1. I conquered most of the 16th notes last evening in the Bach battle. The chorus sang very well, but the stars of the night, in Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in performance by the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, were a) tenor Nicholas Phan and b) the double-reeds, especially the two soloists on oboe d’amore.
2. My confidence is fairly high that I have battled the last mouse. They are sneaky little buggers, no doubt. I found one of their lairs this morning. Peanut butter and traps have been effective, but I have poison out since I have killed so many of them. And before anyone starts spouting PETA at me, these are invasive rodents, and they belong outdoors, and I shan’t listen to any pleas for their life, limb, health, happiness, or trapping to set them free elsewhere. So there.
3. Some people, on entering various battles, count to ten first. I say a silent ‘Hail Mary’ or three. Yesterday, during a procedure at the dental office, I think I said three dozen in my mind. The mantra works, folks.
In other news, I am now the owner of a second-hand deep freeze, tucked away in the corner of the basement.
And the house is clean and tidy. I have lessons today and tomorrow, and a dinner gathering tomorrow evening. On the menu: homemade tomato bisque, sinful-rich chicken & rice, garlic grean beans, hearty bread, paper sack apple pie, and an appetizer to be determined. The wines will be Cava and then a Reisling with dinner, followed by a Hungarian dessert wine.
“The best portion of a good man’s life: his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.”
It’s 12.23 a.m., and I should be in bed. But, after Bach rehearsal that ended at 9.30 and then a 7-minute drive home that stretched to 20 thanks to the snow and wrecks on the freeway, I started The Sound of Music at 10, and have just finished it.
I have performed in The Sound of Music twice, both times as Uncle Max. I have loved this musical since I was a child. I have a letter from the real Maria von Trapp. I’ve seen the stage version in at least 15 different productions over the past 25 years or more. I’m not an expert, but I know this show.
Perhaps my reactions will be tempered and more thorough tomorrow. For tonight:
There are three spots in this show that make me cry. The live NBC telecast tonight paid off at each of those three moments. In order, they are a) when the Captain joins the children in ‘The Sound of Music’ as they sing to the Baroness; b) ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’ (of course); and c) that moment when the Captain falters in ‘Edelweiss.’
I loved the concept, the use of stage techniques, the costuming, and most of the casting in tonight’s telecast.
I laughed at errors, though, such as when the guy stepped on Elsa’s dress, or when I could see folks moving behind the windows, or when Maria tripped in her first song, or when the butler, Franz, twice stepped on his own lines.
I thought the kids were great. Overly vibratoed, but great.
Now for the two major flaws:
1. The stage version was written to have an audience. The cadence of the book, the need for applause, the laugh lines — all cry out for a live audience. This book doesn’t work without one. Humor lines fell flat. Important lines didn’t have time to breathe because of the tyranny of television and its disallowance of silence.
2. Carrie Underwood is woefully lacking as an actress, and surrounding her with cute kids, Broadway actors, and especially Audra did her and this show a great disservice. I wanted to believe her. Truly, I did. But I never could.
As my colleague Ben posted on Facebook, ‘couldn’t they have had her read a few lines in a screen test before casting her?’
Audra? Oh, Audra. The woman has pipes. And five Tony Awards. ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’ was thrilling (but still not as thrilling as it was at Stages in Saint Louis last year, or certainly on the motion picture soundtrack). The song worked in context much better than I usually see it. And Audra? She makes simple blocking and uncomplicated lines seem golden.
My friend Darin in Dayton opined that anything that brings others to live theatre is a good thing. I tend to agree. I’m not certain, however, that we saw live theatre tonight. The orchestra was pre-recorded. The camera angles told us where to look. The show was fluffed to within an inch of its existence, without the benefit of previews and live audience. Musicals live with several elements: cast, crew, orchestra, audience. The missing ingredient tonight was the live audience, and for me that was a tragic flaw. We needed the laughter, the applause, the intensity of being in the same room together — we needed all of this to help the show breathe and sweat and wiggle with life.
And two quibbles: don’t claim to be doing the stage version, then insert the movie-version ending of ‘Do Re Mi’; and don’t interpolate ‘Something Good’ when the stage version calls for ‘An Ordinary Couple.’
But thanks, producers, for giving us both Max/Elsa numbers. I enjoyed them very much!
And thank you, one and all, for not trying to re-create the movie on a sound stage!!
Flip side: for something snarky, http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/i-regret-to-inform-you-that-my-wedding-to-captain-von-trapp-has-been-canceled
Rest in peace, Mr. Mandela. You have earned your sleep, and your reward.
In honor and recognition of tonight’s NBC telecast of The Sound of Music, live on a sound stage (and something that I’m very much looking forward to watching after Bach rehearsal tonight!)….
I have twice played the role of Max Detweiler on stage, and would relish an opportunity to play the role again!
From 1985, with Russ Berlin as the Captain and Shannon Jipsen as Elsa, here are three shots of me as Max:
The location is Lee’s Summit High School, in a summer production by the Lee’s Summit Community Theatre.
Well now. I got word this week that I am to be inducted in April into the Lee’s Summit High School Hall of Fame. What a delightful honor this is!
The Hall of Fame includes my beloved piano teacher, Gladys Alkire. Other members include Senator Paul Coverdell, jazz great Pat Matheny, Elvis impersonator Matt Lewis (who I watched grow up), my one-time co-star and author Shannon Jipsen, and many business titans, educators, physicians, and local dignitaries.
I am humbled at this news.
The flip-side of this news is that the induction banquet is the same weekend as Ball State University Singers’ 50th anniversary blow-out. I’m due in Muncie that weekend as well. Now I shall have to decide what to do, which is pretty much decided, so really what I must decide is how to do it.
After last week’s orgy of food, and the constant clean-up, I did little cooking last weekend, and in fact ate two meals with others on Friday, in their homes, then had leftovers or take-out BBQ on Saturday and Sunday.
So yesterday I was ready to cook again. I used the last of the gravy from Thanksgiving to make creamed chicken, also using the last of the onions and celery not used in the turkey dressing. This made for a wonderful lunch!
After rehearsal last evening, I mixed up some honey cookies; the recipe was in the latest Penzey’s catalog. The dough refrigerated overnight, and I made the dense, soft, yummy cookies this morning.
I whipped up some homemade artichoke dip on Sunday evening. That, plus an apple, was my dinner last night. Who needs protein when you can have mayo/Parmesan/artichoke/lemon/paprika/cream-cheese wonderment?
I’ve not had Mexican food in three weeks. Am I slipping?