Time to Remember
My Dad and i have always been of the mindset that we can always eat a sandwich . Put anything on a good piece of bread and that's a meal! I have even gone so far as putting leftover spaghetti and meatballs on the leftover garlic bread. Good Eatin'! Since my Mom passed, the prospects of home cooked meals were few and far between unless we were fortunate enough to be invited over to my sisters for dinner.I would be gone most evenings serving OTHER people hot meals, and my father seemed uninspired to cook alone.Well, Sometime last weekend I was foraging in the kitchen and let out a big sigh. Dad asked me "What?!?!?"
I replied, "I am so tired of sandwiches!!"
There was no reply, no alternate suggestion , not a word from him, my sandwich co-conspirator. Just a grunt of acknowledgement as he ruffled his newspaper and continued to read.
But obviously my cry was not in vain. He has cooked almost every night this week. Pork tendloin and mashed potatoes, Roast chicken and potatoes , Pork Chops and stuffing. It has been glorious! We have sat at the table and ate like civilised people rather than eating while standing over the sink so as not to dirty dishes
And as i was putting the leftovers in tupperware containers , excited at the prospect of lunch the next day, before I could even stop myself, I thought, "Won't this make a good sandwich!"
The cycle continues.
It’s close to the finale of Season 7, and my excitement is …petering out as to who will be crowned Americas next Drag Superstar. Petering out may be an overstatement, as I never really invested much interest in any of these seasons’ contestants…except for one. A blonde slip of a girly boy from Communist Germ- uh, I mean Russia, named Katya. There are several talented girls still remaining in the race, but none can match the humble, emotionally flawed Russkie that captured my heart with her frankness and humility. Those exact qualities ultimately betrayed her-the extraordinary talent that should have seen her crowned couldn’t overcome the massive set of nerves and her mis-guided self-doubt. My heart broke a little bit when she sashayed away but she ended up having the most grace, poise, and dignity of any exit in RPDR her-story.
Then I got over it because I knew that it wasn’t if she won or lost. She was seen. She was heard. She is loved. Just like other reality talent competitions, the exposure can be enough to propel you to stardom if you have the talent, and Katya is loaded with all of RuPauls’ prerequisites: Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent. She doesn’t need the title or the crown (though the money would have been fastastic) because she has it. That unquantifiable star power- the it factor- that makes her stand out in a crowd of talented Queens.
The weekend before the episode she was eliminated, I made the trek just to catch a glimpse of her. She was performing at Splash Bar Florida, a local gay bar that hosts a lot of the RPDR girls. Katya was the only one I cared about this season to stay up that late (the shows start at midnight and I’m getting fucking old!). I saw her across the courtyard talking animatedly with a bunch of young Queens. I wouldn’t say that I was nervous and too starstruck to go over and meet her- I knew after the show she would do the meet and greet and I would have my chance to get a picture with her. More so I felt respectful of her conversation not to go up and interrupt. I marveled at her ease and seeming familiarity with her "groupies she looked like she made them all feel special.
The show was about to start and she scurried into the drag hut and I made my way inside the bar, planting myself on the opposite side of the stage, closer to the door. I had a fair enough view from there and my sightlines weren’t impeded too much by the multitudes of Queens with camera phones. The in-house drag Queens performed first, whipping up the crowds’ energy and nicely building the anticipation for the headliner. I happened to catch a glimpse out of the corner of my eye a mane of blonde hair behind me and turned to see Katya right behind me. A young gay was talking her up and saying how fabulous her tits were as he groped her. I could see in her eyes that he was going a bit too far, a slight eye roll and grimace. I felt for her but she kept her poise and let it roll off her back. Seeing now as my moment to say something, I gave her an understanding look and a head nod. I almost froze because I didn’t want to be like the drunken ass before me, but finally blurted out, "You are phenomenally talented. I know you are going to win." I didn’t expect any response, but was astounded when her face lit up. "Really? Thank you!" she said, and threw her arms around me, giving me a hug. Not a two pat on the back hug, but an earnest hug with squeeze. With that she turned away and marched off to tear up the stage. Now, I didn’t misinterpret the hug to mean anything but this: Katya doesn’t know how fabulous she is, and her response was genuine and unaffected. This tells me that everything I saw on RPDR and Untucked was pure, unadulterated Katya.
And that is why I think she is the winner. Now matter who gets the crown, she done had herses.
The first Pitch Perfect was a beautiful thing. Underdogs overcoming adversity, catchy acapella covers of radio hits old and new, breakout performances (Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson), and a complete lack of cynicism that was refreshing and charming. I was surprised at how much I loved it, having fell victem from Glee fatigue (the musical TV show was in its third season and had lost most of its charm for me at that point.). I was not the only one taken by this film. It became a sleeper hit and spawned a catchy radio hit in Cups (which I initially loved, but thanks to excessive radio play, I now call it Dead Horse).
So of course, we are subjected to a sequel that evidently no one else would direct and so they elicited the un-tested skills of actress/producer Elizabeth Banks. Why??? That is my biggest question. Why, Hollywood, why can’t you leave well enough alone? Of course I know the answer- the cold hard cynical truth is money, or at least the idea of being able to wring more of that green stuff out of a successful flick by churning out a sequel. What the H-wood suits don’t get (or give two shits about) is that in trying to cash in on a beloved movie without an iota of creativity or the basic semblance of plot progression, you sully the memories of said movie, leaving the soul crushing residue imprinted on your brain. Okay, I may be a little bitter, but I feel like this movie effectively killed my inner 13-year-old girl. (Yes, it is sad that I had an inner 13 year old girl, but my love of the original movie as well as movies like Mean Girls and Legally Blonde proved her existence. Not to mention Frozen. Sigh. Head held in shame.)
Pitch Perfect 2 sees the songbirds at the top of their game, performing for the POTUS and FLOTUS. In a moment that should have given me chills (seeing my beloved Bellas) I felt…nothing. Hmm. Weird. Okay, give it a moment. Then the big finish of the number culminates in the wardrobe malfunction to beat all wardrobe malfunctions, Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) flashes her nethers hanging from silk panels whilst performing Wrecking Ball. The resulting Muff-Gate bars the Bellas from competing in the states, forcing them to redeem themselves on the world stage of Aca-competitions. Their Teutonic rivals are a fetish clad group (led by a Brigitte Nielson lookalike) that have virtually no personality but do have a talent for rapping and beat-boxing. They are very much like Glees’ Vocal Adrenaline, minus the stellar choreography or charismatic leadership of Jonathan Groff.
Most all of the original Bellas return with a few unnecessary new additions (there are two girls that are so interchangeable and characterless that the other Bellas don’t even seem to know their names!). The newest addition is the freshman legacy member played by Hailee Steinfeld whose only reason for existing is to introduce the Cups wannabe – a song her character wrote and insists on singing every possible moment. Of course, the song is lovely and the movie builds towards using it for its only bit of heartfelt redemption, but let’s call a spade a spade: Breakout single=money!
Sure, the movie has some funny lines and the finale did give me goosebumps as the girls "found their harmony" and realized less is more. Too bad that wasn’t the theme throughout this sad re-tread with overproduced numbers that tried too hard. Unfortunately, this is a movie that will play better in clips on YouTube, singling out the great moments and weeding out the …more.
Just your typical boy meets girl- falls head over heels in love- impulsively marries girl- girl turns out not to be who boy thought- kind of story. I jest, but that reductive description does work on some level. Luckily the fantastical play is rich with many more intricacies and layered with meaning about what it means to truly love someone for who they are despite their physical change and ailments, to love their soul . Peter meets Rita (a bartender at a party) and instantly falls in love. After a brief courtship, they marry. At the reception, an old man wanders in and kisses Rita , only to stumble back and claim that he is Rita. Cut to the honeymoon where Rita's odd out of character behavior convinces Peter that something has changed in his bride. After many mis-steps and memory blunders on Rita's part, Peter is finally convinced that THIS IS NOT RIITA! It is someone wearing Rita, but it is not the woman he fell in love with. Soon after their return from the honeymoon, he runs into the old man at the bar , drinking Rita's favorite drink, and realizes that somehow the old man is Rita.
Prelude to a Kiss, written by Craig Lucas in the late 80's, was seen as an allegory to the AIDS crisis and that still resonates today but the play works on many other levels and themes. How well do we know the ones we love- whether your romantic interest or your family? How would we feel if that person suddenly became sick/aged before our eyes- outward appearances changing drastically but still the same person inside?
Director Doug Gilliland brings a grounded take for this fantastical tale and coaxes stylistically naturalistic performances from his talented cast (I attribute this to him because the cast has varying degrees of experience and he masterfully balances them all , playing to their strengths, making them a truly cohesive ensemble.)
Jason Blanks (Peter) is the true heart and soul of the play which we see through his eyes. His performance is genuine and unaffected, and his chemistry with the beautiful Melissa Bowman (Rita) is palpable. Their scenes together have a lived in quality that reads as tangible and authentic. Bowman is a true find. She subtly plays the differences between Rita and the old man without being over the top ( which would be a weaker performers choice). Arthur Mackey McMurty plays the old man ( with the greater part of his performance as the Rita version). He brings a sweetness and an uninhibited physicality to the difficult role that I found fearless in its intimacy.
Strong performances abound in the supporting cast as well- from the charming stage debut of Daniel Gherkin(Taylor) playing Peter's best friend, Kathy Tinder-Lindsey (Leah) has a lovely scene on the phone that wrings tears as the old man's daughter, and Diane Reeves as the quippy and vivacious Aunt Dorothy, Samantha Neely as Rita's protective co-worker Tam, Michael Anthony Butler as the saucey Jamaican waiter. Daphne Lewis brings her finely attuned comic ability to the role of Rita's wry Mom , and Clay Wambo is perfect as her clueless Dad. They all work well together in bringing this tale to life.
The set is beautiful and simple- evocative without being literal-walls of spattered square and rectangular panels overlaid with tromp loleil of cherry blossom trees.The lighting was effective and theatrical- the use of the follow-spot helped the seamless transition of scenes, keeping the play in fluid constant motion.
This is an absolute must see show. Beautiful and touching, a modern fairy tale for adults. It plays Friday, Saturday , and Sunday May 1st through the 17th. Call for reservations 265-3226.
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