Beauty & The Beast on Broadway San Diego

 I had the privilege of attending Disney’s Beauty and the Beast downtown on Broadway San Diego at the Civic Theatre this past Tuesday night. I have been to several musicals during my lifetime and many of them at the Civic Theatre, but nothing I have seen can compare to this performance. It was by far the most amazing, beautiful and breathtaking performance I have ever seen. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a sensational time. It is appropriate for audiences of all ages. Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite Disney movies, but that was not why I loved the performance so much. The characters were well casted, the costumes creative and exquisite, and the setting was creative and breathtaking. It was very apparent that a lot of talent and creative genius went into creating this musical.

In regards to the characters and their costumes I would have to say that my favorite costumes were those created for the enchanted furnishings in the Beast’s castle. That would included Lumiere the candelabra, Cogsworth the mantle clock, Babette the duster, and especially Madame de la Grande Bouche the dresser who even pulled outfits out of her drawers. The rest of the costumes were fabulous including Gaston, the Beast and Belle’s many dresses, especially the yellow one she wore to dinner with the Beast.

Each of the actors played their characters perfectly. I had the most fun watching Gaston carry on about how wonderful he is while Lafou followed him around doing his bidding. Each characters personalities came alive and brought a lot of excitement and humor to the show. In regards to the setting, I loved the beautiful stage floor that was intricately painted with blue and gold vines. The set that framed the stage was painted to match the same pattern as the floor and before the show started and during intermission there was this beautiful glowing rose that could be seen through a line dark scrim. The scrim was used on many occasions to create a certain effect. It was used during the two scenes when the wolves attacked, so that we could see what was going on, but with fewer details.

My favorite scene of the whole performance was the Be Our Guest musical number. They did a phenomenal job recreating this classic celebration piece from the timeless movie. They had dancing spoons, dancing plates, a whole entourage of enchanted objects and even confetti streamers that shot out over the audience. It truly was a celebration and you could feel the excitement in the room. There wasn’t a thing that I didn’t like or that disappointed me, instead my expectations were exceeded on every level. If you haven’t seen this show, you should go and see it. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.

October 29, 2010. Art Events. 1 comment.

Billy Elliot

Billy Elliot was a very delightful movie. I love movies about individuals that rise above insurmountable odds to achieve their dreams. Such tales are very inspiring and touch you emotionally. I found myself right there in the film with Billy rooting for him to continue dancing even though his father forbade it. I admired Billy for his courage to dance ballet since it was not something that a lot of boys did. he was really good at it though and I enjoyed watching him dance. I felt sorry for his father because you can tell that he only wanted what was best for his son and could not understand why he wanted to dance so much. I was not sure how his father would react when he finally saw Billy dance, but I was ecstatic when to the realization that he needed to let him dance. I was touched when his father was actually willing to cross the picket line and risk his reputation with his fellow miners. It was hard to watch as he went from a persecutor of scabs to a scab himself. I was glad that his older son rescued him from making this mistake in his haste to give Billy the chance to dance. Mr. Elliot went from being Billy’s biggest obstacle to becoming a dancer to Billy’s biggest advocate and source of encouragement. I was happy with the ending and would recommend this movie to others to watch.

October 29, 2010. Movie Reflections. Leave a comment.

Viva La Revolucion: A Dialogue with the Urban Landscape

  Today I visited the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown San Diego with my classmate Rocio Hernandez. We began our journey inside the Jacobs building which featured the indoor portion of the exhibit Viva La Revolucion: A Dialogue with the Urban Landscape. As soon as we entered I knew this would be a very interesting exhibit because we heard music coming from one of the rooms and saw this big massive display right in the front. This big massive sculptured piece of artwork (pictured below) was made of cardboard boxes, sand and blackened loaves of bread. There was a lot of writing covering the cardboard boxes, but since it was in spanish and wrapped around the boxes Rocio and I could not read what it said.

Next we followed the sound of music coming from the next room to discover the most bizarre, yet cool thing I have ever seen, a singing trash can. The trash can wasn’t actually singing, but it was creating a beat as the pieces of trash moved inside the can. I have never seen anything like it in my life. I thought to myself, this is an excellent use for people’s discarded trash. I think that this was among my favorite pieces featured in the exhibit just because the idea behind it was so fresh and original.

The next room that we entered featured a couple of vehicles, my favorite being the one created entirely out of old boom boxes and cassette tape players. The artist who designed this had quite an imagination. I particularly was partial to the purple upholstery, my favorite color. The  other vehicle reminded me of an old-fashioned horse buggy without the horses. It wasn’t made out of unique parts like the other one, so I didn’t like it as much.

The room that contained these vehicles also had some amazing paintings on the wall. I call them amazing because they were so colorful and pleasing to look at. There were three of these pieces that looked like the artist had just painted layer over layer of color and designs using stencils. There were three different pieces, the first of these being a large square canvas that was totally covered in this unique burst of colors and design. At first glance it is easy to see the explosion of colors, but you have to look closer at the piece to notice that the colors are a collage of different shapes stenciled on top of each other. The next piece in this collection was also square, but had a design in the middle that was framed by swirls of colors. It almost looks like a fire rising up in the middle. What I liked most about this particular piece was the swirling colors that framed it, this feature made it unique from the other two pieces featured in the room. The final piece in this collection was a circular canvas similar to the other two but smaller. This particular piece contained the most variety of interesting shapes, which included everything from skulls, to seahorses, to spirals, etc. Needless to say the harder and closer you examined this piece the more shapes you began to untangle from the jungle of color and shapes. I would have liked to watch these paintings being created, because I am still unsure of how the artist was able to accomplish these breathtaking works of art. I am pretty sure that the artist must have used stencils of some kind to get such a variety of precise shapes.

Next we moved on to the final room inside the museum which feature several different pieces. I thought the person in the shape of a an upside down musical instruments was quite creative and unique. My favorite piece in this room was a face etched out of a brick wall. I liked this one because I could tell that a lot of work went into creating it and it looked so realistic. I love portraits because that is what I like to paint and I think that they speak volumes to the viewers. I know how hard it is to paint a portrait let alone carve one out of a brick wall. This artist has got talent.

There were many more pieces featured in the indoor exhibit, but there is not enough space or time to feature them all here. The rest of the exhibit was featured outside on the walls of the city. I do have to say that the outside pieces were hard to find and not easily accessible unless you wanted to walk around downtown for at least 90 minutes. The museum curators informed us that a few of the outside exhibits were right down the street so we decided to walk and visit those pieces. The two pieces that we visited on foot are featured below. We also drove by three other pieces in the city on our way home. We saw Barry Mcgee’s graffiti words, Os Gemeos people stacked on top of each other and an ape wearing underwear. I would have to say that I did not care much for the outside exhibit and some parts of the museum collection. Much of it was to weird and gruesome for my taste. I did enjoy many of the creative inside exhibits and am glad that I had the opportunity to visit the exhibit.

October 17, 2010. Art Events. Leave a comment.

Maya Lin, A Strong Clear Vision

Previous to watching this documentary I had never heard of Maya Lin or her work designing memorials. I had also never seen any of the memorials she had designed that were present in the film. I think that Maya Lin is a very creative, dedicated and strong individual. She stood up to opposition and persevered against all odds to create the Vietnam Memorial. It saddens me to think that some individuals were against her design even after it had been chosen just because she was a woman and of Asian descent. Neither of these in my opinion were good reasons to oppose the selection of her design. I am glad that in the end her design was chosen and that she was honored by many Vietnam veterans for her work in creating a memorial that truly cut right to the heart and allowed people to reflect and grieve. All of her pieces in the film were simplistic yet spoke volumes to viewers. She had a way of getting past all the frills to the heart of a memorials purpose.

My favorite memorial presented in this film that she created was the Civil Rights Memorial. I love her use of Martin Luther Kings’ quote, water, a circle and a chronological listing of important events from the civil rights movement. It touched my heart deeply to see all the people gathered around the memorial in a circle, touching the events forever etched in time, creating ripples in the water as they remembered loved ones and their history. Maya Lin is a remarkable artist and architect all in one and as a fellow artist myself I admire her work and dedication.

October 16, 2010. Movie Reflections, Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Shakespeare’s As You Like It @ The Moonlight

I had the privilege this weekend of attending William Shakespeare’s comedy As You like It at the Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista. This production was put on in collaboration between the Moonlight Cultural Foundation and New Village Arts Theatre. This was the first time a Shakespeare play has been performed at the Moonlight and  it was a great success. As You Like It is not your typical Shakespeare that many are familiar with in plays like Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, and other tragedies. This play was a comedy performed with a more modern flare and I enjoyed it very much. Going into the performance I knew nothing about this particular play and found that I had to pay careful attention to the actors and their dialogue in order to follow along. Shakespearian language is not something you can easily decipher, it requires extensive thought to translate in your head.

As You Like It is the story of poor Rosalind and Orlando who meet, fall in love at first sight and then are both banished from the kingdom for separate reasons at different times. Orlando runs away to the forest of Arden to escape his older brother who has a bounty on his head. Rosalind’s father a duke, has already been banished from the kingdom by his brother and now that same brother decides to banish his niece. So Rosalind runs away to the forest of Arden with her cousin Celia. Rosalind disguises herself as a man and Celia dons the clothing of a shepherdess. The two purchase a cottage and start a new life in the forest of Arden. Meanwhile Orlando has met Rosalind’s father the banished duke and takes up residence with him in a cave with his other Lords who joined him in his banishment. Eventually Rosalind and Orlando meet again, but Orlando does not know it is her due to her disguise. Rosalind convinces Orlando that she can cure him of his love for Rosalind if he will agree to woo her everyday. Eventually Orlando’s brother comes to the forest and falls in love with Celia and a young shepherdess falls in love with Rosalind, who in turn is in love with Orlando, who is love with her, Rosalind. Talk about a serious love triangle going on. Eventually Rosalind convinces Orlando to marry Rosalind if she can produce her, and the young shepherdess to marry her if she desires to, but if not she must marry the shepherd who is in love with her. Rosalind then returns without her disguise as Rosalind and of course the young shepherdess no longer wants to marry her so she is committed to marry the shepherd and Rosalind gets to marry her Orlando. The kingdom gets restored to them all and they live happily ever after. The End.

It is truly a tragic, yet comedic love story that has a happy ending. The actors were sensational, though at times it was hard to hear them. I am not sure whether their mics were not working correctly or they were not projecting their voices enough. My favorite scenes were the ones in which Orlando was trying to who Rosalind disguised as a man. It was quite hilarious and a lot of fun to watch them banter back and forth. There was one scene in the play with men, umbrellas and a deer that made no sense whatsoever with the rest of the story. I am not sure if that was in Shakespeare’s original play or whether it was added. I think it could have been left out of the play all together. Overall I had a great time and enjoyed the production very much. It was enlightening to see another side of Shakespeare.

October 11, 2010. Art Events. Leave a comment.

The Buena Vista Social Club

I would have to say that this was my least favorite film so far, but at the same time it was not bad. I had a difficult time watching it because of having to read the subtitles in order to understand what was going on. The subtitles made it hard to enjoy the film because I had to concentrate so hard on reading the text. I thought the musicians were excellent and enjoyed their music and singing. I was able to get a peek into Cuban culture through the music, the sites and the life stories of each of these men. I enjoyed hearing each one of them tell the stories of growing up and how they became musicians or singers. My favorite part was at the end of the film when they all got to come to New York and play at Carnegie Hall. I could tell that the men were excited and honored to be in America. It was interesting to see our country from their perspective. I am glad that the music of these men and woman was able to be revived and given the honor that it deserved.

October 5, 2010. Movie Reflections. Leave a comment.

Little Shop of Horrors @ The Avo Playhouse

I had the pleasure of attending the production of Little Shop of Horrors at the Avo Playhouse in Vista, performed by the Encore Youth Theatre. It was a delightful and hilarious tale of an alien species of fly trap that preys on human blood. The opening scene of the play takes place in a flower shop down on skid row that is hurting for lack of business until the two employees Seymour and Audrey come up with an idea. Seymour likes to raise rare and unusual plants and his newest rare plant is put on display in the shop window to draw people inside. To the disbelief of the shop owner the plant actually does draw in a customer who spends $100 on roses. Overnight the little flower shop on skid row becomes a success. The only problem is that Seymour discovers the only way to keep the plant healthy and grow is to feed it human blood. Seymour is in love with Audrey, but she is dating a dentist that abuses her. Overtime the plant (Audrey II) is no longer satisfied with drops of Seymour’s blood, but needs a greater quantity of blood to feed its growing appetite. Seymour ends up feeding Audrey’s dentist boyfriend to the plant after he dies from inhaling too much nitrous oxide. Seymour and the plants fame grows bigger and now he has the attention of Audrey the only person he has ever loved. The shop owner gets suspicious and he ends up being fed to the plant. Seymour is in over his head and intends on killing the plant. Instead the plant eats Audrey and then Seymour. It may sound like a gruesome tale, but overall it was delightful and hilarious.

The two main characters Seymour and Audrey were sensational actors and singers. I am sure that these two have a bright future in theatre. The three skid row girls that did most of the singing were great singers when they sang individually, but all together they did not harmonize well. I do have to say that they were the quickest costume changers I have every seen because they had to change all night from one scene to the next. The blood eating plant Audrey II was an amazing creation. Someone was inside this giant plant costume making it move and being the voice and it could actually eat people. The background noises were appropriately created, especially the horrific noise Audrey II made every time it ate someone. The props for this production included a motorcycle and a dentist chair that they brought into the theatre. The shop owner had gray makeup all over his face that was distracting to his character. I think the makeup was trying to make him look like an old man, but instead it just looked funny. At times there were technical problems with the microphones, so it was hard to hear the characters sing.

 Overall I think the production was well casted and a success. I am glad that I was in the second row and not the front row for this production because the theatre was so small the actors were walking, singing and dancing at times right in front of the people in the first row. I will keep this in mind for future events that I attend at this venue. I believe that the small size of the theatre and our closeness to the stage made it easier to notice things that were out-of-place. In a bigger theatre with more room, we might not have noticed these things. In conclusion I had a great night of laughter and fun with my friends.

  

 

 

October 3, 2010. Art Events. Leave a comment.