Could I be a musical theater nerd?

Scene that happened at work today:

::me, explaining some work stuff::
Coworker: “…and then you’ve got trouble in River City.”
My face:

Me: “Did you…did you just make a Music Man reference?”
Him: “Oh, I don’t even know where the phrase –”
Me: “Weeeeeeell you got trouble my friend. Right here, I say –”
Him: “Oh, you’re singing it. Well –”
Me: “…trouble right here in River City. Well sure I’m a billiard player, certainly –”
Him: “It keeps going. Okay.”
Me: “…mighty proud to say, I’m always mighty proud to say it. I consider –”
Him: “You’re not stopping.”
Me: “…that the hours I spend with a cue in my hand to be GOLDEN –”
Him: “SOMEBODY HELP ME I CAN’T PUT THIS TOOTHPASTE BACK IN THE TUBE!!”

I know some of you think of me as the Hamilton guy, but I absolutely never thought of myself as a theater nerd. I never *did* theater, so I thought that automatically disqualified me. And sure, I have a soundtrack or ten (or 20), but who doesn’t? Musicals are just pop culture, I thought, and I have a talent for picking up song lyrics.

I mean, it really probably wasn’t until about a year ago, when I was at a wrap party for one of Evelyn’s plays, and I got involved in a conversation with some of the adult actors. They were discussing topics like “best/worst Andrew Lloyd Webber show” and “best musical (not named Hamilton) in the past 10 years” and I was all

I had opinions man.

So that got me thinking. Have I been musical theater nerd this whole time?

I mean, okay, so I have an abiding love for Jesus Christ Superstar, but that’s really my mom’s fault, and yes, okay, if you really press me I can make a top 10 favorite musicals, but it’s not like I have it written down somewhere, and sure, I know all the words to all the songs forward and back to maybe 15 musicals, tops, but some of those are because of the kids, and yes fine, I’ve seen quite a few shows on Broadway, but we used to live in Philly, and we didn’t plan our Honeymoon specifically around Broadway, it was just a happy accident, and I know that perhaps it’s a little abnormal that one of my favorite movies of all time is Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge, but when you think about it, for it’s time…

But that doesn’t make me a musical theater nerd, does it?

Evelyn to appear on stage in Billy Elliot!

As some of you have noticed here or there, Evelyn is currently in the middle of rehearsals for her upcoming role in Billy Elliot!

For those of you not familiar with Billy Elliot:

Set in a northern mining town, against the background of the 1984/’85 miners’ strike, Billy Elliot is the inspirational story of a young boy’s struggle against the odds to make his dreams come true. The story follows Billy’s journey as he stumbles out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class where he discovers a passion for dance that inspires his family and whole community and changes his life forever.

Featuring a timeless score by Elton John, sensational dance and a powerful story that has captivated audiences around the world, Billy Elliot the Musical is a funny, uplifting and spectacular theatrical experience that will stay with you forever.

This role is quite a bit different than anything she’s done before, and is by far the most physically demanding (dance, dance, dance!), but she is having the time of her life, and the show is going to be really, really good.

The show runs the last two weekends in October and the first weekend in November, and tickets are on sale now ($22 if you buy before October 1st).

Two things I do want to mention, for all of Evelyn’s loyal supporters:

  1. The show is aaaaall the way up at Northbrook Theatre, just to forewarn you, and
  2. Those of you with small kids, I just want to make sure you notice this warning:

Note: Billy Elliot contains material that may be unsuitable for younger or more sensitive audience members, but please note that we have made every effort to remove the most offensive language, as permitted.

The show is pretty foul-mouthed, so if that’s not something you want to subject your little ones to, feel free to sit this one out and catch the next one (or make it a date night!)

However, if you do decide to make the trek up north, this is one Ballet Girl that is excited to see you!

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Monday Catch Up Post (and quotes!)

Evie: “Rabbits eat vegetables, like grass, carrots, raisins…”
Me: “I didn’t know you knew so much about rabbits!”
Evie: “I kept it to myself.”

Evie: “Does an ant have 8 legs, like a spider?”

I’m very proud of my smart girl!

Evie, trying some food at a restaurant: “Mommies and Daddies say it’s yummy, but big girls say it’s yucky.”

Last week, Evie took another stab at high theater, when Sara took her to see a play of her current favorite story, Pinocchio. It was a disaster. Complete 180 from the first play. She started freaking out as soon as the lights went down and refused to go back into the theater. Her main complaint was that Pinocchio was “big, not little”, i.e. played by an adult, not a child. I think it will be a while before we give plays another try.

On Sunday, we took the train in to the Art Institute of Chicago, for “Free February”. Sara and I wanted to check out the new Modern Wing that opened up last May. I was a little nervous about how Evie was going to do at a museum that was not hands-on, but she did pretty good. Obviously, when you’re going with a kid, you have to sort of present things in a certain way. Like, “Ohh, look, horses!” Or like, find the things that she would be into. She seemed to really dig the modern art! She liked the idea that we could look at it and decide what we thought it looked like. She even sat on the floor and examined a few for a while. Afterwards, we found some children’s art activities in the basement, and Evie enjoyed them so well, that she didn’t want to leave.

Naturally, we managed to get in a trip to Yolk while we were in that neck of the woods.

We also managed to hit up a new (for us) restaurant in Chinatown, but I think I’ll save that for a separate post tomorrow

Me: ::Throwing a long, beautiful, arching snowball and nailing Evie in the legs::
Evie, excitedly: “Good job daddy!!”

What can I say, it was a beautiful throw?

The Addams Family

Over break, Sara and I took a day for ourselves and went to see The Addams Family. It is a musical that is premiering here in Chicago before going on to Broadway in New York. It stars Nathan Lane as Gomez and Bebe Neuwirth (A.k.a. Lillith, from Cheers (Frasier’s wife)) as Morticia.

Overall it was pretty good. I absolutely loved the scene where Uncle Fester is singing to the moon. For me, it was worth seeing for that scene alone. The guy who plays Uncle Fester is great, and so is the kid who plays Pugsly. Without a doubt, Grandma got all the best lines. As far as Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth, they were okay. I was excited to see them, and they didn’t do bad, but they didn’t really knock my socks off either.

Overall I’d have to rate it a solid B. I enjoyed myself, and I didn’t regret seeing it, but I can think of a couple of shows off the top of my head that I thought were better (but of course I can think of plenty that weren’t as good, either). At one point I thought to myself, “What is missing from this show?” It had everything you could have wanted; good actors, good sets, jokes. Somehow it just didn’t catch me. I think the music wasn’t that catchy. Sara thought the jokes were too corny maybe, but then again, they usually are in things like that.

So anyway, if you’re looking for a show to see, I would recommend this. Especially if you were a fan of the T.V. show; there are plenty of references to the show (I actually saw a fair number of episodes via Nick at Night, back when that showed old reruns). Just don’t pick this one over Wicked.

Alice

Evie has recently become obsessed with Alice in Wonderland. She has 2 slightly different versions of the Little Golden Book summary of the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland. (Kind of like a game of telephone, isn’t it? A translation of a translation.) It’s not all that surprising that she’s into it, considering it stars a little girl, a cat, and a rabbit; probably Evie’s three favorite things to hear stories about.

Imagine her delight when she found a copy of the original Lewis Carrol book on my nightstand.

I bought it at a used book sale some time ago, meaning to read it, but never quite getting around to it. Evie, however, was desperate to read it immediately. Sara and I figured that she was probably ready for chapter books and, though it’s probably not the one I would have chosen, it would do. So I started reading it to Evie before bed.

I’m not sure why Evie liked the book so much. She mostly seemed bored while we were reading it and asked for more pictures. Alice is quite a precocious little girl and most (if not all) of the story went right over Evie’s head. After we finished reading she would ask me what happened and I would try to summarize it in a way that would be more interesting to her. But every night she would demand that book, even when I tried to get her to read something else.

Now it so happens that around this time we stumbled across an Alice in Wonderland play being put on by the Chicago Kids Company. The timing was too perfect, so we had to go (in fact, Evie and I finished the last page of the book the morning of the show).

Tickets were pretty cheap, and, the day of, Evie and I were pretty excited about it. It was definitely designed for kids and was very interactive. There was yelling, counting, and even a dance section. During the dancing Evie mimicked Alice exactly, move for move. Because most of the theater was full of school kids, Evie and I ended up in the very front row. This was pretty cool, but maybe a little scary for Evie. At one point, the White Rabbit ran through the row right behind us and then down the stairs next to Evie and she about clawed my leg off trying to get into my lap away from him! Evie had insisted on bringing her stuffed bunny to the show, and, whenever the White Rabbit was on stage, she would hold her bunny up so he could “see”. Afterwards, the characters all waited out front to say hi to the kids. Evie was a little nervous, so she wouldn’t get too close, but she did show her bunny to the White Rabbit. He said that it looked like one of his cousins, and I think that was a highpoint for Evie.

I asked her what her favorite part was and she said the singing (it was a musical). She liked seeing all the characters she expected to see. The play was about an hour, and there was no question about Evie sitting still for it. She was enthralled and probably could have gone another hour, no problem. Huge attention span on that girl. (Side note: the theater company must have been a little leery about the Queen of Heart’s famous “Off with their heads!” line, because when it came time to deliver it, they decided to go with, “Off to the dungeon!” instead)

Since Evie’s main exposure to Alice was from the book and not the Disney movie (which she’s never seen), I imagine her perspective on the show was a little different than the average audience member. She kept asking for obscure characters like the Griffin, the Duchess and the Mock Turtle. Her favorite character in the book is the Griffin, which she knows has a “birdie face and lion legs”. She has decided in particular that the Griffin in Alice in Wonderland’s face is red, like a cardinal. She was not quite sure what to make of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. I seem to remember them being a big part of the movie, but they aren’t in the book at all.

Anyway, it was a great day and I’m sure Evie will be talking about it for a long time. Already she keeps talking about “when we go back” and who we will see (she’s hoping for the Duchess). She told me, “When I grow up and become a mommy, I’ll take you to see Alice in Wonderland!” Unfortunately, I forgot the camera and didn’t buy a shirt, so memories are all we’ll have.