28 November 2010

Re: Derek Jeter and the Yankees

Pete Rose was 37 in 1978 when he left the Cincinnati Reds as Captain of a multi-World-Series-winning team.  In 1980, he helped the Philadelphia Phillies win their first World Series. 

Derek Jeter may not be "worth" the money he wants, but the Yankees would let him go elsewhere at their own peril.

21 November 2010

"White Christmas: The Musical": A Review

If one starts with the premise that White Christmas, the movie, isn't half the film that Holiday Inn is, it's much easier to understand that any stage musical based upon the remake will have inherent weaknesses, no matter the strength of the performances.

And so it is with the production of Irving Berlin's White Christmas that just closed at the Bushnell in Hartford: many nice performances of several Irving Berlin songs (some great, some good, and some just okay) that don't coalesce into a full-bodied musical that I'd want to see repeatedly -- the hallmark, I feel, of how a musical should make one feel! 

So, I enjoyed it, but I have just a few scattered comments:

The acting was solid across the board, but the book didn't demand nor encourage much texture in the characters.  My younger daughter and I were taken most by Ruth Williamson's Martha Watson and Erick Devine's General Waverly.  ("Everyone already thinks we are married; we fight all the time and don't have sex!")  Denis Lambert's Phil Davis seemed to get to have the most fun, and he looked to be taking full advantage.

The tap dancing in "I Love a Piano" and "Happy Holidays/Let Yourself Go" was terrific.  The show could've used even more. 

The dancing of "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing" worked, while in "Blue Skies" (perhaps the best Berlin song in the whole musical), the choreography seemed tired.  (Indeed bringing in the General, Martha, and Susan for comic relief several times in the midst of it seemed to suggest that even the choreographer realized it couldn't stand on its own.) 

Both versions of "Sisters" (first by Amy Bodnar and Shannon M. O'Bryan and then John Scherer and Mr. Lambert) were quite fun, although two short both times. 

My favorite performance of the afternoon -- the trio by Bodnar, O'Bryan, and Williamson, of "Falling Out of Love Can be Fun" was great, although I must admit to being disappointed that, when she came in toward the end of the song, the young lady who played Susan Waverly didn't prove that she was "born with it" right then and there! 

"Let Me Sing and I'm Happy" is the showstopper of the belter Williamson, and she delivered. 

Bodnar's "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me" was less successful, however...sounding forced and not effectively torchy.

The ensemble's "Snow" played very well, as did Mr. Scherer's "Count Your Blessings."

And, ANY show that uses "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" (even if only for the curtain call) is okay by me.

The real downside, in my opinion, is that, having seen Irving Berlin's White Christmas today (11/2110), I guess the holiday season has begun -- even before Thanksgiving.  And THAT, no matter what the stores want us to think, is NEVER a good thing.

I want to be more excited than I am, but I take comfort in the hope that a screening of Holiday Inn is in my not-too-distant future!

18 November 2010

I can't believe this song didn't become popular again during the long ordeal of the miners...

...in Chile!

There's a free screening of "All The President's Men" (1976) tomorrow at 2 PM at CCSU...

..which brings up three distinct Watergate memories for me:

In April 1973, on a visit to Washington DC with other 6th-Graders from Guardian Angels School from Cincinnati, Ohio, while going past the Watergate Apartments, our tour guide offered, "and here's that place you've been hearing so much about on the evening news!"  [Evening news?!! Doesn't THAT sound dated?]

In the late spring and summer of 1974, coming home from school and watching the hearings with my mom, while she ironed, and cooked, and cleaned.  Committee members Ervin, Baker (my personal fav), Inouye, and Weicker I knew almost as well as Rose and Bench and Perez and Concepcion.

When the film version of All The President's Men was released in 1976, the entire student body and faculty of The Covington Latin School marched down Madison Avenue in Covington, Ky  to the Madison Theater because ATPM was deemed an important film for us all to see.*

I'm pretty sure I've seen the film several times since, but I'm looking forward very much to tomorrow afternoon!  (And my affection for the film also explains how a mid-70s film made the cut in a "classic" Fridays film series...not that great films weren't made in the '70s -- and beyond -- but, to my mind, there'll always be something special about a movie from before, say, 1963!)

*The school had done this once before for Godspell (1973) and would do it again in 1982 or '83, when I was a faculty member, when Gandhi was released (which wasn't nearly as good as either of the earlier films.  That Richard Attenborough's just overrated).

12 November 2010

My post for Blue-eyes.com (11/08/10)


My blog post for Blue-eyes.com (10/25/10)


My blog post for Blue-Eyes.com (10/12/10)


"Sisters, Sisters".... A review of "Brighton Beach Memoirs"

A theatre goer goes to Brighton Beach Memoirs for Eugene (the 15-year-old version of the playwright Neil Simon) and 1) his witty takes on the older generation, 2) his youthful love of sports, 3) his admiration of his brother, Stanley, and 4) his persistent annoyance at the preferential treatment of his "sick" cousin Laurie; and 5) his innocent lust after his cousin Nora.  One remembers BBM, however, for the relationship between the mother, Kate, and her sister, Blanche. 

As directed by Cie Peterson, and brought to life by a cast talented from top to bottom, the production that opened last night at Playhouse on Park meets those expectations fully. 

Matt Macca delivers a nicely straightforward and likable Eugene, endearing in his innocence and humor.  Jack (Robert Resnikoff) is the father everyone would want to have (or want to be): respected and loved and even heeded...a family man, who never quits, and is able to react to crises emotionally while still conscious of keeping his sights on the bigger picture.  (And, to my ear, sounding ever so much like Alan Arkin, and that's not a complaint.)  Stanley (Sam Duffy), Nora (Carolyn Cumming), and Laurie (Hollis Long) help fill out a family that we can enjoy, care about, and cheer for as the various troubles mount in this slice of 1937.

The focus, despite everything that would seem to want to draw our attention elsewhere, however, falls squarely on the sisters, played wonderfully by Jan Neuberger and Heidi Jean Weinrich.  It's hard not to feel the ties of having grown up together, having faced the early death of Blanche's husband together, and raising their children under the same small roof together.  It's hard not to feel the love, the respect, the envy, and the tension that charges their interactions, both trivial and momentous.  It suggests that the recent study connecting happiness and having a sister is undoubtedly true. 

Neuberger's Kate also has a very convincing rapport with Macca's Eugene.  She is able to convey her stern and, at times, irrational maternal insistence that Eugene "just write quietly" outside so as not to disturb his father even as she offers glimpses of the recognition of her younger son's wit and brains.

As a play, of course, Brighton Beach Memoirs is no Equus.  But any play that can offer the following line (probably misquoted here!) in a way that both provokes a laugh and the recognition of its essential, inescapable, and enduring truth is well worth any effort it takes to attend:

"Don't torment yourself, that's what mothers and fathers are supposed to do.


11 November 2010

The top five ways you can tell I'm not a hip man of a certain age

5.  I think only those who can tie a bow tie should be wear a bow tie.

4.  "When it was hip to be hep, I was hep."  ("I'm Hip" by Dave Frischberg)

3.  You say, "P. Diddy or Jay-Z," to which I reply, "I'm sorry, THE PIPS."

2.  I air-guitar to the Carpenter's "Goodbye to Love."

1.  I have a favorite Jose Feliciano song, but it's the theme from Chico and the Man.