Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Off the needles and into my heart

Dear Miss (Mrs?) September;

I have to admit, when I got the email from Stephanie including me in the Off the Needles calendar, I was a little nervous. When I got to the shoot, and saw this gorgeous shot of you, it didn't comfort me in the slightest:


I mean, look at you! You're cute as a button and twice as sharp as your needles. You've written my all-time favorite KnitLit, I've been reading your blog for *years*, and may have had to contain myself a bit when we were interviewing you for the podcast.

There are so many things I admire about you: you're gorgeous, smart, funny, a great knitter, a fantastic writer, and you have a sassy Mama tribute tattoo. And LOOK at that rack! I am totally honored to be in the same sexy knitter calendar as you. I hope you'll sign mine!

Your fan forever,

Miss (Mrs?) July

(As a side note, the project still needs about $1k in funding, so order your calendar now!)

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Lion in Winter - A review

Event: The Lion in Winter, Shakespeare Santa Cruz

Cost: Our tickets were comp'ed, but you can buy tickets here. (They range from $14-$49.)


John Pasha as Richard “the Lionheart” in the Shakespeare Santa Cruz production of “The Lion In Winter”.
(Photo by rr jones)

The Review:

As with "Love's Labor's Lost", I went into this play totally cold. There's a brief description of the plot on the page for the show (linked above), but it doesn't do the play justice.

The best way of describing this show is part Tudors, part Twits, and a hint of the Prodigal son parable. Henry II is preparing for his succession, and like any good monarchs-in-training would, the three boys fight, plot, and do their utmost to secure their spot as the future King. Marco Barricelli conveys the conflict of deciding what is best for the empire he has built and reconciling that against how he feels about his sons.

There are complex family dynamics at work in this play, mainly how the imprisoned wife and the scheming sons interact. Everyone is working toward their own end goals, politically aligning themselves for their best benefit, but looking over their shoulders the whole time.

"The Lion in Winter" deals with serious themes, but is also incredibly funny. All of the actors have fantastic dramatic chemistry. I feel inclined to add that this is a ridiculously handsome cast. Most notably, John Pasha (Richard, photographed above), who happened to be sitting in front of me during Love's Labor's Lost. So, so handsome- and look at that beard! I love a good beard. He was convincing both as a future monarch and as a soldier. (This is personally relevant to me because my initial introduction to Richard I was in the Robin Hood story.)

There is definitely some artistic license taken with the history, but it didn't ruin my enjoyment of the play. (For reference, I *love* The Tudors.) If you can't cope with anachronisms, perhaps you should skip this show, and for that matter, any historically-based costume drama. If not, this play is not to be missed.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Love's Labor's Lost - A Review

Event: Love's Labor's Lost, Shakespeare Santa Cruz

Cost: Our tickets were comp'ed, but you can buy tickets here. (They range from $14-$49.)

Costard (J. Todd Adams) describes his newfound "lady friend" to Berowne (Adam O'Byrne), Longaville (Brett Duggan) and Dumaine (Richard Prioleau) in the Shakespeare Santa Cruz production of "Love's Labor's Lost".
(Photo by rr jones)

The Review:

As with every Shakespeare Santa Cruz production, this production has chosen to use contemporary costumes in order to make the show more accessible, or perhaps, to reflect the timelessness of the themes. I like the comedies- who doesn't? While this particular production is a bit over-the-top, I think it works. I hadn't read this play before, so other than knowing that it was categorized as a comedy, I went in cold.

I was pleased to see some familiar faces from last year (J. Todd Adams, who played Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream), along with some outstanding new talent. The standout performer in this production was Dana Green, who played Rosaline; she is simultaneously dark and fair, has a voice like a 1920's jazz singer, and has a presence on stage that borders on distracting- in the best way. Green plays the sharp-tongued Rosaline with her tongue firmly in her cheek and a playful air.

[To be honest, if this is the same Rosaline that Romeo was pining over, I think he got the short end of the stick when he picked Juliet. (Sorry, Juliet. Being a rebound can be tough.) Rosaline, on the other hand, traded up from the besotted Romeo to the quick-witted Berowne (played by Adam O'Byrne).]

The other standout was V Craig Heidenreich, who played King Ferdinand with a command of the stage that reminded me of Martin Sheen on the West Wing- with an air of authority and a booming voice that fills the Festival Glen, which is no easy feat.

Overall, I wouldn't say that this was my favorite play, but isn't a reflection on the production; just my tastes. If you like Shakespeare's comedies, you'll enjoy "Love's Labor's Lost".

It's worth mentioning that Shakespeare Santa Cruz is doing something differently- but I'm not sure what. There were more chairs *and* there was more "groundling" seating, and every seat was full. Not only was this a standing room only show, but the audience was well matched to the performance; lively and responsive.

I've said it before, but it's worth saying again. Even if you have no interest in Shakespeare, give Shakespeare Santa Cruz a try. The outdoor Festival Glen makes a great spot for evening romance and so does the brisk Santa Cruz air.