Frost and Thompson and Brandt and Wordle by Thomas Putnam
The NYT Wordle word the other day was “staid.” I mentioned on FB that I liked the word; it seems hopeful to me, even comforting. A person commented that it's in one of the songs that the Festival Chorus at MU is singing in a few weeks; lyrics a poem by Robert Frost with music by Randall Thompson. It's the last word in the last song of the song cycle called “Frostiana.”
The song is “Choose Something Like a Star” and it ends like this:
It asks of us a certain height,
So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.
It could very well be my imagination, but it seems like there is increasing incidence these days wherein the “mob is swayed to carry praise or blame too far.” Public opinion seems to change direction as quickly as the climate-changed wind veers one way and then another way and then back again.
We're producing a play this September called Elephant's Graveyard by George Brandt. It is a disturbing play. It is a play wherein the “mob is swayed to carry praise or blame too far.”
I saw a play at the Geva in Rochester last week about Russian manipulation of American social media in a recent election. Oh, my. It seems evident that our American mob was indeed, swayed.
Frost suggests we choose something like a star. Something steadfast. Something that can use language we can comprehend. This “something” does, indeed, ask a little of us here; we have some responsibility. But, oh to have something we can go to, depend upon; something “to stay our minds on and be staid.”
I hope we can dialogue about this in the coming months. I urge you to join me at the Festival Chorus Concert in late April at MU. I urge you to get tickets to see Elephant's Graveyard in September. I urge you to stop and chat about it when you see me on the street. Heck, I even urge you to play Wordle every morning. And I invite you to “choose something like a star.”
THE VERY FULL WEEKEND by Barbara Biddison
I think Hamilton-Gibson, Mansfield University, and Cowanesque Valley HS all got together and said, "Could we all plan together and do a show on the same weekend, so that our theatre lovers would have a show every afternoon and every night?? And they all said YES, and we audience members obliged! So here's how I did it with family and friends.
Friday, March 3. Opening Night for EXIT LAUGHING. Hamilton-Gibson. The threat of challenging snow had us all wondering if we would have it. Well, there was some snow and slush and rain, but the show went on and about 30 of us enjoyed laughing the stormy night away. When we got out, there was only a bit of rain and no significant snow accumulation. And the sound of 30 people laughing was enough to keep the cast of five going! We all stayed for the Opening Night party/gathering/food and conversation after the show. And, as far as I know, all got home safely. It's a really fun show with 3 who have been on the HG stage before, and 2 who are new to us. Thomas Putnam directs. There are three more shows, next Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and I plan to see it again on Sunday the 12th at 2:30.
Saturday, March 4. In the middle of a March 2-5 run for THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. Mansfield University. I have seen lotsa shows in this Straughn Auditorium Theatre, and this time Straughn was packed!! Children, MU students, and community of all ages. The pre-show energy was high. The show was powerful. The singing was outstanding! And the dancing and blocking, and the dialogue, and the costumes, and... everything! And except for a few characters it was double cast. Peter Davis directed. Todd Ranney was music director. Alexandra Fisher and Rebecca Hawkinds were choreographers. And the chandelier was positioned to come down without frightening the audience under it! I think it's safe to say that we were all captured by the talent and dedication of everyone involved.
Then there was Sunday, March 5. And off we went to see MATILDA THE MUSICAL produced by the Cowanesque Valley HS Drama Club. Our dear friend from past HG days, David Wert, is director of theatre there. Last year he produced CHICAGO and this year he has gone in a whole different direction with these young people and given them Roald Dahl's MATILDA. And they grabbed hold of it and ran with it. I just love to see young people do this. And I know that it takes that kind of director to get that kind of performance. They are fortunate to have an orchestra of local professional musicians to play with them, and the whole group sings well. I counted 37 "cast and crew bios" and I think only 4 of those are adults. The students really plug into this theatre experience and it is a joy to watch them perform.
Yes, it sure was a good weekend. I'm full, for the moment.
I'LL BET YOU'LL EXIT LAUGHING by Barbara Biddison
On Wednesday night I saw a "next-to-final dress rehearsal" for this Hamilton-Gibson comedy called EXIT LAUGHING There were 4 of us in the chairs that we hope to have filled on Friday night. My favorite
comments from two of them when the show was over were variations on "Now, that was funny!"
The three bridge-playing women have been gathering together for years and they have come together to mourn the loss of the fourth She's gone , but her ashes have arrived and somehow found their way to the house where the foursome played together. We don't know what the fourth member was like, but we soon see how different the other three are. It makes for lively and crazy interactions .As well as for wondering how the deceased woman's ashes got there, and what to do about it.
There is also the daughter who lives in that house, and she makes it clear that her lovelife is in shambles and there is no hope for her to ever have any kind of guy and everything is ruined! Then in walks a
fellow who has taken on a pretty unusual job in order to earn money for his very ambitious future plans. These five carry the show with the help of a cat that we never see and one dead person's ashes.
Now I'm just assuming and hoping that we'll have a fine night for opening on Friday and that this wonderful cast can play to a full house. I plan to be there. I should also mention that HG has gone
back to two Sunday matinee shows instead of just one. I think I'll see it again on the second Sunday just to see what it's like, and because I like to see shows twice. This is a fine cast. It's been a while since we have seen Natalie Kennedy,, and it is a pleasure to see Deb Sawyer back on the HG stage again. And a couple first-timers too. I encourage all to step out for an evening of good humor.
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