Two Different Spaces; Two Different Audiences

I've long been aware of the impact that a performance venue can have on an audience. But it wasn't until I saw two shows on two adjacent days in two very different venues by the same company that I realized just how differently audiences behave in contrasting settings.Last week, I caught two of the four productions in Shakespeare Santa Cruz's summer season: Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well and Lanford Wilson's Burn This. All's Well was performed in the Glen -- a magical and surprisingly intimate outdoor space framed by towering redwood … [Read more...]

On Being On The Receiving End

Those arts critics are an unscrupulous bunch. I should know -- I should know: I'm a professional theatre reviewer.It was interesting, therefore, to find myself at the receiving end of a review for the first time since I started working as an arts journalist. Last Saturday, my a cappella vocal ensemble, San Francisco Renaissance Voices, staged the opening night of our Indian dance and music-infused "fusion" take on Ordo Virtutum, a 12th century musical drama by the German Christian mystic Hildegard von Bingen. San Francisco Classical Voice sent … [Read more...]

Breakfast Table Tirade

On Friday morning, during a trip to Santa Cruz to review a couple of shows in this year's Shakespeare Santa Cruz festival, I found myself sitting at breakfast in the lovely waterfront B&B where I stayed overnight, chatting with a New York-based television producer about classical music.The producer, whom I shall call D, is in the early stages of putting together a television documentary about classical music, specifically looking at the barriers preventing the wider reception of classical music in America today. D was in town to catch the … [Read more...]

On Middle-Aged Women and Mama Mia!

Everyone I've spoken to regarding Phyllida Lloyd's movie adaptation of the irrepressibly perky ABBA musical, Mama Mia!, absolutely loathes the film. Anthony Lane's scathing review in The New Yorker pretty much sums up the feelings of many other people I've talked with about the movie in recent weeks.Yet as saccharine, badly filmed and poorly performed as it may be, the movie seems to be garnering wild praise from one particular section of society: women of a certain age. From my mother to the lady in the coffee shop down the road, to my vocal … [Read more...]