Friday, January 15, 2010

Songs from the Crypt

One of the things I love about Thatboy is that he loves going to the theater almost as much as I do. In fact, he picks out the shows we see half the time. In 2008 we went to see a little show called Spring Awakening. The music was by Duncan Sheik, famed 90s singer. I wasn't as impressed as the critics were. To me, it felt like an unfinished workshop piece. I'd read the original in one of my classes in college and felt that the music not only didn't add to Wedekind's script, but actually made it worse. I'm a firm believer that music in a musical does one of two things, it either furthers the plot (traditional) or comments on the scene (Brechtian). And while I read a review in which the critic felt that the songs in Spring Awakening were Brechtian in nature, I would bet the critic never actually read anything by Brecht. To me, every song sounded as though it was written for the radio and then thrown into the show without much thought.

But Thatboy felt completely differently about the show. He felt it was a groundbreaking, world changing piece and we must have discussed it to death. So when I saw that Duncan Sheik had a new musical coming out, I asked Thatboy if he wanted to go. The answer was an immediate YES! I explained to him a little about the "Little Theater" system and how shows start out in certain theaters around the country before ending up on Broadway. We're lucky enough to have a couple of those theaters in San Diego, including the Old Globe. So off I went to purchase our $20 tickets, only to find out I could get them for $10! $10 orchestra tickets for a world premiere at the Old Globe - I knew that would be a good sign.

It's always hard for us to work out dinner when we go see a show. There's not really enough time for a sit down meal, but neither of us really wanted some kind of fast food - so we went for my favorite kind of on to go meal. Sandwiches. But not just any sandwich, some of the best in San Diego! I picked up Thatboy from work and we headed to Mona Lisa's in Little Italy. I LOVE Mona Lisa's. I could live there. The walls of olive oil, wine, fresh pasta, spumoni, sauces. And don't even get me started on the deli with their hand-stuffed sausages, fresh mozzarella, ricotta, and burrata. OH HEAVEN.

I got the caprese sandwhich with some of that fresh mozzarella, tomatos, basil......

Thatboy went with the delux sub, filled with salami, mortadella, ham, and provolone. While I'm not normally a meat lover girl, he definitely won with this one.

We took our subs and headed over to Balboa Park. Which is just as gorgeous at night as it is during the day.

The Old Globe is modeled after the REAL Globe. You know, the one in London? (And yes, I have seen the reconstructed original)

Whisper House is the story of a young boy who goes to live with his Aunt after his father is killed during World War II. His Aunt runs/lives in a lighthouse that is haunted by a couple of ghosts. The ghosts both befriend the boy and seem to egg him on. "We are here to tell you/ghosts are here for good/if this doesn't terrify you/it should." The set was very minimal - which I love, consisting for a series of raised platforms connected by a winding staircase. The top, with a lamp represents the top of the light house. Level 2 is Christopher's room. The first floor is the kitchen. A sliding flat becomes Mr. Yasujiro's room in the bell house. A screen comes down between the front and back stage which is used to project images, and separate the ghostly band from the rest of the action.

This time, Thatboy and I had reverse emotions. I thought the show was wonderful. I loved the music and the story. It reminded me of those old school ghost stories - like The Woman in White and Turn of the Screw. I love stories like that. I also loved the humor infused in the music - like the first song which introduces each character, and the final song which brings each on for their curtain call. "Lieutentant Brando/Brave Commando/We hardly know you/Rolling in one scene."

Thatboy, however, thought this show had the potential to be better than Spring Awakening, but it wasn't quite there yet. He felt like they need to be more rehearsed, and have more fluidity between the actors and the technicians. Some of the things he had issues with, like the mics cutting in and out, were things I overlooked. And other things, like actors singing the wrong verses, well, it IS a World Premiere.

As much as I enjoyed the production, I don't know how well it will do. I could see it becoming a cult classic, but it doesn't have the large production value of many of the currently popular shows like Wicked, or the Disney shows (Little Mermaid/Mary Poppins/Beauty and the Beast/Lion King......). And it also doesn't have the sexual content of Spring Awakening (which is why I personally believe it got the reviews - because if you don't like it, you're obviously a prude. Sex sells.) But I do hope people give it a chance and see it for what it is. Much more than a ghost story, it's a story about tolerance, difference, and strangers in a time of fear. And how sometimes strangers aren't as scary as you may think. Just like ghosts.


  1. is it wrong that i just can't get past that awesome-looking caprese sandwich?

  2. My husband loves musicals. More than me, as much as I enjoy them. He likes musicals and swing dancing; I like watching football and listening to rock/pop music. Go figure. :)