Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Busman's Holiday

I am a theater critic on a short vacation, so naturally I saw two shows today.  Well, technically, one was just a rehearsal (or, as Phil put it, a "stumble through") and the other was a high school concert, but nonetheless, they were both shows.

After Walt and Jeri took Lester for a long walk, Jeri went off to work and dropped Walt and me at the Boston Center for the Arts, where Phil was working.

 Phil works with a program under Partners for Youth with Disabilities.  This particular program is Access to Theatre, which gives young people with disabilities the opportunity to be in an original production featuring drama, improvisation, movement...and more.  We met some amazing people, including Donna, who runs the program.

Steven has cerebral palsy and is a wonderful musician, who plays music with his toes on his iPad. (He is also an activist for rights for the disabled)

These two did a dance to "Proud Mary" (Rollin', rollin', rollin' on the river).

Even Phil got into the act playing a tree in two different skits (one of which I dubbed "Midsummer night's tree").

But the performer who impressed me the most was Linda, who has been part of this program for several years and each year does an original dance.

She closed her eyes and she danced.  She didn't care that her belly was hanging out or that she didn't necessarily get the steps right, she was loving every minute of her dance and she was transformed.  It was a beautiful thing to see.  Apparently one year she did a Harry Potter themed dance.  It was stormy out that night and at the end of her dance, she raised her wand up high just at the moment when a huge crack of lightning lit up the glass ceiling.  Apparently it was quite an effect, though she modestly told me it was just a coincidence.

After we left the BCA, we came home, briefly, and then got back on the bus to head downtown to meet Jeri.  The second show was the culmination of a five week program Berklee College of Music runs in the summer for high school kids from all over the world. Jeri trains the orchestra that accompanies the Musical Theater Showcase.  Her 16 piece orchestra included kids from 5 countries, as well as kids from all across the United States, from California to Maine and one from Alaska.

We went out to dinner with her after the final rehearsal and then Walt and I waited at the entrance to the theater.

No cameras allowed inside, so there are no pictures of the performance, but Jeri's group was awesome and they accompanied musical numbers from Side Show, Assassins, Jekyll & Hyde and Wicked.  Great fun to watch and listen to.

The show had started with a Middle Eastern Fusion Ensemble and a huge Chorus.  It ended with the "Five Week Singers' Showcase," the five featured singers chosen from 150 who auditioned.  The first four were very good (well...I wasn't pleased with one of them) but then Quinton Monteiro came on to sing an arrangement of "Over the Rainbow" that literally brought down the house.  If this were a venue for making stars, one was made tonight.  Absolutely incredible performance, and though this bore no resemblance to the Judy Garland original, his smile and huge eyes at the end as the audience leaped to their feet cheering, was every bit as memorable.

We are now packing up and getting ready to get to the airport in the morning to catch our flight home.  I hate travel days, but at the end of it, there is home and the dogs, and no more trips in the foreseeable future!
I'm going to have to check the TV and see if anything of import happened in the past few days. 

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