Archive for the 'Theatre' Category

My Life in Shoes: Character shoes

September 18, 2008

Okay, a True Confessions Moment:

There was a time in my life when I longed for a life on the stage. I had been singing ever since an enterprising elementary school teacher figured out that this chubby little third-grader could sing harmony and stuck me in the middle of the choir, where I stayed for nearly 50 years. I came to dance much later, taking all sorts of dance courses in college and loving my hours in a ratty, drafty second-floor ballet studio, doing plies to “The Long and Winding Road” and other pop songs played by a wild-haired pianist. (Sigh…)

Although my size and vocal range generally limited me to community theatre character roles like Cousin Nettie in “Carousel,” Aunt Eller in “Oklahoma” and Katisha in “The Mikado,” I did manage once to starve myself down to a size nine, thus making me eligible for a role in the chorus of “Guys and Dolls.”

It was heaven. Fish-net stockings, false eyelashes, tap pants and “Merry Widow” bustiers! Hot-pink satin, fake fur and pearls for an honest-to-gosh striptease in the “Take Back Your Mink” production number! (I LIVED for the moment each night when we’d literally make the audience gasp!)

And character shoes, of course, those sturdy, short-heeled, Mary Jane-like black leather shoes that lend themselves to all sorts of stage roles. Take them to the shoe repair shop and they easily become tap shoes. I wore out two pair during my short-lived career as a chorine.

I wish I still had a pair. And someplace sassy to wear them. Anybody seen my false eyelashes?

Adventures at Midlife: Mah-velous Meryl

July 22, 2008

Anyone questioning if women have life, charm, chutzpah and sex-appeal after 50 needs to hustle down to the local multiplex and get a load of a perfectly cast Meryl Streep as the the matriarch in “Mamma Mia,” singing, dancing, falling out of windows and jumping on beds. Wow. She outshines her screen daughter and just about everyone else in the cast. She made me want to go find my old character shoes. (I have dibs on that blue peasant dress with the boho trim.)

And the girl has some pipes! (She apparently began her career out of Yale Drama School singing in musicals on and off Broadway.) The critics have been savaging poor Pierce Brosnan for his singing voice, which is at least as good as Springsteen, IMHO. Heck, give the guy a break. I’ve done a LOT of performing, and I guess I’ve listened to too many pear-shaped tones over the course of 30 years. I like real voices, from real people. A little Melissa Etheridge really clears the mind and the soul.

Forget the guy in black. (Three frackin’ hours of mayhem and nihilism. Sheesh.) I’ll put my money on Meryl.

Update: Body acceptance activist Kate Harding has a somewhat long but fun take on “Mamma Mia.”

Your Girl in London: What I’ve seen so far

May 19, 2008

Plays and musicals, with star ratings:

Pygmalion with Tim Pigott-Smith (from The Jewel in the Crown glory)**** He was chewing up the scenery but good, and Eliza was enchanting. No happy ending here, which would have pleased Shaw, the old grouch.

Never So Good with Jeremy Irons (about British PM Harold MacMillan)**** Britain throughout the mid-century, with scandals aplenty, including the long-running affair between MacMillan’s wife and a British gangster. Jolly good fun in the Suez.

War and Peace, a two-part, six-hour dramatization of the epic novel done in the style of the Nicholas Nickleby that was such a hit several years ago.***** Lovely, imaginative theatre, and dinner at McDonalds across the street between Parts I and II. Read the rest of this entry »