Saturday, March 12, 2011

No Matter What

Beauty and the Beast
Pantages Theatre
March 11, 2011

I was able to purchase a ticket for opening night of Beauty and the Beast through Goldstar, which made me happy because it's one of my favorite musicals, and I didn't want to have to pay full price.   Thanks, Goldstar!  On my way to the event, I was stuck in traffic, listening to radio broadcasts of two basketball games wherein the team I rooted for was losing.  Not good.  It was so bad that I thought that I'd be late for the show and would be too late to pick up the tickets at Will Call.  Thank goodness that didn't happen, though.

My first experience seeing BatB was at the Shubert Theatre in Century City in 1995, which featured much of the original Broadway cast, including Susan Egan as Belle, Terrence Mann as Beast, and Tom Bosley as Maurice.  I fell in love with the show that night, and I think that the first time that I cried during the show was not very far into it (probably during "Home", and my brother quietly said to me, "Stop it."  But you  know that I couldn't.  It was a beautiful production, and I got tickets for my best friend's birthday so that I could go with her and see it again the next year.  The production was incredible, and was so popular that it became the longest-running show in that theatre.

So, as you can guess, every other production of this show has quite a lot to live up to in my eyes.  This is why I didn't get tickets right away and only went to this one because of the discount.  So, knowing all of this background, and the fact that I was darn pissed off about my teams losing, you are forewarned that the mood and bias were influenced those things.

My seat was on the left side aisle, row Z, rear orchestra.  A little girl was sitting in front of me, so I had a great view of the stage.  This is what is good about seeing family-friendly shows:  chances are good that you will be seated behind a child that is shorter than you, and you'll get a good view.  :)
  • All I could think about the orchestra during the entire show was that there was too much brass, and not enough strings.  Yes, I know that this is a touring company, so it's not going to be a full-fledged production.  Yes, you'll probably be telling me that to me at more than this point.  
  • The sets at first made me feel like I was at a college production because my memory is of the extravagance at the Shubert.  I did like, however, their use of the scrim during the attack scenes, wherein the wolves were played by puppets, like in The Lion King.  
  • Belle's voice was not sweet enough for me to be Belle.  Not that she needed to be Snow White or Aurora, but it was a little too brassy for me (not like a harlot or anything, but more comedic than lilting).
  • Belle was reading a book about "A hunchback who lives in Paris".  Hey!  She does a cameo in that movie!  Nice touch.
  • "The Enchantress" (opening) and "Home" were at tempos that were too quick for my taste.  I felt like they were rushing through these songs.  Since "The Enchantress" gives the whole background for the prince, this annoyed me.  Since "Home" is one of my favorite Broadway musical songs EVER, I was so annoyed that I didn't feel the heartache that I usually do during the song.  It was played as just another song, and it's really Belle's anthem.
  • There were a few lyric changes, which happens a lot during tour productions, but I was surprised that they eliminated the songs "No Matter What" and "Maison des Lunes", and introduced a new song, "A Change In Me".  So now we don't really get to see as much of the connection between Belle and Maurice (I really miss Tom Bosley), so Maurice doesn't sing very much, and then the psychiatrist doesn't get to sing at all.  Weird.  The new song is quite lovely, and Ms. Shivener sang it well, but I kind of wondered why we needed the song if she already had a ballad.  But OK.  (According to Wikipedia, the song was added to the show in 1998, and Susan Egan has done a recording of it.  I need to listen to that).
  • Justin Glaser, as Beast, has a beautiful voice, although I wish that I could have heard more of it without the muffle of his costume.  Once he transformed, his voice was very clear and gorgeous, and I wished that it wasn't the end of the show so that I could hear him sing more.
  • If I can't be cast as Belle, then I want to be a Silly Girl.  They were really funny.
  • Nathaniel Hackman stole the show for me as Gaston.  He really played up his part well, and I giggled every time he was on stage.  You see, I *could* be a Silly Girl, because I'd be typecast.
  •  I thought of the time that my friend Zach and I sang "Me" together, and I smiled through the whole song, not only because I loved Mr. Hackman's portrayal, but because that particular performance memory is one of my favorites in my own career.  I miss singing with you, Zach!
  • They took the carpet from "Aladdin" and turned it into a welcome mat for "Be Our Guest".
  • Belle was given a bib for "Be Our Guest", and what was the design on the bib?  Sebastian from "The Little Mermaid", in Conducting Pose.  I want that bib. Seriously.
  • I'm just glad that they didn't cut my favorite line in "The Mob Song": "Screw your courage to the sticking place".  Phew!  Their choreography during that song reminds me of that in Les Miserables' "Do You Hear The People Sing", with the walking in place.
  • The sound effects were interesting: the roar of the Beast was my favorite effect.
  • Lumiere is just a horndog.  I guess there's not a lot of movement you can do as a candlestick, except to thrust your hips about.
  • Sabina Petra sang "Beauty and the Beast" quite beautifully.  
  • I still love seeing all of the mug-clinking during "Gaston".  Here we go!
  • They never actually showed the rose's petals falling.  Bummer.
I had a good time during the show, all things considered.  The crowd was great, and it seemed like the kid that played Chip got the best roar during the curtain call.  I wonder if he's from L.A.  

If you've seen the show at the Shubert and loved it, you will not be that impressed.  But it's still a great show and families with kids will love it.  

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Birthday of Swoon

Rockapella in Portland
January 19, 2011
Aladdin Theater
Portland, OR

Wendy sat with me near my gate at the airport until it was time for me to board the plane.  I missed her as soon as I got in line.  :(  Unfortunately, we didn't see any of the guys at the airport, so we figured that maybe they flew out of a different airport.  By the time I arrived in Portland, it was night time.  I picked up my luggage and found the Tri-Met light rail ticket dispenser.  Thank goodness I've done this before in other cities so that I didn't look like a total idiot, but I made sure to check that I was going to the right place.  I checked it about 10 times: before I bought the ticket, before I got on a train, while I was on the get the picture.  Jenn had assured me that I'd be fine, since she used to work in Portland a lot, and stayed in the hotel where I would be staying.  So I trusted my travel diva.

The Nines hotel was just a very short walk away from the train stop, which I was thankful for because it was a little bit wet outside and I had the luggage.  The doorman let me in and the guy at the bell desk advised me to go up to the 8th floor for the registration desk.  Weird.  I guess that's where the actual hotel part starts. So I got to the registration desk, and nearby was a sculpture of huge shoes.  So of course I figured I was in the right place.  :)  Behind the desk was the lobby area, which I never did explore, but hope to some other time.  The hotel has totally spoiled me and now I want to stay there whenever I'm in Portland.  Jenn sure knows how to pick 'em.  Oh.  This is where I should tell you that, for my birthday present, Jenn used her Fancy Hotel Points to get me a room.  THANKS, JENN!  

So, OK, the room.  GORGEOUS.  I stayed on the eight floor.  The doors were a very dark brown, like mahogany.  Heck, they could have been actual mahogany.  I opened the big fancy door, and there was a hallway to get to the bathroom and bedroom.  The bathroom was a very nice, large size, with a cute vanity stool and two robes with the "9" logo and lots of prettiness.  Between the bathroom and the bedroom, in the hallway, was the little bar.  The room was decorated in white with Tiffany Blue, the wood was mahogany color, there was a plush bench chaise-ish chair, a nice big desk, and a nice-sized TV.  When the door of the closet opens, a pretty light turns on so that you can see that there is an umbrella (with the Nines logo) as well as the cool shoe shine stuff you find in the fancy hotels.  I wished that I needed a shoe shine at that moment.  

BMan basks in the spotlight
Oh, and I forgot to mention the chandelier in the corner of the room.  Bananaman enjoyed posing pretty much everywhere.  The hotel had already done the turn-down service, so I had slippers on top of a little sheet on the floor for bedtime, as well as a little bedtime cookie thing.  I don't know what it was, but it was yummy.  I called Jenn to thank her for the beautiful room, and was too tired to go out for food, so I ate some of my yummy Woodhouse chocolate and some other not-very-nutritious stuff before turning in to the very comfortable bed.  

When I woke up, I turned on the TV, and there was an episode of "Prison Break" playing.  Yay, Wentworth in HD!  Happy Birthday to ME!  I ordered room service:  Brioche French Toast with huckleberry jam and hazelnut butter.  The tray arrived and was decorated with a beautiful purple tulip in a little vase.  Perfect!  The food was delicious, and took me pretty much all day to finish it because it was quite rich.  I welcomed phone calls and tweets and Facebook posts and texts from my friends and family wishing me a Happy Birthday.  It's so nice to be loved!  Even when I'm not with any of my friends, I feel surrounded by their kindness.  I spent the day pretty much catching up on the blog (and now I'm behind again!), and listening to some drum corps.

I treated myself to a nice shower with the Lavender Sugar Scrub (nice!) that I had bought at the olive oil place, and got myself ready to see my guys.  The doorman hailed a taxi for me, and it took me across the water to the theater.  I was about the 20th person in line.  It was cold.  I ended up putting my phone away so that I could wear my gloves.  I was there at least half an hour before the doors would be open, so I just thought of happy things, like the fact that I was about to see Rockapella on my birthday.
Rockapella on my birthday!!!

When the doors opened, they stamped hands with "Friends Forever".  Awww.   I made a beeline for the front of the theater.  Plenty of people didn't want to sit in the front row.  Suckers.  So I grabbed a seat in front, placed Bananaman in a spot where he wasn't conspicuous but he could still watch the show, and waited.

There were a few opening acts, all a cappella high school groups from the area.  
First up: the Cleveland High School Dares.  They were dressed all nice in choir attire.  Repertoire included "Meeting in the Promised Land" by Moses Hogan and "Sleep" by Eric Whitacre.  Wow, they were really good, and they were having fun with that gospel song!

Second:  High Altitude, made up of 6 gals, and they had just formed 6 months earlier.  They sang one of my favorite Disney songs, "I Won't Say I'm In Love" from "Hercules".  I liked all of the posing.

Third: Cloud 9, which was formed 6 years ago, and is open to students in the Portland Metro Area.  They are an all-male group, and were clearly the favorites of the 3 groups.  They sang a mash-up of Sean Kingston's "Beautiful Girls" and Sugababes' (written by Elliott Malloy) "Denial" and "Hey There Delilah".  I liked hearing the really not-urban-looking guy using urban slang like "shorty".  It was awesome.  They all sang really well, trading off solos.  I'd like to see them on "The Sing-Off" one day.  They also did the song "It's All Right" by Curtis Mayfield.  I would provide a link to their FB page, but it hasn't been updated in quite awhile.  I mean, hello, they opened for Rockapella, and that's not even on there!

Enough high school hijinks.  It was time for the men to take the stage.  During intermission, I watched Fred walk across the stage with their mic packs. screen, which means no projections?  Then when the lights dimmed, I realized that they were projecting the images onto the curtains.  OK, that works.  

Do they always start on the little stage, or is that new?  Steve and Geo were smiling, clearly loving the "Ticky Ticky Boom"s.  During the last pause between "to..." and "...night", JT is squatting.

Steve winked at me!  Swoon!

Scott asked about the Dares: "How did that come about?  Did you play 'Truth or Dare' a lot?  Do they have The Truths?  That's how you are."  He pointed at their conductor.


Got to Get You Into My Life
They are so ON tonight, my goodness!  The crowd was eating it all up, too, which further energized them.

Just My Imagination/Imagine
JT rests during this song.  I finally noticed.

Tell Me What You Want
"Pull the Tri tri g g ger ger".  Go, John!

Scott says that Steve "has the work ethic of Hercules".  Ooh, another Hercules reference tonight!

I like hearing the "You Send Me" from the other guys while Steve is walking around, looking for someone.  Tonight, he picked Ashley, who was swaying, so Steve had everyone in the crowd swaying with them.  When he went backstage afterward, he shared with everyone "It's COLD back here!"

Hard Time
Scott said, "We haven't had an all-original record since I was, like, 6.  That was 15 years ago.  Not when I was 6.  I was 7."  He said that he was watching TV earlier, and they called a local person an "Oregonian".  He said, "Of course that's the term.  What else what it be?  Oregonts?  Oregoners?  Oregoners would be bad."

California Sad-Eyed Girl
I could see/hear the back-up tenors trying to fix the chords at the beginning, and they did it quickly.  They're pros, you know.

Scott said that George's bass line is "deliciously organic, melodic, Oregonian".  Jeff shared that his father was from Eugene.  John called Scott "Loose Legs Malone", which prompted Scott to bow and flip his golden hair.  This makes me think of the movie "Charlie's Angels" when Lucy Liu says to Cameron Diaz,  "Flip your g**da*n hair."

Paper Doll
Steve smiled at me!  That's because I call him "Flirty Flirty Eyes", you know.  :)  I actually don't know if that's why he smiled at me, but I'll just believe it for now.

Rock the Boat
We all did the Oregonian chant "Do the Hustle".  I like John's scat going up.  At the end of the song, someone said, "Brr ah ha ha ha!"  Who was that?!

I love the pause between "He can get any (pause) woman he wants" that Tom Jones Scott does.  No, Wendy, George APPARENTLY no longer does the high kick during this song, maybe because he's on the little stage with JT.  The song goes too fast for the "yay" of "Yippe ki yay".

Commercial Medley
Someone in the audience cheered for Capitalism, and Scott said to him, "You're a bad Oregonian."  He then talked about Rockapella's "dark little secret in our otherwise squeaky-clean PBS career."  I love the way that Steve moves during "rash on my butt".  I don't know, maybe it has to do with "Steve" and "Butt".  During Folger's, Steve smiled at me.  No, I do not call him Folger Folger Eyes.  He just smiles at me because I'm happy, I guess.

John had us echo some stuff, and during the "Hey- oh', he said, "you're all a good group!"

My Girl
John chose Kara.  He had to bring her backstage in order to get her onto the stage, and when they were out of sight, he said, "Hey!  Stop that!  What the heck are you doing?!"  As the guys sang to her, she spun around on her stool to look at everyone, and then put her arm around Scott.  Laughter ensued.  Steve and John said to her, "LOWER!"  Scott said, "She likes to sing. You would like to sing?"  No.  "Would you like to dance?"  Kara said NO.  He tried to get her to sing "Stand By Me" and said to her, "You sing what I'm saying."  She started to sing but when he stopped, she said, "Why aren't you singing?!"

Ain't Too Proud To Beg
Kara didn't dance right away, but she did finally dance later on.

Geo said, "I was listening to that last song and thinking to myself, 'I wish I could sing like a woman'.  Last night when I was home..." (Home? In Portland?) "I dreamed about auditions for 'The Bodyguard'."  He told the director, "I would like to be Whitney Houston's stunt double.  I'm taller than her, and I don't have long hair, but I can sing like a woman."  Then he sang a little "I Will Always Love You".  He then said, "You notice I still have my jacket on, right?  For a man who sings so low to sing so high, he has to squeeze his butt cheeks together."

Jam ON, John!  I was missing the baritone a little, though, when Geo was singing the bass melody.


Papa Was a Rolling Stone
OK, so I couldn't concentrate for a moment as Geo's back was to us and I stared at his butt as he was rubbing his thigh.


Scott talked about the cruise coming up, saying, "You can see Jeff in his speedo."  JT said, "Thousand Bucks.  Thousand Bucks."  Do NOT challenge me, Thacher!

Up On The Roof / Wonderful World
I was annoyed by the dude singing behind me.  Dude, they're not using their microphones right now.  Do you think I want to hear you at all?  Steve winked and said bye to me.  I swear he just makes me swoon all day long.

Meet & Greet

I said hi to Fred, and we agreed that it was a great show.  He can tell that I'm feeling better because he's a sound man, and my voice sounded better.  Aw, Fred.  Thanks for caring enough to notice.  

I bought a CD for Rudy, and somehow found myself in the front of the signing line, where the guys entered.  Oops.  Scott hugged me and said hello.  Steve hugged me and said Happy Birthday.  John hugged me and said Happy Birthday, and signed my CD, writing "Hey, Rudy".  George saw me and yelled, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BABY!!!" and hugged me tightly, then signed the CD.  Then I saw JT, which triggered this exchange.
Jeff:  "Oh, are you all by yourself?  Where are your friends?"  
Sher: "I don't have friends."
Jeff: "Oh, that's bullcrap."
Sher: "No, they couldn't come because they can't afford it due to the cruise!  That's why I'm not going to Washington."  I asked him to sign the CD.  He looked at it and said, "Who's Rudy?" very slowly.  And then I had this whole conversation with JT about my past with Rudy, to which he responded with "Awww" and gave me a big hug  (Thanks, Roo!).

I waited around awhile because Scott and Steve had long lines.  I took a picture for a family that turned out to be Steve's relatives.  Geo told someone in his line, "Talk to her (points to me).  She's been to a million shows, and she's here ON HER BIRTHDAY!"  He's so damn cute.  The gal never talked to me, though.  When his line was gone, Geo and I talked about plans for the cruise, and when Sandra would join him.  I talked to Steve's family after I figured out who they were.  I talked to Tim, who wanted to hang out in downtown Portland, but didn't have time.  Steve signed the CD and tried to remember who Rudy was, and I told him that he hadn't met him yet.  

Geo sang to me "Happy Birthday to You" a la Stevie Wonder, and I danced along.  I told Geo that I needed Scott's signature.  He looked for him a little bit, then said "I'll just take you back here."  We walked backstage, which wasn't very big, and Scott walked onto the stage, eating a cookie, as we arrived.  I told him about the awesome room that Jenn got for me, and he asked which one.  Yet he never visited me.  Bummer.  ;)  Scott walked me to the front of the theater, saying that they hadn't done any improvements to it since the last time they were there and it was really run down.  He said that backstage was crappy.  He didn't seem happy with that fact.  (I didn't remind him that it used to be an *ahem* adult-film theater before it was refurbished into a performance space).  

I talked to Fred about the cruise.  He didn't have any excursions booked yet.  Since his wife wasn't going to be there he didn't feel that it would be a full vacation without her.  Awww.  I told him to hang out with us, and about the excursions I booked for every day in port.  He said, "Wow, you're jam-packed!"  He said that he'd have less set-up to do on the cruise due to the smaller space and because it was a different kind of venue.  I had to get my reading glasses out to see the taxi company's phone number, and told Fred that I was getting old.  He said, "Yeah, right.  No, you're not."  Sweet.

Well, the taxi company that dropped me off would not be back in the area for at least another hour, so they advised me to call another one, and gave me their phone number.  Well, that's friendly!  So I did, and waited outside so that the theater people could close up.  I thought to myself, "Oh, no. Rockapella is going to leave and see me standing out here by myself."

Sure enough, while I was waiting, I saw The Blond One driving by in a red mini-van.  They saw me and made a u-turn at the intersection.  John had trouble opening the window, then asked what was going on.  I told them that I was waiting for a cab.  He looked worried, brow all furrowed.  I told him that I already called, I was just waiting.  He was concerned that it was cold.  I said that I went outside so that they could lock the doors.  John said, "That's not right, letting you stand out here in the cold."  They opened the side door and George moved the chair back so that I could sit down.  How totally sweet!  Here's what happened inside the van (ooh, that sounds steamy, but no).

Sher: But then the guy won't see me out there.
John:  You called them, they'll look for you.
Sher:  I don't like to delay you guys from whatever.
George:  We weren't going to do anything but sit in our hotel rooms.
John:  What did you do for your birthday?
Scott:  It's her birthday today?  (Clearly, he didn't hear Geo yelling or singing to me earlier)
John: Yeah.
Scott:  Happy Birthday.  (Perhaps I should have told him that he needs to arrange Stevie Wonder's HB song for Rockapella to sing (to me) someday.  Just for Liz's sake.)
Sher:  I just hung out in my beautiful hotel room.  Oh!  I forgot to take pictures with you and Bananaman!
John: What?
Sher pulls Bananaman out of her purse and hands him to John.  (OK, that looks bad, especially because we were in a van, but I can't think of a better or less funny way to say it).
Geo:  Here we go.
Sher:  This is Bananaman.  He is the birthday mascot.  Isn't he lewd?
John: (laughing) Yes.  He is lewd.
Sher:  I"ll have to take a picture with you on the cruise.
The taxi arrives.
Sher:  Thanks for being such gentlemen and waiting with me."
ALL:  You're welcome.  Bye!  (No, not all at once).

The taxi driver said that I had nice friends.  I sent messages to John and Geo via FB to thank them.  George then thanked me for sharing my special day with them.  SWWWOOOOOOON!!!!!! until I fell asleep.

What a great birthday.

In the morning, I ordered a different breakfast, and got another tulip.  I wanted to take the tulips home, but I knew that they'd just die or get crushed on the way home, so I left them pretty in order that they'd stay like that in my memory.  It was nice to be home and in my bed.  For a day.  :)

Birthday Greetings from Bananaman