Monday, January 28, 2008

Monday, January 28th- Beckley, WV

I'm on one of my mineworkers jaunts for a couple of days in the mountains of southern West Virginia. Some snow on the ground, but the weather is clear and reasonably warm. I am getting tired of the 1050 mile round trip drive but it looks like its going to continue quarterly for the forseeable future. No way to combine this trip with anything interesting, so a day and a half of meetings and back home again.

The remodel is in its final stages. We are busy moving things back into the house. We emptied the POD on Saturday and it gets picked up this week. The plumbers and electricians are nearly done and the contractors are on finish work of one kind or another. We have boxes everywhere that must be gone through, sorted and put away in new cupboards and shelves so that is the task for the next two weeks. Anyone want to help?

'Into The Woods' has started rehearsal. The cast is solid and it should be a good show. I'm looking forward to it. And the house should be ready for traditional second saturday party. My blocking is easy. Stand down right and talk. What else can the narrator do?

Not much new at work other than I am behind in pretty much everything due to unpacking and house stuff. I should catch up around May.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Monday, January 14th

The first week of routine is over and done with and both Tommy and I are settled into our usual overactive lives. I'm back in Tap class, vocal lessons and have started rehearsals for 'Into The Woods' while Tommy is in tech for 'The Barber of Seville' at Opera Birmingham. I love Sondheim, but there are a few too many words in 'Into the Woods' to deal with easily. I despair of getting everything in the right order in a couple of places.

We had a social Saturday with a big Opera party at a manse on the hill on Saturday evening which included cha-cha with the Soprano and rubbing elbows with the well heeled octagenarian set. We then went down the hill to the theatre party where a bunch of us played Apples to Apples and got very silly.

The house continues to slowly come together. The tile is being finished up the next couple of days. We were assembling bookcases all yesterday afternoon and the plumber is supposed to deal with the bathtub this week. Maybe, just maybe, we will be up and running by Valentine's.

I still haven't done the holiday cards. I am so bad. This week, I promise...

Monday, January 07, 2008

January 7th, 2008 - Covering London, England

Greetings all and happy New Year. Tommy and I successfully made it to London and back for the holiday and had a lovely time. It was my first trip to Europe in five years and Tommy's first trip to London, although he did make it to Paris a couple of years ago.

We took off from Atlanta on late Thursday afternoon the 27th. There were fifteen in the group, mainly theatre people from Birmingham including such familiar names as Frank, Gabrielle, Chuck, Raymond, and JJ. After being crammed into small little economy seats with no leg room, we made it to Gatwick around about 7 AM London time on the morning of the 28th. Bleary eyed, we gathered to experience the sticker shock of the weak dollar against the pound. Our coffees were about $5.50 apiece with the horrible exchange rate. With a few curses at US economic policy, we got on the bus for the 90 minute ride to the St. Giles Hotel, at Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road. When we got there, the rooms were not ready, so we split up in search of some food and a walk before doing anything else.

Some hours later, Tommy and I were able to get into our assigned room. We found it to be clean, and overly small, designed by the same people who design the less opulent cruise ships. We took a nap, then went off in search of Boots for some cold medicine, Sainsbury's for some snacks, dinner and then the theatre. Our first night show was 'The Lord of the Rings: The Musical'. I'm glad I saw it, but the show does not work. It's material that musicalization brings nothing to. It should either be a three hour stage spectacular which uses music as underscoring to move the story, or it needs to be a sixteen hour grand opera cycle. A ring cycle for a new millenium. Traditional musical forms kill it dead. There were magical moments (Gandalf against the Balrog, Lothlorien, the Ents going to war, Gollum climing down the proscenium curtain head first) but they could not make up for an uninspired score or the show stopping dead in its tracks when certain characters opened their mouths to sing.

The next day, we had an introductory bus tour with an acerbic ex-West End actress tour guide with political opinions something to the right of Margaret Thatcher. Stops at Buckingham Palace, The Houses of Parliament and The Tower of London. Tommy is not a major tourist and I have been to all these places before. We went for the company and to see such venerable sites through some of our compatriots eyes. After lunch, Tommy and I headed for the wilds of Islington to see the Matthew Bourne 'Nutcracker' at Sadler's Wells. Great fun although I don't seem to remember quite so much analingus in my mother's nutcracker. In keeping with the theme of high culture, we repaired afterwords to dinner and to the opera at Covent Garden for 'La Cenerentola' at the Royal Opera House. Toby Spence, as the prince, was fabulous and has a great career ahead of him.

On Sunday, we did a little sights touring and ended up at the British Museum with Gabrielle and friends where we had a very traditional high tea and a tour with an ex-Alabamian Egyptologist expert on Seti I who took us through the displays. No shows on Sunday night so off a bunch of us traipsed to Whitechapel for a night time Jack the Ripper Tour at the acutal sites. We then had a quiet evening and slept a lot.

Monday was New Years Eve. The day was fairly quiet. Some shopping. A walk through Soho and long hours browsing at Foyles. Also a trip to St. Paul's and across the Millenium Bridge to the Tate Modern. Great building. Can't say much for the collecton. We then headed off to a group dinner in Mayfair at a very nice restaurant for a somewhat pedestrian group meal. We then all split up in different directions to join 800,000 of our closest friends jammed into Central London for the fireworks and celebrations. Tommy and I ended up down by Waterloo and the Eye for the big moment. We then had to joint the 100,000 others trying to get back into Waterloo station for their trains and underground.

New Years Day, we headed for Knightsbridge to check out the Harrod's sale. The rotten exchange rate made even the sale prices ridiculously high but we did have fun with the over the topness of it all. Harrod's loses a little something when it has a Krispy Kreme stand in the food halls. We also went down to the Victoria and Albert which is my favorite London musueum with its grand collections of decorative arts. That evening, we went to the original production of 'Les Miz', still running 23 years later - Tommy had never seen it. The show still packs a punch and was well performed. What's interesting about seeing it fifteen years later is realizing how simple the stage technology actually is, even the famous barricade.

On our last day, we made it another theatre day. Mary Poppins for a matinee (which we both enjoyed - very British and not terribly Disney which is a good thimg) and Avenue Q for evening. Well performed and enjoyable but doesn't really stick with you. Up the next morning for the return journey with Tommy hightailing it from the airport for a 'Barber of Seville' rehearsal.

We are now back in the rut. First day of work for me, school has started for Tommy. I was cast as the Narrator in 'Into the Woods' and I'm starting those rehearsals this week. The blocking should be pretty easy. Stand there and talk to the audience. Tommy opens his opera a week from Thursday.

The house continues to come together. The countertops are in. The bathroom lavatories are in. The bathtub arrived today and is being hooked up tomorrow. Furniture keeps arriving. Have to spend tomorrow evening cleaning up.