Sunday, January 16, 2005

Best Big Ol’ Bucket of Culture

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Man, the last week or so, I’ve been getting so much culture, it’s crazy. Like, right now, at this moment, I’m probably the most cultured person in all of New York, if not the world. Here’s the short version of how cultured I am right now:

Little Women: The Broadway Musical Spectacular When my folks were in town they wanted to go to a Broadway show and I agreed to go see the new production of Little Women (still in previews, actually) because 1) I didn’t know the story of Little Women and 2) It stars Sutton Foster, whom I saw in Thoroughly Modern Millie and dug plenty (let the record show that Millie is the only musical I’ve ever spoken about enthusiastically). But imagine my disappointment when we got to the theater and discovered that Sutton wasn’t going to be there that night and that we’d be getting some understudy. Despite our little understudy’s hard work and our awesome seats (second row, yo, gracias a the cheap ticket booth) I didn’t fall in love with the show, mostly because I really, really couldn’t stand the main character. For some reason, I really, really wanted her to fail and never realize her dreams of becoming a famous writer, or whatever. Why is it movies and plays are always about people who want to become writers? Like, it’s the easy way to stamp a main character as a free-spirit, a dreamer, and someone to admire, or something. I want the next musical I see to be about a girl who moves to New York and gets a job in an office filing and that’s it. Nothing else happens.

Tales of Hoffman at the Met That’s the Met that’s an opera house, not the Met that’s a museum. Tales of Hoffman was probably the best opera I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to 6 operas . . . maybe 7. Why the best? For starters, I could actually follow the plot. For seconders, the set design and production can’t be messed with. A good way to leave me dang impressed with something is to have one massive set suddenly sink into the stage as another giant set rolls forward. For thirdly, there was a robot girl in it. When it was revealed she was a robot (one of those sorts of revelations that’s obvious to the whole audience but no one on stage) they actually sang “A Robot! A Robot!” And finally, it was funny . . . and when I say it was funny, I mean that opera is typically so devoid of any joking around that a single kick towards a crotch at the Met will have the entire audience rolling in the aisles like they’d never seen America’s Funniest Home Videos.

Jimmy Smith at the Iridium Jazz Club Did you know you can text questions to Google? That’s how we found the Iridium, at 51st and Broadway, on Thursday night. Jimmy Smith is, as all the flyers say, the Father of the (Hammond) B3 Organ. I had seen him once before in Hollywood, two years ago or so, and Jimmy has aged a lot since then (he’s 76 now) but this organ-master still knows how to keep the crowd well-entertained. Although he’s now replaced virtuosic solos with slapping at the keyboard with his cap or playing a couple of chords with his chin. Best thing about the show is he played “The Sermon”, it was great. I wrote a much longer review of his show for the Law School paper, I’ll probably post it on a slow day this week.

Second-Hand Memories Sometimes Saturdays start like this: *ring ring* “Hello?” “Dude, we’ve got tickets to Woody Allen’s new play, do you wanna go? It starts in an hour.” Next thing I know I’m catching a matinee of Woody Allen’s new play, Second-Hand Memories, at a little theater in Chelsea. All I knew going into the play was that it was the story of a Jewish family living in Brooklyn in the 50’s, so I was expecting lots of talk of stickball and radio shows and whatnot (yes, sometimes I mistake the 50s for the 30s and 40s). But it turns out it was a story of awful people making awful decisions being awful to each other . . . but as far as total bummer plays go, it was actually pretty good, if you’re into middle of the afternoon bummers. Also, Michael McKean (from Lavern and Shirley and Best In Show and stuff) was in it, and he was great. I had hoped that nervous little guy with the glasses that’s in all of Woody Allen’s movies was going to be in it, but no such luck. Oh well.

Yeah, I know that’s an old Simpsons joke. But it’s a good one.

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