May 10, 2009

This ain't no GAP commercial

I finally got the chance to slow down a bit after my nonstop adventures in Greece, Turkey, and Portugal. After I finished all the many loads of laundry I had after three straight weeks of travel... I decided to take in a show.
Rachel and I bought tickets to see West Side Story at the Festival Theatre on Nicholson Street. I've walked past this theatre so many times, but never had an excuse to go inside. The entire front side of this four-story building is made of glass. You can see right in to the grand staircase that loops all the way around to the top floor. It's quite a spectacle. It's like a clown car of a theatre, you can't really tell how big it is from the outside. But once you're inside and you climb all the way to the top, where our seats were, it's quite large. 
We arrived on the early side, just to be safe, because our tickets were being held at Will Call. Rachel and I had a quick drink at the bar while we waited. Everyone there was drinking tea. Those Brits and their tea. If this were a theatre in NYC, everyone would be having something a little bit stronger, like rum and coke.... not something as tame and boring as tea. After our drinks, we went and found our seat in the Upper Circle (the balcony). The entire section was empty except for one couple. And of course our seats happened to be right next to theirs. It was a funny sight, the four of us squished together, when there were at least fifty empty seats surrounding us.  
There was nothing else to do but to talk to them. They were from Utah, the man was a Mormon Minister. They were visiting Scotland for the first time together, but this was not the husband's first time in Edinburgh. The couple were very nice, but as soon as the show started and the sharks were bouncing around stage in their colorful tight pants, the woman leaned over and asked "Do you want me to set you up with one of them?"  I don't know what was scarier, the wife of a Mormon Minister making jokes about men in tight pants, or the wife of a Mormon Minister actually thinking I'd be interested in these men in tight pants... I was also nervous that if I gave any sort of reaction that I'd be opening the door to let her think it was OK to talk to me throughout the rest of the performance...  one of my biggest pet peeves. So I just smiled and kept staring at the men in tight pants, and thankfully the woman didn't talk to me again during the show.   
In order to translate certain things from movie to stage, they have to emphasize the stereotypes. So all of the Puerto Rican dancers were in brightly colored suits: reds, oranges, and purples. They, of course, wore tight flared pants and tight long sleeved shirts, open in the front to show their manly chests - because all Puerto Ricans dress like Flamenco Dancers. And the New York gangsters were all in white wife beaters, which I think is a sad commentary on our society that the term wife beater is so commonly used without flinching. But I couldn't have called it a sleeveless tee or a tank top, because you wouldn't have known what I meant. When I say wife beater, you know exactly what type of shirt I mean.  
Anyway, the show was put on by Scottish and English people, and their New York accents were horrific. They sounded kinda like Brooklyn accents, if Brooklyn people were from Eastern Europe. Their Puerto Rican accents sounded Russian. Once you got past the fact that the guy playing Tony was clearly English, he had the sickest voice: smooth, clear, and just amazing.
I thought they did a fantastic job with the number "Be in America". The choreography was great. Although, the fighting choreography was kinda lame and goofy. Also, the scene where the Jets physically take advantage of Anita looked like way too realistic of a gang rape for my taste. But on a positive note, they did have a ridiculously awesome set. It was made up of a network of fire escapes, with ladders that went up and down, and the set broke apart and rotated. I was impressed.  
West Side Story is quite a famous tale, we've all heard it and seen it before. But during the performance, Rachel and I kept forgetting what happened next. And then we confused it with Les Mis, when Eponine tried to be one of the boys and got herself killed. But then realized that Anybodys, the tomboy in WSS, doesn't do the same thing. And we expected Maria to die, because Shakespeare's Juliet dies, but Maria doesn't kill herself. It's just a sign that we've seen too many shows, and as my creative writing professors love to say: "there's nothing new under the sun." Which is why I write my stories at night.   

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