I went to see this with a large group of people celebrating our friend M's birthday (side note: the Bay area is way too small), and in short, it was about as awesome as you could hope a rock musical about Rasputin would be.
( I see visions and shit. It's part of my thing. )
I am failing to convey how awesome this show was in a variety of ways, but it really was awesome: hilarious, absurd, pointed, and really well-acted. The music was great, and all the actors also double as musicians on various instruments, and it was pretty awesome. (The Shotgun Players: really great.) The strangeness of Rasputin's life and career are only amplified by the times in which he lived, and vice versa, and I think the show gets that.
So I went with epershand to see this musical put on at the Berkeley Playhouse because we got the best Groupon ever and, well, it was awesome.
I think the most interesting choice the musical made was doubling Professor Kirke and Aslan, and Mrs. Macready and the Witch. It's a necessary dramaturgical choice, but it also gives the entire affair a rather Wizard of Oz feel--though of course Dorothy and the Gales eventually emigrated to Oz permanently, while the Pevensies were never allowed to do so. It worked well with the fact that adult actors were never brought onstage to double the adult Pevensies at the end of the Golden Age. We also discovered an artificial textual crux, about which there shall be a poll anon. And there was a random White Stag flitting about with bells and glitter! And Father Christmas looked like a bishop!
It's interesting, now that I'm sitting here rewatching the movie, to note just where this musical followed the movie's lead (in particular, on Susan and Susan's reaction to Narnia, right down to the appearance of the actress who played her here in Berkeley), and where it diverged. The musical drew Edmund's arc out more, and also Peter was a dork! He wore glasses! I never would have thought of Peter wearing glasses, but by the end I totally bought his transformation into Sir Peter and then into the High King. The musical also dramatized (in song, even) Edmund's conversation with Aslan at the Stone Table, but it played down, oddly, the miraculous elements of Aslan's resurrection. The Witch also looked like a semi-recovered flapper, and we were unimpressed with the bonus sexism! of her sexy reindeer and of Mrs. Beaver being a harridan (the Beavers in general are played as sort of broad Cockney types), as well as a musical number about the Witch getting (I kid you not) "hot and bothered" over Aslan's return. But! There was a happy song about torture and a snappy number about the Deep Magic since before the dawn of Time, as well as an actually really cool song about Cair Paravel, and in general, it was pretty great.
The Captain of the Witch's Guard is named...
I don't know that off the top of my head...
He's a wolf no matter what he's called.
This Narnia obsession has gone way too far.
Ticky box learned to always clean your sword from that scene.
Ticky box believes in the prophecy of the four thrones.
Ticky box believes in Aslan.
Finally, some Narnia recs:
snacky has remixed some a softer world comics with the Narnia movies, here and here. They are all pretty great.
Keep Your Eyes Open, by diarmi (Lucy-centric) and
Weapon, by obsessive24 (Edmund-centric)
Final footnote: How did I not know about narnia until yesterday? DW circle, you are all fired! Fired!
A month ago I went to see Benjamin Bagby, the noted early music specialist, perform the first section of the epic of Beowulf in the original Old English. Rather than just a straight recitation, which is pretty damn boring, Bagby does a full performance in the style of an ancient scop (rhapsode), and he's really damn good at it--between the surtitles and the performance itself he managed to have the audience laughing, and in suspense, at multiple points, which is damn hard to do even when the audience understands the performance language.
It was really cool to hear the text performed; old English, amusingly enough, still has a very few words exactly the same as our modern English, and it sounds a lot like both German and the Scandinavian languages--every so often there came a line I could understand without the surtitles, which definitely gave a thrill. Hearing the entirety of the first section actually also made me aware of the linkages between all three parts; specifically, the long digression towards the end of the first part, after Beowulf has defeated Grendel (spoilers! Grendel dies!), foreshadows the manner of Beowulf's death in the third part. The poem "Beowulf" by Richard Wilbur has also stuck with me in that context, and came back to me. (Yes; I hold to the more modern tripartite structure interpretation, as opposed to the two-part structure championed by J.R.R. Tolkien in "The Monsters and the Critics." The essay is eminently readable and worth reading, however; it's available here.)
I also tend to agree with placing the date of the poem's composition towards the earlier end of the accepted range: i.e. closer to the 8thC CE than the 11th. It's interesting hearing the poem and hearing the new religion, Christianity, coexisting within it with the Viking culture it overlays; the elements aren't in tension, but they remain heterogeneous. I wound up thinking of Tom Palaima's Phi Beta Kappa lecture, in which he argued that the Greek epics and drama represent the culture's attempt to teach people what war is really like, and that with the advent of Christianity it became more difficult to convince people to kill their fellow men, necessitating
The Roman road also really does stick out in the poem. How is it still paved? Seriously, how?
After meeting up with nojojojo, who is an awesome person and who very kindly gave me her ARC of Thirteenth Child, as well as a boatload of advice and things to ponder, I wandered down through Lower New York to see the "Coraline" musical. In a word, my impression was: OMG AMAZING GO NOW.
( Follow your tale. )
On the other hand, though, I picked up the second half of Gaiman's new Batman comic, "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?" and thought it had a complete, total, sentimental cop-out of an ending. So let that be a warning to ye!
In other news, we had a party in Kobe this weekend and it was quite awesome. Oh man the nachos and the takoyaki were amazing. I want more nachos.