Friday, June 5, 2009

Pirate Date Night

Much has been made of the president taking his wife to a Broadway play last week. Fortunately, Michelle Obama isn't the only one whose husband knows how to show a girl a good time!

My DH came home with tickets for us to see Gilbert & Sullivan's PIRATES OF PENZANCE tonight. It's a delightful little operetta with "piratitude." According to the playbill, this production is "freely plundered" from the original, which means the musical score is intact, but the spoken part of the show has been modernized, and probably "Disney-ized", to trade on the Pirates of the Caribbean popularity. That's fine. G & S shows have always been light-hearted, irreverent romps, full of incongruities and scathing satire. Updating them makes sense.

When I studied music history, I learned that Arthur Sullivan secretly loathed his work with Gilbert. He saw himself as a serious musician, a creator of sweeping grand opera. He believed his collaboration with the librettist Gilbert was holding him back from his true calling.

Unfortunately, Sullivan's attempts at the dramatic were abysmal--over-blown, pompous and just plain boring, while the music he wrote for Gilbert's saucy libretti sparkles with wit and enduring good humor. He might have wanted to be Wagner but he didn't have an authentic "big story" voice in him.

He was however the perfect composer for Gilbert's operettas, the father of the modern musical, and as long as there are staged works, his music will be a much-loved part of the repertoire.

This is a cautionary tale for me. An accurate self-image is more important than a good self-image.

As a writer, I'm sometimes tempted to try to 'write to the market.' However, since I have no "inner snark" in residence, attempting a chicklit would be futile. Vampires show no sign of slowing down in popularity, but if I don't find them sexy, I can't write them sexy. Just as Sullivan poured out his pattersongs, I have to write the stories that are in me, whether I think it's what the market wants or even what I wish I could write.

Tonight, I'm going to sit back and let the joy of frivolity wash over me. I only wish Arthur Sullivan could have taken the same pleasure in it.

So how about you? Have you and your significant other had any fun dates lately? Have you had any "ah-ha!" moments when you realized something you were good at was something other than what you thought you wanted to do?


Jane L said...

My husband is working a ton, but he has Sundays off, so last Sundy he planned a wonderful outing to the Blue and Grey re-enactment and then surprised me by taking me totour an old historic mansion (which I loooove doing!) So it was such a nice day together!
Hmm I was trying to come up with this grand, elagant answer of what I must be good at and I decided I am a good listener, I mean, no really good about listening to others if they are sad or in need of a friend! I have been told this a dozen times if not hundreds, but I think I am just realizing, this is a good quality to have as a friend! A good listener! I also think I am a great mom! Of course my children will agree! LOL!!!!! Someday I hope I am a good writer! I am working on it!

EmilyBryan said...

Oh, Jane, that sounds like a wonderful day together.

I love re-enactments. We went to several Revolutionary War re-enactments when we lived in NC. Prior to that I had no idea the south was so heavily involved in the fight for American independence. According to my history classes, it was mostly about the gum-bumpers in the Continental Congress.

Instead, I learned that the Battle of Guilford Courthouse was a turning point in the entire war. We lost, but the rebels made it such a costly victory for the Brits, they were fighting a war of attrition from then on.

I'll add terrific PR person to your list of accomplishments!

Genella deGrey said...

Our son is about to turn 5 - It's been a LOOOOOOONG time since we went on a date alone!


Nynke said...

Hi Emily,

hope you have a ton of fun tonight!
I don't have a significant other anymore (due to a break-up - but I still believe in romance!), but I do have lovely friends who take me out to dinner now that I'm broke. They're great :)

My biggest turning point of the type you mention was when I realized, after failing my first year in architecture school, that I actually wasn't all that good at designing. I went on to do what I was best at in high school, languages, and now I'm a really happy linguist! It took the friendly but stern advice of my tutor, though - if he hadn't told me he didn't think 'architecture was my world', I would probably have deluded myself for a few more years, struggling to meet the crteria... so glad that didn't happen!
And @ Jane: that's a great quality to have! I strive to be a better listener, but I often only respond to people's questions, blabber on about my own life, and then end the conversation. And afterwards, I feel a bit guilty but then they're gone...

EmilyBryan said...

Genella-A 5 year old should be in bed by 8. Tell him I said so!

After that, it's date time! The DH and I have had plenty of popcorn and DVD dates snuggled up on the couch!

Nynke--I've always said its better to be alone than with the wrong person. I'm glad you're being choosy because you deserve someone terrific! And yay for lovely friends!

Judith said...

Lucky you! What a fun date. Last time I tried to get my husband to do a cultural type thing with me, it was the NYC Ballet, and I don't think he's stopped making fun of their experimental dance.

I love your point about writing the story that is in you and not writing to the market and having an accurate self-assessment. I'm going to keep that advice for sure.


EmilyBryan said...

The show was fabulous! Absolutely hysterical, well-directed, delightfully choreographed and beautifully sung. The sets, the lighting, the special effects it was all pitch perfect!

This PIRATES OF PENZANCE was frankly better than the production of GREASE we saw in NYC last year.

Patricia Barraclough said...

We just attended the last of this year's Celtic concerts at an Asheville, NC theater. They have four a year and they are always great. This year they also had the play THE TENNESSEE MONKEY TRIAL. It was excellent, but don't think it would play well here (we live in NE TN). There is a Renaissance Faire and a Native American festival this weekend. Can't hit both tomorrow, they are too far apart. Need different outfits for each - could do a quick change in the car I guess since we have the clothes. We are overdue for our Reenactment (Civil War and Revolutionary War) fix. We also haven't been to a pow-wow or Rendezvous in over a year. Once we get caught up with the yard work, we need to go hiking or canoeing. I am so lucky that my husband enjoy the same things and are willing to go along with the other one even if we aren't that interested. We are spoiling our grandson and bring him along on a lot of our crazy trips. Life is too short not to enjoy all you can. Get out there and have fun!
An "ah-ha" moment? Since I'll try almost anything (within reason) and already have tried a lot, can't think of anything. I really would be surprised if I were good at most things I try. We'll see these next few weeks. I'm doing graffiti art and Rock Band in my teen summer reading program. Since my college art teacher told me I barely had the talent of a first grader, I'll really be surprised if my TAG turns out well. As far as Rock Band is concerned, the kids will probably laugh themselves silly over my attempts. But, hey - no guts no glory.
Glad you enjoyed the play. I love Gilbert and Sullivan. You don't have to take it seriously, just sit back and ENJOY!
Sorry this was so long. There is still so much out there to do and experience. You don't have to spend a lot of money. Just do something together. A peanut butter sandwich picnic in the park can be a real treat if you let it. (Did that one, too, but had kids with us, which actually made it better.) I'll force myself to stop now.
Have a great week everyone!

Carol L. said...

Hi Emily,
That's why our books are such a hit and are so great. You write what you feel. I love all your heroes and heroines. All very sexy as well as good. I saw Pirates of Penzance years ago, really. WhenKevin Kline was in it. :)
When I was married the ex and I used to set aside one day a week just for us to go out (which when you have 7 kids is great) and then once a month we'd rent a hotel room, go to a movie, dinner and back to our room. It may not have saved the marriage but we are still friends. lol
Carol L.

EmilyBryan said...

Patricia--Sounds like you have some great ideas for your dates. Yesterday, the DH and I just sat on the veranda together reading for a while and sipping ice tea. It was deliciously relaxing.

Carol--OMGosh! I can totally see Kevin Kline as THE PIRATE KING! Please tell me that was his role!

Carol L. said...

Hi Emily,
I certainly dated myself with that show eh ? lol
Yes , he was the Pirate King and so young. That was the first time I'd ever heard of him. And I'm glad it wasn't the last. I have to say in regards to another paly from the 70's, Pippin was extroidinary with Ben Vereen.Just amazing.
Have a great day Emily
Carol L.