While filling out one of those quizzes, I realized I must be missing some other diversions. I’m not watching much television. The movies I see (primarily) get reviewed here. So what else have I been doing?
My wife and I went to the Albany Institute of History and Art and saw “Gordon Park: I, too, am America” in early February, just before the exhibit closed. I loved his work, which I remember from the pages of LIFE magazines in the 1960s. He exposed the disparity of American life with his camera. A reviewer called the installation “incomplete but still rewarding.” The description of the works in one medium-sized room and a tiny annex seems accurate.
I realized that I related to Parks as a singular figure, the only black photographer I knew of, just as Arthur Ashe was the sole black male tennis player in my awareness.
My wife and I have season tickets to musicals at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady. The first one scheduled was Aladdin in October 2022. Unfortunately, that was the timeframe when my spouse was experiencing her leg injury.
I could have gotten the money credited to our theater account, but at that late date, Proctors wouldn’t fill those seats. Instead, I posted my issue on Facebook; I got a taker – a guy and his very enthusiastic mom – and our digital tickets could be used, which made me happy.
Thus, the first show we saw was Hairspray in January. I’d seen the original 1988 movie, written and directed by John Waters. The iteration we saw was more moving than a previous production I had seen, especially when Motormouth sings I Know Where I’ve Been.
The best part of going to a Thursday matinee at Proctors is that a few actors will come to a smaller theater and talk to the audience. They told their stories of putting on a production in the midst of COVID. One performer was cast two years earlier, while another auditioned online on a Thursday in Mississippi and was in NYC the following Monday. That first rehearsal involved practicing the exhausting finale. You Can’t Stop The Beat.
Hell, you say
In March, we saw Hadestown. The Tony winner still plays on Broadway but also has a touring show. The musical by Anaïs Mitchell tells a variation of an ancient Greek myth about Eurydice, a young woman desperate for something to eat. She ends up in “a hellish industrial version of the underworld. Her poor singer-songwriter lover Orpheus comes to attempt to rescue her.” The tour will continue through May of 2024. Well worth your time.
My wife and I saw Rent at UAlbany in March; some great performances. Ditto Sister Act at the newly refurbished Albany High School, where our daughter, home from college, joined us. Some difficulties with the sound marred both shows.
My wife and I also saw the movie Some Like It Hot (1959) at the Spectrum in Albany. While I had seen a movie ABOUT Marilyn Monroe, this was the first film I saw that she starred in.
The movie was very good. Indeed, it has been “voted one of the best films ever made in polls by the BBC, the American Film Institute, and Sight & Sound.”
Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis play two musicians on the run from the Chicago mob in 1929 who dress up as women and join an all-female band heading to Miami. Marilyn as Sugar Kane is more than another “dumb blonde,” even though the band’s singer describes herself that way.
I had heard about her clashes with director/producer/co-writer Billy Wilder, with her demanding many retakes. Ultimately, Wilder acknowledged: “Anyone can remember lines, but it takes a real artist to come on the set and not know her lines and yet give the performance she did!” She won a Golden Globe for Best Actress.
My wife and I thought that the lighting made Marilyn seem to be topless in a couple of nightclub scenes, though she was wearing clothing.
There is a bit of mob violence in Some Like It Hot. But fortunately, it wasn’t like seeing a Scorcese or Coppola film.
Also, I imagine that they should ban the movie in Kentucky. Lemmon and Curtis are in drag. And Joe E. Brown’s famous last line just nails that down.