The Theater Less Filled

For all the doom and gloom out there in the media, all you have to do is take a trip to New York for a corrective. The city is bulging at the seams, especially in summer. The rest of the world might be suffering, but the crowds in New York are in the restaurants, in the theaters and at Macy’s. I went there one early afternoon and as soon as I stepped inside, I wanted to run out again. It was wall-to-wall humanity, from the rich to the not-so rich, spraying perfume on themselves, looking at shoes and wristwatches, and trying on the latest red shade of lipstick. Adding to the agony of suffocation were a plethora of security guards watching the shoppers’ every move.

Most theaters are doing a lottery to fill their seats these days, except Hamilton of course. I walked up to the box office and inquired if they had a couple of spare seats for that day or night. The man behind the glass plate (have you ever wondered why the glass plate?) laughed himself silly. “Come back in January,” he said. This was August.

So I saw The Humans, the Tony award winner for best play and best performances from an actor and actress. It was so depressing I wanted to cry. I also didn’t think the story was unique or compelling enough to win all those awards, so either New York is depressed or there was some heavy politics involved.

I tried the lottery for On Your Feet, the Gloria Estefan story, and won! I was elated even if it did mean sitting on the third floor balcony and looking down on the stage like an eagle. The music and dancing and singing were outstanding and by the end of the two and half hour show you were on your feet moving with the company on stage. It was confusing to me why something this well done and uplifting had empty seats while something so depressing like The Humans had a full house. It goes to show that winning is everything.

Image result for on your feet, broadway

Calvin says, “The public is so easily led. Me? I stick to my nose. It never lies.” beagle

Two in One

Alf and I made our semi-annual trek to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival last week. I was craving the fall colors, the rushing creek, and rain, lots of rain. To my disappointment, everything looked dry and dusty, as if it had come out of grandma’s attic for airing, and too much like drought-intolerant California. Even the theaters had the air conditioning on. In October. Shakespeare would have stopped writing and gone to the Black Sheep for more pints.

Ashland’s city leadership is a protective bunch of environmentalists and zoning Pharisees. Over the years they’ve been very careful who builds what and where. They give out building permits sparingly, but lately, it seems to me, they’ve been imbibing at the Black Sheep too many times themselves, and loosened their grip. So there’s a condo boom in town for rich retirees coming from California who want a little bit of city with their Shakespeare setting.

There’s an Ashland we discovered on the other side of the city. It’s on rolling hills with horses and sheep dotting the landscape giving it a pastoral look. Some of the properties have vineyards that wrap around the houses like scarves. The homes are large and impressive affording views of the city and the majestic tree-studded Mt. Ashland, which in winter with its snow hat on must be a glorious sight.

We sawAdo Much Ado About Nothing, a hilarious romp with a lot of word sparing set in today’s society. While I applaud the effort OSF is making to hire actors of different ethnic backgrounds, the actor who played Claudio needed some help. When he first came on stage and delivered his first line he sounded like he had eaten a mouthful of tortillas and he never really swallowed them during the rest of the story. The other play was a Chinese classic that defied clarity. It was two plays in rehearsal on the same stage, which eventually morphed into one love story. It took dogged determination to stay in your seat to the very end because nothing really made a whole lot of sense during the first act. In case you don’t want to see it when it comes to town, it’s called, Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land. It’s been a raging hit in China since forever.

Calvin says, “They forgot to throw a dog into the Chinese mix. Hey, they had everything else including an actor in a wheelchair, why not a dog? He could have howled his way through both stories.”beagle