Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Stratord Sundries, 2016-4

City Hall
Stratford, Ont.
 10:30 a.m., Balzac’s Coffee

1. Last night (Wednesday) we took the long walk down to the Festival Theatre—the largest venue here—where we saw (a first for both of us) A Chorus Line. We recognized a few of the performers—but not a lot: We tend not to go to the musicals so much, preferring the dramas and comedies whose music comes from the text. (I know: Sounds snooty but it ain't—just a preference.)

Still, we both love dancing. Joyce took lessons for years as a girl and is very good. And I …?  Well, let’s just say it’s a good thing she didn’t see me dance before our wedding. In Chorus Line, of course, there is a lot of good hoofing—even I recognize it. The book is not the most profound—even seems a bit dated now (allusions to Gwen Verdon!)—but in many cases here the words were a good chance for the dancers to recover from their astonishing exertions.

I had a bit of a flashback, too. I’d forgotten that in one of our final 8th Grade Farewell-to-Harmon Shows (mid-90s) we had used one of the numbers from Chorus Line—“Hello Twelve” (bowdlerized by Yours Truly)—as one of our songs. My memory (frail though it is) tells me that the kids loved doing that song. I know that I loved watching and hearing them do it.

2. We talked pretty much nonstop all the way back to the room about one of the show’s sobering themes—that winning a spot in a chorus line is, for most of the performers, a failure to become what they had dreamed of becoming—a star. Those of you who have seen it recognize the pain than the Final Cut produces on the stage. It radiates out into—and through—the audience, most of whom know (me included) what it is to have to admit that you’re not quite good enough, even for a supporting role.

3. This morning—nothing unusual. Coffee and reading and breakfast and conversation and writing (I just did a rough draft of a book review due later today). Later, after lunch, we’ll walk down to the Festival again for some more light fare—Macbeth.

Mercer Hall Inn, 6 p.m.

1. After lunch I finished and filed my Kirkus book review--no more "homework" throughout our stay--just reading and writing I'm doing for fun.

2. Macbeth had been hyped like none other up here, I think--and got the Full Meal Deal treatment from the tech and production crew. Storms, lightning, fog, etc. And the published reviews were strong, too, so we were looking forward to it, although we've seen Macbeth many, many times.

Sadly, it was--in terms of the performers and the performance--average. I thought Macbeth and Lady Macbeth were miscast, especially the latter, who, though obviously talented, just did not have the power and persuasiveness that part demands. And Macbeth himself? He looked right. But--except for the Macduff sword fight (which was wonderfully staged)--just did not seem all that lithe, agile. Stood around with his hands at his sides, chewing scenery.

The witches looked good but were often drowned out by the audio effects, and even though I knew the words they were saying, could not have told you what they were saying. Noise cancelled voices--even amplified ones.

The rest of the audience loved it, I must admit: a standing O. (I sat, grump that I am.)

3. Afterward, in a fierce afternoon heat, we walked the mile or so back to the York Street Kitchen for our wonted supper, grumbling all the way about the production and the weather. A stop at one of the local bookshops cheered me: I bought the new Harry Potter.

4. Tonight--it's The Hypochondriac by Molière--back at the Festival Theatre ...

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