fauxklore (fauxklore) wrote,

Entertainment Round-Up

This doesn't include the two shows I saw last weekend, but I want to make a dent in the backlog. It is also appropriate to mention two celebrity deaths here. The first was movie critic Judith Crist, who I admit I had not thought about in years. The other was Marvin Hamlisch, who composed a lot of popular music and musicals. I'd probably put the score of A Chorus Line at the top of his significance. I met him briefly once, while I was waiting for the Kennedy Center shuttle after a concert he had conducted and he seemed to be a gracious man.

Let's start with movies. I see movies mostly on airplanes, but sometimes that includes good ones.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen: Robert had recommended this to me, which proves he does know something about what I like after all those years. The story was just quirky enough to be interesting. The ending was predictable, but I don't really mind that when it comes to romantic comedy.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: Apparently, someone at United Airlines likes quirky British comedy. That's fine, as I do also. There were a few too many subplots, but I enjoyed most of them. Overall, this was sweet and entertaining.

I went to six shows at the Capital Fringe Festival. I'd have gone to more, actually, but I was juggling my schedule with Orecon, a business trip to Denver, and a weekend in New England. I will put them in alphabetical order for convenience:

AARP, The Musical & Harriet 2.0: Heather Taylor's one woman show should have been more interesting, but just didn't work for me. For one thing, tossing a couple of inspirational songs into a monologue about being an AARP job coach does not a musical make. For another, Taylor didn't seem well-prepared, reading from a spiral notebook for parts of the show. The second part, about Harriet Tubman, was stronger and might be worth developing on its own.

Arlen and Berlin Occupy the Fringe: Five singers perform Harold Arlen and Irving Berlin songs, with pretty minimal dialogue. They're supposed to be occupiers at Freedom Plaza and they fool around with protest signs, but it was really all about the music. All five had good voices and I want to particularly note Lewis Freeman and Pam Ward. The only downside of this upbeat depression-era music was that I got "Let's Have Another Cup of Coffee" stuck in my head for over a week.

The Hair Chronicles: Three women of color are supposed to be working on a grad school project and keep getting distracted talking about their hair. In the end, they realize that the cultural significance of hair would be a good project. I found this pretty entertaining and there was plenty for me to relate to. I do wish, however, that the characters had been given names instead of being referred to as "black girl," "african girl," and "mixed girl." Still, one can't doubt the relevance of the material given how much energy has been wasted on criticizing Gabby Douglas for her hair.

Pushing Boundaries: I had seen Ellouise Schoettler's show about her journey from housewife to ERA activist before. It was still interesting the second time around. The stories of the early women's movement are being forgotten and telling them is important. I'm glad she is doing so.

Sacred & Scared Get the Same Score in Scrabble: Charles Shafer takes on several characters in this one man show about religion. I didn't care much for the portrayal of G-d as a mafioso type. Nor did I like the character of Carla, whose method of prayer seems to involve seducing her priest. There were some decent gags along the way, but the whole thing felt pretty pointless to me.

Zero Tolerance: Subtitled "Sex, Math and Seizures," the advertising for this show asked which is scarier - epilepsy or prime numbers. Barbara Selfridge started out fine, with an animated description of rushing to the hospital to meet her epileptic sister. The dysfunctions of her mathematician father were also interesting. Unfortunately, it felt like she had not decided which story she wanted to tell. There was a lot of good material there (not enough of it about sex to justify the subtitle), but it wasn't quite pulled together.

Finally, I went to some more mainstream theatre.

The Addams Family: This was the biggest disappointment of The Kennedy Center season for me. The performances were fine (notably, Blake Hammond as Uncle Fester) but the jokes were stale and the music unmemorable. Lifeless would be a compliment given the material, so let's settle for extraordinarily dull. Sigh.

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs: Mike Daisey's monologue, about electronics manufacturing in China and about Steve Jobs and about a half dozen related topics, has been controversial. I look at it from the lens of a storyteller, not a journalist, and what matters most to me is that he is extremely entertaining. His rant about Powerpoint (which he describes as a tool allowing people in the same room to communicate with one another) is worth the price of admission on its own. I should also note that he acknowledged the controversy and admitted he was not always factual. Overall, I thought this was well worth seeing, whatever you think of Daisey, Jobs, or China.
Tags: celebrity death watch, movies, musicals, theatre

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