August is a more or less quiet month for me, with regard to reviewing shows. There is a new musical at Sacramento's Music Circus every other week and one Acme (the teen age company here in town) show, but all of the other theaters I review are winding down their summer shows. In September things will perk up a lot.
I started as a critic about the same time I started writing Funny the World, so this is my 15th year trying to figure out what to say about the show I am seeing on any particular evening. One of the joys of doing this job for so long is bonding with the little group of critics who go to the shows. There are six of us, representing a daily newspaper, a weekly newspaper a couple of radio show, and streaming review site. And then there is Walter. I've never figured out exactly what Walter does, or if he even reviews any longer, but he and Ned used to work for the same radio station (Ned now works for a different radio station). Walter, the oldest of us alll, God bless him, is still there for every show, with his wife. He has lots of infirmities and we've see him from limping to a cane to now a walker, though he tells me he is having surgery next week so maybe he will be able to give up the walker eventually.
There is also another guy, alternate for one of the newspapers, who comes to most things. He never joins our little critics circle, but his wife does. She and I bonded over rescued dogs. I thought I was bad...she's much worse! And then there is the tall guy who started reviewing about a year before I did. He and I have never spoken. He works for the "big" newspaper and people greet him like a rock star. He is head and shoulders (literally and figuratively) above us all, in the way he is viewed by the theater companies. It always bugs me that one particular company always sets aside certain seats for him, but even though I good-naturedly (kind of) complained about his special treatment, still there are his seats, marked "reserved" and none reserved for any of the rest of us.
But I love that our core group often gets together for chit chat either before the show or at intermission (usually not after the show because we are all ready to go home to either write the review of sleep so we can get up and write the review).
Tonight, the Music Circus was presenting South Pacific. It seemed to me that I just saw that show by another theater, and research shows that I was right -- it was a couple of months ago. We took my mother to a Davis production in March of this year.
Walt always drops me off before he goes into the garage to park the car, so I can pick up our tickets. While I was waiting for him, I was chatting with one of our critics circle. She said she had fear and trepidation about seeing this show, which she had not seen in awhile and how the sexism, chid prostitution, prejudice and xenophobia made her very uncomfortable, but that it was a popular show for the grey-hair, walker set.
I didn't talk with her after the show, though I wish I had. This was an outstanding production and if you couldn't see the stage, you would still think so because the voices were so amazing. Perhaps across the board the best voices I have heard on that stage, and I have heard some pretty good voices in that theater. As for the negative aspects of it, as I said following the production of Grease, you kind of forgive them because (a) it was typical of both the era in which it was set and the era in which it was written, but more importantly (b) good wins out in the end, unlike Grease.
We had the good fortune to ride to and from the theater with a young man who attends UCD, the very demographic my fellow critic felt would have difficulty with the negativity in the show, so I told him I was very interested in his opinion, and was happy to hear that he felt about it the way I did...that the fact that Lt. Cable regrets his rejection of the native girl Liat before he dies, and that Nelly is able to overcome her distaste at the thought of Emile's marriage to a polynesian woman and giving her two children before her death, means that all live happily ever after (well, except for the guy who is killed in battle).
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