Saturday, July 7, 2018

Catch the Moon, One Handed Catch

Apparently I need to leave town to have time to blog.

Now that I'm ensconced on Amtrak's quiet car and headed north, I finally have time to look back at this ridiculously hot and continuously busy week trying to play catch-up after the beach. A week that meant pitching new stories to my editors, planning upcoming getaways (you know, like next weekend and, oh, June 2019) and trying to get back into some sort of cultural life after a week doing little more than worshiping at the altar of the crashing waves.

Independence Day meant a walk and an interview about death followed by a seventh floor terrace view of the fireworks at Rockett's Landing. The challenge was getting into Rockett's before practically every adjacent street around it was closed. Trying to pull into the parking lot, an official-looking security guard stopped my car and asked if I had a permit.

Pshaw, I don't need no stinkin' parking permit. Instead, I pulled out my Rockett's pool pass where my smiling face matched the smiling photo and he stepped back, smiling and saying, "You're good! Come right on in."

A shame I hadn't brought my bathing suit.

Up on the terrace, we bypassed a small group already staking out the chairs and loveseats to take up residency on the southwest corner with a view of over a dozen boats anchored in the river. Before long, the terrace crowd grew behind us while we sipped Italian Rose, nibbled on chocolate and watched the endless line of cars trying to navigate all the roadblocks.

When the fireworks display finally kicked off, we had a primo view, not to mention slightly more distant views of two firework displays on southside, the displays at the Carillon and at the Diamond, plus a couple more somewhere north of us (Dorey Park?).

It was nothing short of a fireworks wonderland from that rooftop.

Thursday evening was given over to taking my favorite fan of show tunes to Virginia Repertory's stellar production of "West Side Story," but only after settling for dinner at Tarrant's (my grumbling about the venue was met with a reminder from my partner, who reassured me, saying, "We have 30-some years to eat at good restaurants") after my first choice, Chez Fosuhee, turned out to be closed for the 4th and 5th. Ever adaptable, we made do with the back-most booth (he loves his prospect and refuge) where we were surrounded by fellow theater-goers.

The blue hairs at the booth in front of us probably got an earful, never more so than when I made a crack about a love hangover and one woman's head nosily whipped around like it was on a swivel. Hilarious.

After having seen "Romeo and Juliet" together a few weeks ago, "West Side Story" was not only added theatrical romance, but visually stunning, beautifully choreographed and proof that some plays are truly timeless. Issues of immigration (the Puerto Ricans reminding the Polacks that they used to be the newcomers), assimilation and overstepping policemen felt as relevant now as they surely did 60 years ago when the play debuted.

The late, great Jerome Robbins' groundbreaking choreography for "WSS" was on full display with a cast that often moved as one unit and in the air. Richmond Ballet dancer Paul Dandridge played A-Rab and his full-out extensions, his graceful hands and his skill at getting air and lifting his partner were nothing short of breathtaking to a lifelong fan of dance.

But equal love has to go to the 11 members of the band - reeds, trumpets, trombone, violin, synthesizer, bass, percussion and drums - who made Leonard Bernstein's music soar to the rafters inside the November Theatre. And don't even get me started on the unabashed brilliance of Stephen Sondheim's lyrics and internal rhymes.

I feel charming, oh so charming
It's alarming how charming I feel
And so pretty
That I hardly can believe I'm real

I feel stunning and entrancing
Feel like running and dancing for joy
For I'm loved 
By a pretty wonderful boy

Honestly, I could happily go back and see it again if I had a free night in the foreseeable future. As if. From the expectant wonder of Tony's  "Something's Coming" - a feeling I experienced for the first time back in February - to the unbridled optimism of "Tonight," seeing "West Side Story" with the right person was a revelation, both theatrically and emotionally.

If, as my friend of 40 years Leo has always told me, I am a hopeless romantic, this was the production to indulge that part of me.

Last evening was also spent in the Ward, making the rounds for First Friday, albeit with umbrella in hand given the scattered thunderstorms hovering above and promising relief from the punishing heat.

I never miss Candela Gallery's annual "Unbound" group exhibit, which I love for its variety as well as for the gallery's commitment to purchasing some of the pieces with the intent to donate them to a worthy institution someday (I'm hoping for the VMFA, natch).

This year's "Unbound 7" didn't disappoint, although my favorite photographs were straight out of my era: the '70s. Micheal Abramson's three vintage gelatin silver prints spoke to me with portraits of men with Afros and women styling in polyester dresses and big hoop earrings. The images had an authenticity to them that would be impossible to recreate today.

Making our way to Gallery 5, I ran into the silent movie king and, a bit further on, my favorite harmonium player before checking out the downstairs market and the friends behind the tables. Upstairs, I found myself scanning Courtney LeBow's portraits for people I knew and there were plenty including both the friends I'd just seen on the way over as well as musicians, muralists, puppet-makers, burlesque ringmasters, the mayor, the bartender and, of course, artists I know.

Sort of a who's who of local subculture and a solid reminder of how many talented people I"m lucky enough to know in this town.

We finished off the evening with a major dose of estrogen humor at Comedy Coalition's "Till Death Do Us Part: Decorum Manor," an ongoing live comedy series about a group of women trying to learn how to be ladies, which meant changing best friends, shunning the stuck-up rich girl and meeting the birth mother who donated her eggs 25 years ago.

Meanwhile, some of the funniest bits concerned the differences in the cultural literacy of varying age groups. Let's face it, millennials have no clue who Sarah McLachlan is or why Lillith Fair was such a big deal, much to the consternation of those who lived through the '90s.

Best of all, when we walked out, the rain had dropped the temperature enough to offer what felt like a new lease on summer. I just can't promise how reliable I'll be at documenting mine.

Just know that it's going splendidly and I do feel pretty. Oh, so pretty, but I can definitely believe that I'm real.

No comments:

Post a Comment