A Few Things
December 24, 2009
A bit of a roundup before I hop on a plane to Peoria, Illinois, of all places...
1. It was weird experiencing the San Francisco Ballet's uber-traditional production of The Nutcracker after checking out Mark Morris' campy-irreverent The Hard Nut at Cal Performances the previous week. It would have probably made more sense to see the productions the other way around. Choreographically-speaking, SF Ballet's production is much more interesting. The character dances are especially magnetic to watch -- incredible leg-work from the trio of men who performed the Russian dance after bursting out of three enormous Faberge eggs. One thing I preferred about The Hard Nut, however, was its use of a real children's choir. San Francisco Ballet employed a tinny sounding synthesizer for the short section involving children's voices. This was very disappointing. Surely this company, which is, after all, one of the flagship ballet organizations in the world, could stretch to hiring real singers? I suspect that children's choirs come cheap. And the vocalists are, on average, small, so they don't take up too much space on stage or in the pit.
2. Having watched a production of David Greenspan's gender-bending play, She Stoops to Comedy, at SF Playhouse last night, I've come to the conclusion that few playwrights make me feel quite as overtly like a shrink as Greenspan does. The writer has a wonderful way of turning stage conventions on their head and he has a great feel for dialogue and timing. But he clearly uses theater as a way to work out his enormous personal issues. I felt like I had been giz'd over by the time I left the theater last night. The play was quite fun and the cast was good. But She Stoops isn't as tightly-constructed, hilarious and thoughtful as Greenspan's Dead Mother, which the Jewish Theatre produced last year.
3. Finally, a shameless plug before I leave (I won't be blogging for a few days while traveling): VoiceBox, a new public radio about the art of singing and the best of the vocal music scene from the Bay Area and beyond which I am producing and hosting, is launching on January 1 on KALW 91.7 FM San Francisco. The first weekly broadcast airs from 10-11pm Pacific Time and the inaugural show, entitled "why we sing", endeavors to tackle some fundamental questions about the human voice. You can also catch the broadcast via live streaming on the KALW website. To find out more about the series, visit the VoiceBox website.
It only remains for me to wish you all a songful and restful holiday