Saturday, May 12, 2012

So you're one of those "arty types"?

This has been a really tiring week, and it's not even that I've been rushing back and forth or anything like that.  My work week has been busy, walking to the United Nations building for meetings, and then back to the office to write about those meetings.  Then a couple of evenings I had some fun events to attend.  So while I wasn't rushed, the commitments I had across the board were enough for me to sit on the couch on Friday night, breathe really deeply, and be grateful for an early night.

Tuesday night was a blast.  I went with Fitzy to the Clearview Cinemas in the old and beautiful Ziegfield Theater to see a screening of the Stephen Sondheim musical, The Company.  Fitzy is a big Sondheim fan and so when I'd seen the production advertised in Time Out New York, he was the first person I thought of to invite along.  I didn't really know much about the musical, and indeed Fitzy said he knew the songs but had never seen the show itself.  The production we saw starred a bunch of familiar faces - Neil Patrick Harris; Jon Cryer; Martha Plimpton; Craig Bierko; Patti Lupone; Christina Hendricks; and Stephen Colbert - just to name a few.  Plus the music was provided by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, so it was a star-studded offering across the board.  Here's a little taste:

See what I mean? Amazing.  And sure, it' s a bit strange to watch a live musical on a cinema screen.  The woman in front of us still applauded loudly at the end of every song-and-dance number (and she was pretty much bawling at the end), but it was still a great show.  Oh and mind you, parts of the it DID cut a bit close to the bone at times.  I mean, the whole show is about a guy celebrating his 35th birthday.  He has a bunch of married friends who he's always hanging out with (as the third wheel), and each couple keeps asking him when he's going to settle down.  He looks at the couples, sees that their marriages aren't perfect, and wonders where the attraction of marriage is anyway.  But trust me, this is NOT a depressing musical - in fact, it's pretty hysterical and I certainly loved it.

Wednesday night I went to live theater this time, taking PL along to see The Columnist starring John Lithgow.   Seeing this show was pretty much a 180-degree turn from Sondheim.  The material was serious, the performances were intense, and (as I later read in one of the NY Times reviews), you come away from the show more educated than enlightened.  I think this is largely because the play is based on real-life people and real-life events, none of which I really knew much about.  I thought Lithgow was wonderful as the acerbic, stubborn, and unapologetically arrogant Joseph Alsop.  The material was a bit heavy though, and it was one of those plays that just ended rather abruptly, so perhaps this explained our need to have sliders and martinis at Bobby Van's Steakhouse afterwards.  Maybe.

Thursday night I went along to another show that I similarly didn't research beforehand, but was instead encouraged by Westo's enthusiasm that it was going to be a great night.  We were heading off to the Union Square cinemas to see a beamed telecast of This American Life, a weekly radio show on NPR.  The show was actually being recorded a short distance away, at a cinema on the NYU campus, but we had tickets to see it at the Union Square cinema.  I don't listen to public radio here - in fact, the only radio I listen to at all is the old lady music station that K and me always joke plays the contents of our fathers' vinyl collections.  But Westo is a NPR devotee and so when This American Life was being adapted as a live show, complete with dancers and animation and music performances, she definitely wanted to catch it.  The clever thing about the show is that even though it was being recorded live at NYU, it was actually being beamed live via satellite to more than 600 cinemas in the US and Canada, and even one cinema in Brisbane.  Can you believe that?  The show's theme was about blindness and making the invisible, visible (quite apt when you think it was actually a recording of a radio show - where normally you don't get to see anything anyway).  The way that the musicians, comedians, dancers and actors chose to interpret that theme was really interesting.  I very much enjoyed all of it - even the modern dance, which is never usually my thing.  Now I have to go back and download the podcasts so I can catch up on previous radio-only episodes of the show.  I think I will get a kick out of them too.

So when you read back over my week that was, you're right to think it was largely punctuated by arty-farty stuff.  But before you think I'm getting up myself or something, rest assured that the week also featured the following episodes:

  1. my skirt blowing up over my head in the middle of rush hour on 42nd Street
  2. a man in an elevator staring squarely at my shuddering boobs - which were not actually shuddering, thanksverymuch; and
  3. a ful-force spray of dry shampoo in my mouth, when I had stopped concentrating and misdirected the nozzle.

So you see?  All is right with the world after all.

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