Tuesday, April 04, 2006

This may cause trouble

One thing about dating is having your eyes opened to new things. I'd been to one theater show in my whole life as of my last birthday, but have now gotten to see four shows since, with the motive power being my more-sophisticated city-loving Jersey Girl.

I'll have to go back and let you know how the other three went, but the most recent visit to the theatuh was a
local company production of "Urinetown" held at the Jersey Shore Arts Center. It used to be the Neptune High School, circa 1896, but had been abandoned for some time until JSAC took possession and began renovation. It's good news, too - this building is gorgeous. I've been in plenty of schools, and most were 60's or 70's cookie-cutter boxes with bad lighting, and cramped rooms, and questionable choices in architecture and layout.

Now picture a high school with 14-foot ceilings... and a main entrance that opens on a grand staircase which sweeps up toward the second floor, and classes with doors with honest-to-goodness knobs and not levers or handles... and above the doors, single-pane hinged windows for ventilation... a building so old that it was probably built without electric wiring...

Sheila is an arts nut; I am a nostalgist. The hallways filled with chattering people visiting the gift shop and waiting for admission, and I painted them in high collars and jackets, with long dresses for the lasses, books strapped together with belts, inkwells and nib pens waiting quietly on each desk for the next lesson.

Oh, yeah, and there was a show too! I got a last little twinge of remember when as we all entered the auditorium: the JSAC restored the original row seating, wooden folding chairs on a long, curved, wrought-iron framework. Many veterans in the audience had brought cushions from home.

And then the show started, and I got in trouble. (If you want to see the play sometime, you may want to skip ahead a little. I'm careful about spoilers, but it happens.)

It's simple enough - for me, a little peek through the fourth wall goes a long way. This play had no fourth wall whatsoever. Later the Ladybug explained that it was the whole point, and it was unlike typical Broadway because of it. I got in worse trouble by saying that sort of proved my point.

Hey, if you want to have ironic fun at the conventions of a musical, have at 'em - but to announce as much to the audience? Indeed, to start with a number called "Too Much Exposition"? I enjoyed the second act much more because there was much less of that sort of thing. It may be that I'm a curmudgeon about it and others absolutely love it; I think that it shows weakness on the part of the authors not to be able to wink at the audience without a sledgehammer. Isn't it enough to have the running gag where the cast reacts in surprise to a plot twist, all in unison? (Well-done and very funny, I might add.)

The cast was fine, though - in a few cases much better than fine. Little Sally and Officer Lockstep were quite well done. A couple of the numbers were sung in counterpoint and I couldn't make out what either group was saying, and there was a ragged moment for one actress early in the second act, but since she'd spent the last fifteen minutes gagged it was most understandable. She came through beautifully otherwise. Great band, good stage design (especially considering the extreme small size).

My dear, I'm sorry if you were irked at me at intermission. I wasn't pooh-poohing. To give you a compare and contrast,
this is pooh-poohing. Don't tell your dad, and I won't either.

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