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At the ice skating rink that Huz and I frequent, it's not an uncommon sight to see a concerned parent, usually someone's mother, encouraging their daughter to work harder, to focus on this or that move or technical aspect. I always cringe inwardly when I see some of the more involved parents pushing their children to a point of what appears to me (a non-parent, I admit) as excess. Fortunately, none of them come close to Mama Rose's behavior in Gypsy.

The only thing that disappointed me about today's production of the musical Gypsy (by Broadway by the Bay at Redwood City's Fox Theater) is that today's performance was the show's last, so my reviewing it is almost without point. However, I could not let the opportunity pass to offer heartfelt kudos to the production as a whole and Heather Orth as Mama Rose in particular. From the first time she steps onto the stage, Orth is wholly and completely convincing as the stage mother who is by turns fascinating, delusional, and finally pathetic. Even in the scenes where the viewer can tell that Mama is losing her track (and any marbles she may once have had), Orth is never less than masterful.

The rest of the cast was very strong and a pleasure to watch - Samantha Bruce's Louise and Walter M. Mays' Herbie were beautifully and convincingly done. The newly reopened Fox Theater is a lovely historical venue with fully modern lights and amplification, and suits the time period of Gypsy very well. Make no mistake, this is local, nonprofessional musical theater at its very best.
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Had a busy but generally good week and weekend.

Pasted from G+ )
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Like [livejournal.com profile] ladybird97 , I haven't posted anything of substance in a while.  So, I post!

Work has been going along in a mixed-to-reasonable fashion.  We've got positive expression for enough of our genes to make it worthwhile to start on The Big Interactome Project.  One thing stands in our way: the ELISA that we're figuring on using to detect interactions isn't working.  Again.  We plan to work on the problem next week.  But meantime, just about everything else is ready for launch.

We had a fantastic time over the holiday weekend at the giant gaming party hosted by cerebralpaladin and orichalcum.  We saw a number of people that we hadn't seen in quite some time, and met some new - and of course cool - people.  I played two D&D games: one set in ancient Babylon, in which my thief character helped figure out why it was raining on the Jewish Quarter and nowhere else (everyone else in town was blaming the Jews for stealing their rain - turns out that basically, they were right!), and one in which all the PCs were members of a theatrical troupe.  The troupe put on plays of heroic adventures, and in this one-shot, we had to basically *become* adventurers to get our hands on a kidnapped playwright who'd promised he'd write us a play.  The last game that I played was in a system called "Dogs in the Vineyard," in which the PCs were essentially lawgivers of the One True Faith in something like mid-1800s Mormon Utah.  You can get a sense of the mechanics of conflict resolution from this Wikipedia article and the character creation and gameplay from this review.  It is significantly more freewheeling than any game system than I've ever played before (not that that's very many).  The traits and relationships that you use to define your character have essentially no limits on them in terms of their definitions: "sense truth", "skeptic", "healer", and "joyful celebration" were some of the traits in our group.  Having played a session, I can pretty definitely say that the more vague you can be in your traits and relationships, the better - it means that you can more easily bring the die values of those traits and relationships into conflicts.  It was fun, and I wouldn't at all mind playing in the system again.

We had our first choir rehearsal of the season a couple of nights ago.  We have two new people: a strong bass and a strong soprano.  Having two whole basses to our name makes a huge difference, as does having a soprano who can actually generate volume on Wednesday nights.  I'm really excited about choir this year - we're gonna be goooooooood...... :D

And next weekend we're going to see Spamalot and Yellow Face, both should be good pieces of theater.  I'll be interested in hearing what y'all think of the movie 9; it's on my 'hmm, could be interesting' list.
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Winding down from a generally fantastic weekend.  :)  We hosted the all-too-infrequent Bay Area Storyreading at our house Saturday night - shouts to [livejournal.com profile] nezumiko , [livejournal.com profile] orichalcum , [livejournal.com profile] cerebralpaladin , and other non-LJ friends.  While the two 3-year-olds were around, we read picture books.  Selections included Two Bad Ants (in which (a) the author had clearly had an ant infestation and took revenge and (b) the moral of the story is that if you do your own thing you'll get into big trouble), the slightly surreal Pete and Pickles (in which a pig and an elephant come to be great friends - the idea was based on a sketch done by author Berkeley Breathed's five-year-old daughter), and the incredibly surreal Hedgie Blasts Off (in which all the scientists are dogs who dress in hazmat suits even when writing entirely accurate orbital equations on blackboards, all the reporters are birds, and Hedgie the hedgehog goes up in a spaceship and saves the day).  Those who could stay later started on Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, which will probably be the semi-official post-bedtime long.  Great stuff.

And today we went and saw Wicked, which was much better than I'd expected it to be given how much I knew its story diverged from Gregory Maguire's book.  It deserves an entry of its own; I hope I get the chance to write about it soon.

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We're going to go see the Ram's Head production of Aida (Elton John and Tim Rice, not Verdi) tomorrow night!  Ram's Head generally puts on a very good show, and Aida is actually a pretty good show.  For a mere $20/head,  it should be worth seeing.  ;)
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Local folks should go see the Hillbarn Theater's production of Elton John's and Tim Rice's Aida.  The first fifteen minutes feel a little like watching a low-quality Andrew Lloyd Webber show, but then it definitely picks up.  Really strong cast - I keep disbelieving that this is an amateur theater group! - and the story is as powerful and moving as it was when Verdi dreamed it up.  [profile] nezumiko, a lot of the music is right up your alley.

And if you're interested, the Stanford Symphonic Chorus, Stanford Symphony, Stanford Taiko, and I forget who else are presenting the world premier of Cosmic Flames, a recently commissioned piece by Chinese composer Zhou Long.  It's about fifteen minutes of interesting stuff for, well, orchestra, taiko, and chorus.  Tonight is our first dress rehearsal, and I'll be most interested to hear what the orchestration is like.  It will be performed with the final movement of the Beethoven 9th Symphony.  We'll be performing these pieces, as well as Carmina Burana, when the music department tours in China at the end of June/beginning of August.

*thud*

Nov. 18th, 2007 09:48 pm
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If it were earlier, I might post at some decent length about the two theater bits we've seen this week. 

Thursday night we saw the final dress rehearsal of Opera San Jose's production of Werther.  The very short version: Charlotte, a mezzo-soprano, is a Slave of Duty (tm).  Werther, a tenor,  is a depressive twit.  They sort of get together, but things end badly.  The music was good, though, and the voices were really quite good - especially the woman singing Charlotte the night we saw it.  I'm quite certain she could outsing any two of the other primary cast members.

Then today, we saw the Lamplighters' Annual Gala, in which they write their own show and put new lyrics to Gilbert and Sullivan tunes.  This year's show was entitled "Harry Patter and the Willing Suspension of Disbelief (or, A Series of Unfortunate Musical Numbers)".  It was... cute.  It should not have been interrupted with 15-20 minutes of live auction at the end of the first act which was then followed by a hideously long intermission (this is the Lamplighters' big fundraising event, and the intermission was for a silent auction).  And it really didn't need 2 different songs about Harry's scar.  Plusses: Equating Gilderoy Lockheart with Bunthorne from Patience was inspired.  Voldemort was rewritten as Wal*de*Mart (it's a long story; if people want, I can write up a summary later), and sang a version of "When the Night Wind Howls" from Ruddigore that involved the chorus of Death Greeters replacing the ghosts' "Haha"s in the original version with "Chu-ching!" (cash register noise).

[profile] nezumiko - that's where we were rather than being home to accept your invitation to an organ concert.  We ended up not getting home till 8:30.  (The show started at 4:00.)

Home.  Bed now.  G'night!
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Not bothering to friend-lock this.  No emo here, and I'm guessing that relatively few people outside of friends read this LJ anyway.  :)
Dad: Still there (not really surprising).  Not that much has happened yet as far as I can tell.  He has appointments for two things on Tuesday: one thing that Mom said was an EKG, but I think *must* be an EEG, and one with the neurologist - which had been set up some time before - to review the results of the neurological testing he did back in July.  And his regular psych comes back from vacation this week.  Talking to him today he seemed pretty depressed, which Mom confirmed when I chatted with her.  Sigh.

Me: Doing better now.  I've adjusted to The New Normality, such as it is: he's where he is, I call him every couple of days, and call Mom every night and try to help her de-stress.  My appetite, which had largely left, is back to basically normal, and I've had three good nights' sleep in a row now!  Also, played significant Zelda on Saturday... there, I *must* be feeling better, right?  ;)  Time spent working with pencil, paper, and 3 coins to do the second part of the Snowpeak Block Puzzle: approximately 1 minute.  <grin>  Admittedly, one of the blocks happened to be in the perfect spot when I decided that a real-world copy would be useful.  But still!  I'd seen references to Snowpeak Ice Block Puzzle in many different walkthroughs and kind of assumed it was a difficult puzzle.  ..Unless there's another ice block puzzle somewhere in the mansion, which is entirely possible...

Weekend: Mostly very cool so far. 
    Yesterday we went to see the world premiere of a musical version of Jane Austen's novel Emma.  It was very very very good!  Folks in our area, you should go see it!  Folks not in our area, hopefully it will be making its way to a stage near you sometime, and you should go see it when it does!
    Today I did church in the morning, and we've done mostly useful stuff today.  Sweeping, vacuuming, dusting, downloading Wave Race... ya know, useful stuff.  ;)
    No particular plans for today.  Get haircuts, pay a visit to GameStop and get rid of Super Monkey Balls (and possibly pick up something else - the huz has a hankering for Super Paper Mario), make soup, clean the bathtub.  And do nice things together.

Sound like a plan? :)

Avenue Q

Aug. 13th, 2007 07:40 pm
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We went to see Avenue Q this weekend!  We'd been looking forward to it ever since I first got the announcement that it was coming to our neck of the woods, and it did not disappoint.  There's a good summary of the plot here for anyone who's interested.

Avenue Q is perhaps best termed as 'Sesame Street for grownups.'  If it were a movie, it would be rated R for profanity and simulated sex.  Between puppets, mind you, but simulated sex nonetheless.  The show includes some of the funniest, raunchiest songs I've ever heard. 'The Internet is for Porn' and 'My Girlfriend, Who Lives in Canada' are in no way, shape, or form worksafe, but boy are they a scream. 

There are also moments of comedic bliss that don't involve explicit acts or lyrics.  'Schadenfreude', a song that teaches one of the characters (and probably most of the audience) a new vocabulary word a la Sesame Street or The Electric Company is quite possibly my favorite funny song in the show.  The wedding nightmare (featuring a super-giant puppet of the main character's girlfriend in a bridal veil rising Godzilla-like over the apartment complex) is one of the most hilarious things I've ever seen. 

There were a few things that surprised me about the show.  First, it's sweet: it's got an on-off-on love story between the two main characters at its core, and I hadn't expected any terribly deep emotional stuff.  Second, it defines a racial divide at the beginning of the show - not between puppet and human characters as one might expect, but between humans (including some puppet humans) and monsters.  Not terribly deep, admittedly, but an interesting touch.  Finally, it ends up being a quietly wise show.  In 'I wish I could go back to college,' a bunch of characters talk about how they'd like to go back to what they know, in a place where their needs are taken care of... then acknowledge that it simply wouldn't work, because they wouldn't fit there anymore.  And in 'For Now,' they state that nothing, good or bad, lasts forever.

So: Great show, better and more interesting than I expected.  There are certainly good reasons why it won all those Tony awards back in 2003, and I'm delighted that it's finally gone on tour.  Do catch it if it comes to your area - it's well worth the price of admission!
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Food/restaurant:
The Bean Scene Cafe may be physically convenient to the Mountainview Center for the Performing Arts, but boy are they sloooooooooooow.  We ordered around 6:20 or 6:25.  There was one order ahead of us, consisting of two dinner crepes and a salad.  It should not have taken nearly half an hour for the single guy who was there to put together that order plus our two sandwiches.  There are several places nearby which would probably take an equivalent amount of time to get to, acquire and order food, and return to the MVCPA by showtime which we will investigate next time around.

Theater:  We went to a show that was part of a local New Works theater last night and saw Equivocation, by Bill Cain.  It was very good: Will Shakespeare is asked to write a play about the 'true' (well, official, anyway) story of the Gunpowder Plot.  There's lots of reference to recent/current events (Robert Cecil, the Prime Minister, cannot produce the 36 barrels of gunpowder because the powder has been dispersed - after all, together those barrels could kill a lot of people.  Old weapon of mass destruction, ya know) and the writing is almost Shavian in its witty and biting humor.  The second act tends to drag a bit, and will likely be the focus of future rewrites.  Perhaps we'll get to see it in its final form in a year or two!

Zelda happiness: Finished the Forest Temple earlier this afternoon!  It took a lot of tries to successfully use the monkey-swing, but once in the room I beat the end boss in only one go! 
Now, admittedly, I drank all three doses of healing that I had with me.  And after every cycle of defeating the two sub-creatures, the boss just kind of stood there and didn't do anything harmful while I attempted to deliver bombs to its  head.  And I had to hunt for heart-pots later on, and I had the huz looking on and offering very helpful advice... but I did it!  And I have a fourth heart container!

Rayman sadness:
The huz had been working on day 11 (I think) of Rayman, and had essentially just completed a somewhat nasty task... when the console crashed.   This is one more reason to dislike games that won't let you save any time you want to (or at least, any time that you've completed a task, but not a day.)
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