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Make Someone Happy*

making hearts

Ah Valentine’s Day, the mercifully timed holiday to break up the dark dreary winter months. It is a holiday filled with red & pink hearts, candy and flowers. It is also a holiday rife with the opportunity to make people feel sad or hurt. Its ability to singe is utterly democratic. Children don’t receive enough classroom cards, teenagers don’t receive carnations or cupcakes at school, and grown people find themselves questioning (or despairing over) their relationship status. Of course there are many who receive the flowers, candy, jewelry, attention and are greatly relieved. Overall, a lot of people spend February 14th unconsciously holding their breath.

It would be easy (and sane) to cite the fact that Valentine’s Day is an enormous economic creation for the greeting card, flower, restaurant, and candy business. We could bah humbug our way through, mumbling mood bolstering ‘commercialism’ and ‘suckers’ affirmations. But what if we tackled it from the other end? What if instead of risking disappointment we went back to our construction paper roots? Remember the days of safety scissors and oak tag? There was a delicious pride in creating a reasonably shaped heart. Colored tissue and white paper doilies were used in excess; the results often resembling a powder room gone wrong. The creation(s) were steeped with love (and spilled glue) as they were most likely made for a parent or grandparent. There was an unbridled anticipation that caused many child to thrust the (slightly sweaty) valentine into the recipient’s hand before the 14th. The adult would coo and swoon and the child would feel five feet tall. It wasn’t until later in the week or childhood, that Valentine expectation and disappointment were introduced.

So let’s all take a collective leap back in time. Let’s spend this next week creating something for others. Gifts of homemade baked goods are always divine, but they’re not everyone’s bailiwick. Perhaps there’s an old photo you could frame? Maybe you have a favorite poem you could write on a beautiful piece of stationery (with proper citation of course.) Is there a friend (or acquaintance) who could use a respite? Bringing them coffee, taking them out, or watching their child/loved one is a wonderful gift. If you are one of those lucky creative types, break out the glitter (it’s not just for Saturday night you know) and make some gorgeous bespoke cards.

Yes, it is positively dreamy to receive lovely gifts that make us feel understood and appreciated. Who doesn’t want to be swept up in a sea of romance and a soaring soundtrack? Love is one of the greatest gifts of life. Whether we are the recipient or the giver (or ideally both) love simply makes sense of life. Acts of love make life fun. So make someone happy this Valentine’s Day, and you will be happy too.

*”Make someone happy, make just one someone happy, and you will be happy, too.” Jule Styne (1960)

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2013 in Holiday, Well-Being

 

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Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – Review

NY City Center Encores! production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes belongs to the Ensemble, and it’s in very good hands!  Rob Berman’s orchestra is superb and is neatly paired with Randy Skinner’s lush choreography.  This show is filled with dance and cast with actual dancers.  The chorus is actual singers as well.

There is a number towards the end of Act I, “In the Champ de Mars” when the chorus does not use body microphones.  They stand on the edge of the stage and sing out.  It is practically disorienting to hear sound and be able to locate its source.  These singers do not need amplification or tricks of any kind, they are the real thing.  If hearing truly talented singers unplugged isn’t enough to knock your socks off there are Attmore & Grimes.  Yowza.  This tap-dancing duo (in real life as well) perform “Mamie is Mimi” with Megan Skiro (a spit-fire dancer brimming with all kinds of personality.)  It has been a very (very) long time since I have seen this kind of dancing anywhere but in an old MGM movie.  Simply stunning.

While Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Music: Jule Styne, Lyrics: Leo Rubin, Book: Anita Loos & Joseph Fields) is not the most riveting of musicals, director John Rando made much of it.  There is enough fun and powerful talent in this production that I found myself fantasizing of a dream team of Kristin Chenoweth and Laura Benanti as Lorelei and Dorothy.  Those roles are currently filled with Megan Hilty and Rachel York.  The audience loved them, and Mr. Rando predicted it.  Every number of Ms. Hilty’s was split into three parts, allowing the audience to applaud in triplicate.  Ms. York came in at the end of dance numbers to throw her arms up and receive applause.  I’m not sure Dorothy needs to be a dancer, so it’s best to keep her off the stage and allow the dancer’s their moment.  The audience was so enamored with Ms. Hilty that at one point they wildly applauded her dress.  Yet I found this duo unsettling.  Ms. York almost disappeared as Dorothy (when she wasn’t taking a bow.)  Ms. Hilty’s interpretation seemed more Betty Boop (with blond wig) than Lorelei.  When the second act opens, Dorothy and friend enter in red dresses.  The blond with her seemed so much more toned down than in Act I.  I let out a small sigh of relief.  Then I realized the blond was in fact Mrs. Spofford (Ella Rush) and not Lorelei.

See this show for the dancing and the incredible orchestra.  See this show to remember what songs sound like with out technical tricks.  See this show to experience an Overture and Entr’acte.  None of these elements should be taken for granted.  If you’ve ever experience a Broadway musical at which the conductor is waving his arms to an empty pit (the music being piped in from the basement and locales unknown) you know exactly what I mean.

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2012 in Theatre

 

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