I recently took my youngest daughter to dinner and the current touring production of West Side Story. WSS is one of my favorite musicals of all time. Maybe even my most favorite. It did not disappoint. Neil Haskell from So You Think You Can Dance was in the Jets chorus as Snowboy. Yum. I love the music, the choreography has become iconic and this production was timeless. When the Puerto Ricans spoke among themselves it was sometimes in Spanish as well as some of the songs. The set design was amazing. I loved the rumble drop of the underside of the freeway bridge.
The opening dance number was incredible. I have posted before about my love of male dancers and when the testosterone is flowing and the boys are dancing, I'm very happy.
Dinner was at Zarzuela, a Spanish restaurant in Russian Hill and the food was amazing. Highly recommended.
Here's the Chronicle review of the show.
West Side Story: Musical. Book by Arthur Laurents. Music by Leonard Bernstein. Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Directed by Laurents. Through Nov. 28. Orpheum Theatre, 1192 Market St., San Francisco. Two hours, 30 minutes. $30-$99. (888) 746-1799. www.shnsf.com.
The dancers are hot. Jerome Robbins' paradigm-shifting choreography explodes from the stage with the fresh, feral energy - if not the raw surprise - it had in 1957. The moment when Tony meets Maria at the dance is positively electric. The stagings bring out the Shakespearean resonances of the story more clearly than ever.
Which is as it should be. The national tour of "West Side Story" that opened Wednesday at the Orpheum Theatre - in the SHN Best of Broadway series - is the recent Broadway revival directed by Arthur Laurents, the 92-year-old theater legend who wrote it. Or maybe it's a reasonable facsimile of that production. Laurents' stagings have been re-created for the tour by David Saint, just as Robbins' choreography has been reproduced by Joey McKneely.
The legacies of the other two legends who created the classic modern musical version of "Romeo and Juliet" - Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, in his professional debut - don't fare quite so well. Bernstein's score, one of the musical theater's finest, sounds bold and tunefully inventive for sure, but its tonal and melodic complexities demand a larger orchestra than the one conducted here by John O'Neill.
It wasn't written for amplification, either, which was another periodic problem at Wednesday's opening. The now common practice of opening touring shows with few or no tune-up previews in a new space backfired badly.
Though the tour began only a month ago (in Detroit), it had no previews at the Orpheum. Sound levels were still being adjusted during Wednesday's show. Kyle Harris' Tony and O'Neill seemed unable to find the same tempo in his first big solo, "Something's Coming." Light cues were missed and ominous crashes were heard in the wings when Juliet's balcony - er, Maria's fire escape - was being rolled out.
That said, the balcony scene is a highlight of this production. Harris and Ali Ewoldt's Maria play off each other's youthful enthusiasm and unexpected joy beautifully. If he doesn't have quite the vocal range for Tony, he sings capably enough. Ewoldt's vibrant soprano carries their duets and most of her solos, though she doesn't own the stage enough on "I Have a Love."
A buoyantly tuneful and dynamic Michelle Aravena steals the show as Anita (as usual). She brings down the house (with a fetching Déa Julien) on the sardonic "America" and erupts with searing passion on "A Boy Like That."
Unfortunately much of that showdown with Maria is sung in Spanish (translated by Lin-Manuel Miranda), as is the delightful "I Feel Pretty." Laurents' decision to have the Puerto Ricans speak many of their lines in Spanish adds depth and immediacy to the themes of turf conflict and racism, but in the songs it distances us from some of Sondheim's most acute lyrics.
None of that matters, though, when Joseph J. Simeone's tough Riff and the Jets or German Santiago's forceful Bernardo and the Sharks fill the open expanses of James Youmans' grittily decorous set with explosions of dangerous, antsy, combative or joyful dance. Or when Anita and her crew sweep the boys away with their mambo-flaring skirts.
The opening numbers fill the house with finger-snapping expectation. "Cool," "The Rumble" and the "Somewhere" ballet more than deliver on that promise. The fatal harassment of Anita has seldom seemed so damning. In its best moments, this is a pretty vital "West Side Story."
By the time I got to the beach, an onshore wind was blowing. The smell of the ocean sometimes makes my dick stir. Sycamore trees can do it too. They smell like sex to me. The other day there was a offshore breeze blowing and it was about 70 degrees at 9:00 AM. Perfect surf conditions. I rode my bike to the beach and passed several surfers getting into their wet suits. I wish that I could report that I saw some ass, but I did see a lot of flesh and some beautiful men. I love living on the coast. Driving past parked cars next to the beach with a glimpse of ass, always makes me happy. Today an appraiser came to look at our place. Very cute. Jason. He came out to my cottage and knocked on the door to ask me if I knew where the hot water heater and furnace for the main house were. I showed him the basement door and watched him go down the stairs. He had to bend down to avoid hitting his head and as he did his jeans slid down and his shirt rode up at the same time. Commando! Damn hot little crack and he was bent over for quite a while taking pictures. I think he knew he was giving me a show. MMMMmmmmmm.
Spent the day in IKEA. Even had lunch there. Cheap. I had to buy a new bed. I bought a few other accessories. A lamp and I almost bought a new table. Retrieving the bed items from the warehouse was quite an experience. The place where I'm living was foreclosed on about a month ago. The landlord did not inform me or the front tenant that this was going to happen. He acted like it was a total surprise and then we found out that he had not paid his mortgage in a year. Well, that's what happens, buddy. He has turned out to be a complete asshole. He stripped the front house of all the fixtures while the renter was in Colorado. He rented the places semi-furnished and just took back his bed.
So, I'm in IKEA and waiting in line to check out with all my shit on a flat cart and in front of me is one the cutest guys I have seen in a long time. He was wearing khaki brown board shorts, flip flops, a blue checkered short sleeve shirt and shoulder length sandy blond hair. He had it cut in a blunt cut and kept putting it behind his ears to get it out of his face. I could see a small bulge that indicated the head of his dick was uncut and when I looked up I could see that he saw that I was looking. I realized I had a very serious look on my face and I smiled slowly and he smiled back. Fuck! He was my ideal youth. Kouros. His legs, his eyes, his face, his body. I imagined it all and I fell in love in that moment.
This happened recently at the library, although I never caught his eye. Flip flops, jeans, t-shirt, short curly blond hair, about 20 to 25. He reminded me of myself years ago when I was oblivious to the stares and glances of older men. I had a female friend who told me once that she hated walking down the street with me, because of all the stares and double takes I got. I don't tell you this to brag or boast, but because I was so naive and unaware of the affect I had on people in my youth. Now, I feel invisible and would love to notice a glance or a double take. Youth is wasted on the young.
Well, it's a beautiful 70 degrees here on the coast. The sun is out and I'm on my way to the beach. Let's hope the view is this good. Sorry for the long delay, but I have been working my ass off and haven't been too inspired, but I think that's all turned around now. I will be posting a new chapter of Sons real soon. In the meantime, I will try and stay on top of the blog.
"An artist has always gotta be in the state of becoming"... Bob Dylan...
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