Thursday, May 10, 2012

Trash Can Thursday!

Last week's trash can came from the Caribbean Beach Resort.  I stayed there this past January for Marathon weekend for the first time since 1990 when the resort first opened.  That's obviously a long time past and I am sure the resort has gone through quite a number of refurbishments, but it definitely is a lot nicer these days.  I was a particular fan of the hammocks on the beach, particularly after running a half-marathon!

Here's the trash can for this week.  Can you place it?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Happy Birthday J.M Barrie!

In honor of what would have been Sir James Matthew Barrie's 162nd birthday had he managed to spend his days in his own Neverland and not grow up, I am going to take a moment to advise you all to fly, don't run or walk to go see Peter and the Star Catcher. While I was never particularly impressed with the book, the stage adaptation, which I have now seen both at New York Theatre Workshop and on Broadway, is a theatrical experience that does Barrie proud.  And hey! It's even Disney related.  Though not advertised as such, Disney Theatrical does have a credit in the program, and the novel was a Disney published piece.   We shall not however speak of the Disney movie, which to be fair I've seen only a small handful of times as I never liked it, being a 1960 Mary Martin musical fan all the way.

Peter and the Star Catcher is a celebration of theatrical craft.  The night I saw it last week on Broadway, it was clear that you really have to love theater to appreciate this play.  There was a pair of old ladies behind me who clearly did not understand what makes this play so very special and they were quite vocal in their dislike.   It's helpful to know the conventions of the original Peter Pan as they play with them a lot.  I am particularly fond of the end of the second act where the Boy Who Will Be Peter mimics a moment from the original play and uses his shirt as a sail.  I love the parallels between the Nana in this play and the dog Nana in the original play.  The commitment of the cast to the staging and the physicality they use makes me really wish that there was a Tony award for an overall ensemble.  I could pick out individuals for praise, but I can't imagine the show without anyone of the people in the cast.  The musical opening of the second act in particular I could watch many times over and still find new things to appreciate as each cast member brings something unique.  The play is hysterically funny, if you like comedy along the lines of Monty Python.  There's everything from body odor jokes to jokes about Ayn Rand.  Overall, though, it is the simplicity of belief in the theater that makes this play shine, something that is at the heart of Barrie's Peter Pan as well.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Trash Can Thursday

Here's the full photo of last time's trash can:
Did you guess Boardwalk?  The full photo makes it obvious of course!  The resort in the background is the Beach Club though.

Here's the photo for this week:

Friday, April 20, 2012

Someone has too much time on their hands...or they are just awesome.

Someone has created the majority of Disney World in Mine Craft. This is rather incredible.  You can find all the images here in way better detail. Apparently the rides even work.   I am mightily impressed, oh person who has played more Mine Craft than I will every be able to even if I did not have to work or finish writing a graduate thesis.

I so want to play with this. Someday.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Trash Can Thursday

The trash can of two weeks ago can be found at the main pool area at Saratoga Springs.  While on this last trip in January I spent a half an hour walking around Saratoga Springs.  I stayed on that property back in the days when it was the Disney Institute, a far cry from its current theming.   If it weren't so far away from everything and so spread out I would actually really enjoy staying here.

I'm changing Trash Can Thursdays to an every other week feature for the moment, so here's the photo from this week.  Can you identify the location?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Leap of Faith

I'm going to take a step away from Disney theme parks, please bear with me. 

I went to the theater last night to see one of the early previews of Leap of Faith.  There’s a lot I could criticize about the book of the show itself, and even some praise, but it was the actual theater going experience of the show that I want to write about.  .  I cannot claim to have ever been to one of the “revivals” portrayed on stage, something which probably comes as no surprise to those of you who know me, so my only experience with mega preaching is of flipping through the channels and encountering the televangelist types and moving on quickly.   I should also mention that I’ve never even seen the movie on which this musical is based. 

Entering the St. James last night was one of the most awkward experiences I have had getting into the theater.  I realize it was an early preview, but let’s face it, the actual entry process into the theater and the scanning of tickets is basically the same for every show they do, so why the confused mob of people all trying to cram into a single door at ten minutes to curtain? 

But let’s leave that aside and move on to the experience of being seated and then encouraged to “interact” with cast members placed in all levels of the theater as though they were ordinary members of the audience.  It seems almost every new show (see Once, which does it better) is now determined to spill out from the stage and have a preshow.  This one also included a live video feed that played on four screens, two on each side of the house. 

These screens fascinated me throughout the show as they were used fairly consistently to film Raul Esparza as Jonas Nightingale or members of his “Angels” during the “revival” scenes.  Well, it seemed that was the convention, except for a couple of moments that the video feed seemed to be on for scenes that weren’t part of the “revival” performance.  This may have just been a mistake made in previews, and it was clear this was still an early preview as evidenced by the hold in the second act when the automation on the tent structure on stage failed. It did lead to a convention throughout the show that I found frequently distracting wherein the videographer and the stagehands were constantly on stage filming or setting up and hooking up pieces.  Usually this took place during dance numbers which somewhat covered up that action, but I was consistently distracted by what seemed like far to much work for not enough scenic payout.

Getting back to the screens though, what I found so fascinating was that even I, who attend the theater on a regular basis and love live performance, found myself watching the screen more than the stage.  Some of this was clearly because I was sitting in the mezzanine and due to the lack of rise in the St. James mezzanine and the decision to build out the stage well over what would have been the orchestra pit and I think several rows out into the audience, the sight lines were atrocious.   I totally understand the desire to bring the show closer to the audience, and clearly they were making an attempt to envelope (or shall we say immerse?) the audience in the action, but the whole thing felt, well, fake. On the one hand that’s a good comment on the story line itself, but on the other I was struck by the fact that for a good portion of the show, I felt like I was in an amusement park being asked to “interact” in a way that felt forced.  The entire time that they used the platforms out in the audience just felt like cheap pandering to try to make the audience feel like they were part of the show, without actually really achieving the effect.

Maybe I’m a party pooper about these things or I was in the wrong mood last night, but there’s a time and a place for these things.  If you want me to take your show with any seriousness, asking me to raise my hands up for Jesus and trying to get me excited pre-show with what felt like forced audience warm up just isn’t going to do it.  That said, there was at least half the audience that clearly loved the whole experience.  I’ve never had such vocal seat companions.  The elderly gentleman sitting near me was openly weeping at the end and kept repeating “wow”, loudly. Very loudly.   I’m obviously the wrong demographic though, and I have complete faith that this show is going to tour really well in the Midwest.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Marvel in the Parks

Here's an official photo of the first non merchandise sighting of a Marvel property in the parks.

The AvengeRail!   

I've been wondering for sometime how Disney would begin incorporating Marvel into the parks.  There's been merchandise available for some time featuring various Marvel characters.  Obviously it's going to be an interesting situation given that Universal still has a Marvel Super Hero land in their park. 

I'm way more excited about the Avengers than I was for the last Monorail wrap featuring Tron.