Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Back in the Saddle

Just writing the phrase “back in the saddle” makes me think about when I was in middle school about a million years ago and I attended an All-Sports Camp one summer at Notre Dame. My counselor was a nice college student who snuck me and about a dozen other kids out of the dorm one night so that we could hang out next to the basketball stadium. Aerosmith was performing there and was so loud we could hear the whole thing clearly from outside. We only risked being out of the dorm for about a half-hour but in that time I clearly remember hearing both “Train Kept a-Rollin” and “Back in the Saddle Again.” Good times.

I write that was a sense of foreboding knowing the Steven Tyler will be featured in the upcoming season of American Idol. I’m far from promoting Kid Rock as a model of coherence but I tend to agree with his statements to the effect that Tyler “…is a sacred American institution…” and that doing Idol is “…the stupidest thing he’s ever done.”

And while none of that has anything to do with local theater (except in a very very tangential way that I can’t really talk about), it does set the stage for my return to the blogosphere. Some of the holiday shows are still running their course while at the same time things gear up for a veritable explosion of shows opening at the end of January / beginning of February. So I find myself both looking back and looking forward.

In the looking back department, it seems clear that the holiday period was very good to several companies, given the extension of “Nunsense” at the Tavern, the heap of good reviews and near-sell-out performances of “The Winter’s Tale,” and the continued warm response to “White Christmas.” Even in the non-pro world, things seemed bright – JCC’s “Oliver” sold out and the performance of SPARC’s “Twelve Elves of Christmas” that I attended was packed.

I was glad to see that Mr. Porter was also back in the saddle around mid-December and posted a slew of reviews on his site the week before Christmas. In case you missed them, here are some links:
Winter's Tale
White Christmas
Comfort and Joy

Congratulations to Bruce Miller and the Barksdale Buzz team for being named one of the top theater blogs in the country. I hope that this will inspire him to continue to post intriguing and occasionally challenging thoughts for all of us to ponder and discuss.

In the looking ahead department, the trials and tribulations of the “Spiderman” musical continue to draw national media scrutiny. I would be disdainful of this over-focus on one production if I also didn’t think that anything that draws more attention to live theater in this media saturated age is a good thing. However, easy to overlook amidst all of the national bluster and of more immediate interest to locals is the imminent premiere of “SCKBSTD” at Virginia Stage in Norfolk. The talent behind it is Virginia-centric (Bruce Hornsby, Clay McLeod Chapman) but with loads of national cred (the cast is full of Broadway vets). If you want to see perhaps the next big thing from Virginia heading to Broadway, you might want to take the ride down to the Tidewater. And if you have any hints as to how to pronounce the show’s title, I’d be happy to hear them!

Of course, right here in Richmond there is plenty to be excited about as well. As it usually is, the winter season here is filled with intriguing shows, starting with RTP’s “This Beautiful City” and story of Ted Haggard. While it may not have the searing backdrop of the Matthew Shepard story that “The Laramie Project” had, Haggard’s ongoing (and somewhat ridiculous) denial of his homosexuality also presents plenty of ripe material for theatrical exploration.

The new year is here and full of new possibilities. I can’t help but be hopeful about what it might bring. Heck, call me a Pollyanna but I’m even holding out the possibility that Steven Tyler might not even be a total train wreck on Idol.

No comments: