Monday, August 20, 2018

Just Like the Old Days

First of all, let me say a big thank you to  Mary Zelle, who frequently comments on Airy Persiflage, for writing to me yesterday morning to let me know that there were Judy Garland movies on TCM.  Turns out it was  Garland marathon, starting with The Clock, which I saw the end of at about 9 a.m., all the way through to Judgement at Nuremberg, which ended at 1 a.m.  With one exception (an Andy Hardy movie) for which we switched over to The History of Comedy, I just sat here with my feet up and wallowed in Judy Garland.  Oddly enough, even A Star is Born, a movie I have seen surely more than 100 times, somehow was like seeing it through new eyes, since I had not watched the whole thing, start to finish, in a long time.  A very good day.  Thanks, Mary!

Walt and I had a great time on Friday night.  We went to view a production of The Gondoliers (Gilbert & Sullivan) at Light Opera Theater of Sacramento (LOTS).  Gondoliers is not one of my favorite G&S operettas, though I like them all, so why was this evening so special?

The theater where LOTS performs is a place where I like to sit in the back row, but there are a lot of stairs to climb to get into the theater, so we chose the "accessible" entrance, which brought us in at the first row, between the orchestra and the audience.

The theater itself reminds me a lot of Presentation Theater, where The Lamplighters performed for all the years I was an active part of the company.  It was a school theater, but one of the best theaters of its size in San Francisco and perfect for the LLs.  

There  was no orchestra pit, but the orchestra was just kind of jammed together at the stage with  a bit of walking space for the audience to get by.  They decided that the two seats behind Gilbert, the conductor, had such limited view of the stage that they never sold them, so whenever I went to the show I sat there, so often that seat became known as "The Bev Seat" (after Gilbert died, they decided to sell them, so the Bev Seat was no more).

The set-up at LOTS is the same, but the musicians put the cases for their instruments on the first row, so I couldn't sit in the Bev Seat, but we chose to sit in the first row, but on the side.  

This put us in the clarinet section of the orchestra, which meant we didn't always get the full blend of the orchestra sound, but instead the clarinet parts overshadowed, which was just great since it gave us a feeling of what it must be like to be Jeri, who would be playing that part if she were there.  It also gave us the chance to hear the clarinet lines, which were often in harmony with the melody that we knew so well.

I was fascinated by the music stand for the two clarinettists.  They seem to have been the only musicians in the orchestra, that I could see, who had them.  They were computerized stands, where it was like the music was on a program and to change the page, they stepped on the pedals on the floor.  An easy no-hands approach! (I don't know what they do if there is a sudden power outage!)
It was a new way to enjoy a familiar show.

I was reviewing it for the Sacramento paper, which limits me to 250 words, but I was so excited about the show, I convinced my editor here to let me review for Davis too, since there was a lot more I wanted to say than I could in 200 words.  Permission came this morning and I look forward to writing it.

It was an excellent production, with great voices, good orchestra, and even a pregnant chorus woman (for real, not for theatrical purposes!).  I don't know why, but the whole experience took me back to Presentation and the shows we saw in the 70s, while the LLs were very good, but had not quite achieved the professionalism that they have now. 

Walt was feeling the same way, apparently, and we talked excitedly all the way home about how much fun it was to see this production, and remembering similar shows in San Francisco 30+ years ago.

My Lamplighter years were very special, and still are very special and so this ability to step back in time, a little, was a lot of fun.

We have another G&S show next week, after not seeing any G&S in awhile.  Next week we are going to Pirates of Penzance, this time by The Lamplighters.

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