Archive for June, 2011

It Wasn’t Good “Company”

June 18, 2011

I had a nice nap Thursday night in the Screening Room at the Ritz 13.  It was impossible to go completely to sleep because the music was so loud, and, to me, awful, but I still managed to doze off somewhat.  I have never been fond of Stephen Sondheim’s music, but I thought maybe if I saw one of his shows all the way through, there would be something I could like. I try to be open-minded. But, after seeing Company, I haven’t changed my mind, and this 2011 performance had the wonderful New York Philharmonic backing up the singers.  Even that didn’t make it worth the $18 ticket for me.

Now, the cast and orchestra were great. The lead, Neil Patrick Harris, was outstanding. and Stephen Colbert proved he can do more than political satire on the Colbert Report. But, without good material even the best performers can’t entertain me. I like a little melody, something I can hum walking out of theater when I go to a show.  Ever try to hum Sondheim?

Still, I appreciate Carmike Cinemas for offering these specials. Special shows attract me. I have even gone to a few operas that were beamed into the theater live from Spain, Italy, and UK. The music was great, but I really didn’t go for seeing them in modern dress, with a Mercedes driving on the stage in two of them. Carmen does not lend itself to contemporary dress and staging. If you’re going to do a contemporary opera, fine, but operas like Carmen just don’t lend themselves to T-shirts and jeans. Fortunately, not all of them were staged on the cheap, and the traditional costumes were used in some.

This, of course, is just my personal opinion. Some people obviously like Sondheim’s stuff. When Company played on Broadway in 1970, it garnered a record six Tony awards. I don’t always agree with the Tony selections, nor the Oscars, for that matter.

If Carmike keeps the specials coming, I’ll continue to attend. One turkey does not a barnyard make.

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The Springer Just Keeps Getting Better

June 14, 2011

As I watched Dot McClure cut the ribbon signifying the official opening of the Dorothy W. McClure Springer Theater Academy Education Center, I remembered that she and I were in a play together at the Springer a long time ago.  When I talked with her at the ribbon cutting and open house, I couldn’t remember which one, nor could she, but now that I’ve a had a little time to think about it, I think it was Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller’s world-class American classic.  I believe she played the salesman Willie Loman’s wife, and my mother, because I played Biff, one of the two sons in the family.  That took some real acting on both our parts because we are fairly close in age.  She was quite good in the part.

She is one of the great contributors to the Springer’s success,  and her latest contribution is $3 million for the Education Center and part of the $4 million that will be used to build a new theater.  It’s all a part, according to what Artistic Director Paul Pierce said, of the $11.5 million improvement campaign.  He said that $9.8 million of that  has been raised.  He said of the more than 240 people asked to contribute funds to the project, not one said no. That is truly impressive.

And the center is truly impressive with big-mirrored classrooms for the young aspiring actors.  This year’s summer camp for young people is already 600 kids strong and education program director Ron Anderson says there is room for more.

The Springer has come a long way since 1963 when the former Columbus Little Theater moved in and Columbus theater lovers chipped in enough money to save the theater from demolition. I played the male lead in, if my memory is correct,  the last Columbus Little Theater production, Shakespeare’s Taming  of the Shrew, directed by the modern Springer’s founding director the late Charles Jones.  We did it in the round in a vacant store building in Cross Country Plaza. Not too long after that, he directed the musical that  reopened the Springer, Lil’ Abner.  It was quite a production. Springer benefactor the late Emily Woodruff brought a friend of her’s, pro Abe Feder, down from Broadway in New York to light it.  I remember that  “white light” was in vogue at the time. Feder used no color lights, saying that white lighting brings out the  brilliant colors of the costumes and sets and is best for a musical.

Thanks to people like Emily and Dot, and others, the Springer has aged very well, growing more beautiful and having a larger reach with each year.  And what Paul And Ron have done and are doing with it,  not just as a theater, but also as a school, deserves all the thanks we can give them.

“Midnight in Paris” Proves Hilarious, Intelligent Movies are Still being Made

June 12, 2011

Now I have even more reason to be hopeful about the return of quality movies.  First, “The King’s Speech” showed me that the movie makers can still produce well-written, directed, acted, photographed, intelligent adult films.  Then, I got even more encouraged when “Water for Elephants” hit the screen.  And now we have a truly clever, witty sophisticated comedy by Woody Allen that I’ll probably go see again.

I loved “Midnight in Paris” from the opening montage of iconic shots of Paris – I was there in 1955 when I was in the Army – to the hilarious ending of this highly entertaining time-warp comedy.  You just never know who will turn up as the protagonist is transported back by a vintage taxi to the Paris of the 1920’s, people like Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. And there are a lot of laughs when he, a flaming Hollywood liberal,  is in the present, interacting with his wealthy, conservative Republican future in-laws.  It’s a gem.

News Blues

June 6, 2011

A fellow worker once told me how he solved his depression problem. He said he had been a country music fan, but he finally realized that the sad stories told in country music were causing his depression. He said he stopped listening and stopped being depressed.  Well, just think about the stories being fed to us constantly by news media.   They give us a constant stream of all of the horrible and unjust things going on in the world, about man’s inhumanity to man, his proclivity to stay at war, his greed,  the wrath of nature with its more powerful tornadoes,  hurricanes,  forest fires, melting ice caps, rising oceans, plagues and famines.  Maybe they will throw in a warm and fuzzy tale at the end of a newscast to try to keep people from feeling either depressingly sad or mad after watching the news,  and that may work some, but it’s overpowered by the rest of the newscast.

 I can’t give it up altogether, but I can cut back and that’s what I have done. Admittedly, I opt for escapism.  I watch American Idol, America’s Got Talent, Dancing with the Stars, and So You Think You Can Dance, and I can understand why so many millions of others do, also.

I read more novels that I did in the past – though I also throw in some history books because I am a history buff – and I watch movies, and still go to movie theaters, and I watch the Braves occasionally (though, that can be depressing, too) and I go to music concerts, and plays, and am now more inclined to watch comedies. Life is tough enough without my spending time on made up tragedies.

Earning my living by reporting the news on television and radio, it’s hard for me to come to the conclusion that if I want to be less depressed I should stop watching, listening and reading the news. But, to be honest I have come to that conclusion. 

I can’t give it up altogether, though. One does need to know what’s happening because it can have a direct effect. Take the sad story – well, sad for me and everyone else but the 8-figure oil company executives and people who own tons of oil stocks – of the price of gasoline.  I can’t ignore that because I must have gasoline. Still, there is a sense of helplessness about it, because the only thing I can do about it is drive less. If enough of us would do that, and stop buying gas guzzler SUVs and monster pickup trucks that are rarely used as trucks, and slow down, we could perhaps affect the price of gasoline some, but basically that’s not happening.

Bottom line: no, I can’t give up keeping up.  That’s really not a smart thing to do. But, I don’t have to spend all day wallowing in the horrors of the world, and I’m not going to.