4.16.2007

Maybe you will have seen this coming

Here is my brief review of Ragtime, which I saw at the Eccles theatre in L**** on Friday night.

(And yes, I'm in DC now at the conference but will blog more about that later. Am on my (self-extended) lunch break. Also, it is freezing and windy and raining here. And all the cherry blossoms have blown away. Which is crap.)

Highlights of Ragtime:

Beautiful, beautiful music
Great large cast, including the same actor who played Colehouse Walker Jr. when Jen and I saw it at the Hale Center Theatre in West Jordan a couple of years ago. He was even better this time, which made Jenny even more bitter about missing it.
They used the actual swearwords in this one instead of cleaning it up like they did at the Hale, only don't even get me started about that whole thing. It's a rant for another time.
Our seats were $8.

Lowlights of Ragtime:

We were late.
And no, I don't even want to get into it. I wasn't driving--I'll just leave it at that. I have never been late to a play before and it's just an awful experience. And since I generally feel that people who are late to plays should be hit in the face with bricks and then turned out onto the street, it was doubly awful to have to be one of those people. We had to stumble up staircases in the pitch dark and then were sat after the opening number.
Our seats were so high up (next to the last row in the balcony) that the catwalk across the stage blocked some of the action--like, say, any action occurring in the back half of the stage.
The tech crew deserved to be kicked in the teeth. The spotlights came on about 4 feet to one side of the actors and they were late in turning on the microphones. So you'd have someone onstage narrating or singing away and we couldn't hear it until about 15 seconds in when the tech guys paused their game of Risk or whatever.

Back to highlights: The balcony section didn't give a standing ovation. But this kind of worried me. Because if Utahns don't give a standing ovation does that mean that they actually hated the play? Or were they just miffed because they couldn't see or hear half of it? Or possibly they're just learning taste and discretion, but I kind of really doubt that.

This last one I'm not sure about where to place, so here goes: During the play I noticed that some of the actors playing black people seemed, well, paler. But I figured the casting people probably couldn't afford to be picky about that since they're looking for people of color in a valley that is predominately peopled with Hitler Youth lookalikes. The actor playing Booker T. Washington, though (a small but important part with some singing lines) seemed a very strange color to me. He also seemed about 3 inches high, but that was due to my seats being in the nosebleed section.

Anyway, after the play finished they did that embarrassing thing where they have the cast stand there on your way out so you're walking through this Gauntlet of Awkward. As I tried to avoid making eye contact with the performers, I noticed a tall, blue-eyed, lantern-jawed man wearing dark-brown face paint. My first thought: "Oh no they didn't." But yes. They did. I'm pretty sure that was Booker T.

Booker T. Washington, played by a white guy in blackface.

Nice.

There was no picture of the actor in the program, which pretty much confirms my suspicions.

And now I have to get back to the conference, which is pretty darn great so far. Will report later.

6 comments:

Scully said... [reply]

Really? REALLY? I cannot believe that. Honestly, couldn't they have just put layer upon layer of dark tanning lotion all over him? That is what they did in the Rodgers Memorial production of Aida. The Nubians were fake tanned within an inch of their lives and the Egyptians were pale. Obviously not true to the play, but they were wise enough not to resort to blackface. I mean, do they not know how insulting that is?

Ed M said... [reply]

Owen Wilson did it in Zoolander, why not at the Hale in Logan?

Tolkien Boy said... [reply]

I saw Ragtime in San Fransisco, and it was great--but the sound guys weren't doing their job and it was LOUD. It was mostly okay until the last part, where there's a cacaphony of gun shots, and I climbed out of my seat, screaming.

Jenny said... [reply]

I saw Ragtime once. It was awesome. And Ed, it wasn't the Hale. I bet they'd be offended to be mentioned in the same sentance as that performance.

Kelly said... [reply]

I'm really, really appalled.

Natalie said... [reply]

As the caucasianiest of caucasians, I played a half-french, half-polynesian girl in a community theater production of the musical South Pacific during my 9th grade year. They tried to dye my white hair black (which was supposed to wash out but instead turned green, and then all year the other kids called me algaehead) and painted me with really dark makeup (which was hard, because I was in a sarong, so there was a lot of skin to paint). The problem was that all of the dark hair and makeup made my blue eyes even brighter, and you could tell they were blue from every seat in the theater. They thought about colored contacts, but instead I just was a blue-eyed half-french, half-polyneisan girl with really streaky makeup and weird hair. So, I can commiserate with poor Booker T.

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