What are we talking about today?

I'll get back to theme days once I find a groove of posting regularly. In the meantime, most of my posts are about some variation of books, bikes, buses, or Broadway. Plus bits about writing, nonprofits, and grief from time to time.

This blog is mostly lighthearted and pretty silly. It's not about the terrible things happening in the world, but please know that I'm not ignoring those things. I just generally don't write about them here.

15 August 2015

Overture, Curtain, Lights!

I mentioned in passing on Twitter a few days ago that I'd been to the theatre many times this year-- much more than probably any other year of my life thus far. There are a couple reasons for this-- one being the obvious, that it's a hobby that provides a short escape from my own thoughts and reality and thus is therapeutic. (I wish I could say theatrical therapy is cheaper that retail therapy, but it's not. The upside is that it makes me a lot happier than a new shirt ever could... which is why I pursue my therapy at the theatre instead of the mall.) And the second reason is close on its heels-- it's cheaper now that I only have to pay for one ticket instead of two, so I can go twice as much as before.

So here you have it, a very long list of all the theatre I've been lucky enough to see this year. One caveat before I begin: I rarely have anything bad to say about anything I've seen. I'm a very easily pleased audience member, which is probably why I'll never manage a career as a theatre critic. Imagine a weekly column filled with, "This rocks! Go see it!" Yeah, I'd be fired in five minutes. So this is probably an overly-sunny list.

Courtesy of a friend who won the tickets in a giveaway and didn't want to use them herself, I went to see Once knowing absolutely nothing about the show at all, except that the actors all play their own instruments on stage. I don't know that I've ever gone to see anything without at least some knowledge of the plot. So, it was a delightful surprise to me when they started playing Irish music. I shot off a text to my friend at intermission that was basically "!!! Irish music FTW OMG thank you thankyouthankyou!!!"

Love's Labour's Lost 
Love's Labour's Lost
It's been so long that I've forgotten the characters' names, but the one on
the left is the Princess of France (I think?) and the guy with the matching
turquoise scarf is the King of whatever country this is set in. I really
hope this post doesn't come up in one of their Google alerts later.
I was already planning to see this before I checked out the cast list, because I saw the same company do Much Ado About Nothing last summer and it was sensational. But when I finally saw who was in the cast, I was delighted to not only recognise a few names as people I'd seen in other things, but also to see a guy I went to UT with in the cast. I knew before that he was an actor, but had never gotten to see him in anything. He was fantastic. And so were the rest, so much so that I saw it twice. And I got a poster (unsigned, alas, because the cast were too busy running round afterwards to do the stage door thing) (not that there was a stage door, because it was the roof of Whole Foods).

Love's Labour's Lost
I was way too engrossed in watching the guy that I know that I forgot
about getting any decent pics of him. So, this blurry pic will have to do:
that's him on the far left.

Another set of tickets courtesy of my very lucky friend who wins things. I'm going to have to pay this forward sometime soon. This was my first time seeing Annie live, and as we waited for it to start, I said to Denise, "How does this show even end? It's a happy ending, right?" She said, "Haven't you seen the movie?" Well, I have (the old one, not the new one with Quvenzhané Wallis, which I'm anxious to see but haven't yet), but apparently it wasn't that memorable. I do remember my high school drama coach being really unimpressed by the movie version, so maybe that's why I never bothered remembering it. Anyway, the tour was excellent, and as I followed all the actors on Twitter afterwards, I saw Gilgamesh Taggett (Mr. Warbucks) retweeting all the stage door photos, and that's when I decided that it's pretty dumb not to go to stage door. (I never did until I went to Broadway. It takes me a while to catch on to things that are smart.)

Confessions of a Prairie Bitch
Alison Arngrim, better known as Nellie Oleson from Little House on the Prairie. When I was little and obsessed with Little House, my mother often suggested that I should be more like Mary Ingalls. Hahahaha. I was forever destined to be somewhere halfway between Laura and Nellie, but after reading Alison's book and now seeing her show, I'm thinking that being more like Nellie wouldn't have been the worst thing in the world. Got a signed book afterward, which is currently sitting on my shelf like a shining pink beacon. Incidentally, Alison is probably my favourite celebrity on Twitter. She's super-responsive to fans and fun to watch even when she's not interacting with strangers. And seeing her and Melissa Gilbert (Laura Ingalls, back in the day) tweet to one another is priceless. Yes, they are friends in real life, and have been since the day they met, which anyone who's read Alison's book can tell you.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)
I convinced my sister to see Love's Labour's Lost with me by telling her that it was fun! And they used body language! And Austin jokes! To make it more understandable for those who don't really do Shakespeare. She is still insisting that I'm a liar. Yes, being my sister is hard work. So, we went to this one with even more promises that it was mostly in modern English, and while she was less than delighted that Romeo and Juliet was mostly Shakespeare's language, she was even madder that I didn't warn her about the audience participation.

So much free Shakespeare in this
city. I love it.
Henry IV, Part I
So after that, Denise was absolutely not going to see Henry IV, especially when she heard it has more than one part. Instead I teamed up with a slightly more like-minded friend for this one, and was delighted to recognise a bunch of the actors again. That's definitely an upside to seeing so many local shows the past few years-- I've seen nearly every actor in Austin at least once. (That may be a bit of an exaggeration.)

The Importance of Being Earnest
For someone who loves the theatre as much as I do, I seem to have been the last one of my friends to see this show. How have I missed it all this time? I don't know. And wow, how many zingers did Oscar Wilde manage to cram into this show? The only downside to this show was that since the actors had to have English accents, for some of them it seemed to get in the way of their acting. (And I've seen some of them before--they're great. The accent just seemed like it gave a couple of them too much to think about.) Still, it was very fun and kept me giggling all evening.

It Shoulda Been You
It shouldn't have closed! Eagerly waiting for the cast album to be released next week. Read what I thought here.

Les Misérables

Ramin Karimloo's face on the marquee. If you've ever seen him on YouTube,
or on the 25th anniversary Les Mis concert, or anywhere else on the internet:
Yes, he really is even better in person.
I may have mentioned this one a couple of times. Per minute. To anyone who would listen. For the last three weeks.
Joe Spieldenner, who plays Grantaire and a couple other characters
(the ensemble for Les Mis is insanely versatile, and also magical at
changing costumes in a hurry). I'm grinning because 1) I was really
chuffed that I recognized him out of costume, and 2) he is an incredible actor
and also really sweet to barely-coherent fans at stage door.
I've seen the 1988 movie, but never the musical version until now. And wow, have I ever been missing out. Turns out I knew a bunch of the songs, but had never seen them in the correct order. This cast is crazy-good, and I once again feel super-lucky to live in a place where I can see lots of low-cost, high-quality theatre. The trip to New York was totally worth it, but it's not like I had to wander far away (as you can plainly tell) to see some great shows.

And that's it so far! Ten shows, eleven trips (since I saw Love's Labour's Lost twice). I have tickets to this year's Broadway in Austin series; the first one is The Little Mermaid, arriving at the end of September, and the national tour cast must be some kind of industry secret because I sure haven't been able to find it anywhere. Before that, I'm plotting to see West Side Story in San Antonio (another one I've never seen live, so I hope it works out), and a friend of mine is in Love Alone, which is also coming up in September.

It remains to be seen whether theatrical therapy works (I have moments, like during Les Mis when I turned to say to Chadwick, "Did Enjolras really just hand Grantaire a gun? Is he insane?" only Chadwick obviously wasn't there-- I have these moments when I think too much theatre may be making the grief worse), but I don't see me stopping any time soon. It makes it better for two or three hours at a time, and that's not a lot to ask.

Do you go to live theatre? What's your favourite show?

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