Monthly Archives: October 2010

Monday’s Watch, Listen, Read

Watch/Listen

Let’s talk for a moment about Seth Rudetsky. Seth is like that musical theater guy you knew in high school. and college. and post-college. But there’s more to Seth than just his (INSANE amount of) musical theater knowledge. There’s his (INSANE amount of) music knowledge, too. If there’s one thing I miss about all the vocal coaching and music classes I was entrenched in growing up, it’s the people like Seth who made me excited to understand technique and sing correctly. Because, when you get it for the first time — when your mind and body finally connects and creates that beautiful sound the way it was meant to be heard — it’s an exciting moment. Seth’s fancy deconstruction videos allow me to relive everything I learned and look at it from a fresh (and pressure-free) perspective. Even though I don’t sing apart from Karaoke nights anymore, watching his videos remind me of those connections. The elation, the enthusiasm, and the sheer joy. Simply A-MAH-zing.

I chose this particular video for Monday’s Watch/Listen pick because it features one of my favorite performers/people, Christine Ebersole, and it’s a deconstruction of one of my favorite musicals (and documentary!), Grey Gardens.

P.S. Christine has a new CD out, Christine Ebersole sings Noel Coward. It’s a gorgeous pairing of two extraordinarily talented human beings.

 

Read

Maira Kalman’s work is my hot cocoa. It’s sweet, strong, rich, reminds me of childhood, warms my body & soul, and keeps my imagination stimulated, like the perfect combination of caffeine and sugar.

Maira’s latest work, And the Pursuit of Happiness, is based on her blog for the New York Times, where she spent a year traveling the United States chronicling (through paintings, sketches, photography, writing, and some embroidery) what democracy means to people in government, in history, and with ordinary citizens, in their in daily lives. It’s a beautiful and inspiring look  at humanity and how we individuals choose to pursue our own happiness in the land of liberty.

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Life List: #58

If you check out my life list, you’ll see there’s quite a bit of stuff I have to do. Luckily, thanks to my Under 30 Membership at the Vineyard Theatre, I am on my way to crossing #58 off my list: See every show/lab in an entire season at the Vineyard Theatre. Why the Vineyard Theatre? It’s a place with which I have a 15 year history — more than half of my life. It’s also where I made the decision, at age fourteen, to pursue a career in the arts.

I saw my first off-Broadway show at the Vineyard Theatre in 1996. It was a “silent movie opera” called Bed and Sofa. It wasn’t a typical production, but nor was my route to seeing it. A family friend, who also happened to be my occasional voice teacher, was starring in the show and took me with her to everything related to the production.  I witnessed the labor and birth of a musical, from an in-studio recording of song selections to help secure grant money and solidify the project, to rehearsals, dress rehearsals, a preview night, opening night, and ultimately, the Drama Desk Awards, when the show was nominated.

I was there when the composer, Polly Pen, and librettist Laurence Klavan changed chords, adjusted the way words were pronounced and collaborated with the director, Andre Ernotte, and cast, Terri Klausner, Michael X. Martin and Jason Workman. I saw major artistic changes, such as the elimination of a whole character, the narrator, occur between the rehearsal period and opening night. The set, by G.W. Mercier, appeared to be built right before my eyes.

I learned how people collaborate as artists, how they pick and choose battles over their creative opinions, and how they compromise. I also discovered a lot about life in Moscow in 1926 — more than I’ve ever read in a history book. My days and nights at the Vineyard allowed me to set the compass of my destiny. It solidified my commitment to pursuing a career in the arts. I knew it would be a risky, rocky road, but it made me realized I couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my life.

After my Bed and Sofa experience, I saw a few productions at the Vineyard, sent donations when I could, and purchased memberships, but (due to work) was never able to commit to seeing every single production in one season. However, when I renewed my membership this year and added it to my life list, I felt a new sense of commitment.

I attended the first show of the season, Middletown, last week. The production is in previews and the cast and crew are hard at work fine-tuning it. Before slipping into my seat, I walked down to the lower level by the bathrooms and across from the green room. This picture hangs above the water fountain. It’s of my family friend, in a production she did at the Vineyard before Bed and Sofa. I snapped a picture of it and emailed it to her. I thought of the many lives that were changed in this theatre. Small productions that played extended runs and sold out performances. Shows that went on to play larger, Broadway houses; opportunities that arose from having a place to play, a stage to perform on, and seats to fill. Part of the idea of adding #58 to my list was to cross off a wish, but the other aspect was to pay tribute to a place where my 14-year-old self learned some of the most important life lessons:  follow your dreams; live what you love.

I’ll keep you posted as I see more productions there throughout the season.

Monday’s Watch, Listen, Read

Watch

I had meant to see this movie in a theater, where it must look even more stunning on a big screen, but I’m happy I did see it at home. It’s the type of movie I watch once and then watch again immediately, without the sound. It’s a feast for all of your senses, but there’s exquisite visual storytelling that takes place, the nuances of each character, the locations, sets (unless this was all location work, which it looked to be) costumes, and gorgeous second unit shots, that you miss on first viewing.

I Am Love (Io Sono L’Amore) tells the story of a fabulously wealthy Milanese family and their individual loves. At the center of this haute bourgeoisie tale is the Russian-turned-Italian-by-marriage Emma Bovery Recchi, played by beautifully by Tilda Swinton — costumed in a wardrobe of Jil Sander and Fendi — who has an affair that ultimately affects her entire family. Though Emma’s love story is at the forefront of this movie, there are several relationships (between people, work, food, family, friends) among the supporting characters that contribute to the strength of this film. Developed by director Luca Guadagnino and Tilda Swinton over the course of 11 years, I Am Love is reminiscent of another of my favorite Italian movies, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis combined with the 1940-50s Technicolor glamour of Douglas Sirk movies. Even the score, by American composer John Adams, is high-art. A lush, beautiful and truly gripping piece of cinema.  I mean, just look at it. Gorgeous:

Listen

One of my favorite Tumblr blogs (or is it just Tumblrs?) is Capucha which follows the life of a little French girl named Capucine and her family, animals, etc. It’s like stepping into a French fairytale or an Anthropologie store come to life. It’s full of whimsy and heart. Capucine’s mom, Anne, is also a talented photographer and has excellent taste in music. Thus, I’m swiping this week’s Listen pick from a recent post where she reblogged a list of music/music videos about photography. This video was completely new to me, so I wanted to pass along the discovery. Check out the rest of the list here. They’re all wonderful.

Read

Nicole Krauss is one of my favorite living authors. Her new novel, Great House, offers more of the exquisite prose and beautiful storytelling she first gave the world in Man Walks Into a Room and The History of Love. I’ve just started Great House and I have already fallen under its spell. Reading Krauss’ writing feels like being under water. Time stops. Everything is quiet and there are no distractions. You are so drawn into the story, you forget to breathe. Inhale deeply and pick up Great House.