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Can You Hear a Lark in Any Other Part of Town?

Uncle Stashley is back from New York City, and he's learned some valuable lessons (and seen a lot of a shows):

  1. Sometimes the yarn shops listed in Yelp are closed.  Do more research before walking two hours in the blazing hot sun to get to a disappointing, empty store.

  2. When staying in a room with a shared bathroom, and not being able to get into the bathroom, recognize that you would pay almost any amount of money to be able to use the bathroom, and vow next time to pony up enough upfront cash to stay in a place with private bathrooms. (NYC hotel rooms can cost, depending on the date, even $300 a night for semi-decent accommodations, not even nice, just semi-decent ... so when you get a room on AirBnB for $83 it's hard not to just go for it.  But it's not worth it, unless it has an ensuite!)

  3. If shopping at Purl Soho, expect a lengthy wait for your skein to be wound (it's nice that they wind it for you), so build that into your travel plans.

 

The Shows!

 

Yes, it's not all about fibre arts.  These are the shows I saw this trip, rated on a scale of 1 to 10 stars (this is a Broadway scale, where 1 = Glory Days and 10 = Wicked.  I will also rank them from 1 to 10 skeins, based on the amount of knitting (or crochet) related interest they held.

 

Plays

Angels in America (Parts 1 and 2): don't shoot me, but I didn't love it.  It was intermittently interesting, but there was a lot of shouting.  I'm not a huge fan of 8 hour plays that feel like 15 hours, and I'm not a huge fan of monologues and dialogues—if you've got a big cast, I like them all interacting, otherwise I'm sitting there thinking "I paid all this money so Nathan Lane can sit backstage playing backgammon with Beth Malone."  I mean, there are some actors who didn't even come onstage for the first 3 hours.  I'm a bit mystified why everyone thinks this is the great American play, a triumph of the ages—give me Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf or The Man Who Came To Dinner any day over this.  There were some shawls and scarves, but nothing too showy. 3 stars, 3 skeins.

The Boys in the Band: I liked this a zillion times more than I'd thought I would—I pretty much straight-up hate the movie, which is all I've seen of this before ... the cast was stellar, they all interacted (take that, Angels in America!), it was terrifically funny for the most part (I'd thought it was going to be a drama, but it played like a comedy with a few dramatic bits tossed in for effect), and it wasn't too shouty. No knitting, but Matt Bomer was naked, which is a trade I'll usually accept. There were sweaters and a discussion about said sweaters, if I recall correctly.  6 stars, 3 skeins. 

 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Parts 1 and 2): Absolutely terrific, mesmerizing, wonderful.  A perfect two nights at the theatre.  I do think you need to have seen (or read) the Harry Potter series, as this play is one hundred percent a sequel, and (more than most sequels) rely upon prior knowledge of the series for full enjoyment.  (You don't need to be a Harry Potter geek, if you saw each film once you're good to go).  And there was knitting galore, as everyone knows scarves are an essential component of the Hogwarts' uniform (when outside).  There are two designs of scarves going in the film series (they changed in Prisoner of Azkaban), plus a variant prior to the Potter period in the Fantastic Beasts movies, and here in the play the design is altered once again.  They also sold scarves in the gift shop. I plan to knit my own as a self-built souvenir, probably to this pattern by Lauren Kent.  And a quick shout-out to the Movement Director (who also worked on the brilliant Curious Incident of the Dog In the Nighttime play), Steven Hoggett (could he sound more British?), who really made the play sparkle—it doesn't always have to be special effects and production expenses, you can do a lot with movement.  He also worked on Angels in America, but I won't hold that against him as he was only a consultant there, not a director.  10 stars, 8 skeins. 

  

 

Three Tall Women: featuring Allison Pill, Laurie Metcalf, and Glenda Jackson—this was by Albee, and I just loved it.  Never read it or seen it before, so I was going in blind.  Surprised by how much Glenda Jackson got to do—she's very clearly the lead—as I'd suspected, incorrectly, the eldest of the tall women would be spared having to memorize quite so much.  Couple with a stunning physical environment, this was a must see for me. No knitting, sadly, so 9 stars, 1 skein.

 

 

Travesties: on paper, this was going to be right up my alley.  In the style of The Importance of Being Ernest (perhaps my all-time favourite play, depending on my mood)? Check. Main characters include Tristan Tzara (noted dadaist, and I'm a trained Art Historian!) and James Joyce (I've actually read 100 pages of Finnegan's Wake, which I expect is 80 pages more than anyone else managed to get through). In reality, it was boring.  Boring in a frenzied, chaotic way, like when you dress up monkeys and hand out simple musical instruments.  You start out feeling it's worth watching if only for the novelty, but you quickly realise the sooner it stops, the better. And no knitting. 2 stars, 1 skein.

 

Musicals

The Band's Visit: if Travesties was boring like a bunch of rampaging monkeys, then this was boring like a dead monkey, lying there, doing nothing. I was greatly shocked by how surprisingly dull and uneventful this musical was, given the critical plaudits hurled upon it last-and-this season. Almost nothing happened, none of the characters were remotely interesting, only 2 songs rose to the level of maybe-sorta-kinda worth listening to, and apparently this is the frontrunner for the Tony this year.  It'll probably win, too—the other candidates are fun, and will split the "I like to enjoy musicals" vote, unfortunately.  And I normally love the composer (David Yazbek), who even in a not-good show like Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown still managed to turn in an exceptional score, well worth listening to. I also couldn't work out the time period ... everyone seemed dressed late 60s early 70s, there was a roller disco (late 70s), but then they referred to a 1980s event, so I was bewildered. So disappointing! Some of the supporting cast wore nonostentatious knitwear. 3 stars, 2 skeins.

 

Carousel: a very enjoyable, not urgently necessary revival of this production (i.e. when one heard about Bette Milder in Hello Dolly, or Kristin Chenoweth in On The 20th Century, one went "yes, of course, can't wait!" but not for either Carousel or My Fair Lady this season, I'm afraid). Lovely performances, so-so choreography, and the script is really starting to show its age, it's one long avoidance of discussing domestic abuse, really.  But so much knitting!  6 stars, 7 skeins.

 

Frozen: Disney musicals run the gamut from The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast (amazing, wonderful) down to The Little Mermaid and Tarzan (terrible, atrocious), with Aladdin and Mary Poppins in the middle.  This is one of the middling ones, but it's a high middle.  The additional songs are not much of an asset, but the production looks beautiful and will not disappoint fans of the original.  And yes, the dress magically appears at just the right point in the big song! Not as much stranded knitting as one might expect from a Nordic-inspired musical, but there was knitwear—and also a lot more nudity than anyone could have predicted (technically flesh-coloured bodysuits, but still). I cried in the right places. 7 stars, 5 skeins.

 

 

 Mean Girls: Not as good as the very similar Off-Broadway production of Heathers which I greatly enjoyed. Songs seemed like interruptions of a pretty compelling plot, and the lyrics were repetitive and first-draftish. A disappointment, though the message still retains its power ("Don't be mean," I guess.)  Costumes were of major importance (there are actual lines of dialogue dedicated to discussing clothes), but I noticed no hand-knits on the main characters. 4 stars, 1 skein. 

 

My Fair Lady: as with Carousel, a revival that no one was crying out for.  Well-handled, for the most part, though I thought the choreography was especially anemic and thus the sequences with Eliza's father were drained of real impact. The costumes were gorgeous, including a spectacular knitted shawl for Eliza's earliest scenes which no flow'r girl in history would ever have had, and Dame Diana Rigg made a rare Broadway appearance as Mrs. Higgins, so it was a delight to see her. 6 stars, 3 skeins. 

 

Once On This Island: an intimate staging of the show, beautifully and sensitively told, with a rousing score by one of my favourite Broadway teams, Ahrens & Flaherty.  I welled up at regular intervals (that means I liked it), but it was more of a cotton print than a knitwear show. 9 stars, 1 skein.

 

 

SpongeBob SquarePants: who would have predicted this would be my favourite new musical this season? From its catchy opening number and onward, I surrendered to the naive optimism of the main character and the infectious joy ever-present on stage. My only complaint is that they enlisted major artists to each write one song for the show, and I imagine some of them could have been just a teensy bit more interesting, but it's hard in those circumstances—in a usual process you just hint to Mr. Sondheim, who knows it already, and after a few hours in his hotel room he returns with a replacement number.  That wasn't possible here.  And, as posted earlier, the Most Incredible Pink & Green Shawl ever seen on stage, as pictured below, on Patrick, at left (see, I'm not joking!) 8 stars, 10 skeins.

  

 

On The Needles


(I will mark with a ! those projects that have advanced, and !! those projects that are new to the blog.)

 

!Falling Snow Stocking (ready to bind off)

!Falling Snow Stocking #2 (about 1/3 through)

!Sophie's Universe crochet project (Part 4: Round 32) 

!Vice Versa scarf (double knitting!) starting the eleventh row of squares

!GGN Norwegian Ski Sweater (about 14.0 inches into it, from the bottom) 

!Persian Dreams Blanket (row 44 of the second hexagon) 

Sweater Sample (from the Sweater Workshop, in the short rows section)

A Random Blanket (about 40% through)

 

Photo Credits:

Angels in America: Brinkhoff & Mogenburg

Frozen: Deen Van Meer

Three Tall Women: Sara Krulwich

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Manuel Harlan

Once On This Island: Sara Krulwich

My Fair Lady: Joan Marcus

Carousel: Julieta Cervantes

 

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