Harvey Schmidt was a musical theatre composer, whose best known work is the score for
Ahhhscars Night: This is an annual Oscars-themed party put on by the California State Society. My friend, Paul, has figured out that his wearing a tux will entice me to go out on a weeknight. It was a pretty nice evening – good food, good dance floor (though my ankles are not up to as much dancing as they used to be, sigh), and an excuse to get dressed up. I went with a cocktail dress this year, instead of the long gown which is too much hassle to put on by myself. I wore my great-grandmother’s necklace and a pair of outrageous earrings. The music was a bit too loud some of the time, but one expects that as this sort of thing. Overall, it was a fun evening.
Book Club: This meeting’s book was Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo. This is a non-fiction work about an informal slum near the Mumbai airport and several of its residents. I thought the book was interesting, but depressing. It’s been over 20 years since I’ve been to India (and I haven’t been to Mumbai at all), so I had hoped things had changed. But, no, there is even more disparity in wealth, along with all the effects of urban migration and on-going political corruption. I can’t really blame people for trying to take advantage of the system, given what few opportunities they see for themselves. The author is going to be giving a talk in Arlington in April and I am going to try to go.
Hellish Commute Day: Wednesday was a total nightmare for commuting. There was a disabled train at Ballston and it was in a position that meant they couldn’t single track around it. So all rail service on the Orange and Silver Lines was suspended. I gave up, walked home, and drove in, so I was only about 15 minutes late to a meeting. Given where I was going, it made sense to take 50 – but even had that not been more direct, the toll on I-66 apparently got up to the $48 range. (I am not sure exactly how much it was, since the newspapers only talk about tolls between the Beltway and the District and it would, presumably, be less to get off in Arlington.)
Wind Storm: We had a pretty horrendous wind storm this weekend, with the worst being during commute hours on Friday. I was fortunate, in that we only lost power for a few minutes. The guy who has the office next to mine had a tree fall on his house, which is, apparently, totaled. The Federal Government shut down. My company did not, nor did they bother to send out any info until nearly 10 a.m. I have had previous indications that our corporate leadership in Los Angeles has never grasped the concept of time zones, but that is particularly egregious. I made the executive decision to work from home, which is something I dislike doing. It gave me a chance to catch up on some reading, and kept me out of the way of flying branches and parts of signs and such.
Becoming Dr. Ruth: Things let up enough by early evening to brave the outdoors and I went into the city to see Becoming Dr. Ruth at Theatre J. The metro was running more smoothly than I expected and it wasn’t bad getting to Dupont Circle. The play was written by Mark St. Germain and starred Naomi Jacobson, whose performance was a tour de force. I pretty much forgot that it wasn’t Dr. Ruth Westheimer standing there, crawling over packed cardboard boxes and telling the story of her life. This was a life with lots of challenge and trauma, but the overwhelming takeaway is one of determination and positivity. This was an intelligent, charming, and witty evening of theatre.
Light Years: This was the new musical I was most looking forward to this season, entirely on the grounds that it was written by Robbie Schaefer of Eddie From Ohio. The actual show was rather different from my expectations. It’s more of a song cycle than a musical per se. It’s autobiographical, with an emphasis on Robbie’s relationship with his father (played by Bobby Smith, a long-time Signature favorite), a Holocaust survivor who tells him stories, but not the stories he most needs to and longs to hear. Near the end, there is that one important story, which hearkens back to an earlier song in the show and had me sobbing. I do have some quibbles, however. Did Robbie have a mother? Well, she gets mentioned once in passing, but she seems to have played no role in his emotional life. And there are hints of Robbie’s own sacrifices for his family, but not enough details there. Still, I found this an absorbing and moving (and tear-jerking) show. I am fully aware that some of my reactions have to do with my own relationship with my father, who was also a Holocaust survivor, so I can’t generalize to how others might react.
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