19 March 2012

Given that my two very intelligent daughters in the past month have played...

...shall we say, rather dim-witted characters in retro-musicals (Frenchy, the "Beauty-School-Dropout," in Grease and Tracy's best friend Penny in Hairspray, respectively), I'm hoping that at least one of them has Born Yesterday somewhere in her future!

How sweet would that be!

After thoroughly enjoying the New Britain High School production of "Hairspray"...

(photo by Gail Koerner)

...with any number of references to things that one may think a tad inappropriate for a high school cast, I had to chuckle heartily as I watched the 1956 film version of Anything Goes (Bing Crosby, Donald O'Connor, Mitzi Gaynor, and a French performer I'd never even heard of, Jeanmaire). 

The familiar title song, of course, written in 1934, is Cole Porter's take on the recurring fear that culture and society, at large, are going to hell in a hand basket.  As he writes:

In olden days a glimpse of stocking
was looked on as something shocking. 
Now heaven knows,anything goes!

Good authors too who once used better words
Now only use four-letter words writing prose.
Anything goes!

Well, take a listen to the opening part of Mitzi's version in the film.

And, yes, you heard right!

I don't even know what a "three-letter word" is supposed to suggest.

Ah, the good old days, when proper reserve meant not even using euphemisms!


11 March 2012

So, is the world's new #1 professional golfer Rory McIlroy...

...more Axl Heck, from The Middle,

or Peter Brady, from The Brady Bunch?

(Thanks, Celeste!)

I now know why they abbreviate the title so frequently; I wouldn't want to be using the word "miserable" too often either!

First, let me make it clear that I KNOW Les Miz has been an international blockbuster for a quarter of a century.  I just never understood why.  From a distance, it (like Phantom, et alia) simply seemed to value BIG and LOTS over all else.   After last night's performance at the Bushnell in Hartford, I'm only further baffled.

My wife and I had never seen it, and, a few weeks ago, seeing that it was returning to the Bushnell, she off-handily commented that perhaps we should finally.  An opportunity to get a couple tickets appeared, so I seized the day.

Here, however, are the reasons my lovely bride and I left at intermission:

The plot development goes something like this: a good person (man/woman/child) is treated badly by a group of bad people until another good person rescues aforesaid good person.  Alternate this scene with another in which various groups of base people act basely and make phallic references (preferably with props) to the great amusement of the audience.  Throw in some revolutionaries and a love story that happens so quickly it'll make your head spin, and you've got the Les Miz "Cliff's Notes."

The music is repetitive. By the time we got to the final song of Act I, the refrain "One More Day," just seemed like a taunt to the audience.

The lyrics are prosaic.  When our hero Jean Valjean struggles with the decision to either reveal his identity or let an innocent man go to prison, he just as well could have been deciding between the McDonald's filet-o-fish and the roast beef au jus at Arby's.  Yes, he's damned either way; we get it.

The singing was, on the whole, loud but not very good.  The approach seemed to be that, at some point in every "song," the performer needed to yelp or growl or shout.  Indeed, Cosette's mother did nothing but scream.  (Thank God, she died early on.)  No wonder people think those American Idols are such good singers. 

"Javert" had a fine voice, but he pretty much kept singing the same thing, "I'll catch that guy some someday, yes, that guy -- prisoner number 90210 (thanks, Martha!) -- whom I've been chasing for decades and who was standing right next to me only a minute ago, but now seems to have disappeared again!  I hate it when that happens." 

It is a handsome production smartly executed, but simply too dark. (The sun NEVER shone in early-19th-century France?)

To add to the joy, a young lady in the row behind us -- but luckily several seats down -- threw up in the middle of Act I, which added to the urgency of the show...will we get to intermission before the smell becomes overwhelming? 

As my wife commented, "She must be a critic." 

To which I responded, "If only I had thought of it!"

Ah, c'est la guerre.  

09 March 2012

In the last two weeks, I've seen...

Grease at Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy

Everything I Know I Learned in Kindergarten at Playhouse on Park in West Hartford, CT

Concert of The Regional Middle School Treble Chorus, Chorus, and Jazz Band sponsored by the Connecticut Music Educators Association, at Har-Bur Middle School in Burlington, CT

The Glenn Miller Orchestra, the last touring big band in America, at East Haven High School

Strindberg's Dream Play at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU)

Picnic (starring William Holden, Kim Novak, and Rosalind Russell) sponsored by the Alumni Association at CCSU


Les Miserables at The Bushnell tomorrow night

the New Britain Symphony String Quartet Plays the Beatles at the New Britain Museum of American Art on Sunday


Hairspray at New Britain High School next weekend

07 March 2012

If I'm Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay..

...then, at today's press conference at which the Colts and quarterback Peyton Manning will announce our parting ways...primarily because I don't want to pay Peyton the $28 million dollar bonus I'd owe him if he's on the team tomorrow (especially since I don't even know if he can play, after three neck surgeries in the past year and a half and I can choose QB Andrew Luck as the first pick in this year's draft), I'd plan on doing the following:

Greet Peyton with a playful headlock and noogie!

Use luck, lucky, or luckily, in each sentence of my prepared statement.

Give Peyton several, enthusiastic pats on the back as he leaves the podium, and, of course,

say, "Godspeed, Eli's brother!"

06 March 2012

All these sports shows are talking BOUNTY BOUNTY BOUNTY

...well, forgive me, but I -- like the Clooney-Ferrers -- will take CORONET!

(I miss Rosie.)

05 March 2012

Can ANYONE explain the new Cartier commercial to me?

I saw it last night when it aired during The Good Wife.  Granted, I'm not their target audience, but even my lovely wife, who has excellent taste (well, excellent taste in everything except for one choice!) was baffled.  

I will say that, if the Wright Brothers had, in fact, a large quadruped on their glider, I'm even more impressed by those Dayton, Ohio boys!

04 March 2012

Aside from Michael Caine, is there an actor who's worked more consistently...

...for the past 40 years than Edward Hermann?  And, I must admit, I never tire of him!

Paper Chase, 1973

Eleanor and Franklin, 1977

MASH, 1980

Reds, 1981

Annie, 1982

Gilmore Girls, 2000-2007

Not to mention:

...The Great Gatsby
The Great Waldo Pepper
The Aviator
Purple Rose of Cairo
The Emperor's Club
Day of the Dolphin...

...and St. Elsewhere
The Practice
30 Rock
Law and Order
Gray's Anatomy 
The Good Wife...

02 March 2012

Yes, Davy Jones was pretty swell, but let's not forget Bobby Sherman...

...and who knew about the Bobby Sherman BEFORE he was THE Bobby Sherman?

The seersucker suit, the tap dance moves,
a great old song.

Man, I've never wanted to be Bobby Sherman more than now

(and, back in 1970, I really wanted to be Bobby Sherman)!

01 March 2012

Younger daughter as "Frenchy" in the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy production of Grease...

...in the "Beauty School Drop-out" number, as sung by the HMTCA band director Mr. Tom Franklin, and with "Teen Angel" costumes by Frenchy's mom, Martha Perry!

Three people whom I wish others would stop interviewing and/or giving links to...

...because they're simply saying (outrageous, stupid, insulting, silly) things to get noticed:

Rush Limbaugh

Bobby Valentine



Face it, Rush Limbaugh ain't getting fired no matter how outlandishly he speaks, so, if you disagree with him (and God bless you if you don't!), please stop listening.  He wants to offend everyone who's not a dittohead. Ignore him.  He wins every time you link to a story about him -- yes, even a negative one. 

Bobby Valentine is a dope who has never won a World Series.  His former colleagues from ESPN have been touting him for every available coaching job for years, and I'm pretty convinced it was just to get him out of the building.  He's not nearly as clever as he thinks he is (remember the fake mustache?), so please stop asking him questions.  Wait until his team starts winning or losing games that actually matter...and, maybe, not until June. 

I hope (for my students' sake) that I've learned a little something since kindergarten...

...but I can't argue with hardly anything that I saw this past Sunday in All I Really Need to I Know I Learned in Kindergarten that runs at Playhouse on Park until March 11th.  The series of sketches with music based on the popular book by Robert Fulghum (adapted by Ernest Zulia with music and lyrics by David Caldwell) was full of recognizable and touching situations that allow the audience to acknowledge once again the beauty and the goodness that's around us.  If that sounds sweet, you're absolutely right, but it's supposed to be.

Accompanied by my younger daughter, who enjoyed the production and performances, as well, I got the opportunity to instruct her on the meaning of didactic literature (i.e., a poem, story, play, etc. meant to teach its audience something).  At the end of a very funny vignette, entitled "MOTB" ("Mother-of-the-Bride"), which recounts the fate of the controlling title character when faced with an impossibly disastrous wedding, we are offered, as it were, the moral of the story...the thing that makes sure we see MOTB as something more than a punch-line.

As I explained to my daughter, the danger of didactic literature, of course, is its potentially reductive quality -- its seeming insistence that the audience forget everything but that moral. 

But the beauty of the performances throughout this production is that they are so rich that, while the script may make the moral clear, the actors (Jeff Horst, Richard Dennis Johnson, Scott Scaffidi, Megan Snyder, and Denise Walker) and directors (Joe Keach-Longo and Kevin Barlowski, music) never compromise the fullness of the tales they bring to life.  So whether it's the pig in Cinderella, or the patting of an older parent, or a man in a hot-air-balloon/lawnchair high above a major metropolitan area, the audience can't but be very much engaged -- because they aren't walking and talking moral exempla, they are people, like us, with stories to tell.

One personal note: the segment "Problem or Inconvenience" (about learning to distinguish between the two) hit very close to home since my father, who suffered with Multiple Sclerosis for 30+ years (moving steadily from a cane to a walker to a wheelchair to a scooter to a bed), never referred to his illness as anything other than his "inconvenience." 

If that seems just about right, you'll really enjoy Kindergarten.

And, if that seems a bit preachy, then you need to see Kindergarten.


So, "Connecticut Wit" has been included in the Hartford Magazine...

..."Best Of..." voting for 2012 under the "Best Blogger" category. 

Feel free to show your love by going to the site and clicking on "Local People." 

Voting ends March 7th.

MANY thanks to whomever cast the first vote!  (And thanks to Best Weathercaster nominee, and CCSU colleague, Darren Sweeney for the heads-up.) 

The Management