Monthly Archives: December 2013

Not a Drag at All — Twelfth Night on Broadway

We saw Twelfth Night at the Bellasco Theater last night.

This is a production of the Globe Theatre which does its best to perform Shakespeare as it was intended to be performed. Costumes are period, as is musical accompaniment. As it’s performed on a Broadway stage rather than an open-roofed circle, some accommodations need to be made. The stage is bare except for a few props brought in and out. There’s an elaborate candelabra above the actors. This did give the better-half and I pause, fire safety and all, but I’m sure some precautions were taken. The audience is told to arrive twenty-minutes early to watch the actors get into make-up and costume on stage while traditional music is played (on top of the stage) by musicians playing period instruments in costume. Also, all the women’s roles are played by men.

So does this work including the casting? Yes. It was a lot of fun. One problem, however, is getting in twenty-minutes early. Ticket holders line up and it’s a pretty long, slow line, so by the time anyone at the end of the line gets in, they may only be watching the actors for five minutes. I don’t know when the line starts forming, but if you want to experience that whole thing, you might want to get there very early.

The acting was superb. The better-half thought some of the stage business was a little too camped up, but I’m not sure that was historically inaccurate. It is a comedy, and Shakespeare practically invented the double-entendre. The play which likes most Shakespeare plays contains lines that we know is a comedy and like a lot of Shakespearean comedy involves mistaken identity and women disguising themselves as men. When a man is playing a woman disguising herself as a man, that’s a nice extra layer. The women playing men played them straight (no pun intended).

Because the actors know what they are saying, you will too. It’s hard to pick stand-outs, but the cast features Stephen Fry – yes that Stephen Fry, and Mark Rylance as Olivia is a sight to behold, but the whole play would fall apart without a strong Viola, and Samuel Barnett was excellent.

This is a short-run, closing in mid-February. I understand that tickets are sometimes available at TCKTS, but you can also get them through the show’s website. All balcony seats are $27, and there are other $27 dollar seats as well scattered in other sections, but good ones are hard to find. It should be noted that the $27 tickets actually cost $37 with fees if you buy online. I’m not sure whether you can avoid the fees by going directly to the box office. It’s not a big theatre, but some balcony seats may only have a partial view with the front of the stage cut off. There is also some onstage seating including cheap seats there, but it looks like those may all be sold out for the run. If you want to splurge, you might want to go with the onstage seating rather than the orchestra, that is if you don’t mind a little interaction with the actors and being visible to the rest of the audience.

(First time visiting? There’s plenty to see here, or you can hop over to check out some fiction Marion’s written.).

Didn’t They Almost Have It All — Homeland Recap Season Finale The Star

Was it all that you’d hope for? Or exactly what you expected? Or aren’t you the kind who tells? Or cares? In all these cases, and many more, the Homeland Series Season Finale Recap is now up over at Happy Nice Time People. Let us entertain, you.

(If you find Marion’s Homeland Recaps hysterical, or even mildly amusing, you might maybe like other stuff’s she’s written. Perhaps this whacky dystopian novella, or this little parallel universe one, or maybe even this novel of gentrification and is discontents.)

Idiots at the Opera — Tosca, It’s Italian

Tosca has so many Italian stereotypes that if an Italian hadn’t written it, it would be offensive. You’ve got your passionate revolutionary artist type tenor, your jealous diva – the character is supposed to be a famous singer — who wields a lethal letter opener, a duplicitous baron who could be one of Tony Soprano’s meaner ancestors, plus Madonna-worship (the religious icon, not the pop-singer), politics, and betrayal.

This is the kind of opera we love – passionate, Italian, and more verismo than a ripped from the headlines episode of any incarnation of Law and Order.

The current production at the Met opened in September with Patricia Racette in the title role, opposite Roberto Alagna as Mario Cavaradossi. The reviews in the usual places are of those performers. We saw it last night with Sondra Radvanovsky and Marcello Giordani in the roles.

Radvanovsky who neither of us heard before, was a revelation. If I could only use one word to describe her voice, it would be supple. She sings with amazing ease. No shrieking, no breathiness, no strain of any kind. She sings the way Fred Astaire dances – that is, she makes it look deceptively easy. She begins her big aria – Vissi d’Arte, supine on a sofa – an act which seems to defy the laws of both gravity and acoustics – and she pulls it off flawlessly. Showboating? Maybe. But we ate it up like cheesecake.

The always reliable Met fav, Marcello Giordani was in especially good form, winning us over with the powerful Act I, aria Recondita armoni. The duet between Mario and Tosca later in the act, showcased the chemistry between Continue reading Idiots at the Opera — Tosca, It’s Italian

Department of Stanley Milgram, Part 10,012: ABC News Division

Because there’s not enough real racism in the world, ABC News has gone out looking for reverse racism, which isn’t really even a thing, but the right-wing in America has wet-dreams about it.

So in their “What would you do?” show which is all about catching people being terrible, they staged a scenario at barbershop in Harlem USA, A (fake/actor) female hairdresser is flirting with a (fake/actor) male patron when his (fake/actor) white girlfriend comes in to wait for him. Here’s what happens:

Over in the women’s waiting section, one woman spoke out berating the fake-hairdresser as the others looked on sympathetically. But if she hadn’t opened her mouth, would that have proved “reverse racism”? I’m sure that’s what ABC would have been shouting. Or would it have shown what Stanley Milgram proved years ago? That most people will be cowed in the face of anyone in a uniform (even if it’s a barber’s smock) and shut up no matter what happens because that’s the way most of us are – not awful, just wimpy enough not to stand up to people in authority being awful to others.

Several people after her spoke up in various ways, and John Quinones’ take away was all “Kumbaya – We can all get along. Isn’t this heartwarming?” But he got it wrong. If they hadn’t said anything, it wouldn’t have shown that black people are just as prejudiced as white people. It would have shown that on that particular day there were no exceptional human beings in the barbershop who were brave enough to stand up to a woman in a smock carrying scissors. Fortunately, there were several. Kudos to them, especially to the first one to raise her voice because science also shows us that once one person says “hell no” others follow. Such people stop injustices much bigger and more real than this one.

(The best way to show you “like” a post here is to go check out this cheap novella or this one, or this fine novel.)

Homeland Penultimate Recap — Should He Stay or Should He Go Now

Is this the end of Nicholas Brody? Maybe, maybe not. You can read my recap over at Happy Nice People Time. And yeah, I know, I said here last week, I’d have a second post over here on my blog, with more thoughts, but I didn’t, but I PROMISE to have something before the final. Here’ a preview of the final. Can you say epitaph?

(There’s no tipping or donation here, but nothing says thank you like a book sale or positive review. So please check out my stuff, now available for far less than any Starbucks beverage)