Friday, January 20, 2017

Kinky Boots

I have wanted to see the musical Kinky Boots for so long!  Every time Broadway in Utah (now Broadway at the Eccles) sent out a survey to season ticket holders, I always voted for this show to come to SLC.  I even contemplated getting a ticket during my theatre trip to NYC but, by that time, I knew it was coming!  I finally got to see it last night and I loved it because it is such a fun musical about having the courage to be yourself and having the courage to accept others for who they are.  Charlie (Curt Hansen) wants nothing to do with Price & Son, his father's shoe factory, so he runs away to London.  When his father dies and leaves him the factory, he soon learns that it has been losing money for years and that he must close it and fire the workers he has known all of his life.  When he meets the drag queen Lola (J. Harrison Ghee), he decides to try and save the business by meeting the needs of an under served niche market: boots for transvestites!  There are inevitable complications and Charlie and Lola must learn to accept each other in order for their boots to be successful.  I loved all of the music, written by Cyndi Lauper, and Ghee gives an incredible performance, especially in the songs "Not My Father's Son" and "Hold Me in Your Heart."  (Hansen is endearing but I didn't find his singing to be anything special; it hardly matters because Ghee steals the show).  The ensemble is a lot of fun, particularly Lauren (Rose Hemingway), one of the factory workers, and the transvestites who perform with Lola.  The staging was clever and the audience cheered out loud when the cast danced on moving conveyor belts during the song "Everybody Say Yeah."  I had a lot of fun watching this show and I highly recommend that you get a ticket (go here) to one of the remaining performances through January 22 at the Eccles Theatre.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Fences at PTC

Tuesday night I went to Pioneer Theatre's critically acclaimed production of Fences, the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by August Wilson.  As you may remember, I recently saw Denzel Washington's film adaptation and had a somewhat lukewarm reaction to it but that made me even more curious to see it on the stage.  Troy Maxson (Michael Anthony Williams) is a man with so many demons that he torments everyone around him:  his brother Gabriel (Jefferson A. Russell) who was injured in the war, his long-suffering wife Rose (Gayle Samuels), his friend Bono (Jeorge Bennett Watson), and his sons Lyons (Biko Eisen-Martin) and Cory (Jimmie "J.J." Jeter).  I still found the character of Troy to be incredibly flawed but Williams' portrayal was much more sympathetic, in my opinion.  Whereas Washington's version of Troy was always angry, I felt that Williams gave the character a certain vulnerability and his Troy was wounded rather than angry.  I think this story is much better suited to the immediacy and intimacy of the stage and this is especially true of the fence.  All of the action takes place in the yard which makes Troy's environment much more claustrophobic than in the film version.  In the final scenes, the stage is dominated by the fence with Troy inside the yard and all of the other characters on the other side.  It is extremely powerful and serves to highlight Troy's isolation.  I highly recommend this outstanding production which runs at PTC through January 21.  Tickets may be purchased here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Sherlock

I absolutely love the PBS series Sherlock.  First of all, I find Benedict Cumberbatch to be strangely appealing.  I don't know what it is but there is just something about him (I've heard him called the thinking woman's sex symbol!) and the "high functioning sociopath" Sherlock Holmes is the perfect character for him.  In addition, I find the premise of the series, a modern-day update of the beloved stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, to be incredibly clever.  As a fan of the source material, I love finding elements from the canon.  The obvious ones are the episodes "A Study in Pink," based on the story "A Study in Scarlet,"  "A Scandal in Belgravia," based on the story "A Scandal in Bohemia," "The Hounds of Baskerville," based on the story "The Hound of the Barskervilles," and "The Reichenbach Fall" based on the story "The Final Problem."  However, there are lots of other subtle references, as well, and I love it when I figure them out.  My favorite is when they make a passing reference to a past case called "The Speckled Blonde" which comes from the story "The Speckled Band."  I could watch each episode over and over to find more references (yes, I am aware that I am a complete nerd).  I have been a fan since the first episode aired but Marilyn recently discovered Seasons 1-3 on Netflix.  She sent me a text gushing about the series to which I responded that I have been talking about it for years!  We have both been binge watching the first three seasons and texting each other quotes as we watch (see the comment about my nerd status above).  Then we discovered the PBS app on our fire stick (the best Christmas present ever) and binge watched Season 4.  Monday night we took our Mom (who has also become a fan) to see the Season 4 Finale on the big screen.  After the explosive events of Season 4, we were really looking forward to the finale and, oh my goodness, it did not disappoint!  I loved this episode (I don't want to say much, only one word: Redbeard) and, if the rumors are true and this is the end of the series, it is a good conclusion (but there is the possibility for it to continue).  This episode will be screened again in theaters tonight through Fathom Events and I highly recommend it if you are a fan of the series.  It was amazing to see it on the big screen but you can stream it on PBS, too.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Bowling

Over the long weekend, Sean requested that we have an outing and he suggested bowling because that is the only sport that Marilyn can play (we laughed and laughed over that!).  So yesterday we convinced Tashena to join us and headed over to Orchard Lanes.  We got the two-hour unlimited pass and ended up playing four games!
Bowling is a lot of fun (I'm more noted for my power than my accuracy), especially with Sean and Tashena.  Sean is an absolute riot!  Tashena won the first game, Marilyn inexplicably won the second game, Tashena won the third game, and I won the fourth (I was just getting my mojo).  It was more fun than should be allowed on a Monday morning!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Hidden Figures

Last night my parents took me and my sister to see the movie Hidden Figures (we are reinstating movie night in the new year).  I suggested this particular movie because Octavia Spencer is getting a lot of Oscar buzz for her performance and, even though my parents weren't very enthusiastic, they ended up loving it as did I.  It is a feel-good movie that will have you cheering.  It tells the true story of Katherine Johnson (Teraji P. Henson),  Dorothy Vaughan (Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae), three brilliant African-American mathematicians working at NASA during the space race.  Johnson is asked to compute the trajectories for John Glenn's historic orbit around the earth and the crowd cheered out loud when Glenn  (Glen Powell) rejects the numbers computed by the IBM and asks for the "girl" to check the figures before he will agree to the launch.  There is also an extremely powerful moment when the head of the Space Task Force (Kevin Costner) learns that Johnson has been walking to the colored bathroom, in another building quite a distance away, and then destroys the sign outside the colored bathroom declaring that everyone pees the same color at NASA.  Vaughan secretly learns how to program the new IBM (while the employees of IBM are unable to get it running) and eventually becomes the first African-American supervisor at NASA.  Another cheer-out-loud moment came when Vaughan's supervisor (Kirsten Dunst) calls her Mrs. Vaughan rather than Dorothy.  Finally, Jackson is assigned to work with one of NASA's best engineers and, when he suggests that she become an engineer herself, she must fight to be allowed to attend an all-white school.  The crowd cheered again when she won her court case.  All three women give very affecting performances (I actually had tears in my eyes several times) in an incredibly compelling story.  I loved it, my family loved it, and the audience, judging by the incredible applause at the end, loved it, too.  I highly recommend this inspiring movie!
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