Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Boeing-Boeing and New Year's Resolutions

I'm stealing from Icarus Falling's season theme "back and to the future" as I continue to try to catch up while still talking about what's going on now.


On Friday, I went to see Lansing Civic Players' Boeing-Boeing, directed by Althea Phillips. It's one of those high-energy bedroom farces with some anachronisms that can sometimes be difficult for the modern audience to swallow.

Kat Cooper, Ann Glenn, and Rachelle Garyet did a delightful job portraying the three stewardesses who fly in and out of Bernard's life, all oblivious to the presence of the other fiances. They all fit the part of the attractive, possessive girlfriends while providing wonderful contrast to each other.

LeAnn Dethlefsen was also a great deal of fun to watch as the long-suffering housekeeper who has to do most of the work in keeping up the charade for the polygamous Bernard.

Chris Klaver and Rick Dethlefsen both did find jobs as the school buddies who are trying to keep the women apart. I'll confess that it seemed they should be closer in age to the stewardesses--or at least played that way. I sometimes had difficulty believing that Robert could be quite as innocent and naive as he was or that Bernard was the young playboy type.

The set was well-built with lots of doors representing the kitchen, bathroom and various bedrooms. After the show, I was talking to another patron who pointed out that there was nothing on the set that helped place the action in the 60s except for a lamp that was off to the far side on an unlighted portion of the stage. He had a point. You did have to read the program to know you were in the early 60s unless you knew a lot about your jet history and when certain models were put into commercial use.

Those comments aside, it was an enjoyable show successfully designed to make its patrons laugh and enjoy the high-paced absurdity of this traditionally styled farce.

New Year's Resolutions

This year, I wanted to do something different with my column for New Year's. Actually, it isn't so much that I wanted to do something different as an idea took root in my head and kept growing. I'd been doing a lot of thinking lately about the amount of people who participate in the arts in the local area and the pattern of their participation.

A friend and I noticed that there are some actors who get out to see a lot of shows (the Zussmans are a prime example of this and they get out to see many, many shows). However, as a rule, actors don't seem to go to see a lot of shows unless they know someone in the audience or are actively involved in the administration of the particular theater group. Now, some of this could be simply because they're constantly in rehearsal and need some non-theater time in their lives for balance.

To be honest, I don't know what the reasons for that are, though I could certainly speculate with no ability to verify any of those speculations. Besides, I'm starting to veer off topic.

At any rate, I decided for half of my column, I'd make some suggested New Year's resolutions--ones that would be a lot more fun than losing 20 pounds or investing $10 in the stock market each week. They were ones that I hoped would encourage people to think about how they can be actively involved in or supporting the arts.

So, since I suggested them, I figured I ought to follow my own advice and report here on the progress I've made so far.

Go see a live performance of dance, instrumental music, choral music, opera or theater.

Ah, yes, well, this one isn't a stretch for me. I've so far seen a couple of theatrical shows and will be going to a dance concert this weekend. The one that I really need to work on is instrumental music. I went to only two last year and would like to do better this year.

Get involved in art.

For me, my writing is my art. There was a time when I was involved in theater several years back, particularly with Lansing Civic Players and Bath Community Theatre Guild. However, there came a point when I had to make a choice between whether I was truly going to pursue my writing or continue in theater--at least until my son was grown and I wouldn't be constantly taken away from him. It was a pretty easy choice. I was always far better at writing than I was at theater. I never lost my self-consciousness while on stage.

So while I am no longer working in theater (nor would it be appropriate to do so while being a reviewer and columnist), I do considered myself involved in art by writing about it. My husband also recently unearthed my clarinet. I might be making a trip to Marshall Music to get the pads replaced and start playing again at home.

Support a local arts organization financially.

This is where I get somewhat old-fashioned. I don't talk about my finances in public nor do I like discussing any donations I make. In fact, my most preferred method of giving to any organization is anonymously. So any progress on this goal will not be shared.

Praise a local artist.

Does my husband count? Actually, I'm fortunate because I often get to do this. Yes, as a critic I also sometimes have to point out negative things, but there is always something about a performance that one can find to praise.

Be an advocate for an arts organization.

There is much debate about whether arts journalists should be advocates or purely objective. I fall firmly on the side of advocates. Granted, there is a difference between being an advocate and being a public relations person. Being an advocate doesn't mean ignoring the negative. In fact, a true advocate will not be shy about pointing out things that aren't working or things that detract from the art scene.

Tell someone new about your favorite arts organization.

I suppose on some level, I do this all the time through my column--except that I don't really have a favorite arts organization. Favorite implies a ranking and I am a firm subscriber to the eco-system theory that says each organization plays a vital part in ensuring the success and vitality of arts. I do invite people to join me when I go see performances. It's one of the reasons I'm often grateful that I am offered two tickets when I come to see a show--it gives me a chance to bring someone else along in the hope that he or she will also become a patron of the arts and make live performances part of their lives. It's a small attempt to give back to the arts organizations who so often provide me with tickets so that I can review and judge their shows.

Take pride in your local community's art scene.

That's an easy one. I already do and don't hesitate to share that pride.

Take a child or a teenager to a live performance.

I haven't done that yet this year, but I do try to make a habit of taking not just my son, but the children of my friends to shows whenever it is appropriate (and it isn't always appropriate).

Encourage a child or a teenager to perform.

My opportunities to do this have decreased somewhat as I no longer teach drama at Montessori--and man, I miss those kids. In the mean time, I continue to encourage my son as he takes up the coronet and continues to dabble in theater.

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