Friday, September 30, 2011

Much Ado About Nothing

"Is falling in love only for the young?"

This is the advertising catch phrase used for the Guthrie Theater's newest production of Shakespeare's rightly beloved play, Much Ado About Nothing.

With the baby boom generation getting along in years - no offense, I'm just sayin' - it looks as though being old is cool again.  Or at least not as un-groovy as it used to be.  One example is the actress Helen Mirren. She's well beyond qualifying for AARP and was recently voted sexiest woman alive, beating out much younger sex pots, like Megan Fox.  Okay.  Sixty is the new twenty. 

So, when director Joe Dowling put 60-something actors, Dearbhla Molloy and Daniel Gerroll*, in the roles of Beatrice and Benedick, it was unusual, but not nearly as far-fetched as what other directors have done with the bard.  The witty wordplay, comic timing, and a few clues within the text indicate that Beatrice and Benedick have known each other for some time and have a rather unhappy history, making the older casting not improbable. 

The difficulty came for me when the production's pace became not merely mature, but geriatric.  Molloy and Gerroll are amazing actors, I do not argue that, but despite their pedigrees, their romance left me rather cold, and that's difficult to do since the romance between Beatrice and Benedick is my favorite in all of Shakespeare's work.  Gerroll has the ability to convey a world of emotion in the lift of an eyebrow; Molloy can say volumes with the quirk of her lips, so I was amazed at how often he did not raise that eyebrow, she did not quirk that lip.  The emotion and energy were stunted somewhere, in Gerroll or Molloy or both; I'm not certain where the breakdown came.  Or were they directed to under-act?  Under-acting, I discovered tonight, is nearly as annoying to watch as over-acting.    

The relationship of Beatrice and Benedick is at the heart of the play.  If it is right, then the rest of the play can be mediocre and one might hardly notice.  Thankfully, the rest of the cast had some shining stars, like Michelle O'Neill as Hero, Emily Gunyou Halaas as Margaret, Bob Davis as Borachio, and Dennis Creaghan as Leonato. 

Sets were lovely and costumes were gorgeous.  The production was set in the late Edwardian era, perhaps to capitalize on the Downton Abbey craze.  The flowing dresses, the ladies' huge, feathered hats, the shoes - love, love, love, the shoes.  The music, composed by Adam Wernick, suited the era and made for some fun dance scenes. 

So, since this is my blog and on here I can be the expert if I want to be, I would have to give this production of Much Ado About Nothing, a solid B. 

*Gerroll turns 60 on October 16 of this year.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Well, who'd a' thunk?

Twenty-*mumble* years ago, I played on the volleyball team at my high school, BCCS.  My senior year, I was a co-captain, mostly because I was a senior, but still, I was a captain. 

Fast forward twenty-*mumble* years with no volleyball playing in that time, and we get to today when I officially began my new (volunteer) job as assistant volleyball coach for the middle school girls' team. 

Yes, it's a prestigious title, no doubt about it. 

Okay, it may not be prestigious, but it is fun.

Johanna is on the team, making it 4th through 8th grade, so we're a young team playing in the 8th grade division.  We may not win many matches.  We may not win *any* matches.  But the players are learning and hopefully having fun, getting better and getting ready for the next year. 

I really didn't think I'd be coaching volleyball, but here I am.  And I'm glad.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Summer Vacation, Part 2

After the hubbub of the wedding weekend, it was time to sit back and relax a little. 

We spent one night out in the country at Dave and Val's.  The highlight of this, for Johanna anyway, was getting to ride Becca's pony.  The daylight was too far gone for me to get a good picture of the event, but you may imagine the bliss. 
 One day, Tom, Katie, John and I took the kids to a place - like Chuck E. Cheese's - with games and play equipment and flashing lights and noise and plenty of chaos to go 'round.  John, William, Katie and I played a round of mini-golf.  Katie took the early lead, but fell off on the back nine, where John's masterful play took the day. 
 Another day we went to Moraine State Park for fishing and swimming and then went to Eat n' Park for dinner.  The food there is no great shakes, but it means we're in Beaver Falls.
 I call this one, "New Song: 2021." 
 One day the girls decided to give Aunt Katie and me a spa treatment.  Look how relaxed Aunt Katie is!
 After a lovely time in Pennsylvania, we headed on to Columbus, Ohio, John's old stomping grounds. 

On Saturday we went to the zoo with John's parents.  In the picture above, everyone is watching the polar bear swim around above us. 
 Here's Sam reading the map.  Whose idea was it to put the 5-year-old in charge of the map?
 Monday we were off again, this time headed to St. Louis for a quick overnight before Kansas City. 

We got there early enough to go up into the Gateway Arch.  You can see from the sign behind Micah's head that we were 630 feet up in the air. 

Personalities really came out when we reached the top.  William was first fine, then cautious, then pretty well freaked out.  Micah was eager, then happy, then bouncing off the walls for fun.  Johanna was uncertain, then cautious, then serious and very ready to go back down.  Sam was mildly interested, then bored. 

John and I handled it with admirable equanimity. 
So, we saw the arch and a little bit of St. Louis, then went to Steak n' Shake (we are deprived of such in Minnesota) for dinner, then to our hotel to swim and sleep.

Next day we were off to Kansas and you know all about that already.

It was good to go, good to come home.  We were thankful to sleep in our own beds again!  But even more thankful for a store of good memories from time spent with friends and family.