I watched Julie Andrews in a ton of television performances, including several with Carol Burnett. But it wasn’t until this century that I ever saw her in a movie, when the Daughter introduced me to The Princess Diaries and its sequel, on video. No, I saw parts of Victor/Victoria, but not enough to count it. I’ve also HEARD her in Shrek 2, Enchanted, and Despicable Me.
My Julie movie drought is odd because my mother had the soundtracks of both Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, which I grew up listening to. My current household saw Mary Poppins in December 2011, and The Sound of Music in the Fall of 2013. The Cinderella DVD was a 2009 family Christmas present; The Daughter thinks The Wife looks a bit like Julie from that era, which pleases The Wife.
My favorite Julie Andrews memory is an LP that came out in the mid-1960s. Back then, Firestone Tire Co. produced a new Christmas album every year, for sale at gas stations for a dollar. I STILL own an album featuring Julie Andrews.
I’ve come to the conclusion that people dis blogging, even when they don’t read blogs, because they believe it’s just a bunch of personal entries, as though it were some sort of public diary. While, I’ve usually attempted to give you a much more diverse and eclectic record, every once in a while, I need a journal entry, if only for ME to keep track of my activities six or sixteen months from now.
July 23: After work, I met The Wife and The Daughter at Albany’s Washington Park at for a free Park Playhouse presentation of the musical Singin’ in the Rain. The family didn’t get there until close to 6 p.m. for a 7:30 performance, and that’s too late. We found probably the last seats in the amphitheater, in the last row, far to the right, with some obstruction from one of the light poles. This was the antepenultimate performance, and it had reviewed well.
That said, the performance of the musical was quite fine. Great singing and dancing, even though only the guy playing Donald (the Gene Kelly role in the movie) was an Equity union actor. And, as advertised, there was actual singing, in the controlled “rain.” BTW, in case of real rain, the show might be postponed or even canceled. My friend Susan, who plays the oboe in the orchestra, and who the Daughter and I happened across at intermission, said only one show was canceled, though a couple were delayed over the four-week run.
The problem is that, because the stage gets wet, and has to get mopped up during the break, there’s not much story left afterward; a small complaint.
July 24: I took a day off from work, and we headed for the Albany Institute of History and Art. The baseball exhibit was also on its antepenultimate day on display. While the info on the major league teams was interesting, I was most intrigued by the local history. It showed the Capital District from our now-defunct minor league Yankees showcasing future stars such as Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams to the Albany Senators playing an exhibition game against Babe Ruth to the 1880s team in Troy that was a precursor to the San Francisco Giants.
After lunch, we went to the New York State Museum. There was an exhibit of art from students from the 64 education campuses comprising the State University of New York. There was also a fine display of photos and tools of the Shaker communities, several of which were around the area back in the religious organization’s heyday.
July 25: The folks putting on Park Playhouse had also produced a two-day run of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, with child and teen actors, at Albany’s Palace Theatre. This is the iteration in which Cinderella was played at various times by Julie Andrews, Lesley Ann Warren, and Brandy. I love this show, and this version was quite good, especially the title actress and the girl playing the herald.
However, because it was for free, and was presumably kid-friendly, parents brought their infants and toddlers, who couldn’t be still, or QUIET, for a 55-minute presentation, so it was occasionally difficult to hear. Outdoors, the noise may have been more diffused. Indoors, in the 2800-seat theater, at least 2/3s full, it was amplified.
July 26: I’ve previously touted the amazing work that happens on the very small stage of the Mac-Haydn Theatre, in Chatham, 45 minutes from Albany, where the entrances and exits become part of the set. My love for West Side Story is even more well established. This combination did not disappoint, from the very athletic mixing between the Sharks and the Jets, to the fine use of space to show Maria’s balcony.
The Wife thought the guy playing Tony was too pretty, though I disagreed. The problem with theater in the round, though, is that it may take a few seconds to find the highlighted action, such as when Maria and Tony first meet, and Tony is, for us, briefly obscured by the crowd at the dance.
What particularly worked for me was the Somewhere dance. Often a ballet that stops the action, it was quite effective with, e.g., “Anybodies”, the “tomboy” Jet dancing with Bernardo, the now slain Shark leader. Hey, maybe there IS “a place for us.”
And to nail that down, as we found our way to our car, we saw the actors playing Tony and Bernardo get in their vehicle and drive away together.
The short before Cinderella was Frozen Fever, a sequel to the massively successful movie, with most of the original cast.
This was to have been a family outing a couple of weeks ago, to see the new live-action adaptation of the story Cinderella but we were all, in turn, under the weather. Finally, it’s school vacation week, the film is about to leave the Spectrum, so the three of us, plus a friend of The Daughter finally get to see this Disney film.
At some level, the Wife and I wish we had seen it sooner, for while it reviewed reasonably well (85% positive), it’s always the thumbs down that the mind remembers. Truth is, I’m not sure we NEED another Cinderella film at all. Still, it looked quite fine, the sets, and lovely costumes, and the production design. Director Kenneth Branaugh does a decent job with pacing this. One of the better scenes was the deconstruction of the carriage, shortly after midnight.
One of the complaints was that there was a lot of death in this film. Hey, there’s ALWAYS death in a Disney film from Bambi’s mother to (Finding) Nemo’s mother. In fact, one gets to actually get to know Ella’s mother (Hayley Atwell, Agent Peggy Carter in the Marvel TV show), and feels sad when (CAN THIS BE A SPOILER?) she dies. Often in the Cinderella narrative, she’s quickly, or already, dead. This narrative was a good choice.
Her father (Ben Chaplin) spends enough time with his daughter (Lily James, Lady Rose MacClare from Downton Abbey) before he decides to remarry. Cate Blanchett is, unsurprisingly, masterful as the stepmother, and we get a sense of why she’s so wicked. Her daughters (Sophie McShera, Daisy Robinson Mason from Downton Abbey; and Holliday Grainger, who has played villains Lucrezia Borgia and Bonnie Parker) are far more ugly inside than out.
That Ella meets the prince (Richard Madden, Robb Starkin in Game of Thrones) before the ball makes the narrative less the “Suddenly, their eyes meet, and they fall in love” of other iterations. It’s a bit more empowering without being too heavy-handed.
My favorite character may be the captain of the guard (Nonso Anozie from Game of Thrones), but there were other nice performances, by Stellan Skarsgård as the Grand Duke, Derek Jacobi as the King, and especially Helena Bonham Carter as the somewhat dipsy Fairy Godmother. Oh, the mice were good too.
The short before the film was Frozen Fever, a sequel to the massively successful movie, with most of the original cast, but none of its joy, unless you like the one joke, which is about booger snowmen. I was going to say it left me cold, but I was forbidden from doing so.
What did you have for breakfast this morning Roger? I had boiled eggs – I often feature photographs of my wonderful hen’s efforts on FB, do I sound sad? lol – 2 questions there!!!!
Oatmeal a lot lately for breakfast. I must have asked you if you were sad about something you wrote. And around the same time, a very good friend of mine suggested that my “doing all right” responses were hiding some stuff, which was true. So maybe I was just projecting. *** Thomas McKinnon, my old FantaCo colleague, remembers:
We once had a fun conversation about the Lesley Ann Warren, “Cinderella”, both of us having enjoyed it. Did you like the Brandy version? And have you ever seen the original Julie Andrews version in B&W?
Ah, yes, Lesley Ann Warren, a major crush in the day. I did like the Brandy version, though not as much as the others; seemed padded somehow. BTW, The Prince Is Giving A Ball, which I believe Jason Alexander performs in the Brandy iteration, is one of the toughest songs ever, because of all the names in the lyrics. We OWN the Julie Andrews version on DVD; The Daughter thinks the Wife looks like Cinderella; the Wife is flattered. *** New York Erratic wonders:
What’s one song you’ve always fantasized about doing onstage, and what was the fantasy venue?
I almost never fantasize about singing on stage, because I’d rather sing backup, 20 Feet From Stardom, and all that. I hate listening to the sound of my singing voice more than I hate the sound of my speaking voice, which is quite a bit. Yet other people find it pleasant, so there’s that.
After your many kind and thoughtful comments on my blog, I think I owe you a question to help you with yours. What is something you wish people knew about you?
As I’ve mentioned, it is true that I’m shy, even though I sometimes fake it well. I don’t really like to be in charge of things, though either I keep getting selected to be that (Olin family reunion, Friends of the Albany Public Library) or it defaults to me (Black History Month at church). I take it on because I must be Nature, and Nature abhors a vacuum. If someone else stepped up, I’d be THRILLED to step aside. *** In retaliationresponse to all my questions for him, Jaquandor has a few for me:
George Carlin once opined that America gets in so many wars because we simply like war a lot. As the next one seems to be just revving its engines, to what degree do you think this is true? Would a country that really claims to dislike war really have a military and defense budget that dwarfs all others on the planet? I’ve been watching the Ken Burns series on the Roosevelts, and there’s a LOT about war. It’s true that if there had been no Civil War, Lincoln would not have been LINCOLN. Great generals aren’t created in peacetime. They build few statues, few monuments to the peacekeepers, and far more to the war makers.
Our involvement in the Spanish-American War of 1898 was, as much as anything, to prove the US had cojones. American exceptionalism at work. Likewise with the Panama Canal, riling up the Panamanians against Columbia.
I’ve noted before that I thought the Iraq war was a mistake from the outset. But worse, I think our playdate there and our loss of focus in Afghanistan created the understandable war-weariness that has helped create the current situation. Maybe if we had stayed out of Iraq, there wouldn’t have been an ISIS. It’s all speculation, I suppose.
I understand it the way someone understands a menu in a foreign language. My greatest disdain for it, BTW, is that there seems – and someone may correct me if I’m wrong – to have no concern about intellectual property rights, such as copyright. I’ll just pin that picture because it meets my criteria.
Are women making progress in combating the “war on women”? Or are they losing ground?
Equal pay for women is unimportant because, well, I don’t really know. Is it they think women don’t need the money because they can depend on their husband’s income? Unless, of course, they’re unmarried, which a majority of young adults are.
And yes, it IS also about contraception. As long as the “right to life” seems to end at childbirth, as the GOP wants to continue to cut dollars of food and other aid to low-income pregnant women, mothers, babies, and kids, it’ll be about contraception.
As bad as I think things are in the US, conditions for women are worse in some other parts of the world. It’s astonishing how much rape and the trafficking of women (see, e.g., Nigeria) is normative in some cultures. It enrages me.
How concerned are you about tribalism in America? In the world?
If I understand your meaning, there has always been tribalism in America. It’s often been tied to who is defined as white. When the Irish were the “other”, they clung together; likewise the Italians, the Poles, and others.
Robert Reich is worried about tribalism in the US. Is this so-called melting pot experiment called the United States viable anymore? We’re more divided than ever politically, and income inequality issues might well boil over into something violent.
On the world stage, I understand tribalism somewhat more. Why, to this day, the Kurds, e.g., don’t have their own country is an unfortunate outcome of the post-WWI carving up of the Middle East. About every other conflict in the world is related to tribalism, from the civil wars in Nigeria in the 1970s and in Rwanda in the 1990s, to the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia. The Basque in Spain and the Quebecois in Canada make noise for independence.
Of course, the whole nation-state is impossible without some shared values, and a sense of fairness. Which brings us to…
Should Scotland have voted the other way?
It’s not for me to say. I don’t know well enough how badly the Scots felt like second-class citizens to answer it with any contextual understanding. I’ve read people calling the NO (to independence) voter self-loathing Scots, which I thought was harsh.
I think the issue of having to develop a currency might have been the deciding factor because the polls I saw were neck and neck. I daresay the vote was a head-over-heart decision.
What’s that food you loved as a kid that now you see and think, “Ewwww, how did I ever eat that?!”