Saturday, December 20, 2008

Holiday meanderings

I know I haven't been blogging much lately, primarily because I've been doing a lot of writing elsewhere. It certainly hasn't been because I haven't been seeing show or because I have nothing to say about theater.

Nutcracker and Holiday Music

This time of year is filled with events. Theater is about as busy as usual, but other things ramp up--choral concerts, dance concerts, and instrumental concerts. I've felt extremely blessed this year to be able to attend many events. As I wrote earlier, I saw the Nutcracker for the first time this year--and I've gotten to see it twice. Both productions were gorgeous and both were quite different from each other. It is impressive how much work and preparation goes into putting on a production that is made to look so effortless.

I was also able to attend the Home for the Holidays concert sponsored by the MSU College of Music. It was a delightful evening filled with performances by the Men's and Women's Glee Club, the Lansing Symphony Orchestra, and the MSU Children's Choir.

Hymn and Carol
I also truly enjoyed BoarsHead's Christmas play. It was a quirky piece that brought together individualized scenes and beautiful singing It was reminiscent of a Christmas cantata. There were some complaints that the musical was too religious. It's a complaint I find a bit odd given that the topic was Christmas. It is, after all, a religious holiday. I would find it odd if I went to a play about Ramadan and found it to be secular. So why would we demand that a play about a Christian holiday be secular?

Religion has always been a topic that art treats upon. If we suddenly decide that religion belongs only in the churches, then we've invalidated a large percentage of art through the ages. Art should help us explore religious topics just as religion should encourage art. If the two aren't twin siblings, they are at least cousins. Art and religion both help us to explore the unknown, to examine the human soul, to determine what it means to be human. They also both challenge us to think about what we believe in and why. They offer us ideas that we may disagree with and challenge us to think about why we disagree.

So needless to say, it didn't bother me that the play had strong religious overtones or that it told the Christmas story. Whether you agree with it or not, it's still an amazing story.

A co-worker of mine attended the show the week before I did and he pointed out that while he enjoyed many of the sketches, he didn't feel that they tied together well. As we talked about the show, we kept mentioning the things that we liked--the satire of Harod's spin doctors, the detached power of Shariesse Hamilton's monologue about her dead child, the rapt expression of Mary (Lara Bidus) in the dress shop, and the amusing comic sketch about the prophets. When it came down to it, though, he said he thought that the parts added up to more than the sum. He liked all the pieces, but wasn't sure what he was left with when it was all put together.

Well, Christmas errands call, so this blog entry is going to end. If I can, I'll be back to write about some of the other shows I've seen including Starlight's Christmas Belles.

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