Friday, November 27, 2009

Day Three-Hundred Twenty: High Culture

Tonight, Kim and I went to the Houston Ballet to see The Nutcracker. Kim had been wanting to go for several years (basically since we moved to Houston) so for her birthday this year I went ahead and bought the tickets. Plus, since my folks knew they were going to be in town from Wednesday till Sunday this week, they asked if we might want to get away tonight and borrow their hotel room while they stayed home with the Robbie-meister. And bada-bing, we had a real, honest-to-goodness, romantic date on the schedule.

Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Anyway, the ballet was very good. The artistry of every aspect was simply top-notch. As I usually do when I go to see, well, anything (ballet, theatre, baseball, hockey), I bought balcony tickets. (Cheapest, and you can see EVERYTHING!) What I didn't realize at the time, however, was exactly how STEEP the Wortham Center is! I think the back wall of the balcony was probably about fourteen feet from the lip of the stage. That's an exaggeration, but walking into the theater for the first time, it didn't feel like one. It took about half an hour to keep from getting dizzy when I looked down at the stage, but eventually Kim and I both managed to adjust and enjoy the show.

My only quibble, and I've seen the Nutcracker twice and this is how it's been staged both time, so I dunno that it's HB's fault, and I understand part of it is the nature of the medium, but every featured couple in the second got THREE separate breaks for applause. We applauded after each piece, which was appropriate, I thought. Then, the last big piece in the second act serves as a sort of "curtain call," as each pair comes out once more, one at a time, and dances a little extra, so we applaud again. But then, forty seconds later, the show is ACTUALLY over, and then we have the real curtain cal, where everybody gets yet another individual bow. Which, of course, takes forever. It was actually kind of comical tonight, because the audience was getting a little tired of applauding by the time the prima ballerina was ready to take her bow, so things kind of died down until the conductor came on stage, when everybody got loud again.

Then, there was the second full company bow of the night, and the crowd went wild. Then, the cast retreated upstage, and the applause died down a bit, but they bowed again, so the applause briefly picked up somewhat, then died down significantly. Then, the cast rushed downstage and took a full company bow again, this time with very little pickup from the confused audience. They retreated upstage once more, and they started to bow AGAIN when the screen came down in front of them.

The falling of the screen received the loudest applause of the night.

Also funny: the dancers did this incredibly complex and gorgeous ballet in excellent sync, but in the five full-company bows they took, not ONCE could they managed to bow all together. And they got worse as they went on. By the final bow, some of them didn't even bother to do it. Good thing that screen came down when it did.

Of course, this is a minor quibble. On the whole, the show was awesome and fun, and I never found myself wondering how much time had passed, or what time it was. And, while I'm probably making the ensemble sound a bit self-important here, I also want to point out that they all applauded enthusiastically for the orchestra, so I thought that was cool.

Tomorrow, maybe I'll tell you all about my hotel experience earlier this evening, which reminded me a little of one particular scene from an episode from the first season of Heroes.

Stay tuned.