Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Variety comes in Threes

Well, before heading to the PAC for the Season Finale of the Ballet, Stella and I stopped in at Rock Botton Brewery, which is a favorite of hers, for dinner, and we had a terrific meal. What i like about the RBB is that their kids' menu has the standard kids menu fare (chicken tenders, mac n cheese, blah blah blah) but the side dishes are good wholesome veggies and fruit, and the offer kid portions of very adult food. Stella ordered the steak -- which is a piece of very tender sirloin (?) cut up already so that you a) don't have to give a kid a sharp knife to cut it and b) the outside is grilled while maintaining a juicy inside -- in every bite. Stella ordered hers medium rare. That's my girl. I had a very good piece of fish -- the grilled mahi-mahi with green beans and lemon rice. I know RBB is a chain, but they do it well, and it being the first warm, beautiful day out we loved having dinner on the patio, watching the boats go by, eating over the sunset and anticipating the sampler platter that the ballet put before us.

And it was indeed a sampler platter. Three totally unrelated pieces (which, as the Journal critic noted, really pointed out the versatility of the corps with the variety of styles). First was (scenes from) La Bayadere. I'd read that most modern companies don't perform the entire piece, and now I know why. I'ts lovely enough, the costumes are classic tutus and there's sweet corps works, but the half hour or so that it went was enough for me. Stella actually got bored. I don't know if we could have taken the traditional 3 hours of it. Here it is: I know that the pointe work broke the ground for later ballets such as Swan Lake, and that the entire production broke plenty of ground too, and anybody who calls themself a dancer should be familiar with it. Maybe it's the Citizen Kane of ballets. You know how Citizen Kane lands of people's "Best Movies Ever" lists? And people who aren't all into film that much don't get why. Then you explain to them that it was a film that broke a lot of firsts -- camera angle, storytelling style, lighting, etc. etc. etc and all that. But it DOES drag on forever, I admit. And I know a lot of people who just can't sit through Citizen Kane, but will admit that given it's place in film history, it probably is a great, groundbreaking work that anybody who calls themself a cinema fan or producer must be familiar with. So that's how I felt about La Bayadere: everybody had a chance to show off their chops, in the grand scheme of things it's groundbreaking and all, and the Milwaukee Ballet did a great job with it and chopped it down to its essential parts, but I'm glad we got the edited version because I don't think I could sit through the whole thing. (For the record, I am one of those people who loves Citizen Kane.)

Afet intermission, we're transformed clearly into our century, with artistic director Michael Pink's Aubade, set to some music by Poulenc that struck me as the kind of music that, if there were such a thing as a romantic scene in a Dirty Harry movie, this would be the music you'd hear. Very modern lighting, very cool choreography that seemed to paint a moving picture, and costuming that seemed to blend the dancers together as parts of a whole while retaining their own individuality. The stage setup had a conven curve up to backstage which was used by the dancers; the skateboarder in me kind of salivated at the opportunity to run up there myself. Finally, the last piece was a revival of Anthony Tudor's "Offenbach in the Underworld" -- which was set in some bar in Paris in the late 19th century and looked a lot cleaner to us as an audience than was probably regarded during the day -- this was the underworld, populated by absinthe-sipping degenerates and artists and "other underworld scum" all having a good rowdy time with their dancing, dreaming, drinking, and debauchery. Stella and I enjoyed it immensely, even before the hearalded can-can girls came out and impressed us with their athleticism. It really captured, at least for me, all the soap operas and sub-stories that can go on in the neighborhood bar, in as little as a half hour.

And what's going on in the neighborhood taps this long weekend? I think Zad's Roadhouse, despite the hot air blowing down on the band for that "Sweatin out the hits for YOU" look, is going to be the place to be for variety three nights in a row:
  • The Del Ripleys (formerly Bobby Rivera and the Riveras) are on stage Thursday night.

  • The Mighty Lumberhorn (who were on Local Live on 'MSE last night, sorry I missed it boys but I had a date with Gordon Ramsay) are there Friday night. I previously had something of a dilemna because Snooky (favorite who rarely comes to town) had been booked at Points East, but for whatever reason that gig is off. now they're headed into the studio, which means it will be some months before i get another fix of them. So I will be able to catch the Lumberhorn, as well as the Hill Climbers afterwards -- a band that impressed me at last year's Locust Street Festival, so they can thank Snooky for giving me another chance to rave about them.

  • The Mighty Deer Lick hit Zad's stage -- for Bill Brunke's birthday -- Saturday night. This is going to be a tough call, for Chief as well as IROCK Z are upstairs at the BBC that night, too. Hmmm. Billy sure likes 'em mighty, eh?


Sunday, Brian and i host our friends for a day of racin' and partyin' and saints alive, Jim Nabors is back to sing " Back Home Again in Indiana" before the Indy 500. There is a God, and she loves us, I tell you. I really don't know who could possibly replace Pvt. Pyle when he goes to that big army barracks in the sky. What, they're going to get Lafayette's Axl Rose? (Oh, here's something about Jim Nabors I didn't know: He's not from Indiana. Didn't even grow up there. And not too huge a racin' fan either. He just likes the song, and it's just become a tradition.)

Oh, and speaking of Locust Street, Miss Conception has mailed in her entry for the Beer Run.

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