Friday, August 25, 2006

Recent Travel

Last weekend I went to new york city. I flew jetBlue for the first time. In general it was a good experience - nice people, fun to watch TV on the plane and quick boarding. The downside was dealing with JFK. We got in a little late because the plane was late leaving JFK to get us and then when we arrived it took 30 minutes to get the jetway to work. On the way back, I was in the plane for almost two hours before we took off. Not awful, but clearly JFK evening traffic is bad.

There were three reasons for my trip. #1 - to see my best friend and her husband, #2 - The Haystack, #3 - Sweeney Todd. I haven't seen Rebecca and Lee since our (Rebecca and my) 10th high school reunion in November 2004. It was great to see their place, meet their second dog and spend some much-needed time together. R unfortunately couldn't join me for the weekend, but Rebecca hopes to come visit us in the spring. We're both kind of bad about calling, but we've gotten somewhat better now that she has a "regular" job and is done with medical school and her residency. :-)

You can find out the basics of The Haystack at Let me just say that it was hard. I had a certain understanding of how hard it would be, but the sample puzzles on the site seemed easier than the ones we did. You can find the 18 puzzles on the site. I think the difficulty was that each puzzle had a number of layers, so if you couldn't solve the first layer of the puzzle, you couldn't go any further with it. And, you could only get points for solving the associated "hideout" puzzle if you also solved the "crime scene" puzzle with the same number. The crime scene puzzles were harder, and it took us a little while to realize that we should solve the crime scenes first, because if you didn't get that then the time spent on the associated hideout was just wasted.

I don't mean to sound like a downer - it was a very fun day and there is nothing like the rush of solving something! I'm proud of the work we did and we were all relieved that we didn't come in last. ;-)

On Sunday, Rebecca and I went to see Sweeney Todd. Fabulous! The acting, directing, design and the whole concept were wonderful. I thought that the limited orchestration served Sondheim's music well and the cast was impressively talented in their abilities to act, play, and shift scenes and props for the entire show. And I enjoyed when Mrs. Lovitt knitted. :-)

I'll admit that I have no background with this show. It's one of the few CDs of a Sondheim show that I didn't own (until now), so I have no comparison of this production to previous interpretations. I've heard things about previous performances, but I didn't know the music or the story before Sunday.

There are two ways that I typically see shows. The first, is the way that I saw Sweeney - kind of a blank slate where I can really see the show rather objectively. Not knowing the lyrics and music by heart, or being emotionally tied to the show means that I can have a much more "in the moment" reaction to what's on stage. The other way I see shows occurs most often, where I have listened to the CD enough that I have practically memorized the music and grown to love the show without ever having seen it.

Interestingly, I find that I remember the productions with much more clarity when my first exposure was in the theater. When I've learned the music and lyrics first, my imagination of the show tends to mingle with the production and make my memory less clear.

I could probably ramble on about this for a while, but I'll save that for another post. I'll just add that once I get the 2005 Broadway Cast album in my head, I'll be anxious to hear other versions of Sweeney and see any productions available on DVD.

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