Sunday, March 20, 2011

v2, d306: "But I like pretty things..."

The above quote was from Robbie after he asked why I was taking Mommy to the ballet.  "Because she likes it," I said.  "Why?" he asked.  "Because it's pretty and has lots of beautiful music and Mommy likes pretty things."  And then the title quote.  The boy didn't want to be left behind. 

But he was.  Oh, he was!  And Dave and Sherri played gracious babysitters while Kim and I were off to Houston Ballet to catch Sleeping Beauty.  It was Kim's Valentines Day gift.  Plus, I think it's good for us to try to get out to something culture-y once a year, right?  ;-) 

Unfortunately, getting to the ballet was a giant stressful trial.  Getting dinner and the kids ready on time for us to be out the door looking all nice and classy happened a bit later than we would have liked, and we were racing toward the Wortham Center hoping we'd make it on time.  I even suggested to Kim that if we were cutting it close enough, I'd let her out at the front door, park the car, and join her at intermission.  After all, the tickets said "There will be no late seating" on the back. I thought that was pretty clear.  Well, we almost made it on time, and then the road we were supposed to turn on changed names on us...before we were supposed to turn on it.  Jerk.  So we ended up getting to the Wortham ten minutes after the ballet had started.  We decided to give it a shot anyway (the girl in the parking garage seemed to have no clue as to whether or not they would allow for late-seating.  In fact, she didn't even seem certain of what half the words I'd said meant.  I'm going to blame poor acoustics).  Fortunately, we parked directly under the Wortham, so it was a short walk. 

Turns out, the tickets lie.  They do allow late-seating; however, they keep all the latecomers in the same section and allow them back to their regular seats at intermission.  (I'm guessing they don't do this if there's a sold out house, but for tonight they had a whole section saved for late folks like ourselves)  So we got in in time to catch the last half of the Prologue.  (This ballet was divided into a prologue and three acts, each with a fifteen minute intermission in between.  The whole thing was about three hours. Really, though, it seemed they should have just called it four acts) 

After the prologue, we went up a level to the upper balcony to our seats.  Only problem was, there were people sitting in them, and while the usher tried to convince these ladies they were in the wrong place, the lights started to dim.  Instead, she found us a few open seats and promised to straighten things up during the next intermission.  (I started to wonder if we were going to watch every act from a different set of seats)  The first (really second) act was enjoyable, and the dancer playing Princess Aurora was lovely (from the balcony at least) and talented.  However, I had to watch the entire act leaning all the way to my left or right, because the woman in front of me had quite the hairstyle.  I spent all night trying to come up with a more apt way to describe it, but there just wasn't one: I say in all seriousness and objectivity, without trying to sound condescending or judgmental at all, but the woman's hair was styled exactly like Ursula the Sea Witch's from Disney's The Little Mermaid.  My wife will vouch for me on this.  It was totally that "bit" from TV sitcoms or romantic comedies where the guy in the movie theater can't see around the woman in front of him's hat.  Only it was Sea Witch Hair instead.  Weird.

After the first (really second) act we took our own seats, and nothing eventful happened.  Except, of course, I almost fell asleep.  This was not the ballet's fault.  The ballet was very enjoyable.  (I can't say it was "good" because I know very little about ballet, so what looks good to me may actually be very poor to the ballet afficionado; I know I've heard several patrons make the same mistake about live theatre)  Nevertheless, I was working on my second day of 3.5 hours of sleep, it was late, and half the ballet was about people falling asleep.  I  had some good long blinks there in act two (really three).  And so, during the third intermission, I walked down all the stairs from the balcony to the lobby to get myself a mocha.  It did the trick.

By the third (really fourth) act, the story had pretty much wrapped up.  Baby born, evil fairy, cast a spell, sixteenth birthday, she falls asleep, good fairy gets a prince to fight the evil fairy, prince kills monster, kisses princess, princess wakes up.  Still one act to go.  So the entire final act was pretty much the wedding party, where the leading man and leading lady have a well-deserved rest while a bunch of random fairy tale characters dance for them.  After two pairs in black costumes, a couple of cats, someone I'm assuming is Peter Pan, and three vaguely European goofballs, the prince and princess apparently decide they're being upstaged, so they take a couple spins around the floor (quite literally) and show everyone who is boss.  Then the ensemble dances together and the happy couple reappears in long wedding trains, signifying that they will not be dancing again, and the curtain falls. 

I really loved the evening, once we got to the theater. The production values were very high and the story was very creatively told.  Everything was very beautiful.  And we had a nice night out together.  (I felt like such a grown-up, all spiffed up sitting in the balcony watching culture with my wife!)  The balcony is always a fun place to sit because you'll see a lot of the families with their own seven-year-old fairy princesses in tow since they, like we, can't really afford any other seat in the place. Also: I'll bet it would be fun to be one of the background characters in these shows.  Party guests, attendants, etc.  You get to wear an awesome costume, stand on a lavish set, and watch gorgeous dancing for a few hours while a live freaking orchestra plays a classic score almost directly under your feet!  Heck, I could think of worse ways to spend a month's worth of evenings, aye?

Oh, and perhaps we'll take Robbie to the ballet when it comes to Miller Outdoor Theater this summer.  Since he does like pretty things, after all.