Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Pure Pleasure

Live theater is so emotional for me. I'm not sure why, but it is. I used to think I was a little crazy because every time I sit in a theater and the lights go down and the music begins, I get teary. Really. I'm not sure why, but I think it has something to do with the pure pleasure of it all. Like I said, I used to think I was a crazy and that I was the only person who ever felt this way, but after reading Rosie O'Donnell's blog, I don't feel alone anymore. Rosie posted a comment from a fan who shared the same kind of experience and Rosie responded that she does the same thing. And this is someone who's been IN the theater.

I have my Aunt Rickey to thank for my love of the theater. When I was growing up, my Aunt Rickey was an independent talent agent in Hollywood. Her job was to get jobs for the actors she represented. I visited her a couple of times when I was a kid. Once when I was about 8 years old, my Grandmother and I took the bus from Fresno to Hollywood to visit Rickey. The second time, I was about 12 years old, I rode the bus by myself to Hollywood and stayed with Rickey for about a week. One evening she took me to a small theater where we saw three one-act plays. The most memorable for me was "Moony's Kid Don't Cry." I was hooked!

Tom and I have been to the theater a lot, especially when we lived in California. If there is something I miss the very most, it is really good live theater. Many years ago, we drove to Los Angeles to see Phantom of the Opera (with Michael-freaking-Crawford!!). That is, without a doubt, my favorite of all time. I've also seen Cats (with Betty Buckley as Grizabella), Into the Woods, Annie, Grease, A Chorus Line, Fiddler on the Roof, Stomp, Blast, My Fair Lady, Bye Bye Birdie, Cabaret, Damn Yankees, Guys and Dolls, The King and I, Oklahoma, Pajama Game and many more that I cannot recall at this moment.

We planned a trip to Memphis around the performance and last Friday made the two and one half hour trip to see The Lion King at the Orpheum Theater. We stayed at a hotel two blocks from the theater, parked our car and walked throughout downtown Memphis for two days. Friday night, we listened to great music and had drinks and munchies at BB King's on Beale Street. Then walked back to Monroe Street, near our hotel, and had dinner at McEwan’s On Monroe. Oh my God! So delicious. And so much fun. The next day, we had lunch at a deli and walked around downtown before heading to the theater for the matinee performance of Lion King.

So, how do I even begin to tell you about Lion King? As the lights dimmed and the orchestra began to play, animals began to migrate across the stage and I felt tears run down my cheeks. The African rythmes, the vibrant voices and music initially took my breath away, then sent goose-bumps up my arms and neck. The human actors were transformed into animals ~ lions, giraffes, birds, antelope, zebras, hyenas and elephants ~ a sort of sculpted human art form.

I was completely enveloped by the fantasy, drama, humor, music... the pure pleasure of it all.

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