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Monday: September 28, 2009

Quotation of the Day

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:47 PM GMT-0500

“I don’t like men that are always eating cake.”

(Gertrude Wentworth, in Henry James, The Europeans, I)

Sunday: September 27, 2009

Review: Sweeney Todd at ShenanArts

Filed under: — site admin @ 1:36 PM GMT-0500

In three words: very well done. I was going to add “for a little theater production”, but I’ll just leave it at that. The principals, Brian Holsopple as Sweeney Todd and Barbara Spilman Lawson as Mrs. Lovett, were particularly strong: I especially liked her expressive eyes in the mad scenes (not that it’s easy to separate these from the other scenes) and his physical dominance of the stage (if that’s the word for it). Morgan McDowell, as Anthony, also struck me as particularly strong, though I didn’t much care for his obviously fake sideburns. I’m told the mop of curly black hair is his own. It took me most of the show to figure out who he reminded me of: Michael Jackson in his late years, but with a real nose and not quite so pale. (My date for the evening thought he looked more like Elijah Wood as Frodo in Lord of the Rings.) Jayne Gallagher, as Johanna, looked perfect for the part — very 19th century hair and dress –, and her singing and acting were also excellent. Like most of the cast, both are still in high school. Everyone else, including the ensemble, was much more than adequate, though one or two of the secondary characters were a little weak in volume or not as perspicuous in pronunciation as I would have liked. The sets were well done, too: low ceilings meant that the second-story barber shop was only about four feet higher than the first-floor pie shop and basement bakeroom, but they managed that well by sliding the fresh bodies in the barber chair off to one side and having them reappear through a trap door in front. (I’m sorry if that’s a ‘spoiler’ for any of my readers.) In sum, well worth the $12 ticket.

There is one more show, today at 3:00pm, so if any of my readers are in the central Shenandoah Valley there’s still time to get there. Verona is five miles north of Staunton. ShenanArts’ website is here. I would be there myself, if I didn’t have way too much work with a midnight deadline.

Tuesday: September 22, 2009

Just Wondering . . .

Filed under: — site admin @ 7:19 AM GMT-0500

Terry Teachout titles a post “FAQ and A”. Is that a pun on “Fuckin’ A”, or do I just have a dirty (and pun-obsessed) mind?

Sunday: September 20, 2009

A Mildly Comforting Thought

Filed under: — site admin @ 10:57 PM GMT-0500

As of noon today, Eastern time, we have made it through the first eight months (= one-sixth) of the Obama presidency with no permanent damage. Now we just have to get through the next forty months unscathed, or as little scathed as possible.

Saturday: September 19, 2009

A Missed Opportunity for Aesthetic Synergy

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:22 AM GMT-0500

The American Shakespeare Center is currently doing four plays in rotation at the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton: I Henry IV, Merry Wives of Windsor, Much Ado About Nothing, and Titus Andronicus. All are delightful in their different ways. Unfortunately, Titus is not the Saturday matinee either today or a week from today. If it were, theatergoers could see Titus Andronicus at the Blackfriars at 2:00, take a break for dinner, then drive up to Verona (6-7 miles north) for the 8:00 show of Sweeney Todd at Shenanarts. I’ve only seen one of their shows, That Scoundrel Scapino, adapted from Molière, but it was very well done by a cast of high school students, with grade-schoolers for the chorus of ‘Zanni’.

I don’t know whether any of the local restaurants serve beef and kidney pie, but that would be the perfect culinary accompaniment to my hypothetical Saturday outing. Oh, well, there will probably never be another opportunity for this particular multi-sensual aesthetic adventure. There is at least one other play I know that features a cannibal feast (Seneca’s Thyestes), but it is rarely performed today, and the dinner in it is apparently some kind of stew or casserole, not a meat pie.