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.

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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.

Stomp Live

Stomp Live is an exhilarating display of musical talent. They can create rhythm and beat from any percussion instrument they can find, including the kitchen sink, literally! I am amazed by the sounds and instruments that they use. I believe my favorite part was when they all came out with kitchen sinks hanging around their necks and rubber gloves on their hands. They created a musical number that was both genius and comical. Not only can Stomp make noise and move to the beat, they can create humor and develop character without saying a single word. I was surprised by how much character and humor they put into their performance, creating a story line and even including audience participation. You had the one guy who was also the odd man out. He wanted it quiet and the others couldn’t stop making noise. He wanted to make noise and the others would make it louder or bigger. I especially liked the scene in which he was sitting trying to read the paper and they were all dancing like monkeys around him, making as much noise as they possibly could with the newspapers. You could tell that it was driving him crazy. Eventually he did get them all to quiet down only to make noise himself. I also liked the scenes that they would hang from the ceiling and make noise on the gigantic wall at the back of the stage. Stomp is definitely a unique and original talent perfect for all audiences.  

                    

September 27, 2010. Movie Reflections. Leave a comment.

Miss Siagon @ The Moonlight

I had the privilege and honor of seeing the Moonlight Amphitheatre’s production of the musical Miss Saigon. The performance was sensational. The play is set in Vietnam during the Vietnam war and focuses on the tragic love story between Chris an American G.I. and Kim a Vietnamese woman. The two fall in love overnight and then are separated when Chris returns to America and Kim is left behind. Eventually Chris moves on with his life and marries another woman, but Kim bears Chris’s son and never stops hoping that her lovers will return one day. Eventually they are all reunited in Bangkok when Chris discovers that she is alive and that he has a son. The play ends tragically when Kim kills herself in order to ensure that Chris and his new wife will take her son to America where he can have a better life.

Having never seen this play before I was caught up in the suspense of what would happen next after every scene. Overall the production was well staged and casted. The voices of all the main characters, Chris, Kim, Ellen and the Engineer were breathtaking. The special effects added greatly to the performance, especially the helicopter that landed on stage during the scene where Chris has to leave both Vietnam and Kim behind. The helicopter was as realistic as a prop can be, evening having a rotating propeller on top. The production also included a video of real children that were born during the Vietnam war between American soldiers and Vietnamese woman. This video added to the authenticity of the play and emotionally drew the audience into the plight of these innocent children that were born out of the tragedy of war and abandoned.

This production was very intense and emotional. I found myself walking away analyzing the ending and each characters choices. Chris was haunted by the horrors of war and leaving Kim behind. He did not plan to leave her, he loved her intensely and was forced to leave her behind against his will. He lived not knowing whether she was alive, having horrible nightmares about her painfully dying, but chose to move on and begin life anew with Ellen. Kim on the other hand, was consumed by her love for Chris and survived on the hope that he would return one day. She choose to even give up marry another man who loved her because in her mind she was still married to Chris. At first it is hard to understand her adamant devotion to her vows, until she introduces her child into the picture and then it becomes clearer why she lived to be united with Chris. The play kept you in suspense of this detail and also of the circumstances that surrounded their separation. The scenes of the play skip over how the two became separated and does not show that scene until the end of the play. This kept me in suspense and even confused me a little in the beginning, peaking my interest to know what really happened.

Towards the end of the play it became hard to imagine how it would all end. Part of me wanted the typical fairy tale ending where Kim and Chris would be united together in love with their son, but I knew that realistically that wasn’t a plausible ending. Chris and Ellen decide that they will support Chris’s son, but leave him in Bangkok with his mom. They cannot imagine taking a child away from his mother no matter how hard she pleads for them to take her. Kim decides to take things into her own hands by sacrificing herself for her child. She wants him to have a better life in American and know that since Chris has a new wife the only way for that to happen is to give up her own life. The play ends with Kim dying in Chris’s arms while his wife Ellen, son Tam and friend John watch. At this point Chris is broken and the actor did an excellent job of portraying that brokeness.

I am so glad that I choose to attend this production and a small glimpse into the tragedy of the Vietnam war.

September 20, 2010. Art Events. Leave a comment.

Songcatcher

Songcatcher was a wonderful film full of beautiful ballads. The ballads were my favorite part of the whole film. I loved it when the young girl would sing them. She had such a beautiful voice. The ballads themselves were full of lyrics that reflected love, culture, story telling, and humor. I am glad that Miss Pennlyric’s attitude changed over time as she spent time with the mountain people. I don’t think she ever planned on exploiting them for profit, but I don’t think in the beginning she understood anything about how her actions would effect the people who treasured the ballads and their unique way of life. It was after the fire that I beleive she began to see things cleary and had a change of heart. Overall I liked the movie, not only for opeing my eyes to an unfamiliar culture and it’s beautiful music, but also for it’s entertainment value. This film contained some action, adventure, mystery and a love story, all of which are great aspects of film.

September 19, 2010. Movie Reflections. Leave a comment.

Mi Familia

Mi Familia

The movie Mi Familia is a great movie about the struggles and triumph of a Mexican-American family. I find it hard to believe that their father walked two years to reach Los Angeles and then when their mother was forcibly taken away and deported she traveled all that same distance with her son in order to return to her family. This reminded me of the determination of the three girls in Rabbit-Proof Fence to make it home to the safety of their family. One of my favorite scenes early in the movie is when Paco teaches the local boys the mambo, because I understand the thrill that comes with teaching young children, it is my passion and educational goal. I found the focus of the movie to be the youngest son Jimmy and I felt my heart breaking for him many times as he faced so much heartbreak. First he was eye witness to his brother being shot by the cops, then his wife dies at childbirth and then his own son doesn’t want him in his life. Not forgetting the two terms that he serves in jail. I was excited when he finally learned to fall in love with his wife, get a job, be happy and begin to heal from his wounds. It was almost too much when Isabella dies and Carlitos want accept him as father. I am happy that in the end Carlitos and Jimmy are able to reconcile unlike Jimmy’s father and brother. I cannot relate to many aspects of this movie, but I found myself reminded of my own families struggles that we faced over the years from my parents’ divorce, to my brothers anger that resulted in many holes in the wall, to gang activity, to the time my brother was shot in a drive by (luckily just his finger, which the doctor saved) and many other incidents that were hard to deal with. Each one of us has our own story of family struggles and triumphs.

September 10, 2010. Movie Reflections. Leave a comment.

Rabbit-Proof Fence

This was an extremely powerful and moving movie based on a true story, my favorite kind of movie because it speaks truth and uplifts the spirit. Before watching this moving I had no idea that the Aboriginal people of Australia were treated with such disdain and inhumanness. These beautiful and peaceful people where so feared by the white people of Australia that they desired to breed them out of existence by stealing their half-caste children and uprooting them. I was burning with anger inside during the scene where Mr. Neville presents to a group of white Australians about how Moore River Settlement can do away with the Aboriginal people in a few generations by teaching them to act like white people and breeding them out with other whites, until there is no trace of the Aboriginal left. He was talking as if the Aboriginal was not in fact a human being, but an animal. It was heart wrenching to watch the scene in which Molly, Gracie and Daisy are taken from their mother. Their mom was heartbroken crying, wailing and even hitting a rock against her head several times. My heart was glad when Molly comes to the conclusion right before bed that Moore River is a bad place and that Mr. Neville and the others running the place are bad people. I was excited yet, apprehensive when she rallied her sister and cousin to run away with her the next day. After seeing the incident with the last girl that tried to run away, I was afraid that the same would happen to them. I think the director did a great job casting and portraying the character of the tracker. He was an Aboriginal who knew how to track like the best of them, yet he was stumped by Molly many times as he searches for her and her sisters. On many occasions you can see him almost smile as he realizes that he has been tricked and in one scene he even verbally acknowledges that she is a smart girl. You can see that he is a character torn between his job as tracker for the white man and his Aboriginal roots.

 I love the scene in which the three girls first find the rabbit-proof fence. They are so excited; you can just see the hope of home upon their faces. The movie just draws you further and further into the emotional plight of not only these three girls on their quest to return home, but the plight of all the Aboriginal people. Another scene that made me angry was when the children met the other Aboriginal woman who had “graduated” from Moore River who helped provide a place for them to spend the night. The children made the decision to stay with her despite the risk of being captured again after she pleaded with them to stay so that the white man would not come back to sleep with her. It was a very emotional scene that only seemed to reinforce Molly’s desire to make it home and escape the horrible life that awaited her if she stayed in Moore River. The end of this movie made me happy to know that these two sisters walked half way across Australia against much opposition, spurred on only by the hope of home and the love of family, and finally made it safely back to the arms of their mother and grandmother. I couldn’t help but chuckle when I read the conclusion of the story on the screen at the end of the movie, which said that Molly was eventually captured and taken back to Moore River, but that she ran away again and walked all the way back to home to Jigalong. Wow, I couldn’t help but have a lot of respect for her and her determination to be a free Aboriginal woman. I loved getting to see the real Molly and Daisy at the end of the credits, two old Aboriginal women, happy together. I also enjoyed the native music that played throughout the movie, adding to the films authenticity. Overall I enjoyed this film very much and am grateful for the opportunity to learn about the plight of the Aboriginal people of Australia.

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

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