Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Laughing? Not so much.

Okay, I'll admit that every show I review isn't a bundle of laughs. Like last night's production of
Les Miserables at DeVos Performance Hall. I might have chuckled a few times over an impudent little boy or the outrageous Thenardier, picking pockets while he sang "Master of the House," or his wife chopping sausage with gusto. But on the whole, Les Miserables isn't funny. It's better than funny. I cried when Jean Valjean sang "Bring Him Home." As he began his prayer, my eyes welled up in anticipation of that beautiful ballad, a tribute to all those gutsy young men and women everywhere willing to die for what they believe. And when Valjean asks "Who Am I?" everyone in the audience is challenged to question their own identity. Are you proud of who you are, what you've done, the choices that you've made? When theater can do that,it doesn't have to make you laugh. It has touched you, transformed you.
       The 25th Anniversary tour hasn't really changed that much, although it does make use of video technology and space-carving shafts of light. They must be doing something right. Opening night was practically sold out, and the remaining shows are almost full as well. All that leads to a lot of arrogance on the tour's part. They wouldn't allow photographers at last night's show, haven't allowed any photos on the entire tour, which means the available pictures online are pretty scant. Preserving a brand? Perhaps. But as other Broadway tours have realized, you can't get enough pictures on the net. Let everyone post them on their blogs and facebook. Show it off. What are you afraid of?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Civic does it again!

If you think you're too old for "The Wizard of Oz," think again. Civic Theatre's production is so vibrant and lively, the littlest kids don't get bored and the most jaded adults get enthused. This is the third time I've covered "The Wizard of Oz" at Civic. I didn't think anyone could do better than the show I covered there 10 years ago, but last night I found myself thinking... I don't remember that from before! Did they always have that many poppies? Did they always go from drab brown costumes to bright colorful costumes, much like the movie goes from black and white to color? Did they skywrite words on the ceiling before? And put lyrics on the television monitors so you can sing along. I don't know, but they're doing it now. And selling out. So if you want to go, better get your tickets.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Like it or not, here comes Santa

   I suppose it's officially Christmas season now. Yesterday I bought my only major Christmas gift. I took my son and his wife to lunch and then we went to Home Depot and purchased a Toro snowblower. Angy drives a bakery truck and heads out in the middle of the night so I wanted to give her a little help with clearing the long driveway at their house.
    Then last night I reviewed "White Christmas" at DeVos Performance Hall. I remember watching the old Bing Crosby movie at Christmas time. And who wouldn't love all that addictive tap dancing? But it reminded me how much more sophisticated my entertainment taste has become over the years. Songs and dancing are fun, but I expect a fully satisfying theater experience now, with characters as rich as the costumes and dialogue and sparkling as the glitter splashed sets.
    My Christmas celebration has changed so much in recent years.No more mountains of Christmas cookies. No more shopping, and wrapping and shipping. Gift cards and charitable donations are better anyway. The annual Christmas letter has been replaced with a blog and for the second year in a row I will forgo Christmas with the family at Mom's house in favor of a quiet, no-present get-away with Steve in Florida. I can honestly say I don't long for a white Christmas anymore. Snow comes with too many strings attached.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

White Christmas

Well, it doesn't look like snow right now,  but I'll be humming White Christmas tonight I'm sure when I cover the tour coming to DeVos Performance Hall.