Normally when I head off to see a performance, either musical or dramatic, I keep an open mind and generally feel positive about it. There are times I don't really want to go but that isn't because I think I will hate the performance. That's mainly because I'm lazy and just like to stay home. I know that I will usually enjoy it once I get there.
I started out this afternoon with a bit of a gnawing reservation about it, about the performance itself. My next-door neighbor, who attended the rehearsals (but wasn't in it) told me it was terrific, fun, good to see, and that he was the group's "mascot", having performed in a production of Hair years ago in New York. Even so, I knew it is a musical and not one of the ones that involves a whole lot of acting. In other words, lots of singing and dancing go on. I don't much care for musicals. So I was open to enjoying it as much as I might enjoy Jesus Christ Superstar, for example, but not expecting to love it.
I got to the theater early. I figured I'd get a good parking space and maybe there would be good reason to find a good seat inside, too. When I got there this chick (on the right) was dancing around the patio while the other chick played the recorder. In the background was an accompaniment from the musical, chorus singing all out. I have to give them credit, these two. They stayed in character and danced and played the entire time we waited, which was close to an hour.
I got my ticket right away and found a seat in the patio to wait. A couple sat next to me and started talking about the VW bus that is on the stage (he saw it on the posters). The guy traveled back nostalgically to those days when we all had VWs of one sort or another. Of course I had a couple of VW stories of my own, which I shared. A pleasant interlude. The dancing continued. When it was about two (I didn't have a watch on) the dancer handed flowers to a few people, reminding me of those days of yore when hippie girls passed out flowers at demonstrations. I didn't like it then and I don't like it now either, so I was glad she didn't hand one to me.
Several of the audience members were dressed appropriately. It hadn't even occurred to me, but I was wearing a top that could more-or-less "pass". And jeans, always in style. I thought it funny that the clothing from the 70s that I was seeing all around me has already "come back". People are wearing it anyway.
After a while we all started to form a line, standing. We stood for quite some time, still watching dancing girl, while nothing else happened. Finally some guy yelled out that there was a delay, they were holding up the play for something or other. Don't know what. More waiting. By this time I really wasn't in the mood. Not that I was before. But I kept trying to keep an open mind, stay flexible, anticipate something good.
Finally, action. The action was the handing out of flashlights. When we all had them the line finally started creeping into the theater, which was black. Even though we all had flashlights it was difficult to discern what was what. I finally worked my way to an upper seat, thinking I might get the row to myself. It took quite a while for us all to get inside because we had to feel our way and avoid wrong moves. One guy didn't avoid. He crashed into a step.
Honestly, I tried to get with it but I was just impatient, thinking enough already, get this thing started so it can get over.
So the show finally begain, with "The Age of Aquarius" sung by the entire cast, which was huge. Small theater, large cast. The choral quality of the sound was off. It sounded like the gang was not quite together and like they had not been taught how to project and land on key properly. Because I had seen another play in this theater not that long ago and the choral parts were precise and clear, I was surprised at this difference. I don't know what the musical director had to deal with- was she brought in late? Were there too many singers who just didn't have the chops? I don't know. But I found this to be the case throughout the show, with few exceptions. The exceptions were a few of the solos by some of the better singers and some of the choral songs sung by a smaller group, a better group obviously. Sound was uneven, words unclear, and because the whole story is told in song this feature did nothing for my mood.
The accompaniment was by a small band placed next to the VW bus. They did a fine job. They are local musicians and have been at it for years. But I suspect they were a tad too loud for the show. They dominated when they needed to back off. In general, then, the entire show was at high decibel. Not, thank heaven, the show-stopping ear-splitting sound levels you'll find at a rock concert, but rather constantly loud.
The set and staging were imaginative. It was visually fun and interesting. I took pictures mentally several times, stopping the ku klux klansmen in their dancing tracks, ditto the Krishnas and sometimes the rest of the cast. To me this was the best part.
So the production values weren't top. How about the story, the scenes that will rip your heart out? Not so much. The feeling I got through much of the show was that these poor students must have a dismal picture of what we were like in the 60s and 70s. They must see us as overgrown babies, just wanting to have fun. But then, maybe that appeals to them, too. They're young. I remember the earnestness of the hippies with the flowers and the protestors with the signs. I attended a few protests myself and I emulated the "free love" attitude. Is "emulate" the word I mean? I wanted to try it. I never did, not really, but I gave it some thought. The closest I got was when I hitched a ride to the Renaissance Faire one year, got picked up by a guy, went to the fair with him and to his bed after. What I remember from that was that he had Bumble Bee tuna in his little fridge in his little apartment that was on the same lot with his parents' house, and that when we made love - had sex - he was very sweaty. Not a great memory.
As for the other parts. When I was young and not all that stupid I saw that most of the other young people I knew acted like sheep. It was "in" to take part in protests or wear long hair, parted in the middle. It was mindless. Very few of these young adults would have stepped up before the war became unpopular. I sometimes get a mite irritated at the boomer memory.
But back to the musical. If I endured it so shall you. The ending was the big luv-in. The gang collected on the floor, singing and dancing their little hearts out and trying to pull us from the audience to join them. I declined, needless to say. Wasn't in the mood. It was such a lovefest. But I smiled and clapped as expected and then got the hell out.