Sunday, August 31, 2014

Blackbird

In August my book club chose to read The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (who wrote the popular novel The Secret Life of Bees). It seems as if every book club is reading this book and, frankly, I'm not sure it lives up to the hype.  In early nineteenth century Charleston, eleven year old Sarah Grimke is given the slave Hetty (nicknamed Handful) as a personal servant.  A friendship of sorts develops between them and each girl narrates her own personal struggle for freedom (with alternating perspectives) beginning from girlhood into middle age.  Sarah desperately wants a voice and yearns to follow her father's footsteps and become a lawyer but is restricted by the patriarchal society she is born into.  Handful, obviously, wants freedom from the cruel institution of slavery.  Even though this novel is based on the real life of Sarah Grimke, an abolitionist and early crusader for women's rights, I found the fictionalized account of Handful to be much more compelling.  All of the horrors of slavery are graphically depicted and I was frequently brought to tears by the Grimke's treatment of their slaves (much like my reaction to the movie 12 Years A Slave).  I have always loved the use of the blackbird as a metaphor for freedom (the Beatles song "Blackbird" is one of my favorites) and I sincerely wanted Handful to take her broken wings and learn to fly.  Sarah's story is less compelling because I had a difficult time equating the brutality experienced by Handful with Sarah's frustration at not being allowed to read her father's books.  I never really connected with Sarah because I felt like she could have done so much more to help Handful.  She has all of these aspirations to end slavery and promote the notion of equality for all but laments her powerlessness for much of the novel.  It is only when spurred on by her sister (and others) that she reluctantly takes action.  Handful is much more proactive than Sarah in securing her freedom so, ironically, she seems more believable to me. The Invention of Wings is a meticulously researched and beautifully written novel about a powerful subject but the juxtaposition of the two main characters doesn't work for me. I didn't love it but I would recommend it because almost everyone else in my book club thought it was amazing.  I must be missing something!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Back to School

School started last Monday and, while it was really busy, it was a good week!  I am teaching sophomores and seniors this year and I am beyond excited to teach British literature!  I really like all of my classes because I had a lot of my seniors two years ago when they were sophomores and they were a lot of fun.  I loved working with my SBOs over the summer and they hit the ground running this week.  They sponsored Week of Welcome (or WOW as we like to call it) with games at lunch, an assembly, and a football game.  The Welcome Assembly went so well!  The SBOs worked really hard on it and I am so proud of them!  Here are some pictures.
They choreographed a routine to introduce themselves to the studentbody and it was a hit (although I don't think I will ever get the song "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea out of my head).  Students and teachers were talking about it for the rest of the day!
The Madrigals singing the national anthem.
Blue Crew (the pep club at Hunter High)
Cheerleaders
Drill Team introducing the officers after their performance.
Playing crab soccer.
Hippity-hop ping pong drop.  The class officers cheated but the cross country team won!
Balloon Shaving.  The girls volleyball team won!
My favorite part of the assembly was when the football players did the haka.  I get chills every time I see it!
A little face painting by the SBOs and Class Officers at the football game.  Always a hit!  Even thought the Wolverines lost to the Davis Darts, we had a lot of fun at the game.
It's going to be a good year!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Are You Ready for Some Football?

I sure am!  Fall means the return of college football and I always love going to Rice-Eccles Stadium to cheer on the Utah Utes!  Last night my friend Chelsea and I went to the season opener against the Idaho State Bengals and it was a lot of fun!  The Utes basically had their way with the Bengals, eventually beating them 56-14.  There were some really exciting plays, including a dramatic punt return for a touchdown at the end of the first half, but Idaho State isn't a very good team and I see lots of room for improvement for the Utes.  The rest of the season will certainly be a bit more challenging but it was great to see the home team win so decisively and it was fun watching the game with Chelsea!  We are planning to go to a few more games.  Go Utes!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Live For Love

Thursday night I went to the first screening of If I Stay.  I have been looking forward to this movie ever since I finished reading the best-selling book.  Like most young adult fiction, I began reading If I Stay, by Gayle Forman, because I noticed that quite a few of my students were reading it.  I, like my students, was drawn into the story of Mia's choice between dying of injuries sustained in a devastating car accident, which kills her parents and younger brother, or fighting to survive in order to stay with her boyfriend, Adam.  The love story between Mia, a classical cellist, and Adam, the lead singer in an up-and-coming rock band, is quite poignant.  The cello and guitar become a metaphor for their love: two unlikely instruments can make beautiful music together.  (The novel specifically mentions Nirvana's live performance of "Something in the Way," which features the cello and is one of my favorite songs by that band).  I liked the movie adaptation but I should tell you that I am a sucker for melodramatic teen romances (I loved the Twilight movies).  I guess I am just a 15 year old girl at heart!  The movie is pretty faithful to the book (I guess Yo-Yo Ma was unavailable to film the concert Adam takes Mia to on their first date) and follows the same sequence with the events of the crash interspersed with flashbacks of Mia's life and relationships.  Chloe Grace Moretz gives a very affecting performance as Mia, especially when she learns that Teddy is dead.  Jamie Blackley is not only easy on the eyes as Adam, but he also provides all of the vocals for Adam's band Willamette Stone.  Very impressive.  Most of the other performances are pretty bland and don't ring true but Stacy Keach (Mia's Grandpa) had me sobbing when he begs Mia to fight but gives her permission to go if she needs to (bring Kleenex).  One of the best features of this movie is the music (I downloaded the soundtrack before I left the theater).  I really enjoyed all of the cello pieces Mia plays, such as the instantly recognizable Bach Cello Suite No. 1 and the Saint-Saens Cello Concerto in A Minor, and, as previously mentioned, I am a fan of the fictional band Willamette Stone (I'm very partial to "I Want What You Have").  The soundtrack also features The Orwells, Beck, and Sonic Youth.  I have had Beck's "Morning" on repeat since I saw the movie!  I recommend this movie to 15 year old girls (and 15 year old girls at heart) everywhere!

Note:  My summer has been book-ended by movies based on young adult fiction!  I saw "The Fault In Our Stars" the day school got out.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

She Loves Me

Last night (after a little nap) I saw Hale Theatre's production of the musical She Loves Me.  This Broadway show was the inspiration for the films Little Shop Around the Corner and, more recently, You've Got Mail.  The setting is Maraczek's Perfumery, a little shop with an eccentric group of clerks, in the 1940s.  We learn that one of the clerks, Georg Nowack (Derek Smith), has been corresponding with an unknown woman whom he calls "Friend."  Amalia Balash (Amy Shreeve Keeler) is soon hired as a new clerk and Georg takes an immediate dislike to her. The feeling is mutual and, soon, they are bickering constantly. Amalia has an unknown correspondent as well and, of course, it is Georg! Can this couple realize that they really do love each other? I will admit that I wasn't immediately drawn into the musical numbers but, as the show progressed, I found them to be more and more charming!  I thought Georg's song "Tonight at Eight" was incredibly endearing. I never imagine that a man gets nervous before meeting a woman for a date!  Amalia's song "Will He Like Me?" perfectly expresses what a woman feels like before a date and Keeler sings it with such vulnerability.  The choreography is quite innovative and intricate.  I loved the scene where the clerks decorate the shop for Christmas and Ilona and Steve dance with a garland!  So fun!  Both of the leads are great in their roles but, in my opinion, Megan Lynn Heaps (a frequent performer with HCT) and Harrison Young steal the show as Ilona and Arpad, respectively.  I loved watching Heaps' facial expressions and Young is as irrepressible as a puppy!  The set is absolutely incredible! Kacey Udy, as usual, has outdone himself with the amazing perfume counter in the center of the stage.  Michelle Jensen is to be commended for all of the beautiful props used on the perfume counter.  Finding all of those vintage perfume bottles and assorted baubles must have been a Herculean task!  This little gem of a show was a lovely interlude in the middle of a busy week getting ready for the new school year!  I recommend it, especially for people who are nostalgic for a simpler time! She Loves Me runs through September 27 but shows are selling out quickly.  Go here for more information.

Monday, August 18, 2014

All You Need Is Love

Fifteen years ago I went on a girls trip to Las Vegas with my friend Candi.  During our stay at Treasure Island we saw the show Mystere performed by Cirque du Soleil.  I had never seen anything like it before and was mesmerized by the acrobatic, aerial, and trapeze performances accompanied by fabulous live music (I especially liked the taiko drums).  I absolutely loved it!  Several years ago the Beatles collaborated with Cirque du Soleil to create a similar show called Love using the recorded music of the Beatles (their long-time producer, George Martin, gave Cirque du Soleil access to original Abbey Road Studio recordings so the music is absolutely amazing) at the Mirage.  I immediately wanted to see this show!  Since I loved Mystere so much, I figured that a Cirque du Soleil show featuring the music of my all-time favorite band would be an epic experience (it was).  I have wanted to see this show for so long (I tried to see it on my spring break trip to Southern Utah but for some reason it was dark that entire week) but I finally made it happen last Friday while I was in Cedar City for the Shakespeare Festival (Las Vegas is a two hour drive from Cedar City).  I loved this show so much!  Every single song and performance was amazing but a few of them stand out in my mind.  The stage is in the round and, at the opening of the show, it is divided into quadrants by blue scrims.  Four performers dressed in blue slowly began climbing ropes suspended from the ceiling to "Because," a slow song sung a capella.  In my opinion, it was a bit anticlimactic.  Then the scrims fell and "Get Back" played while men and women bounced perpendicularly on bungee cords.  The women seemed to drop straight down from the men and it was incredible!  I also loved the performance to "Something."  A man wearing black performed an acrobatic routine while four women dressed in white flew around him on trapezes.  He interacted with them but they all seemed tantalizingly out of reach.  So beautiful and atmospheric!  During the song "Within You Without You" a group of children played on a bed in the center of the stage.  Then a huge white parachute spread around them and throughout the audience, literally covering most of them.  I don't know what the people covered by the parachute saw, but I was sitting in an upper row and it looked like the bed was bouncing on a fluffy white cloud.  I actually felt like I was floating on the cloud and it was surreal, to say the least.  The very next song was "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and strings of LED lights descended from the ceiling while a girl dressed in silver flew around the theater on a trapeze.  The lights blinked on and off and it literally felt like I was surrounded by stars.  For "Here Comes the Sun," a globe of lights descended from the ceiling and four women dressed in yellow performed aerial dances on suspended ropes.  At the end each woman tumbled down her rope one after the other, perfectly timed to the last four guitar riffs in the song.  It was spectacular!  During "Come Together," four couples danced an acrobatic routine while spotlights flashed on them individually in syncopation with the music.  I was blown away by the performances and I literally had tears in my eyes during the encore, "All You Need Is Love" with images of the Beatles projected on scrims.  Now I want to see it again (I almost bought a ticket to the 9:00 show that same night).  Words do not do justice to this spectacle and I highly recommend Love to anyone who is a fan of the Beatles!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Utah Shakespeare Festival 2014

Last week I had the opportunity to spend three days at the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City.  I had so much fun eating tarts (the cream cheese are my favorite) and seeing all of the plays this season.  It was the perfect way to cap off the summer!  Tuesday afternoon I saw the matinee of Sense and Sensibility.  Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors and I have read this novel so many times that, quite honestly, I did not care for the adaptation.  I kept comparing it to the book and there were many subtle differences.  However, I loved the staging and the performances were outstanding.  There are many journeys by carriage in the story and the way the actors simulated the movement of the horses was very entertaining.  Changes in scenery and the movement of props were effected by actors costumed as liveried servants and I thought this was ingenious.  All of the actors were well suited to their roles but Sam Ashdown was perfect as the rake, Willoughby.  He is very handsome and I don't think any proper English miss could possibly resist his charms.  In my opinion, Bria Sudia stole the show as the silly Charlotte Palmer.  I laughed out loud at everything she said and did.  It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon.  Tuesday evening I saw The Comedy of Errors outside in the Adams Theatre (an excellent replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre).  This show was easily my favorite!  For this production the setting was the wild West during the gold rush of 1849 and the stage included a saloon, a brothel, and a barber shop.  I usually don't like it when directors stray too much from the source material but this show was hilarious (the spittoon)!  I can't remember when I have laughed so hard!  The actors had to pause several times to wait for the audience to stop laughing!  The story is about two sets of identical twins separated at birth who, unbeknownst to them, are all in the same town and are mistaken for each other with outrageous consequences!  The four actors playing the twins (Chris Amos, Drew Shirley, Aaron Galligan-Stierle, and Misha Fristensky) had brilliant timing and were quite adept at all of the physical comedy.  Definitely my favorite show!  Wednesday afternoon I saw the matinee of Twelfth Night which was directed by one of my festival favorites, David Ivers.  This show also involves twins mistaken for each other and a lot of physical comedy.  My favorite character was definitely Malvolio (David Pichette), who is duped into believing that the lady he serves is in love with him.  The costume he wears to woo her is hilarious and I laughed and laughed when he practiced his smile!  Wednesday evening I saw Measure for Measure, which I had never seen before.  This play is about justice and mercy and I found it to be quite intense and thought-provoking.  Steve Wojtas was excellent as Angelo, a man who judges the act of another man but then commits the same act.  There is a bit of comic relief to all of this seriousness in the form of Lucio (Jonathan Smoots).  He criticizes the Duke (John G. Preston) to the Friar, who is really the Duke in disguise, and then criticizes the Friar to the Duke.  The scene where he gets his comeuppance is hilarious.  Thursday I saw the matinee of Into the Woods, which is one of my very favorite musicals (I am beyond excited to see the new movie coming out on Christmas Day).  The story incorporates well-known fairy tale characters to demonstrate that actions can sometimes have unintended consequences.  I really loved the set!  Backdrops and props looked like original illustrations of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales (I especially liked Milky White the cow).  The cast was amazing, including my favorite festival actor, Brian Vaughn, as the Baker.  I especially loved Peter Saide as Cinderella's Prince because he was completely over the top (he was raised to be charming not sincere).  His song "Agony" with Rapunzel's Prince (Kyle Eberlein) had everyone laughing!  Such a great show!  Finally, on Thursday evening I saw Henry IV Part One, a definite contender for my favorite show of the festival!  It was so good!  Sam Ashdown (who played Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility) was incredibly charismatic as Prince Hal.  Sigh!  Henry Woronicz was irrepressible as Sir John Falstaff, the unsuitable companion of the prince.  While their naughty hijinx were a lot of fun to watch, the scene where Hal is confronted by his father, the king, was incredibly powerful and left me breathless!  I also thought the final scene was very well staged:  a spotlight with King Henry standing on the balcony and Prince Hal standing below him.  A portent of things to come (the festival is currently producing all of the history plays chronologically).  I really enjoyed my time at the Utah Shakespeare Festival this year!  There are so many things to do in addition to watching the plays like backstage tours, play orientations, play seminars with the actors and directors, a greenshow every evening (I especially enjoyed Scottish night with a piper), and, of course, the aforementioned tarts!  The festival continues through August 30.  Go here for more information.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Two Michelin Stars

I wanted to see a movie last night but, in my opinion, there is a dearth of good movies in theaters right now.  I think studios are transitioning from summer blockbusters to the more sophisticated Oscar-worthy films typically released in the fall.  At any rate, I spontaneously chose to see The Hundred-Foot Journey without knowing much about it.  I figured that I would enjoy any movie directed by Lasse Hallstrom (The Cider House Rules and Chocolat) starring Helen Mirren. I absolutely loved this charming and delightful film!  After losing everything in a riot in Mumbai, a family relocates to the south of France to open an Indian Restaurant.  Madame Mallory (Mirren) owns Le Saule Pleureur, a restaurant with a Michelin star located across the street, and takes exception to this arrangement.  It is a typical clash-of-cultures-which-eventually-leads-to-understanding movie but it is filmed so beautifully and the characters are so endearing that it feels fresh.   Hallstrom liberally makes use of the picturesque setting in the French countryside and, as someone who loves France as much as I do (I'm going back next summer), I certainly appreciated all of those lovely wide-angle shots.  Manish Dayal is adorable as Hassan Kadan, the Indian cook who takes the recipes from Le Saule Peureur and adds the spices of India to create dishes worthy of a coveted second Michelin star.  I loved the chemistry between Dayal and Charlotte Le Bon, the sous chef Marguerite who initially helps him learn about French cuisine but becomes jealous of the competition.  I loved the scenes where Hassan has Marguerite try his sauces and when he throws a pebble at her window.  The scenes between Madame Mallory and Papa (Om Puri) depicting their battle for supremacy are also quite hilarious and the scene where they dance is enchanting.  I highly recommend this lovely movie, especially for anyone who enjoys food!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Tradition!

One of my favorite things to do during the summer is to head up to the Sundance Resort to see a show performed under the stars.  It is really beautiful at Sundance and it always feels so good to be up in the mountains with the fresh smell of the pine trees.  This year Sundance, in conjunction with Utah Valley University, performed Fiddler on the Roof and it was wonderful.  The set was very innovative with various buildings representing the village of Anatevka.  During specific scenes, the buildings would open up to become the inside of Tevye's house, Mordcha's Inn & Tavern, and Motel's Tailor Shop.  I really loved the staging, especially in "Tevye's Dream."  Fruma Sarah came out on a huge platform which was wheeled around the stage with ghouls dancing around her (I once played Fruma Sarah and I totally embarrassed Marilyn by singing along).  It was very effective!  The choreography was amazing!  I loved the Bottle Dance at the wedding and the Russian dancers in "To Life."  All of the actors did a nice job but David W. Stensrud was particularly charismatic as Tevye (I saw him as the Ghost of Christmas Present in A Christmas Carol last year at Hale Theatre).  He added a lot of business to make the iconic role his own.  I thought it was hilarious when he started warming up for a fight before he told Golde about Perchik and Hodel.  It was such a fun show to watch because all of the fabulous songs like "Tradition," "Matchmaker, Matchmaker," "If I Were a Rich Man," and "Sunrise, Sunset" are so familiar.  I highly recommend this show for a lovely evening in a spectacular setting.  Go here for information and tickets.  It runs through August 16.

Note:  It is quite the process to get to the theatre.  The upper parking lot was full so they sent us to an unpaved overflow parking area.  The parking attendant laughed at my parking skills!  Next we took a shuttle to the lower parking lot and then a tractor pulling a trailer up to the theatre.  It was a crowded Saturday night so we had to hike quite a ways up the mountain to find a spot to sit.  After the show we had to do it all again to get back to the car.  I had a small meltdown when I saw the line (at least a hundred people) for the shuttle to the upper lot.  It was a really good thing that the show was so great...

Saturday, August 9, 2014

My Summer Sidekick

During the summer Sean and I usually spend a lot of time at the pool.  Last summer it was so hot that we ended up there just about every day!  This year we have only gone once!  Since I am trying to squeeze as much fun as possible out of the last few days of summer vacation, I decided that we needed a pool day on Thursday.  A friend of mine was there with her kids (who are great friends with Sean) so it was a lot of fun!
I sure do love this kid and I love that I get to spend so much time with him!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Paul McCartney!

I love Paul McCartney!  No I really, really love Paul McCartney!  When I was ten or eleven I bought a 45 record of McCartney's song "Coming Up" and I played it constantly.  I played it so much that my Dad finally took me to his closet where he kept all of his records and he handed me one.  It was Rubber Soul and thus began an obsession with the Beatles that continues to this day (I eventually stole borrowed all of his Beatles records).  I love all of the Beatles but Paul has always been my favorite.  I saw Paul in concert for the first time at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas during his Back in the U.S. Tour in 2002.  I can't even describe my emotions listening to all of the songs I grew up with played live!  It was literally a dream come true!  I was pretty much openly weeping during "Hey Jude."  I had the opportunity to see him again at Rio Tinto Stadium in 2010.  I was sitting next to a couple who were my parents' age on one side and a 13 year old girl on the other and we all knew the words to every single song.  Last night I had the opportunity to see Paul McCartney in concert again, this time at the ESA for his Out There World Tour.  The ticket was really expensive but I put it on my emergency credit card.  I considered it an emergency because I would literally die if I couldn't see him.  It was such an amazing show!  He played for almost three hours and included songs from the Beatles, Wings, and his latest album New.  He began with "Eight Days A Week," "All My Loving," "Listen to What the Man Said," "Let Me Roll It," and "Paperback Writer."  Then he moved to his piano and sang "My Valentine," which was written for his wife Nancy, "The Long and Winding Road," and "Maybe I'm Amazed," which was written for Linda.  He moved back to center stage and sang "I've Just Seen a Face," "We Can Work it Out," "Another Day," and "And I Love Her."  He moved to a rising platform at the front of the stage for a beautiful rendition of "Blackbird" and then sang "Here Today" as a tribute to John Lennon.  He sang a few from the new album including "New," "Queenie Eye," and "Everybody Out There."  Then he played a few more Beatles songs: "Lady Madonna," "All Together Now," "Lovely Rita," "Eleanor Rigby," and "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite."  He gave a lovely tribute to George Harrison by playing "Something" on a ukulele with some great photos of George on the screen.  I really loved that!  He continued with "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," "Band on the Run," "Back in the U.S.S.R.," "Let it Be," and "Live and Let Die," which had some amazing pyrotechnics!  He finished his set with "Hey Jude," including some audience participation with the iconic chorus!  For the first encore he played "Day Tripper," "Hi, Hi, Hi," and "Get Back."  For his second encore he gave a beautiful rendition of "Yesterday," a rousing rendition of "Helter Skelter," and a touching rendition of "Golden Slumbers," "Carry that Weight," and "The End."  This set list includes quite a few songs I hadn't heard him play before. It was literally amazing and I didn't want it to end!  As much as I love watching Paul McCartney, I also really love his band.  He has had the same group of musicians for every concert I've been to and I particularly enjoy watching Rusty Anderson on lead guitar.  When he plays the solo on "Maybe I'm Amazed" I just about die!  What I love most about a Paul McCartney concert is that all of the songs sound fresh!  He is most definitely not just going through the motions and you get the sense that he loves these songs now as much as he did when he first played them!  I certainly love every song just as much as I did when I was a teenager!

Note:  The first time I saw Paul McCartney in Las Vegas, the crowd had to walk through the casinos to leave the arena.  We all spontaneously started singing "Na Na Na Na Na Na Na" as we walked and the people in the casinos applauded. I will never forget that moment!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Mill Creek Canyon Bonfire

There are two weeks left of summer vacation.  What?  Now is the time when I usually start freaking out thinking about all of the things I wanted to do over the summer but haven't done yet.  While I have been doing pretty well with my summer bucket list (a few things are coming up), I definitely haven't spent enough time camping and hiking so Marilyn and I decided to spend the day in Mill Creek Canyon yesterday.  We brought a picnic (whenever I mention picnic you should interpret that to mean we stopped at Subway on the way) and spent most of the afternoon reading.  It rained for a little while but we were under a big pine tree and didn't get wet.  Everything smelled so fresh and clean after the rain storm!  Eventually we built a fire and made s'mores.  We forgot all of our roasting sticks so I channeled my inner Girl Scout and whittled some for us.  It was the perfect day!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Defying Gravity

While Les Miserables will always be my sentimental favorite, Wicked is definitely a close contender!  I love this show so much because I think it is extremely clever!  It tells the back-story of the Wicked Witch of the West, Glinda the Good, and the Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  After all, a lot happened before Dorothy dropped in!  Oh and by the way, the music happens to be fantastic!  I think anyone who has ever felt a little bit different can relate to the songs "I'm Not That Girl" and "Defying Gravity" and I think everyone who has ever had a good friend in their life can relate to "For Good."  Last night I had the opportunity to see Wicked again at the Capitol Theatre and it was such a good production!  I thought that both lead actresses were spectacular!  I loved Chandra Lee Schwartz's rendition of "Popular."  In every production I have ever seen, the actress playing Glinda has added her own touch to this particular song.  Schwartz was absolutely hysterical, especially with the tossing of the hair!  Emma Hunton was incredibly powerful as Elphaba.  I think she blew the roof off the Capitol Theatre in "Defying Gravity" and I had goosebumps during "No Good Deed."  I think she was one of the best Elphabas I've seen!  Nick Adams (Fiyero) was a fabulous dancer (and pretty easy on the eyes).  He and Hunton had great chemistry, especially in "As Long As You're Mine."  The rest of the cast was great but I was not a fan of Madame Morrible (Alison Fraser).  I thought her voice was really raspy and I had a hard time understanding her sometimes (it seemed to come and go so she may have had a cold).  As always, I loved the set, costumes, and the choreography.  The whole production was wonderful and I had such a good time watching one of my favorites! I highly recommend seeing it if you have the opportunity.  Wicked will be playing at the Capitol Theatre until Aug. 24.

Friday, August 1, 2014

I Dreamed A Dream

When I was in high school I watched a documentary on PBS about the making of a new musical called Les Miserables.  I fell in love with the story, the music, the costumes, and the staging.  I bought the original Broadway recording (on vinyl) and listened to it over and over.  My greatest wish was to see this show!  I knew that I would be spending some time in London while I was studying abroad in France so I tried to get tickets.  Every show was sold out and I was devastated!  My Dad gave me an article about the West End in London from the travel section of the newspaper which said you could sometimes get tickets to sold out shows at kiosks throughout the city on the day of the show.  I decided to try it.  There were four tickets available but I would have to buy all four.  Such was my mania to see this show that I bought them (I couldn't really afford one ticket, let alone four).   When I got back to my hotel, I asked another student if she knew of anyone in our group who would like to go.  A man staying at the hotel overheard me and offered to buy the three tickets for himself, his wife, and his daughter.  He let me ride in the cab with them, bought me a program, and bought me a drink at intermission.  Hearing those opening notes was the biggest thrill of my life!  I have now seen Les Miserables at least twenty times (that would be a conservative estimate) and I still get goosebumps when I hear those opening notes!  Yesterday my friend Mel and I drove to Logan to see Utah Festival Opera's production of Les Miserables (I literally just saw this show six weeks ago in West Yellowstone but I never get tired of it) and we both loved it.  The Utah Festival Opera did a lovely job of staging this amazing story of one man's redemption with a very innovative set.  I was very impressed with the actor playing Jean Valjean (Patrick Miller).  He had an incredibly beautiful voice and his emotional rendition of "Bring Him Home" was very moving.  At first I thought Daniel Cilli looked much too young to play Inspector Javert but his powerful performance of "Stars" definitely won me over!  Ever since I saw Eddie Redmayne's tour de force performance as Marius in the movie version, I judge every actor who plays the role against him.  Patrick Massey held his own in "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables."  Finally, I have always judged every production by Eponine's performance of "On My Own" (my favorite song in the show).  Tyler Olshansky made me cry!  I thoroughly enjoyed watching my favorite musical...again and I had a lovely day with my friend Mel!

Note:  The Utah Festival Opera continues through Aug. 9.  They are also performing Oklahoma, Vanessa, and The Student Prince.  Go here for more information.
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