Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner


Guess Who's Coming to Dinner Movie Poster

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner Movie Poster

Last night was a date night, with dinner and a show. We dined at Cyrano’s, which was unusually crowded. There was even a wait, a first, plus there wasn’t a chair to be had in the bar. Still, we got in and out, with plenty of time. We even had sufficient time before the show to exchange tickets for some of the forthcoming shows at the box office window.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner is a new play that was based upon the Academy award-winning screenplay, written by William Rose. In both the movie and the play, parent’s Matt and Christina Drayton are a couple whose liberal attitudes are challenged when their daughter brings home a fiancé who is black. In addition to best screenplay, the 1967 film of the same name also won best picture and Katharine Hepburn won best actress for her role in this picture. Her co-star and close friend, Spencer Tracy, was gravely ill during the filming of the movie and died just ten days after shooting ceased. Lead, Sidney Poitier, was on a roll back then, with starring roles in back-to-back best pictures. His In the Heat of the Night role helped that movie, win best picture in 1968.

It has been a long time since I had seen the movie, so I only faintly remembered the bare outlines of the story. Combine this fact with the fact that the Reps season’s January slot is usually reserved for their more artsy, read less commercially successful productions and I was expecting a scold. Last year, was the worst year for race relations in the thirty plus years that I have lived in this city. When I saw this play on the schedule, I thought that it was added to the schedule in response to the problems in Ferguson. It was actually picked last spring, before the difficulties began. I’m pleased to say that I was very happily surprised with the play. It was an excellent show.

Dan went bi-coastal today. He landed in NYC early this morning or late last night, depending upon your perspective. The boy who never sleeps meets the city that never sleeps. All I know is that he is attending a wedding in Virginia. I will go on record here saying that if Dan would ever brings someone home, I would welcome them.

The Boxing Report

Galleria Christmas Tree

Yesterday, the day after Christmas was Boxing Day. In times gone by the landed gentry would get a box of Christmas gifts to each of their servants. In modern times this tradition has morphed into kids going to the mall to spend their Christmas money. This is what the boys did in part. I got to come along to make up for any monetary shortfalls. Dave got a PC laptop and Dan ordered a Mac laptop. Surprisingly, the Mac was the cheaper of the two, but not by much. Last night at the Rep, we saw Ring of Fire, a musical revue and biography of Johnny Cash. It was a full house, which is unusual for a Rep show, this late in its run. Anne and I both enjoyed it. Here is a synopsis of the show:

Featuring a company of multi-talented performers and over 30 hits from his iconic songbook, this spirited musical takes you on a journey through the life and career of The Man in Black. Exploring love, faith, struggle and success, songs such as “A Boy Named Sue,” “Daddy Sang Bass,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Jackson” and “I Walk the Line” tell the story of Johnny Cash in a salute to this unique American legend.

Midsummer Night’s Eve

Midsummer Night's Eve Backdrop

Midsummer Night’s Eve Backdrop

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumbered here
While these visions did appear.

This verse is the beginning of Puck’s final soliloquy in Shakespeare’s comedy, “Midsummer Night’s Eve”. The play is over and Puck is saying goodnight to the audience. The preceding hours, ones full of love, foolishness, and magic are now past. After the applause the house lights come up and we the audience file out of the theater and into a cold November night. It is not midsummer’s eve outside, although the moon is still close to full. All of summer is now gone. Even fall is beginning to lose its grip as we find ourselves racing pell-mell down towards the other solstice, the darker, bleaker solstice of winter.

I questioned why the Rep had chosen this play to produce, what it being performed out of season. Anne first remarked that the Rep doesn’t run in the summer, which is true. Then later she mentioned that most of this production’s run had occurred in the run-up to All Hallows Eve. Now there is a tie-in that I can understand and would have gotten right-off, if we had seen the play a week earlier. Its costumes and merriment fit right in with the spirit of Halloween, but one week hence and forever looking forward, while going sixty, I did not make this connection, because it was already receding in my rearview mirror.

The photo with this post is a picture of a picture that was on display in the folia. It accurately captures the current season and is suggestive of the woods in the actual set, but they are different. Maybe it was someone’s existing picture that inspired the concept for the set? I don’t know, but I like its perfect symmetry, except for the moon, whose light, which oddly is also symmetric. The picture is like a pair, both the same, except that one casts the light that they both reflect.

Friday night was date night, with dinner and a show. Me and my baby both played dress-up. My costume included a sports coat, while hers a skirt. Dinner at CJ Muggs was fine, but later, when I fell asleep in the first act the date went south. I woke up during intermission and stayed awake and enjoyed the second act, but the damage had been done, for which I am truly sorry, dear.

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That we have but slumbered here
And let these visions disappear.

One Man, Two Guvnors

One Man, Two Guvnors Program Cover

One Man, Two Guvnors Program Cover

“One Man, Two Guvnors” was the first offering of this season at the Rep. It is an adaptation of “Servant of Two Masters” an 18th century Italian comedy. This adaptation resets the time to 1963 and the place to Brighton, England. It has been all the rage in London for years now. It was a very funny play, full of slapstick, jokes and impromptu. We both enjoyed the play very much.

Usually, before each performance of the first play of a season, the Rep’s artistic director, Steve Woolf comes out to speak to the audience, but because “Two Guvnors” featured a British rock quartet, who performed a warm-up set instead, there was no opportunity for that this year. This is the Rep’s 48th season. Woolf was still to be seen in the wings, still sporting his characteristically loud sweater. I hope that Steve can continue to direct the company through the Rep’s 50th season and beyond, he has built a great institution.

At one point in the play one unrequited lover is trying to express to his true love, the feelings of loss that he had experienced, when he thought that through one of the play’s many subterfuges that his true love had died:

Stanley: I’ve never felt worse. I felt like the floral clock in winter.
Rachel: That’s exactly how I felt! All the flowers dead!
Stanley: And yet the mechanism of the clock is pointlessly turning!?
Rachel: The hour hand pointing to a dead geranium!
Stanley: The minute hand stuck on a long-gone begonia.
Rachel: Stanley, I really don’t want to go to Australia.
Stanley: Oh. Thank Christ! I never did. I can’t stand bloody opera.

Anne mentioned to me after the play that in 1972 she had been in Brighton and taken pictures of the very same floral clock there. I’ve seen those photos too and I searched for them this afternoon, but alas to no avail, too bad. This highly enjoyable show was preceded by an equally enjoyable dinner. We ate at Cyrano’s. I’ll skip over the main course to what is really the main course there, dessert. We shared an apple-blackberry pie. As Anne said, a pie prototypical of this week’s changing seasons, a pie still part summer and also part fall. 

Dinner and a Show

Cultured Pearls for a Cultured Girl

Cultured Pearls for a Cultured Girl

That’s my showgirl there, all dolled up and ready to go out with her guy. She’s got her new never been worn before outfit on and my mother’s pearls. My dad sent them to her, with the proviso that I post a picture of her wearing them on this blog. The necklace, earrings and ring [Not shown, I blame the photographer.] are all cultured pearls, purchased in Japan, almost sixty years ago, about ten years after the war. I did manage to get her pearly whites in the shot though. Dinner was at CJ Muggs one of our three favorite pre-Rep dining spots. The show, this season’s finale, was “Noises Off”:

Disasters abound as a frantic, sleep-deprived touring company of actors rehearses and performs their fictional farce, “Nothing On”. Too many doors, too many sardines and not near enough time combine to create a riotously funny situation on and off stage for both cast and crew. Michael Frayn’s intricately crafted mayhem is hailed as one of the greatest comedies ever.

We had seen or at least had try to see “Noises Off” years ago, when it was performed at Maplewood-Richmond Heights High School. This was back in the day when Dave was attending Rochester and as fate had willed, he was flying in the night of the performance. We figured that we could at least watch the first act, before we had to go to the airport. We enjoyed that act so much that it was with some reluctance that we headed off to the airport. We were halfway there, when a text arrived alerting us that his flight would be delayed. We turned the car around and caught the third and final act of the play, but missing that crucial middle act led to a lot of confusion on our part.

When we heard that the Rep would be producing “Noises Off” we were extremely pleased about that. It would give us a chance to fill in the missing act. As an aside, this production’s company includes Joneal Joplin, the hardest working actor in Saint Louis. The Rep structured the play as two acts, with one intermission. In addition to the play itself, the liner notes for the play within a play, “Nothing On”, are hilarious too.

Take back your mink
Take back your pearls
What made you think?
That I was one of those girls
Sung by Adelaide and her Debutantes
From “Guys and Dolls”

No Title – Oops!

Early Logo

Early Logo

Here I am hook sliding into the weekend and instead of my usual bereft of blog topics, I find myself the proud holder of an unusual surfeit of things to write about. So let’s get started then and in no particular order here we go. First up, I thought that we had theater tickets tonight. I was wrong; they are not until much later. I had discovered this error only after, I had showered and changed. More is the pity. What being all dressed up and no place to go, I took Anne out to dinner, instead of dinner and the theater. We walked up Clayton to Katy’s Pizza. Passing the Esquire movie theater, we both looked longingly for any likely show to substitute for the one that wasn’t there, but it was to no avail. Hollywood was off on another of its irrelevant riffs. Dinner at Katy’s was among a young and intensely intelligent WashU clientele. I never felt more pleased at being post-intelligent.

I have held in reserve this week the news and have not yet reported about last Saturday’s show. It was the third and final show of this season of Ignite! It was a musical, called “Georama”. In the mid-1800s, American artist John Banvard created the first georama, a 3,000 foot long scrolling painting celebrating the beauty of the Mississippi River, arguably the first ‘motion picture’. I missed the exhibit of his georama at the Saint Louis Art Museum, a couple of years ago. I think that that exhibit inspired this play. Barvard’s georama was a great success then and once paired with P.T. Barnum became an international one too, but Barvard and Barnum had a love-hate relationship that provided most of the tension in this play. John’s wife Elizabeth and their relationship acted as a counterbalancing influence. Present in the audience was John and Elizabeth Bonvard’s great-great-great-grandson. In his thirties, with a full bushy beard and a shaved scalp, he looks the spitting image of his more famous ancestor’s pictures.

There was news today, that the company was the first pick of college grads as a place to go to work, beating out the likes of Google. This news was somewhat sketchy, originating from an employment agency, but good press is always valued. I was in one of our shops, a hanger, this morning. I was part of a cattle call that my boss had sent out. I and about half-a-dozen twenty some year olds were standing around, waiting. The young guys were discussing the various comic book action hero movies, both past, present and future. None of these movies held much interest for me, but it was amusing hearing these young bucks critiquing them.

GoPro Selfie

GoProing at the SLAMmer

GoProing at the SLAMmer

This selfie is recycled from a Facebook post from last weekend, but since it represented a fair amount of work, I’m using it again here. The problem with using the GoPro as a still camera is that you can’t see what you’re shooting until after the fact. I’m sure the same problem exists with making movies. All those beautiful high-definition GoPro movies must involve many retakes to produce. In the case of this photo, it led to many takes before this one acceptable shot. Anyway, I rode in the park on Saturday, all by myself. I could not coax my better half out. This separation at least left me with enough time to experiment with the GoPro. I like riding with Anne, but I also enjoy a little me time on the bike too. This month being April and April having thirty days, Anne has decided to jumpstart her summer training program, by going thirty for thirty. She actually started on the last day of March, because next Tuesday, she’ll be an election judge and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do that and exercise. So, next Tuesday she’ll have already earned her bye.