Meeting Cinderella

Mélanie and I had an enchanting night last week attending the brilliant touring production of Into the Woods. It’s a favorite of mine and of Mélanie’s as well, thanks to the movie and a local theatre production last year. We play the CD all the time and she can sing most of the songs, which we sometimes act out at home. It was a treat to see this beautiful, inventive production (do go if you get a chance!) done on a fairly bare stage with a great cast who found new nuances in the songs and story.

 

The night  was made extra magical by Cinderella (the golden-voiced and very talented Laurie Veldheer who made the princess both engaging and multi-layered) coming over to talk to Mélanie before the show when some of the cast greeted the audience. Mélanie was in transports and waved to Cinderella during the curtain call. Later we ran in to Laurie Veldheer by the stage door and she couldn’t have been nicer. Mélanie kept saying “I can’t believe we met Cinderella!” Some kids meet Cinderella at Disneyland for the first time. Mélanie met her at a Stephen Sondheim musical. Definitely my daughter :-).

 

With this and Beauty and the Beast it’s a been a week for fairy tales. My characters often refer to “not living in a fairy tale” and yet there are echoes. The line in Into the Woods from the Baker’s song “No More”, “No more curses you can’t undo, left by fathers you never knew” always makes me think of Malcolm. Not that Raoul left him a curse precisely or that Malcolm didn’t know him. But Malcolm certainly is dealing with the often mysterious legacy of the older generation. And it occurs to me that though Suzanne would say she’s the opposite of Cinderella, she does meet her husband while masquerading, she worries about when he will realize she’s not who she claims to be, and she goes from living on the streets to the equivalent of living in a palace. Like the Into the Woods Cinderella, she finds living in a palace has its challenges (though Malcolm is certainly very different from her prince in the musical).

 

Do you see any fairy tale parallels in the Rannoch series?

 

On another note, we’re finishing up a very fun reread of the Rannoch books on the Google + Group. On April 1st we’ll have an Ask the Author thread, and I’ll be giving away an advanced electronic copy of Gilded Deceit to a commenter. Do stop by!

 

 

Advertisements
Arrived in Ashland, tickets collected, a stop at the Member Lounge

Arrived in Ashland, tickets collected, a stop at the Member Lounge

Mélanie and I spent last week in Ashland, Oregon, visiting friends, eating some great meals, and (for Mummy) seeing some great theatre at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival while Mel played with some wonderful babysitters. The theatre highlight of the trip was Great Society by Robert Schenkkan, a sequel to All the Way, the play about Lyndon Johnson’s first year as president and the passing of the Civil Rights Act which OSF commissioned and premiered two years ago and which recently took Broadway by storm and won the Tony for best new play. Great Society picks up the story after LBJ’s re-election and chronicles his nights to pass Medicare and other social program legislation, the increasing quagmire of the Vietnam War, and his ultimate decision not to run for a second term. Like All the Way, it is written in the style of a Shakespeare history play, with the protagonist addressing the audience at times, a large cast of characters (including Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, and J. Edgar Hoover) from different groups, large scale scenes set on the public stage contrasting with domestic moments of key characters with their families. As an historical novelist, I’m in awe of the way these two plays bring history to life.

8.25.14TracyMel

A visit to our friends’ house on the Applegate River – a glorious day with lunch outside and time for Mel to chase butterflies and pick a peach

 

It was a brilliant production and particularly exciting to follow it up with an also brilliant Richard III.  Schenkkan’s LBJ is far more sympathetic than Shakespeare’s Richard III, a flawed ambitious man who is also trying to do genuine good, but there are some wonderful parallel moments in the two plays – LBJ and Richard’s opening monologues to the audience, scenes in which both of them try tactics that have worked in the past to manipulate, respectively, Robert Kennedy and Elizabeth Woodville, this time unsuccessfully, and closing speeches by the “new king” – Richard Nixon and Henry VII. Both casts were fabulous with amazing performances by Jack Willis as LBJ and Dan Donohue as Richard III. In the curtain call, both looked like completely different men, a sign of how much they had transformed themselves in the performance.

Dinner outdoors at Peerless before Richard III

Dinner outdoors at Peerless before Richard III

Another standout of the trip was a magical production of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods which did full justice to the complex music while also bringing out the dramatic nuances of the story. A mix of fairytales (among them Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel) at it’s heart it’s a story about parents and children poignant, starkly sad at times, ultimately hopeful. I cried through the last fifteen minutes.

Sharing time at the hotel with our cats, all excellent travelers

Sharing time at the hotel with our cats, all excellent travelers

All the plays were wonderfully inspiring for me as a writer. Political intrigue and family drama go to the heart of what my books are about. I came home excited to get back to writing. I can’t wait until Mélanie is old enough to take to some of the plays. Meanwhile, it’s fun telling her about the plays. And on the drive home, we listened to the CD of Into the Woods, to which she announced “I like the music.”

Savoring time on the deck at the Member Lounge before we headed home

Savoring time on the deck at the Member Lounge before we headed home