Thursday, February 26, 2015

another bite of the apple

One of the fun things to do when it comes to having basically two theater seasons, is to see what plays have found resonance for both the southern (Sarasota area) and northern (City of Chicago) theatre companies.  Last year I saw a north and a south production of 4000 Miles (Northlight and Asolo) and this year it is Both Your Houses (Remy Bumppo and Asolo).  A side note both Florida Studio Theater and Northlight are doing productions of Chapatti but the schedule for Northlight was mid winter so I will only get to see the southern production of Chapatti-

but back to Both Your Houses...

so my review of the Remy Bumppo (Chicago) production was this:

This play is from an era when quick snappy dialogue was king and the speed of the delivery of the lines might be an issue for the hard of hearing but it certainly put verve into the fun the characters were having - not unlike the James Spader performance in Lincoln - these guys (mostly) reveled in the chaotic process of divvying up the spoils available in the pork barrel additions to the spending/appropriations bill the president has asked for to complete a badly needed dam. 

Although I didn't find the story such that I was on the edge of my seat - that may be due to 21st century cynicism about the process that the 1933 audience may not have developed... the evening entertainment was worth going out for even in our recent spate of bad weather (cold and rainy)-

full post here-

and here is my review of last night's production- 

I wish Galati would have gone to see the Remy production because the play I saw last night could have been so much more.  First, the Asolo production gets the award for the set design and staging- really excellent handling of the movements from room to room throughout the play. That said, this version was leaden, pedantic, preachy. It never took off.   The Remy players had a great time- it was snappy and peppy and reminded me of one of those old movies with Tracy & Hepburn or some newspaper film story with everyone rushing around to get things done at the last minute.  The only person who was having a good time last night was Doug Jones who was chewing up scenes full of hyperbole with style... a part David Darlow did equally well with at Remy.

In the Remy play, the romance between McClean and the congressional assistant was fleshed out and the role of Bus Nillson seemed bigger and more integral to the action - played ferociously by the terrific Linda Gillum, her motivation had clarity in the Chicago production that it lacked in this one. The pace was brisk and the dialogue snappy. This production just never got off the ground to me.  

So sadly - you no longer have the choice of seeing the Remy Bumppo production but for anyone out there who might be thinking of staging this play in the future- I would recommend that approach to the work rather than the Asolo one.  A rare "fail" for Asolo.  

Good news- we have at least two  more productions at Asolo to bring back their usual WOW factor for theater goers... so, as always, stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

good people

Last night we saw a fabulous play at the Asolo, called Good People.  First I will give you some ideas about the play and while I have somewhat telegraphed my review, I will go into more detail after the infomercial/information-


after the performance last night there was an opportunity to speak with cast members and ask questions about the play -  something that was not quite as formal as the Meet the Actors moderated panel, this is called "Talk Back Tuesdays"

So we both loved the play but had different views of the characters and the motivations. And mostly I think our differences came about from gender based viewpoints, but some of them from our "career" backgrounds.  As an employer/manager of office-based workers I have a different view of what limits should be set for employees than Phil does since he basically ran a business based on a contractor model.  The gender based differences of opinion revolved around the veracity of the Margie character and her approach to solving her "problem" of unemployment.  At many points the audience audibly gasped or groaned when Margie did or said things that would only lead her into more problems clearly defining the phrase "own worst enemy."

Regardless of our points of view we both agreed the play was outstanding.  It was thought provoking, and evoked empathy along with plenty of laughter.  In the end each character shows both failings and as well as positive traits.  Three meaty roles for Mike, Margie and Kate gave opportunities for some of our favorite actors to shine.  The bottom line on this one was - this is what theater is about - go if you can find any way to get there!

Tonight I am off to another Asolo performance - this one Both Your Houses - which the Remy Bumppo Company in Chicago staged in the fall. You can read the review of the Chicago production here as homework before the next post  LOL-

I will be back in the next couple of days with the review of the Asolo production - which stands a good chance of outshining the Remy Bumppo one for several reasons - not the least of which is that Frank Galati is directing.... so stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

aesthetic arrest

This morning my Arts Class did the session on Palm Avenue - a gallery walk with our instructor, Judy Levine. As usual, it was an interesting morning and as usual, I learned something new.  so let's get into the information- what I learned today was the term "aesthetic arrest" which is apparently the name Joseph Campbell gave for that moment when we go along viewing art and suddenly are stopped by something that "speaks" to us. This concept is brilliant because, to me, it encapsulates the essence of why I will LOVE something absolutely LOVE it- MUST have it, and my husband will be either only neutral - or worse- dislike it.

Case in point- a painting I bought last year that I LOVE and he really doesn't like. (I feel somewhat vindicated by the fact that friends of ours reacted in the same way to the work that I did.)  It is large 43x 52 (Phil thinks it is too big) and bold- but the minute I saw it I knew it was mine...LOL - I felt it was perfect for city-dwellers like ourselves who live in a house on a city lot 25 feet wide...LOL everything in our lives is the painting- so it hangs in the stairwell, a compromise location.... but I get to enjoy it each day we are in Chicago.

Cityscape by Stuart Yankell, 1988

so I learned that term this morning at one of the four galleries we visited - and I have to say I had my moments this morning - and had I not promised Phil I would stop collecting - well I may have come home with two things that "spoke" to me.  We met near the Dabbert Gallery and because I was early I had a few minutes to take a few photographs of Palm Avenue...

the last photo was some art on the side of a bank building and had no nearby plaque to identify it...

so Judy gave us an update on some of the events around the area and then the Gallery owner came to welcome us into his wonderful gallery...he spoke to us about pricing for art work- and commission structure and gallery space and representing artists... all very informative.  I really liked his selection of artists/works exhibited - and here are things we saw- 

 and another - whose work I really really really liked- LOL

and the above painting is one that called out to me- and I commented to classmates that it is hard to stop collecting once you start- and I laughed at myself - when I got home- yes of course I loved "Sentinel" (above) because it was reminiscent of a Keith Oehmig painting I bought called "OGUNQUIT BEACH"  The first Keith Oehmig (born in Tennessee, now residing in Brunswick, Maine) we purchased ten years ago on a visit to Maine.  Oehmig's works are infused with light and color, and his impressionistic style is well suited to capturing the natural landscape throughout Maine, as well as the Florida beaches and French and Italian countryside, all of which he paints. And when I saw this one (below) on the website of the gallery (which thoughtfully had kept up with me - LOL) I fell in love with it and called to ask about its availability. So here is my similar sized version of the blue sky white cloud beach painting - now hanging in our Florida living room...

so despite my desire to make Sentinel a part of my own collection- I kept my promise to Phil... at that gallery...

we went on to another - 

This gallery had amazing glass works and bronze sculptures and several very appealing artist working on canvas and aluminum.  Then we ventured on to the Allyn Gallup Gallery where I had a weak moment- and even went so far as to inquire about the Jean Blackburn paintings they held in their inventory...but pulled myself together LOL-Their current exhibit was of Lynn Davison.

 then on to Art Uptown- 

I escaped the gallery walk without breaking my promise to not buy anything- LOL but went home to some of my favorite works as a consolation LOL- two large format paintings- 

I learned the one below "MOMENTUM" by Diane Reiger has what they call gallery wrap - the canvas is painted on the side so as to hang it without framing - which I have done.  But the above one I did have framed with a gallery level framing - it is called "NEAR POINT CARMEL SURF"  the cresting California surf by Helen Gleiforst (1903-1997). Gleiforst is a listed California impressionist whose teachers included Nicolai Fechin, George Melcher, and John Hubbard Rich. Dedrick Stuber influenced her landscapes and Nell Walker Warner influenced her floral paintings.

another favorite- "EVENING, RIO DEL MAR BEACH, 2004" A substantial modernist oil coastal landscape showing a view of Northern California's Rio Del Mar beach softly illuminated by a lilac and cornflower-blue sunset. Signed lower right, "C.W." for Colin West (American, 20th century).

You may not have "aesthetic arrest" about these paintings- LOL but that is why art is in the eye of the beholder! And I hope you find some art that "speaks" to you at some point- whether in a gallery on Palm Avenue or a local museum or when traveling the world...  

Last year President Obama got into trouble for dissing the Art History majors in liberal arts education but both my husband and I were art history minors (and yes that is part of the reason we went to law school :-( ) and just last week we were discussing how much a knowledge of art has enriched our lives. We have a couple of trips planned for overseas destinations this year that are focused on art and museums we want to (re)visit.  It is a part of why we travel.  So visit a local museum or gallery and find your own "aesthetic arrest"....  for next week's class a visit to the Circus Arts Conservatory- now that should be super fun! 

And tonight we saw a kick-butt play at the Asolo "Good People" which I will tell you more about tomorrow.  And tomorrow, I am scheduled to see "Both Your Houses" (again at Asolo) which I saw last fall in a Chicago production...  So more - of course - always more.....