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SIZZLING SUMMER ENTERTAINMENT
23 July 2006
This has certainly been a week for "sizzing" summer entertainment. Having to review three different (quite different, in fact) shows during the hottest week of the year has its advantages and disadvantages.
The biggest disadvantage, of course, is you actually have to leave the house. Leave that air conditioned little coccoon you've been hiding in and face the elements outside.
On Tuesday we attended opening night of Elton John & Tim Rice's version of Aida, this week's rendering at Sacramento's Music Circus. Music Circus, a Sacramento summer tradition for nearly sixty years, used to be a nightmare. They performed in a tent and on a day when it had been 102 or higher, it was pure agony to sit inside the tent and try to enjoy a musical, though thousands of people did it every week.
However, a few years back (the year after I became a critic, thank goodness), they replaced the tent with a real honest to goodness building. A building with comfortable seats and air conditioning. In fact, as I said a couple of days ago, the air conditioning worked so well, I was actually cold by the end of the show.
As for the show itself, the production was fine. It's just not a show that moves me (or most of the critics who reviewed its Broadway opening) very much. I mean, if you can have the operatic Grand March, what's the point?
On Thursday night, I reviewed a new play called "A Flag Touched the Ground" at "historic Schmeiser's barn" here in Davis.
This company of young people (all products of Acme Theatre company, a group of high school age kids, and now in college and starting their own summer theatre) found an old barn and convinced the people who owned it to let them put on a show three years ago. It was Mickey and Judy in all their glory (except not a musical). I fell all over myself at that initial production, "My Avisia Winger." It was excellent and I saw great things ahead for Barnyard Theatre.
I missed the second show because I was in D.C. last year at this time. And they had the misfortune, this year, of opening their show in the hottest week of the year.
By 8:30, the temperatures had dropped a bit, but not enough, and the barn retained the afternoon's heat. Everybody in the barn was fanning themselves and they were pushing the "ice cold...really cold..." water at the snack bar.
It might have been more tolerable if I liked the play, but I didn't. There were some good things, one performer who stood out from the rest, and a fantastic scene change, but basically I didn't like it, and so by the end of act 2 I was just praying for the end to the torture. It was still hot when we left the barn and headed home at 11 p.m.
Friday night was opening night not only for the production of Falsettos, but for a brand new theatre company in town, Artistic Differences. I had interviewed the guy whose brainstorm this company was a couple of weeks ago and learned that his goal was to present little known small shows, and cast top notch talent across the board in all the roles.
I don't know how the rest of his productions are going to go, but if they are anything like Falsettos, he's got a real winner here. It was a show I had wanted to see for a long time and the 7 member cast was uniformly excellent. This will be a fun review to write.
Best of all, it was, again, in an air conditioned theatre. It was the hottest day of the week, so far, and stepping out the front door to get into the car was like walking into a sauna. And it hadn't cooled off much by 10:30 when we were headed home. But the air conditioned theatre and the delightful production made the evening very pleasant.
Today it's supposed to be 108 and I though I didn't want to set foot out of the house, we decided to go and catch the last showing of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. Somehow today it seems particularly appropriate to see a movie about the dangers of global warming. In an air conditioned theatre.
It would be nice to come home and then collapse in front of the TV with the fan blowing on me and an iced cold drink in my hand, but the cable box went out yesterday and they won't be here until 6 a.m. Sunday to fix it (yes, they make house calls at 6 a.m. on Sunday!)
I know winter will come. I know that some day I'm going to sit here complaining about how cold it is here in this office and wrapping myself in blankets to try to keep myself from turning blue as I work. But it's hard to think of that these days, while the fan plays on my face and the sweat drips off my forehead as I sit here.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Ahhh...that looks SO good!