As I Lay Dying – We saw this at Rogue Theater, a small theater on University. It’s a nice space, a little sterile, but fine. It’s a Falkner story, I guess, which I know nothing about. It’s a depression era type thing, about a family taking their mother to be buried. It’s a pretty sad story, the moral seems to be life sucks and then you die. For the most part the actors do a decent job. The doctor kept forgetting his lines, which was irksome, but everyone else was fine. The main guy and the daughter were maybe a bit better than the rest. Some of them, particularly the mother, the youngest son, and the religious neighbor, had a hard time deciding what their accent was. It’s supposed to be southern-ish, but it was occasionally british, or maybe scottish, I think I might have heard pirate in there. The sets were very simple, but good enough. There was an extraordinarily weird performance piece in the middle with one of the men taming a horse, but the horse was acted out by one of the women. I guess it gets points for trying something different, but it didn’t work. The musicians were extremely good, and there was a little jam session before the play started that was great too. All in all certainly a worthy experience.
Faust – Well, I tried opera again. The verdict is in – I don’t like opera. I really believe it has nothing to do with the quality. The best jazz player in the world doesn’t mean much to me, I don’t like jazz. The best opera singer in the world is still singing music I don’t like. Within the context of not at all liking the art form, this one seemed good. It’s about a dude (Faust) making a deal with the devil to regain his youth, based on some old German legend. The guy playing the devil was pretty great. He had the look, the attitude, and was my favorite voice singing music I didn’t enjoy. Everyone else seemed to do fine, though the friend, Siebel, was too quiet. In general the orchestra slightly overwhelmed the singers, really. The re-imagined opera did the AWFUL bullshit thing people do nowadays of putting words on the wall. It really annoys me, this emphasis of the themes in such a lazy way. The creator defensively points out in the program that he did not take anything out of the dialogue, that the words were purely supplementary. But I still think it’s lazy, if you can’t get your point across with just the story (and people have been doing so for almost a couple hundred years now with this opera), then you are doing a shitty job. On the flip side, the modernization was not as annoying as it often is, especially the devil in the modern context. And I thought the church and the mental ward set pieces were great. The harshness of the lights in the mental ward had a real impact. And the entire church seen was fantastic. But, it’s still an opera, oh well.
Premium Blend – This was great again! We went 2 years ago with a pair of free tickets on a whim. We missed it last year to my great dismay, but we got there this time. I think it wasn’t as good as last time, but still very good. Last time there was more variety, I feel. This time was all ballet and modern, with one exception. The opening ballet was pretty impressive. There was some girl who was maybe a big deal, but I didn’t think she was that great. The main dude was very very good, though. We were in the second row and for the first time I could see how much work the ballarinos (is that a thing?) had to do. Especially since she was kind of sucking, it was all his job to guide her and correct her spins and such. And some of the lifts were pretty impressive. The second ballet piece wasn’t so great, and had some horrendous outfits. There was an extraordinarily quirky modern thing, where the 3 dancers were a punctuation mark. It wasn’t my favorite, but it was cute. There was a reeeeeeally modern thing centered on the idea of how we order at starbucks having something to do with your personality. The dancing was good, but the theme was obnoxious. And they did all this meta stuff where the dancers talked and such. It was the worst part of the show 2 years ago when they did that, and it was this time. I’d rather dancers just dance. The stand-out was this tap/jazz/swing/ballroom thing. It was soooooo great. I don’t really love tap, I appreciate it, but I don’t end up enjoying it that much. But this was just awesome. They would all tap individually, then pair up for swing/ballroom type dancing, and go back and forth, it was freaking fantastic.