South was lots of fun. Went to see it with Howard, who also enjoyed it. I'm still snickering about various parts of the very self-referential show. Well-performed and very clever and funny and aware of musical theater cliches to make fun of. Definitely recommend.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Went to see Sweeney Todd at Company Carolina on February 2, 2008 in Chapel Hill.

The actor playing Sweeney Todd was impressive. The best performance that I've been able to see up close. Lots variety and intensity. Mrs. Lovett was also good, though unevenly able to match Sweeney. Beadle Banford was also impressively smarmy. Anthony, Joanna, the judge, the Beggar Woman all had impressive moments, and Toby was disconcertingly agonizing during the contest and losing it at the end of the show.

The choral numbers were overwhelmed by the orchestra. Mic problems marred some of the numbers, particularly disappointingly Joanna's.

Glad I went to see it.