As an early Mother’s Day gift, my daughter, Jennifer, took me to the Sunday matinée of “An American in Paris.” The venue was the Gammage at ASU in Tempe, AZ. The musical, inspired by the Academy Award winning movie from 1951 starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron, recently closed at the Palace Theater on Broadway.
Before the curtain went up we didn’t know we were going to see a musical ballet—we thought it was just a musical. We didn’t care–we loved the fact that we were actually at a live Broadway musical set in Paris transported to the desert of Arizona.
The main male characters in the musical are two American ex-GI’s: a composer/rehearsal pianist and a painter, and a French singer, with the latter two competing for the affections of a French ballerina/store clerk, Lise. I was quick to notice that there was nary an author to be seen yet I imagine that Paris had its share of American writers in 1951. Possibly a character with the intelligence of an author wasn’t a good fit for a musical ballet.
The choreography was amazing especially the final ballet sequence (seventeen minutes long in the movie—I didn’t time it in the musical performance but it was long). I kept waiting for someone to speak. Without dialogue, I couldn’t figure out what was happening any more than I can decipher a fantasy novel. Were we just being entertained by an elegant ballet? I suppose this was where my imagination was supposed to kick in….
Afterward, I couldn’t resist reading the reviews by New York theater-goers who saw the musical on Broadway. To my surprise, most of them were either totally or partially negative. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought I was reading a review of one of my unfinished novels: main male characters were boring, flat, lacking in emotion (but this is a musical ballet—they could sing and they could dance!); not enough character development; confusing, hard to follow, and flat plot; no conflict until two-thirds of the way through; predictable ending.
Thank you, Jennifer and family, for a fantastic Mother’s Day gift!
Leaving Arizona: With our impending return home to New Hampshire, I am starting to feel the same as when the end of August approaches. That’s why I wiled away the afternoon yesterday in the pool instead of checking things off my To Do List. As the thermometer inches closer to one hundred and above, it’s time to face the gray skies and cool temperatures of New Hampshire. And the budding crab apple and lilac trees, the perennials peeking out of the ground, and the acres of green grass awaiting the awakening of the John Deere mower from hibernation.
It’s 90 degrees and 100% sunshine where I am in Arizona–and yet I’m sequestered inside, lounging on my bed as I try to conjure up a topic to blog about that simultaneously edifies and entertains our loyal readers.
In the Valley of the Sun there are no changing leaves to wax on about–no doubt you have had your fill of the foliage, whether as a leaf-peeper yourself or via all of the pictures posted on Facebook. There is no question that this was a stellar year for colorful foliage in New Hampshire and Vermont.
Green-thumbed residents in Arizona are planting their gardens, though the sun continues to blister the tender arugula and basil plants. Back home it is time to weed-whack the perennials or continue to cover them at night with sheets as we try to eek out a few more weeks of blossoms.
We have seen numerous vees of ducks and geese, presumably ones that have followed us here from brrrr chilly New Hampshire. Unfortunately, my husband (if I can drag him onto the plane) and I, unlike those real snowbirds, must return this week to furnaces and wood stoves, sweaters and gloves, delaying our true winter migration until after Christmas. In Arizona it is still shorts and sandals, air conditioning and ceiling fan weather.
Our grandchildren are out scorpion hunting–and killing–at night with black lights. The good news is after six days here we no longer check our bed at night for scorpions and we aren’t afraid to walk around indoors without our shoes on. Outdoors–that’s another story.
Our mode of transportation is an open air Jeep Wrangler. The other day I was caught without my sunscreen as the sun beat in through the open roof. (Luckily, I never leave home without my zippered, hooded sweatshirt in tow, just in case we venture into a store or restaurant with the a/c thermostat set at sixty or lower. I plan to launch a campaign to “encourage” businesses to raise their a/c thermostats. Sorry, I digress….) With what I considered a clever defensive move, I whipped on my sweatshirt backward with the hood covering my face. Instant protection. And immediate embarrassment to my husband as we stopped at a ubiquitous stoplight and the women in the car to our left and the man to our right gawked and laughed. At me. (This appears to be a case where ” you really had to be there” to appreciate the humor of the situation.)
With any luck I’ve entertained you. Or made you envious. The edification will have to wait. I’m still on vacation.
October is here and we in northern New Hampshire know what the forecast is. Changing seasons: shorter, cooler days. Turning leaves: tour buses, leaf peepers. Flipping the family photo calendar: grandchildren clad in Halloween costumes, my mother’s birthday. Swapping out my wardrobe: fleece, socks and sneakers. Fall cleaning: screens down, deck furniture in.
October whispers in my ear: I know you’re busy but don’t forget that NaNoWriMo is on its way. November first is less than thirty days away now. Don’t you always say you are going to start preparing for NaNoWriMo in October? Get your outline and character sketches done so that you can just start typing away on November 1 with your outline for reference? I bet you can exceed 50,000 words if you do that.
This year I have a response. Listen, October, stop bugging me. I am working on an outline for NaNoWriMo. I already have my characters’ names with personalities formed, allowing for more novels to follow. I’ve drawn a rough map of the town where the murder takes place. I’m reading Louise Penny’s “Inspector Gamache” novels to make sure that I don’t end up copying her quaint, idyllic, deadly town.
It’s a real temptation, especially as this area of New Hampshire abounds with similar towns: a town common or green surrounded by old churches, old stately homes, old maples, old, white fence, old pines adorned with Christmas lights. Possibly a gazebo decked with red ribbons and sparkly snow. You get the drift….
My fictional town of Woodbury wears a blue-collar attitude. A diner instead of a bistro. An auto repair shop in place of a bookstore. A run-down motel instead of a B & B. The hub of the town? A Village Store where the locals go to catch up on all the gossip they missed at the diner. And let’s not forget the farms on the dirt roads spiking out of Woodbury. Beyond town lies another world, a lake populated with out-of-state visitors, some who visit for the summer, most just a week or two.
And there’s plenty more. I think I am in better shape than I have ever been for NaNoWriMo.
So take that, October.