Friday, August 31, 2018

Another Sing-Out!

It's that time again!  Every 5 years, the theater company I keep coming back to hosts a marathon Gilbert & Sullivan sing-along over Labor Day weekend.  You sing through all the music (but none of the dialogue) of all 13 surviving G&S shows.  (Their first collaboration, Thespis, or the Gods Grown Old, survives only in fragments.) 

This will be the 3rd sing-out for which the host company will present one of those shows in a semi-staged, concert version, with a full orchestra on stage w/ the singers, and the principals in costume.  The company chose Utopia, Limited and The Grand Duke for these concerts because those two are rarely done.  When we presented Grand Duke for the first concert production 10 years ago, the response was so positive that we ended up staging it in 2010.  The response to Utopia 5 years ago was similarly positive and apparently the company did consider staging it, but Utopia is harder to cast because it requires so many strong male voices - eleven!

The standard format is to break the shows into blocks for which people can register as participants, or buy tickets as audience members.  Friday night opens with the singing of "Hail Poetry" from The Pirates of Penzance - sort of an unofficial G&S "national anthem," if you will.  Three shows follow.  Saturday is the one full day - a 3-show block in the morning, 2 in the afternoon, and the concert production and one other show after dinner.  Sunday wraps up with the remaining 3 shows, traditionally closing with The Gondoliers because the finale lyrics "leave you with feelings of pleasure."

Attendees come from up and down the eastern United States, the Midwest, the South, and sometimes even from Canada and the UK.  You get hardcore G&S scholars and fans, people who are completely new to G&S and the way the "veterans" quote from the shows, and everyone in between.  We have second-generation attendees, couples who met doing one G&S show or another, and people who've built long-distance friendships over Savoynet, the Gilbert & Sullivan Archive, or the International G&S Festival in England (first in Buxton, now in Harrogate).  Knowing a little G&S can serve as a connection when visiting or moving to new places (that's certainly been my experience), even if you've never had an opportunity to perform.  These sing-alongs are a sort of "family reunion" of G&S fans, of course, but also of opera and music lovers, fans of choral music (Sullivan wrote some rich, rewarding ensemble music for his performers), and those who enjoy wordplay of the sort Gilbert did so well.

I've already loaded my scores (including a few duplicates, just in case) into the cart I'll use for Saturday's marathon, got a hotel room booked near the theater, and am looking forward to singing my brains out this weekend! πŸ˜πŸ’“πŸŽ΅πŸŽΆπŸŽ΅

Instagram 001, anyone?

I created an Instagram account a few weeks ago so I could see the makeup creations of someone George Takei posted about, but didn't touch the account again until this morning.  To my surprise, I've got 15 followers!  They must be disappointed in me; I have no clue how to use Instagram and haven't posted a thing.  Guess I'll hafta do an online search to find an Instagram how-to, or reach out to one of those followers for some instruction. 😊

My Facebook friends are all over the map

While the bulk of my FB friends tend left and are anti-Trump, I also have some Trump supporters in the mix.  Many of my more liberal FB friends have been relishing the recent legal problems of so many of Trump's people (Manafort and Cohen being only the most recent), but one of my pro-Trump friends obviously sees it all as a witch hunt, because that person just shared this:

When I started reading, I thought it was going to be a joke; not so.  It'll be interesting to see how things play out as the Mueller probe continues.  What will we all be thinking a year from now - will we still see things so differently, or will conversations finally become more nuanced?

Saturday, August 25, 2018

A first - NOT cooking for a dinner party!

We had our annual July birthday party last month; we're now up to three honorees (the Chief and two clergy friends).  The Chief decided he wanted a larger group, of a dozen or so, and didn't want me killing myself in the kitchen.  As a result, we had an Italian restaurant cater the food.  We ordered 2 packages for 8, so we ended up with 2 kinds of salad, 2 pastas, 2 entrees, ciabatta bread, and a tray of single-serving desserts.

It felt so weird to do NO cooking AT ALL for a party.  We did still have dishes to do afterwards,  because sterling, crystal and good china DO NOT go in the dishwasher, but no dishes to do before guests arrived.  That meant we spent more time decluttering the house and generally getting it ready for company.

The woman who brought the food was very efficient in setting up, and easy to work with.  We're glad we have such a big kitchen island - plenty of room for 3 warming-pan racks, both salad varieties, and the tray of mini-desserts.  (The bread went on the table.)  Everyone loved the food, and the company was convivial as always, so the experiment was mostly a success.

I say "mostly" a success because the Chief & I decided that most of the food we ordered didn't keep too well in the warming pans; several things got dried out or rubbery (although the mushroom ravioli was very good).  We also weren't crazy about most of the desserts.  The chocolate things (chocolate-coated cake?) were popular, but I didn't love them; I liked the mini-cheesecakes and cremes brulees, but the Chief didn't; and the little apple pastries were better heated than room temperature.

The restaurant did a good job - had plenty of sturdy plasticware, deluxe paper napkins, at least 2 red-and-white-checked plastic tablecloths (which we declined), and the salads arrived in plastic bowls with fitted lids, not just plastic wrap.  However, because of the warming pan issue, we decided that next time we'd just make big pots of pasta and sauce and a big vat of salad; no need to have dozens of different offerings.