July 24th, 2016



Happy Pioneer Day, everybody! We sang "Faith in Every Footstep" with the choir in sacrament meeting, and then after Primary I was playing the pioneer songs for postlude music and realized how much I enjoy "The Oxcart Song". I was going to post a link to it on the lds.org music player site, but their version of it doesn't sound as nice (it's the same version, but I play it faster and on a less "heavy"-sounding piano). ...Maybe I'll post a link anyway, but make sure to find the tempo in the top right and raise it up to at least 95. Here it is!

Anyway, as I'm sure you've deduced, we have returned from Fresno! Tadah! The show was better in retrospect than when we were watching it, because when we think back, it seems like most of the actors were actually doing a pretty good job. But there was a very fatal flaw in the production, which is that (and we're told this is due to lack of direction) the actors were completely and utterly static. They found the place they were going to stand for that scene, and doggonit, they were going to stand there. And stand they did. For the whole scene.

In fact, the show was lacking in pretty much every aspect of the word "dynamic" that you can think of--dynamic movement (nobody moved), dynamics in volume, dynamics in tempo (the orchestra seemed to play everything at almost the same speed), dynamics in emotion... Actually that last one is only true of a few characters, but sadly one of them was Belle. She would get a chance to tell somebody about a book she was really excited about!...and she didn't sound excited. And that kind of makes sense in the number "Belle", because she already knows the townspeople don't care and they're just asking to be polite...scratch that, she should have at least been excited when she was talking to the bookseller (you know, the one guy in town who actually also cares about books at least a little) about the book she was now borrowing for the third time. And in "Something There", when she starts to tell the Beast about the Legend of King Arthur... Those are just the more obvious examples, and I kind of feel bad because I know how much the actress loves the role. I wish I could have been the director, because then it would have been my job to say, "Try sounding more excited!" and it wouldn't have come across as catty or anything...I hope.

Anyway, while it was difficult to watch past the staticness (staticity? stat...I don't know, but my internet browser is telling me I'm spelling it wrong) of it all, in retrospect, I remember things, like how Cogsworth and Lumiere brought enough energy to their roles that I almost didn't notice that they were rooted in place. And there were two actors who did try to move around a lot more, and fortunately, they were the two other leads, Gaston and the Beast. (It really is a good thing Gaston was trying, because that would have made for an awkward conversation after the show, when he asked how we liked it.) They both did a great job of emoting and stuff, and there were several parts throughout the show where the Beast elicited a sympathetic, "Aww..." from us, which is impressive, considering our general attitude toward shows that fail to live up to our standards.

After the show, the cast was out meeting and greeting, so we went to say hi to Gaston. Mom has a visceral hatred of the theater, and especially community theater, from bad experiences with her daughter being rejected for major roles in favor of...well, the favorite. And from her ex-husband being an aspiring actor. So she was tired and wanted to leave, so we didn't stay long, but before we left, we did think, "Oh, hey! We should get a picture with our friend in costume!" even though we already have pictures of us with him in that costume (he told the costume department that he had a costume and showed them pictures from his phone, and they were like, "Hey, that's pretty much exactly what we wanted to do anyway; could you just wear that?"). So we put on the fangirl attitude and started going, "Ohmigosh, ohmigosh, ohmigosh!" and fanning ourselves and being all short of breath, and that's about when his family walked up which may or may not be why we saw multiple phones in addition to Steve's pointed at us.

Gaston told us he'd call to touch base when he was free of adoring fans. He felt bad that we'd gone all the way up there just to see him and we weren't really able to make time to get together. But when he did call, he was also talking to fellow cast members about going out to grab something to eat, and we heard him confirm the cross streets, and we thought, "Hey, that's like, right where Mom's house is." So we invited ourselves, and then one cast member had to bow out, so we went out with Gaston and the Beast. We had a good time, and we felt kind of bad, because somehow, even though they had just done a show and we were mainly only there to see the show, the first big chunk of the conversation focused on us. Obviously we didn't feel that bad, though, because we're starved for attention so we jumped at the chance, and I did try to not hog all the attention, but we hadn't had a chance to tell Gaston about meeting the editor of Noragami, so we did, and he gave us just the reaction we wanted, and he's the only person to have done that in real life. So when all our family members found out that he flaked on picking us up to take us to Fresno for the play (which wasn't exactly flaking anyway, because there were no definite plans), and they didn't ask outright but seemed to want to ask, "Why are you even friends with this guy?", we thought, "This is why--he's a good audience." And that's what everybody really wants in life, is a good audience.

But after that, we focused mostly on the show and what was good about it and what could have been better. Oh man, though, for almost all of the musical numbers, Athena and I were watching and re-staging them in our heads. We're no choreographers, but we have basic ideas that we could communicate to choreographers. Except for Gaston--that one seemed to almost have some effort in it. ...That's not fair; there was effort in all of the musical numbers, probably. And I'm getting mean again.

The point is, we found it inspiring. And we had a lovely evening overall, and then we couldn't sleep (possibly because we ordered chocolate brownies when we went out with Gaston and the Beast), and from there things went from bad to worse. We hadn't bought train tickets yet, and we were going to buy them before we went to bed, but then we discovered that in order to get back home in time to go to the baptism, the train we needed to catch left an hour earlier than we originally thought, and we had plans to go to breakfast with the fam. The baptism was very important, because it was for the grandson of the people in our ward who kind of adopted us and invite us over for all the big holidays, and they had asked us to do the music, and they're good friends and we wanted to be there for them. So we didn't buy tickets because I needed to make sure that we could still make it to the station on time. Fortunately, we were all awake earlier than planned, and it was fine...except that now the tickets were sold out.

We decided to go to breakfast anyway, then go to the train station in the hopes that maybe they had some tickets reserved specifically to sell at the station, or maybe there would be some other way to work it out. There wasn't, so we went to the Greyhound station that was in the same building and asked if they could get us to Anaheim by four, and they said no, we're so sorry. There was a train that could get us to Los Angeles, which is not exceptionally far from Anaheim, by a little after four (the baptism was at five), so I was getting ready to call our ride to the baptism and see if she wasn't too averse to picking us up from LA. But the stress of it all, combined with the bad feelings of making a mistake and the lack of sleep, had me emotional to the point of tears, and I hadn't had time to collect myself before the family (who had been wandering the station with our train-loving nephew) noticed I was crying. The timing was a little awkward, because I was already on the phone, but they decided that Mom and Steve would drive us all the way down to Anaheim. I'm still not entirely sure what to make of it, but anyway, we appreciate it.

And what that all boils down to is that, thanks to traffic, we made it back with just enough time to get ready for the baptism and check our email. When we got home from the baptism, we took a little time to decompress, but unfortunately, it was not enough time to restore brain function enough to do any proper work on the latest chapter of Farewell, My Dear Cramer. The especially unfortunate part of this is that the translation was due today, so we had to work on it anyway. That being the case, we apologize to all the fans if the dialogue is somehow really weird or something. We were seriously running on fumes mentally and physically by that time, so there's a good chance something that made absolutely no sense seemed reasonable at the time. And we're sorry.

On the bright side, we won't have to worry about it next week, when we start on the long list of nine books we have to finish in the next month. On the not-so-bright side, it kept us up late on a day when we were already sleep deprived. Fortunately, church doesn't meet until one, so we were at least able to get a decent night's sleep (as opposed to our usual catching up on sleep). And now we're feeling better. We just have to decide if we want to watch the original Disney's Beauty and the Beast or just go to bed super early. It's a tough choice, because the show made me interested in hearing the original Broadway cast, because while I liked the Beast's performance well enough, I was really curious to hear how the critically acclaimed Terence Mann sang "If I Can't Love Her", because somehow the one in the show we saw seemed not quite powerful enough. Turns out, he was about on the same level as Mr. Mann, and our favorite version that we've heard remains the one our friend Gaston sang when we first saw the Broadway version of the show many years ago. But the point is, we downloaded the soundtrack and listened to it on the way home (Mom hates the theater, but Steve loves it and he especially loves Beauty and the Beast and he'd never seen the Broadway version or heard the added songs before). And while I like the songs in the moment, when I have them in my head for too long, it seems to create a sort of melancholy that I don't think is in the movie so much. And now I have to find out if it is.

Anyway, today I'm thankful for getting to see Gaston in the role we codenamed him for, having an inspiring experience at the theater, making it to and from Fresno safely, Steve and Mom being kind enough to drive us all the way home, and scoring some mint chocolate chip cupcakes at Bread Day today.