Category Archives: Music

Some ideas about “The Last Five Years”

Drew and I went to see The Last Five Years at ACT in San Francisco. They did it as a concert, which I am now convinced is the way this show should always be done. I’ve seen I think 6 productions of The Last Five Years, and with the exception of this most recent one, they’ve all tried to stage every scene. And (I know I may be biased but) Drew’s version from college is the only one that accomplished staging it with any sort of panache.

If you don’t know the show, it’s almost entirely music. It’s the story of a five-year relationship between a man and a woman, only she tells her story going from the end of the relationship backwards, and he starts at the beginning and moves forward. The music is incredible, and even though the concept (love gained and lost) is simple, it’s well done.

Since they are almost never in each other’s stories, they are technically always in different spaces, even when sharing the stage. And it just makes the physicality difficult, especially later in the play. I think it is actually a lot cleaner to just put the actors onstage and let them sing in front of microphones, rather than worry about creating the visual world for the audience. We’ll get there on our own with just the actors and the music, I promise. We certainly did with just the talented actors and musicians at ACT.

But! I had two thoughts during this production that I found really interesting.

*Spoilers follow*

The first is that, from the beginning of the evening, I decided I was going to go through the play as Team Jamie. I am always on Cathy’s side, I always find her more sympathetic. So I wanted to really commit to going on his journey. And I did. I was right there with him until he cheats on her. And then all my sympathy goes out the window. So maybe there is a legit reason I’ve been Team Cathy all these years, and it’s not just because I like her songs better.

The second thing is just a conceptual idea. While watching this time, it occurred to me that they very specifically give you Jamie’s age at the beginning and end of the play: this five years spans his life from age 23 to 28. But Cathy’s age is never mentioned. I’ve always assumed she was the same age, but…what if she starts the play at age 30? So then: that’s why his mom doesn’t like her (it’s not just the fact that she’s not Jewish). It’s also why she feels so much pressure to succeed, and so much resentment when her 23-year-old boyfriend is succeeding and she’s not. She also mentions having kids a couple times, and I know that people can think about that at any age, but it becomes more poignant to me if she’s, you know, 33 and feeling pressure about it, while he’s 26 and it’s not on his mind. I’m not saying this is necessarily the way it’s written, but I think it would be a really interesting choice to make in a specific production of the show. It would add an interesting dimension.

All that aside, I still love this show as much as I did in college. And I’m so glad we went and saw it last weekend. I would tell you to go, but it was just a three-nights-only event, and it’s taken me too long to get around to saying, “Go see it.” My bad! I will burn you a copy of the original off-Bway cast recording to make up for it.

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Filed under Drew, Love, Music, Sentiment, Theatre

La Cenerentola at the SF Opera

Last night I did something really cool – I went up to the SF Opera for a dress rehearsal of Cinderella (or, La Cenerentola) as one of their live tweeters. There were eight of us in one box (and at least one more box full of people somewhere else), tweeting our thoughts throughout the 3-hour performance. SO FUN! I would definitely do this again.

Below is a selection of my tweets from last night. (If you like this, check out twitter for the full account…)

My biggest takeaway from this experience was that I had a hard time keeping up with what was going on, while also looking down at my phone. During the first Cinderella/Prince scene, I noticed someone else had tweeted something about “one song together and they’ve already kissed? scandalous!” I was like, “They kissed?!?” I completely missed it while I was commenting on something else.

It’s a grand life lesson – you miss a lot when you’re staring at your phone! Live tweeting is a double-edged sword! (?)

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Filed under Awesome, Music, Technology, Theatre

6 Plot Holes in Disney’s “Frozen”

There was A LOT of hype around Disney’s latest film, Frozen. So when Drew and I finally saw it, we were both like, “Oh, okay…I mean, okay.” Some reviewer was running around calling it “The best Disney film since The Lion King,” which…no. And our friends were really talking it up.

But we walked out of the theatre with a lot of questions about a lot of plot holes.

WARNING: There be spoilers ahead.

For instance:

1. Wait, why is Kristoff’s family the trolls? Wasn’t he the son of one of the ice men in the opening number? If he wasn’t someone’s kid, what was he doing there? Where’d he get a sled and a reindeer?

2. I’m not sure I understand why the trolls have to modify Anna’s memory. There’s no other way to fix her? Why do they have to create this big fear in Elsa and her family? (See number 6)

3. At the end. How does Elsa suddenly understand how to thaw everything with love? What the heck does that mean? And how does one project it onto a frozen kingdom?

4. Why do the villagers suddenly accept Elsa and her sorcery, when they were previously so scared of her? But now it’s ok because she made us an ice rink?

5. Okay. So Elsa is a sorceress, Anna takes off after her, and leaves Hans in charge of the kingdom. He rules benevolently, handing out food and blankets to people. And then he mourns Anna when they all believe she is dead. No one in the kingdom knows about his treachery…So why do they all applaud when Anna punches him?

6. Do the trolls have to apologize for ruining so much of Elsa’s life with their fear mongering?

So, like I said, Drew and I both walked out of the theatre a little bit blah. We were both glad that Disney had made this movie, found it enjoyable if not thrilling, happy it’s part of the Disney oeuvre, etc etc.

But then, a crazy thing happened. Over the next 5 days, we must have watched the video of Elsa’s (Idina Menzel’s) coming-of-age song, “Let It Go,” a total of 2000 times. That is only a slight exaggeration. The view count for this video goes up by, like, millions every day. It’s insane.

Here, watch it now:

And now tell me that you’re not like, drooling to see this movie (even if you’ve seen it before). The more I watched that video, the more I was like, “Yeah! I can’t wait to see Frozen again!”

I started spotifying the soundtrack, and making coworkers watch the “Let It Go” video with me.

For our holiday gift exchange at work, someone gave me a CD of the soundtrack. And I wasn’t disappointed.

One night, I just searched out scenes from the movie on YouTube, then watched some behind-the-scenes footage with Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel…then just watched some Kristen Bell videos. (She is adorable, by the way.)

So now, yeah, I’m a fan of Frozen.

But I’d still like to get answers for the questions above.

(Or am I being too picky? Should I just…LET IT GO??)

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Filed under Awesome, Being a girl, Drew, Humor, Memoir, Music, Nonfiction

Solstice and singing

So, as I understand it, yesterday was the first day of summer. I basically say my favorite season is whatever season we’re currently in (with a slight bias toward spring and fall), but seriously, summer is great. We left Drew’s parents’ house the other day just after 9pm, and it was still sort of light outside. I just freaking love that.

From here on out, the nights are going to start getting longer again. This is bittersweet. On the one hand, I’m enjoying the relative heat (for the most part) and the looooong days. On the other hand, this means we’re on the downhill slope into fall, which I’m looking forward to for a variety of reasons.

To celebrate the beginning of the decline of the summer, we were serenaded last night at 4am. Well, I was. Drew slept through it, thank goodness.

This same thing happened a couple weeks ago. That night, I also woke up at 4am, not sure if it was the music that woke me up or if it started after I was awake. (I wake up a lot in the middle of the night, and usually just fall back asleep.) But there was this vague instrumental music, and I thought, Is the TV on? But it seemed to be out the back window, so maybe it was coming from the house behind us? That night, it played through that instrumental song, then the Partridge Family’s “I Think I Love You,” then “That’ll Be The Day” by Buddy Holly, then something I can’t remember, and then we were on “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” by Paul Simon when it finally switched off.

I assume it’s someone’s clock radio going off, and it just takes them 15 minutes to turn it off. But that time a couple weeks ago, when it also woke up Drew, he sort of freaked out, and then spent the next two hours unable to fall back to sleep, and then had to get up for work.

So last night I tried to ignore it the best I could, and to fall back asleep, although it didn’t happen until it was finally quiet again. The only song I remember was “I Want You Back” by Jackson 5. I’m still not sure if it’s from the house behind us, or from our neighbor. Either way, I’m just really glad it didn’t disturb Drew, and that I wasn’t awake longer than about 20 minutes altogether.

Happy summer! Here’s to sleeping through the night tonight!

6/22 EDIT: I jinxed us! The radio went off again last night, and I got to hear Buddy Holly again, and also “I Can See Clearly Now,” and also about 4 other songs. It woke up Drew this time, and he walked around trying to figure out where it was coming from. He reported that you can hear it best in our room, leading me to believe it’s either our upstairs neighbor or the house out back.

He even opened the window to try and pinpoint it. When the music went off a minute after that, he said loudly, “Thank you.” Which I found hilarious.

The only upside is that this morning I heard what the station number is. So, Dad, it’s 103.7, which appears to be KOSF.  You can listen to it online here. I mean, it’s annoying at 4am, but it does seem like a good station overall. It’s not the station’s fault.

How many times do I let this happen before I start doing some investigating/conversing with neighbors?

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Filed under "Other people", Awesome, Drew, Memoir, Music, Nonfiction, Not awesome, Sentiment