13th: Kill no vermin as fleas, lice, ticks etc in the sight of others; if you see any filth or thick spittle, put your foot dexteriously upon it; if it be upon the clothes of your companions, put it off privately; and if it be upon your own clothes, return thanks to him who puts it off.
The Other End of the Leash
TODAY ON TV
The Bourne Identity
JUST SO DARN CHARMING
5 September 2004
We were both looking for the right word to describe the experience of the Woodland Opera House and we both came up with it at the same time: charming.
We had gone to opening night of Over the River and Through the Woods, a comedy by Joe DiPietro (who also wrote I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change).
The place is "charming" in every aspect.
The outside courtyard leading to the historic brick building is charming.
The theatre itself is warm, inviting, and...charming.
The ambience is charming. First there is the greeter, the man who apparently has been standing at the door taking tickets and greeting audience members for years. Old Timers know him, and he is getting so he recognizes us, if not exactly by name.
You pick up your tickets in the souvenir shop, where they sell Woodland Opera House post cards, t-shirts and tote bags and little hand-made items. The woman handling the tickets usually knows who I am and hands me my tickets.
The ushering staff all seem to be doing their jobs for the first time. They seem to all be retirees, or of retiree age, they are dressed to the 9's, they carry flashlights and maps of the tiny theatre and they squint at your ticket as they take you, very formally, to your seat. They are very sweet and dear.
The building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places and recently celebrated its 107th birthday, reopened in 1989, after a 7 year, $2 million dollar restoration project. It's a little fairy box of a place, reminiscent of some of the smaller theatres in London.
In its day, it saw the likes of John Philip Sousa, George M. Cohan, and later a young Sidney Greenstreet, Walter Houston and Verna Felton, among many others.
Now it's a nice little community theatre and has a loyal fan base and a solid core of performers who do both musicals and straight plays (comedies and dramas both). The acting rarely rises above "good-average," but everyone is just so darn earnest about it that it's difficult to fault a company that tries so hard.
They always have above-average (for community theatre, at least by the standards of other comparable theatres in the area) sets and lighting design (as the mother of a set and lighting designer, I'd pay attention to these things even if I weren't a critic!).
The acting always seems to be, as William S. Gilbert put it in one of the famous G&S operettas, "oh so all but." You'd wish for a little more talent, a tad more experience, a touch more chemistry between the cast members, but they are all trying so hard and the audience is enjoying it so much, you kind of get sucked into the whole package. Sometimes you get lucky and the show is outstanding (a recent production of The Lion in Winter and last season's opener Ragtime fell into that category).
On opening night there is cake and champagne and a chance to meet the performers. I rarely stay for things like this -- I don't like the whole "schmooze" thing as just an audience member, but I really don't like it as a critic because it makes me feel uncomfortable if I'm going to give a bad review, or even if I'm going to give a good review to someone I may have been more negative about in a previous review. But we did stay for the reception for this production because Walt recognized someone in the cast as a guy he had worked with, briefly 40 years ago (how Walt always knows these things boggles my mind. I have a difficult time recognizing people I met yesterday if I meet them again today!). So we stuck around so he could meet the guy and make sure that he was who Walt thought he was.
When we left the reception and walked down the stairs from the second floor reception room to the first floor exit door, there was another woman there with a big smile waiting to tell us good bye and wish us a good night.
I haven't quite figured out what I'm going to write about in the review, but one thing is for sure: the whole evening was just....charming.
Website of the Day
I just learned about freecycling, which sounds like such a terrific idea on so many levels. There is no Freecycle group in Davis. I may decide to start one--but check it out; maybe there is a group in your area.
Please also read this
entry by Pandionna, especially if you found yourself moved by the president's