Monday, March 30, 2009


I overdid it on New Year's Eve. With ice I mean. Way too much ice. For some reason, I can never figure out how much ice to buy for a party. I'm either way over or way under. Food and drink, I'm not so bad at.

And instead of just melting the ice, I had to keep it. Can't throw away money ya know. So for 3 months my downstairs freezer has been full of ice. This is a problem because I'm on a mission to fill my freezers with homemade bread for the summer. I have already baked and frozen 12 loaves plus countless loaves we've already consumed.

Hey, it keeps me busy.

Cleaning the kitchen one day, I noticed the margarita mix given to Brian one Christmas during a neighborhood exchange.

I think you know where I'm going with this. Couple the ice, the margarita mix, and the leftover decorative paper plates from other soirees and we have a party in the making. I started telling the neighbors.

It was a spur of the moment thing so I tried real hard not to go overboard by making everything nice and pretty. An impromptu party should be impromptu not planned down to the last toothpick.

The worst time for me is right before a party starts as I wonder if anyone is going to come over.
At 4:15 pm, I looked out from my porch to a deserted street. A ghost town. No one was going to come.

If you make a pitcher of margaritas and no one comes over to drink it, is it still a party?

Luckily, I didn't have to answer that because by 4:20 I saw the Cuban coming out his back door with a huge red sombrero on his head. That sombrero must have signalled the neighborhood because they started dropping in along with their kids and some more food.

We needed that food.

Poor Brian had the worst of it; as soon as he made a pitcher of margaritas, he'd return to the blender to start again. He used a lot of ice (well that was the point) so instead of being too strong, they were quite diluted. Perfect for a Saturday afternoon.

Once the margaritas were gone, we decided we should start grilling. It might have been the collective mothers' instincts; we needed to feed the kids because it was 6 pm, even though the kids had been grazing on munchies for 2 hours.

So Brian switched from the blender to the grill. Luckily, with the number of guys around, he wasn't lonely.

How many men does it take to cook hamburgers?

The kids ate a bit and the adult ate more. Not a stitch of food was left - which made the cleanup very easy.

The party broke up around 10 pm after some guitar playing of course. Brian was accompanied by Guitar Man, another neighbor we had forgotten to call. Luckily, he just happened to be strolling by with his wife when we were on the porch. Nothing like taking a walk and happening upon a margarita party already in progress.

It was such a great party, relaxed and jovial. Just a perfect way to blow off steam and for no reason at all--well, except for the ice. But sometimes, the best parties are the ones for no reason. Actually, Dancing Queen (a mom in the hood with 2 boys) suggested we do it every month.

And now, for me at least, it's back to the grindstone: I have a freezer to fill and a couple of races to run, not to mention The Seafarer which will put me out of commission for a couple of months. Oh well, I'll just have to party with my buddies at the Arden.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Night Live

So in my last post I promised more about my neighbors. The best way to begin perhaps is to describe a typical Friday night. I'll introduce the neighbors slowly over a few posts.
So on Fridays, after dinner, we often gather at The Chef's house. He lives 2 doors down from Brian and I. He's got a pool - which makes his house the gathering place during the summer as well. Every weekend, all summer long, we sit on the back porch, sometimes swimming, sometimes chatting, usually with a beer. He's called The Chef because he's always grilling something up.

Alas, he is selling his house soon and moving to nearby digs. What the rest of the block is going to do this summer is anybody's guess. If you come down our street in July, you might find us wandering aimlessly like zombies, drink in hand, sunglasses on, holding a towel.

But during the colder months we usually sit around his kitchen table, swapping stories from the week, having some beer, etc.

Around 10 or so, Brian brings out his guitar. Brian is a pretty good guitar player and has a wide range of songs under his belt. By 10 pm, we all believe that we are pretty good singers with a wide range of lyrics under out belt; but we're not and we don't.

We start out by requesting a song and Brian starts to play it.

We sing the first verse minus a couple of words and we're not bad with the chorus and then we break down:

"Hmm, lala, oh yeah, don't we sing..."

"No, we already sang that"

"Who knows the words?"

"I thought you did"

That song fades and we beg for another song. All those songs we can sing word for word in the car are completely out of our brain by 10:15 on a Friday night.

And yet, it doesn't stop us from trying.

I always request that Brian sing Blackbird by The Beatles. On our honeymoon in Paris we sat at a cafe and watched a guy play guitar on the corner. After a few songs, Brian got up to chat with him and the guy offered to let him play. And Brian played Blackbird so it's a sweet memory song for me. But I don't know all the words to it.

One night, The Chef's girlfriend, Twiggy (you can probably guess why she's named that), took a phone movie of all us singing. I thought she should put it on YouTube. We'd be an instant hit! We could do a little webseries, filming our Friday night band. People would flock to their computers to watch us make absolute fools of ourselves.

C'mon, admit it, you'd watch.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Let There Be Light

It's been difficult to blog lately, especially with my laptop out of commission. I have to use my kids' desktop computer and it's not as comfortable (I can't lie on the couch with the monitor on my knees). But I won't be complaining much longer as Brian is dutifully checking out laptops for me. He has a gorgeous one from work with keys that light up in the dark.

I ain't getting that one.

We've also been busy here changing up the house a bit. We finished painting the basement. And by we I mean Brian. We covered the dark, 1970's wood paneling with white paint on three walls, and deep red on the fourth. I'd post pictures but alas this computer doesn't do pictures and my laptop...well, you know the story. Oh, and on the ceiling we put the muslin and it looks just so cool; very industrial, hip, NY loft feel. That's the closest we'll ever come to being hip.

Plus, I've upped the mileage on my runs which takes a lot more time. A friend of mine who just started running said it's like a part-time job. And it is! Last week, I ran along Kelly Drive in Philadelphia. It's a beautiful run and very flat (key!). I wanted to see how many miles I could do and I did 7 and 1/2 miles which took 75 minutes. Add to that the time it took to drive down and back and we're close to 2 hours. And then there's stretching, adds up.

I'm upping my mileage in the hopes of running the Broad Street Run this year in Philly. It's a 10 mile run down Broad Street (hence the name). My brother and 2 of my nieces are running. I just found out that my rehearsal that day will be late enough so theoretically I could do the run. My only problem is how do I get from the bottom of Broad Street to the Arden.

And don't tell me to run it.

In addition to all that, we've decided to take some trees down in our yard. We are getting a service to do it since we need them to get rid of the stumps. They are taking down four trees in all: two are dead, and two are just really in our way. They've just finished removing the trees and sunlight is streaming in our kitchen windows and it's glorious. I may just have to find curtains.

And, not to worry, we still have plenty of trees in our yard. And we still have lots of yard.

The big yard almost prevented us from buying the house. I really liked the layout of the house and the three bathrooms (one on each floor). But when we checked out the yard, Brian gave me that 'I don't know' look and said, "It's an awfully big yard to mow." But euphoric at the thought of all those bathrooms, I let my bladder do the talking and shouted, "I'll mow!"

Brian agreed. I'd hoped he'd forget about my promise but he didn't. He didn't even care that I had never mowed a lawn before. So we bought a lawn mower and I started mowing and almost immediately broke the mower by running over the cover of the water line in yard.

So we got another mower and I tried it again. Oh yeah, you can guess what happened...mowed over the damn thing again and there went the second mower. I'm that old dog you can't teach new tricks to I guess.

Even though Brian wasn't too happy, I'm still mowing the lawn. Just not that part of the lawn.
But there was a silver lining to ruining two lawn mowers. We hadn't met our neighbors yet and they were all sitting around the Chef's pool watching this entire debacle. Finally, taking pity on us they invited us over for a swim and a beer. And we've been hanging out with them ever since.

Of course now I'm going to have to introduce you to my neighbors. And, they want me to; we sat around on a Friday night thinking up "aliases" for everyone on the block. But I'll save that for another post. Gotta run! (pun intended).

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Just What is Neoconservatism

I wrote a post the other day about the documentary The Power of Nightmares and an article by Frank Rich. A comment left on the post by Anonymous questioned my understanding of neoconservatism. So it got me wondering, what is neoconservatism exactly?

Exactly..well, I don't think I have an answer to that, but I think I have a better understanding of it.

Here's what I have gleaned so far:

Neoconservatism grew out of left-leaning, mostly Jewish intellectuals during World War 2 as a reaction to the Holocaust. In order to prevent any repetition of the Holocaust, they believed the United States needed to develop a strong foreign policy and rely more on military might than on appeasement or diplomacy. In their view the Munich agreement was a HUGE catastrophe. As Anonymous stated "Neoconservatives are notable mainly for their idealistic foreign policy."

In the 1960's , neoconservatives became disillusioned with the politics of the left and began embracing a more conservative political viewpoint. I believe the neoconservatives were reacting against the appeasement policies of the left with regards to the Vietnam war. The neoconservatives became more conservative in their social policy in reaction to the free-love liberalism they felt was undermining the war in Vietnam. The United States needed to be morally superior at home in order to be strong abroad in spreading democracy.

Interestingly, many left-leaning, communist-minded leftists in the 1960s became disillusioned with liberal ideology and began exploring neoconservatism as well. I believe, and I may be wrong, the term neoconservative was coined during the 1960s to describe these leftists who became newly minted conservatives.

I have read, and Anonymous has written as well, that neoconservatives are mostly secular and rather liberal in their social policies. I have found nothing concrete to support this statement thus far. As I mentioned above, I believe they became more conservative in their social approach in reaction to the free-love, free-thinking hippies of the liberal movement.

In fact, in the late 1980s, the neoconservatives formed a loose coalition with the religious right. Both movements are similar in their belief in a black and white view of the world with the neocons asserting the moral superiority of the United States and the religious right asserting the moral superiority of their religion. In addition, both movements unquestionably support Israel as a the only voice of democracy in the Middle East. This coalition between these groups shores up my belief that neoconservatives are not liberal in their social policies. I have yet to meet a neocon who has said, "Yes, we must invade Iraq! And while we're at it--equal marriage rights for gays!."

In fact, in a letter to the editor I read in the Commentary (a neoconservative magazine founded by Irving Kristol) the writer declared that he was not a neocon in the form of Mr. Kristol and that he had a more liberal social viewpoint. Then the writer declared his support for Ronald Regan (the letter was written in 1984). I'm still having trouble connecting Ronald Regan to social liberalism.

Irving Kristol, by the way, is often considered a founder of neoconservatism.

I can't end without addressing the "Noble Lie," first discussed by Plato and later by Leo Strauss. According to many, Leo Strauss believed that an elite few were capable of governing the masses because intellectually they understood what was best for everyone. These elite could "lie" to the populace in order to promote the greater good, thus the noble lie. I cannot say for sure if this is what Mr. Strauss believed. Everything I have read suggests that he was more at home reading and discussing the classics than he was at formulating political theories.

But whatever he believed, I think some neoconservatives did believe in the elite theory and the noble lie. And these are the people who powered the Bush Administration these past eight years. Believing above all else in the "democracy for the world" doctrine, they fed the American people lies regarding WMDs, etc. in order to garner support for the invasion.

I don't want to lump all neoconservatives together with those who ran the White House during Mr. Bush's reign. I'm sure, just like in any movement, there are those with differing viewpoints. Unfortunately, this "morally superior" set of neoconservatives are the ones who grabbed the power and the ones about which everyone has written.

It's been fascinating researching all this and I've barely scratched the surface. I'm listing some links below of the articles I've read. And, of course, if anyone has comments, criticisms, or suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Can't Say It Better Myself

Sometimes I wish I had the eloquence to speak about political issues. I'm afraid I'm a bit to emotional to lay out an argument clearly and persuasively which is probably why I am in theater. So when I run across something that makes me go, "Yeah, that's what I mean." I just have to share. For what's it worth, here are two recommendations:

Today, in the New York Times, I read an article by Frank Rich who so succinctly describes the fall of the neo-cons in our current society. He likens it to the fall of prohibition in the 1930's with the election of Franklin Roosevelt (who famously said upon signing the repeal, "What this country needs now is a drink.")

The article got me thinking about a documentary from the BBC entitled The Power of Nightmares. Brian and I got the documentary through Netflix and spent many weeks avoiding watching it. A political documentary about the rise of radical Islam and neo-conservatism? Sounds exciting!

But in actuality, it was very powerful (no pun intended). The similarities between the two groups (neo-cons and radical Islamists) are fascinating. Below is an excerpt, rather long I apologize, from the introduction:

In the past, politicians promised to create a better world. They had different ways of achieving this, but their power and authority came from the optimistic visions they offered their people. Those dreams failed and today people have lost faith in ideologies. Increasingly, politicians are seen simply as managers of public life, but now they have discovered a new role that restores their power and authority. Instead of delivering dreams, politicians now promise to protect us: from nightmares. They say that they will rescue us from dreadful dangers that we cannot see and do not understand. And the greatest danger of all is international terrorism, a powerful and sinister network with sleeper cells in countries across the world, a threat that needs to be fought by a War on Terror. But much of this threat is a fantasy, which has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians. It's a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments around the world, the security services and the international media. This is a series of films about how and why that fantasy was created, and who it benefits. At the heart of the story are two groups: the American neo-conservatives and the radical Islamists. Both were idealists who were born out of the failure of the liberal dream to build a better world, and both had a very similar explanation of what caused that failure. These two groups have changed the world, but not in the way that either intended. Together, they created today's nightmare vision of a secret organized evil that threatens the world, a fantasy that politicians then found restored their power and authority in a disillusioned age. And those with the darkest fears became the most powerful.

Enough politics for now! On the lighter side, Frank Rich began life at the New York Times as a theater critic. He wrote about his childhood in Washington, DC, and his introduction to theater in a book entitled, Ghost Light. I highly recommend it, it's a bit lighter than The Power of Nightmares.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Double Feature

Saturday, I had the good fortune of going to see two movies. Coincidentally, they were both at the same movie theater.

In the afternoon, a couple of neighbors and I took all of our kids to see Race to Witch Mountain. My daughter and I had just read the book, Escape to Witch Mountain in preparation for the movie. I remember seeing the original Disney movie years and years and years ago. One of the lines I remember loving and repeating with my friend, Trisha, over and over again was, "Don't energize unless you absolutely have to." Neither the book I read nor the re-make had the line in there. I'm still on a search to find out when and why the characters said it in the original movie.

Anyway, Race to Witch Mountain did not bear much resemblance to the book. There were about 3 similarities:

  • Both had a brother and sister from another planet
  • The brother and sister could make objects move without touching them
  • The brother and sister were being chased by the government.
The names didn't even match! And yet, the movie was fine. Not great, just fine. A perfect Saturday afternoon time killer. Some lines were funny and Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson did a good job delivering them. He, of course, had to have a lady love and she was played by Carla Guigno. She did a fine job as well. The villain (a government agent) whose name I can't remember, did a good job being sinister and bumbling at the same time. A pre-requisite for children's movies.

The second movie I saw also had Carla Guigno in it; The Watchmen. Brian really wanted to see the movie and suggested I read the book; I haven't quite finished it yet, it's very dense. But on Saturday night, my kids were invited to sleep over at the neighbors'. We couldn't waste an opportunity like this one!

It's every parent's lament: By the time you pay for the movie, and the sitter, and perhaps a beer after...

So we watched The Watchmen, answering that ubiquitous question (in the film anyway): Who watches The Watchmen?

It was not as good as the book. Not even close. I felt it was too reverent a film for such an irreverent text. Plus, the film could not capture the many layers inherent in the novel. It's no wonder that Alan Moore took his name off the movie stating that his graphic novel was, "unfilmable." Perhaps next time, Hollywood will listen to the author.

But hey, a so-so day at the movies beats....well, just about everything else.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I Gotta Get Outta This Place

It's been six months since I've worked on a show. Tulipomania was a nice break from the daily "stay at homeness" but it wasn't enough. I'm so ready to start rehearsals on The Seafarer.

For a while, staying at home was great: reading the paper, taking yoga classes, cleaning out closets, seeing movies. My running has improved, I'm up to five miles regularly and six if the stars are aligned.

But I think being alone is starting to wear on me. I might be going a bit crazy. Social interactions are starting to frighten me. Oh, I volunteer at my kids' school and talk to people in yoga but it's not enough.

This past week I took both kids to their annual check-up. During the visit I asked the doctor about my daughter's amblyopia or lazy eye; basically she's blind in her right eye. She had worn glasses but an opthamologist said she didn't need them anymore. He said I should have her checked again to be sure.

Then when he was checking my son, he thought he noticed some strange wanderings in his right eye and suggested I get my son checked for amblyopia. This is rather funny because my son is adopted and my daughter is biological so it's definitely coincidence as opposed to genetic.

At the end of the visit, the doctor reminded me to have their eyes checked then said he was going to give them a vision screening. Why? I don't know, I just do what I'm told.

The nurse came in and said, "Are you ready?" I said, "Yes." She left the room and returned and said, "Are you coming?" I stood up and ushered my children out of that room and into another room apologizing profusely for not understanding that 'Are you ready?' meant 'Come with me.'

When my daughter took her test, the nurse asked her to cover up her left eye. I realized this when my daughter could not read any of the lines. I quickly jumped in with, "Oh, she can't see out of her right eye."

The nurse gave me an astonished look that clearly read, 'And why are you wasting my time.'

Apologizing again, I got my children out of there. But why was I apologizing? I didn't order the vision screening.

I couldn't get that little encounter out of my mind; I keep playing it over and over again wondering why I apologized. Truly, listening to NPR all day does not prepare one for social encounters in the real world. I need some live human interactions and I need them fast!

Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to rant...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fantasy Island

I have this fantasy.

It involves food.

But it's not what you think.

Over the years, I have subscribed to Bon Appetit and Gourmet magazine at various times. Every few issues or so they include an article about kitchens: green kitchens, gourmet kitchen, small space kitchens, etc. The kitchens are gorgeous and supposedly, if you believe what you read, actual kitchens that regular people cook in.

After reading such an article, I imagine myself in one of these pimped-out kitchens. Usually, there is an island at which one of my friends is sitting, maybe enjoying a glass of wine. Perhaps, tons of friends are over for a semi reunion weekend a la The Big Chill. Only without the dead person because that's just such a downer. But we do have a cool sound-track, updated for my era; I'm thinking Talking Heads, David Bowie, etc.

I'm gliding about my kitchen chopping vegetables and chatting and maybe Brian's manning the grill on our multi-layered back porch...complete with hot tub. Friends are bringing in fresh produce, a dance breaks out....

The latest kitchen I've been dreaming about has these gorgeous avocado cabinets that slide to hide appliances. Can you imagine? Miles of uncluttered counter space (or a few feet anyway) for people to comfortably prep the veggies and meats.
This kitchen also boasts a built-in coffee maker. It fits into the wall allowing extra kitchen space. I'm not so sure I need this because I prefer using a French press which leads to another fantasy. When I use it, I'm instantly transported to a small table at a cafe in Paris, sipping coffee and reading Le Monde (in my fantasy life, I'm fluent in french). Then, I hear in the distance: "Mom! There's no more cereal!"

And, reality come crashing through the door: out goes the cafe in Paris, out goes the avocado cabinets and miles of clear counter space, and out goes my island, my friends, and my cool sound-track.

Brian and I have thought about re-doing our kitchen but we've ultimately decided against it. And, seriously, I'm glad we're not re-doing it. I mean, what would I fantasize about then....

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bad Audience, Bad!!

The way some audience members behave these days makes me want to shout. But I'll rant instead.

Over the weekend, I attended Beauty and The Beast at the local high school with my daughter and her friend. Behind us sat a woman who alternately took FLASH photos of the production and texted on her cell phone. My daughter noted that she could hear the bing bing of the phone keyboard all during the show.

I wish I could say, well, it was a high school production, most audiences don't act like that.

But I can't.

I have witnessed, as a stage manager and as an audience member, such appalling behavior that I cringe just thinking about it. It's worse when I'm stage managing because the actors accost me at intermission or after the show to complain about the sleeping or eating or texting audience member. What am I supposed to do? Go up to the patron and harass them, "Don't make me stop this show!"

But sometimes I am tempted to.

Just a few things I've witnessed:
  • At a children's production, a mother sat behind my kids and me and kept saying loudly to her child, "And what do you think is going to happen next? Do you think he is going to climb the tree?" First, don't ruin it for me. And second, while I applaud your desire to interact with your child perhaps you could do it in the privacy of your living room.
  • On Broadway, at a production of The Drowsy Chaperone, a child protested his presence in the audience by kicking and screaming throughout the show. His family ignored his Damienesque behavior, blissfully ignorant of the fuming patrons around them. Well, at least they enjoyed the show.
  • While stage managing a production of Looking Over The President's Shoulder, a woman ate her entire lunch (sandwich, chips, soda) during the show. When I asked the house manager about it, she said the patron had medical needs an had to eat. Really, during a 85 minute show with an intermission? And if she really had to eat couldn't she have picked something a bit less, well, conspicuous?

I never know what the proper way to handle these incidents. As a stage manager I inform house management whenever I can and it's up to them to determine how to handle it. But sometimes it may disrupt the performance more by confronting the patron.

As an audience member should I speak to the offending party? Sometimes I turn, glare, and say "shush," really loudly and that has worked. I hate to create more noise and distraction by getting into an argument with someone. And at times, the person is so engrossed in his activity that it doesn't matter what I do.

At Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany, NY, the former Education Director, Jill Rafferty would welcome the students for each matinee. She informed them of the behavior expected of them during the performance. She went so far as to put them in a blackout during her speech so they could experience it before it occurred during the show. It gave them a chance to "oooo" and "ahh" and get out their screams and giggles.

It was a great approach and it helped quell some of the more disruptive behavior. But still that's a small segment of the population. And if the parents are the ones causing the ruckus or ignoring it...what hope do their kids have?

Oh, I could scream but thanks for letting me vent.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Stella for Star

So I went to see Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire on Sunday afternoon, and I can't stopped thinking about the play. I'm ashamed to say that I think it's the first time I've seen it in its entirety, on stage that is. I've watched scenes from it in acting classes (and acted in one, forgettably) and I remember seeing the movie but it didn't make an impression on me.

It's funny but whenever a theater does one of the "great American theater" plays, I never have any desire to go see them. I'm talking about plays like Streetcar, or Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Our Town, etc. It might be because I feel as though I know them already having read them, studied scenes from them, or listened to other people discuss them. But Mr. Williams did not write his plays to be read or to be seen in bits and pieces or just discussed (neither did Mr. Albee or Mr. Wilder for that matter). He wrote his plays to be watched in their entirety on stage. There's a reason A Streetcar Name Desire is part of the theatrical canon and it hit me like a ton of bricks watching the show on Sunday. It's bloody brilliant.

So as I've contemplated the show, I've been thinking about Stella's role in the story. It's so central yet in discussions she gets lost behind Blanche's delusions and Stanley's animalistic behavior. I love how Mr. Williams painted her as a loving, stable wife to Stanley and also as the admiring, adoring younger sister to Blanche.

She truly is the center between these two polar extremes. And both Stanley and Blanche want and perhaps need Stella on their side if they are to survive.

Two lines hit me on Sunday and I've been thinking about them ever since.

The first is said by Stanley while he, Blanche, and Stella are eating dinner. Stella admonishes his eating habits calling him a pig and telling him his manners are disgusting. Stanley erupts stating, "Pig, Polack, disgusting..those kinds of words have been on your tongue and your sister's tongue too much around here..."

I love how this one line shows Stella's descent back into the way she used to be, growing up with Blanche. It describes how she used to act at Belle Reve before she met Stanley. It's so honest falling back into the familial patterns of behavior when a beloved family member is around.

Stanley erupts not only because of the insult but because he is losing the Stella he knows which leads to the second line:
Listen baby, when we first met--you and me--you thought I was common...You
showed me a snapshot of that place, with them columns and I pulled you down off
them columns and you loved it...

And there Stanley states his argument: you love it here with me, don't go back there. I'm sure that when he seduced Stella for the first time it was with an almost violent passion bordering on rape. I say bordering on because Stella probably loved it.

Blanche, however, not so much. And we all know what happens when Stanley and Blanche are left alone.

Perhaps I identify with Stella because she's a younger sister or perhaps it's just because she's the only sane one of the bunch. I'm not sure what it is but I do know that there's nothing like seeing great American theater and having the thoughts, questions, and emotions stay with you long after the curtain comes down.

Monday, March 2, 2009

From There to Here

People kept telling me that the production was so professional and that I really must see it.

So I did.

On Saturday, I took my daughter and her friend to our local high school production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

I wouldn't exactly call it professional. It had all the hallmarks of a high school musical including wandering actors who can't stand still, tentative gestures that don't convey anything, and red sweat pants.

Yeah, red sweat pants. The actor playing Gaston had on these ghastly red, baggy sweatpants that did not compliment his green velvet vest. He resembled a rejected elf. What really bothered me about the sweatpants is that every other actor had perfectly fine pants. Lumiere sported gold metallic pants as the candelabra and the Prince had nice velvet black ones. Why did they feel the need to put poor Gaston in some one's hand-me-downs?

During intermission I asked my daughter what she thought of the show and she replied, "The singing is good."

Ouch! But then, she mostly sees professional productions. In fact, she only sees professional productions.

On Sunday, I went into downtown Philly to catch one of the last performances of A Streetcar Names Desire at the Walnut Street Theatre. It was wonderful and I loved every minute of it which was good because it was 3 hours long.

As I made my way home after Streetcar, I thought about the two very different shows I had seen. And I thought about my own high school productions. I realized that my memory of those plays was that they were really, really good. I did a great job as the nurse in Harvey and our production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat rocked. Even today I still believe that.

I don't remember or I've blotted out any wandering feet or red sweat pants. I do have warm, fuzzy feelings of being a part of an ensemble and working together to create a show and it was magical and it felt professional.

I'd bet almost every actor in Streetcar has memories of high school productions or at least of the first time they stepped on stage. They probably were not very good that first time but they had to start somewhere.

After Beauty and The Beast, my daughter and her friend recounted all the parts of the show they had liked. They ignored the other parts. They had the right idea. When you look at those parts: the great singing, gorgeous sets, cute dance numbers, it was pretty professional, ambitious and magical. So I admit I was wrong to judge that production so harshly.
And who knows where those kids from the show might end up someday....screaming "Stella" perhaps? Well, hopefully without the red sweat pants.