Thursday, October 8, 2009

Musical mayhem

I wrote a quickie blog entery a few days ago to say I would update my blog "soon". Several days have passed since I made that promise, so I figured I'd better get typing before I found myself a week behind, which could easily slide into two or three or four weeks behind. Then I might lapse into complete neglect of my blog and that would be sad. Not that I think there are many readers of this tiny space on the vast Web of blinking lights and cables, but I actually kind of enjoy saying my little piece once a week and I'd hate to give it up. Unfortunately there isn't much time for writing of any kind these days, but that's a different matter.

The Drowsy Chaparone

I've wanted to see the Drowsy Chaparone since I first heard it discussed a few years ago on the CBC (before the format change). It intrigued me because the show began as a gift at a stag party, then was redeveloped and preformed at the Toronto Fringe Festival where it was picked up by Mirvish Productions and developed into a full-out musical.

What makes the The Drowsy Chaparone different is that it's meta-fiction, narrated by a contemporary "Man in Chair" as he leads the audience through a record recording of the 1920's musical: The Drowsy Chaparone. The forth wall is completely demolished (even though he begins the show by espousing about how much he hates it when shows brake the fourth wall) as Man in Chair gives the audience he opinions about various musical numbers, the actors, general comments on musicals etc. The shtick of the musical being a recording is incorporated effectively into the show, including amusing "re-enactments" of certain scenes as if they were being replayed on the record, and beginning the second half of the show with "the wrong record" on the player.

I thought the Citadel production was well done. The Man in the Chair, was especially good (important since he carries the show) and it was interesting to watch his reactions to the musical, even when he wasn't apart of the main action. The singers all had strong voices, particularly Trix, the Aviatrix (whose part was quite small) and there were a couple of tap-dancing numbers (which I always enjoy). The costumes were very colourful--as would be expected for a musical set in the roaring 1920's. And the small musical ensemble (which was on stage, positioned under a gazebo) were also quite good. As we walked home Andrew and I sung and re-quoted bits of the show. Although I found The Drowsy Chaparone thoroughly entertaining (it's quite funny, too) it's not quite as engaging as some of the other shows I've seen such as Wicked. Both times I've seen Wicked I've walked away with a wispy, longing sort of feeling, but that didn't occur with this show. I would hazard to guess that has to do with the fact that it's more "realistic" and a bit silly, really.

Pro Coro and the Pre-Tenors

On Sunday afternoon my friend Mandy and I attended the Pro Coro concert (she had scored free tickets through her supervisor). This was my first time attending a Pro Coro event and was surprised to find that it's a small ensemble--only 4 singers per part. They're a professional choir, that requires audition every year (even from singers who have been in the choir in previous years) so as you might be able to imagine, they're quite good. Much of what they sang was a cappella. I was particularly interested in the last piece they performed in the first half. It was by Leonard Bernstein titled, The Lark, which is incidental music for a play by the same name about Jeanne d'Arc. It included a solo for countertenor. I've heard this particular countertenor sing before, but it's always a little disconcerting to hear a man sing that high.

The second half of the show was a tribute/spoof of the Three Tenors, by a trio known as the Pre-Tenors. First of all, the singers were excellent--in both their singing and their comedic acting abilities. The pianist came out first and was shortly after joined by "Placido Domingo" and "Jose Carreras." "Luciano Pavarotti" appeared shortly there after (carrying his trademark handkerchief), but paused at the stairs to the stage. After a couple of attempts to mount the stairs on his own, the other tenors came over to help him (one pushing, one pulling) and the show continued. The Pre-Tenors sang many of the operatic pieces for which the Three Tenors are famous for, accentuated with much clowning around. Pavarotti was constantly eating throughout the show. I'm not sure where the first french loaf materialized from, but it was followed by celery, liquorish (which was passed out to the audience), gum and a can of Pringles (also sent to the audience). Poor Carreras (the tenor nobody ever remembers) was often the butt of Pavarotti's jokes, while Domingo was frequently busying himself with combing his hair or flossing.

One of my favourite quotations from the afternoon went something like this: "We're going to sing from the well known American musical written by Andrew Lloyd Weber, Oklahoma." Then the pianist broke into music from West Side Story.

In other news: Skating

I had my first skating lesson of the season (adult ice with Ice Palace F.S.C. only started this week). I got new skates in April with money I received for my birthday. I've been struggling with them all spring and summer, not feeling completely comfortable in them and wondering whether or not the expense was worth it. After watching me do some basic one-foot spins my coach told me that there was definite improvement in my spinning--it made me feel much better about buying the new skates. Also, the plan for the year is to work towards my Junior Bronze Freeskate. The elements are: flip, lutz, axel or wally, loop/loop combination, backspin and flying spin. The big challenges are going to be axel (I have landed some in the past, but a) not since getting back into skating, and b) my technique needs serious work) and my spins. Hopefully starting to work on them now will be enough to get me ready by March. I'll be finishing off my Preliminary Freeskate too, which requires a program. I'm happy to be having lessons again.

Here endth the blog post.



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