bunt sign

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

The Golden Gate Theatre is a very old building. You can tell not only by the ornate window balconies scaling the outer wall, but also by the dome in the ceiling and the elaborate carvings around the inner walls. That doesn't even take into account the fact that every other building in that San Francisco neighborhood is ancient.

The seats inside the theater are comfortable, but they're a little close together, and some of them aren't designed for seeing the stage well. You never want to buy tickets in the first row of the loge or the first row of the balcony, because you'll be straining your neck to see over the railing (or stressing your back to peek under it) during the whole show.

That's why we always ask for second-row loge seats at the Golden Gate. Then the only things we have to worry about seeing over are the heads of the people in front of us, craning to see over the railing.

That's a fact of life that you have to deal with if you're seeing a show at the Golden Gate. It does no good to fret about it, and even less to complain. I refuse to participate in discussions about how tall someone in front is, any more than I worry about how short the person behind me is. I think people make each other more uncomfortable by complaining, and it serves no purpose.

The tiny woman sitting in front of me when we went to see "42nd Street" today turned around and asked me if I minded if she sat on a cushion. I said I didn't. She warned me that she'd still probably have to sit up straight and lean forward at times. "Do whatever you have to do," I told her. "Don't worry about me." I knew I'd have to sit up straight, but that's probably for the best anyway.

The very large woman who plopped down behind me began immediately to sigh loudly and click her tongue. "Do you like your seat?" she asked her friend. I knew what she meant, but I wouldn't acknowledge her. She and her friend ended up switching seats with each other. The friend had no problem seeing over or around me (or at least she didn't complain about it).

Every time I go into a theater that doesn't have stadium style seats, I deal with this problem. At a movie house, I always look for a seat that it seems unlikely anyone would sit in front of. That's as much for the other person's benefit as my own. I know what it's like to be short and have to see around taller people. Even so, I can imagine what it must be like to be tall and have to worry about someone sitting behind me. I think I'd probably slouch a lot.

This is a divisive issue over a physical characteristic no one can really help: height. It's important to be sensitive to one another's personal issues, whatever might separate us from each other unnecessarily. It's a matter of simple courtesy and compassion.

The show, as you might expect, was a lot of fun. Once it started I didn't even think about the other people. If seeing a live stage show in an antique theater is supposed to be a shared experience, then dealing with the fact that other people exist and take up space (and sometimes talk inappropriately or tap their shoes too loudly) is all part of the experience.

"42nd Street" isn't a modern musical comedy by any means. There are no dark undercurrents or antiheroic characters. It's a sprightly musical revue with tons of fabulous tap dancing and many great old familiar songs. The story line is so slight as to be almost nonexistent, the old tale of the chorus girl who nearly gives up her career before being unexpectedly thrust into stardom.

It's a vehicle for young actors and dancers, and there wasn't a single name on the playbill that I recognized (other than Gower Champion, the original director who's been dead for twenty years). As a compelling piece of musical theater, it doesn't measure up to the others we've seen in the last few months ("Chicago," "The Producers" and "Wicked"). As a shared experience, this was one of the best.

23 September 2003

House, garden and garage, from the far (east) end of the back yard.

Part of the reason the day was so much fun had almost nothing to do with the show itself. Mom and I take a tour bus to San Francisco to see these plays, and we see most of the same people every time. They're nearly all much older than I am, and nearly all women. I've always enjoyed the company of older people. Now that I'm getting to be a certain age myself, it's even better. These people know how to forget about the petty pace of modern life and just relax, enjoy and laugh. I recommend spending time with older people (especially since I'm now one of them).

previousbunt signemailnext


I had one assignment while I was in the City today, and I failed. Sort of. I wanted to bring back a souvenir for Tammy, but the waiters and busboys and other restaurant personnel at Scala's Bistro in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel are so careful that they actually picked up our salad forks as soon as they found out we weren't having salad. The bread plates there are beautiful, but Mom refused to put one in her purse. And there's no gift shop in the hotel, much to my dismay. I ended up walking across the street and picking up a trinket from another hotel. (Buying it, that is. I didn't just pick it up; I paid for it.) The food at Scala's, by the way, was excellent. The service was kind of leisurely but, as I mentioned, quite vigilant.

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Character Driven
"Baseball moves at the right pace, and the season is long enough that little dramas and great story arcs become part of the context of each game."

Subscribe to the notify list to be advised when this site is updated.