Monday, 8 October 2012

A Day with Braeden, Pirates, and Cymbeline

Braeden loves swords. He has loved swords since before he could walk. He used to sword fight our Malamute's tail when he meandered by him. No one else could do that with Nanuq. Just Braeden.

When I saw Cymbeline with Luke earlier this season, I knew this was a production Braeden had to see. This was not a Braeden would just get a kick out of it production. He needed to see the fight scene.

My mom wanted to help this day be special to us, so she gave us money for rush seats to a matinee. Braeden had to chose between, "Much Ado About Nothing" (which I still have to see) or "Pirates of Penzance." I fell off of my seat when he chose Pirates. I didn't complain, mind you, but I would have bet money that he would have chosen anything but a musical.

I'm a sucker for a man who can...oh nevermind, I repeat myself.

I repeat myself.

I think Braeden eventually enjoyed the show. He didn's sleep much the night before. Do teens ever get enough sleep? To be honest, he did start to nod off, but the Major General song woke him up for good. He was quite impressed with the extra verses regarding Stratfest's 60 years. It was a great moment in the show.

True to form, the men and women sang their hearts out. Amy Wallis is devine. Kyle Blaire gorgeous and perfect as the Slave to Duty Frederick. Sean Arbuckle is quite the sexy Pirate King (up there with the Dread Pirate Roberts and Jack Sparrow).  Gabrielle Jones, in my opinion, steals the show, as she does with 42nd Street. She is a force to be reckoned with. Amazing job. What I would give to be able to sing like that - or even closer to that!

The family who sat around us were great. They had 2 small children. The grandmother played Nell in a production (and her husband was a stage hand) in Pirates when they were younger. She sang as we were all leaving and I complimented her. She apologized for it. I have been told far too many times these past years to stop singing - no one will ever be told to stop around me, only complimented. She had a gorgeous voice.

We went to the stage door and talked with new people, Mark Cassius and Kyle Blaire. Mark was in Jesus Christ Superstar. Look him up on twitter - his tweets are always positive influences on my day, without fail. I'm glad I told him so. Life is too short to not give sincere compliments to people.

Kyle Blaire was ever so much taller than I thought he would be. He was so kind to Braeden and I. I made sure to tell him about how much 42nd Street influenced Cordelia with her tap dancing (she now practices her math flash cards, with her tap shoes on...she has me play Stratford's 42nd Street videos off of youtube...when she gets a question correct, she taps to the music....I really need to tape her doing it). I hadn't realized how dreamy Kyle Blaire was before.  Perhaps I need to look at and stop just listening?

I will admit that I was high on men singing Saturday afternoon. I remember myself talking about 'men who can sing' ad nauseum...poor people who were listening to me - and Braeden. We made a quick stop at the Exhibition again. The woman working was the same woman from Braeden's birthday trip there. I really have loved, and continue to love, every Stratford employee I have met, on or off the stage. How do they find such treasures?

We meandered around the Festival Theatre Store for a while, where I picked up last year's programme (which Cordelia feasted on, picking out anyone she knew, figuring out what else they were in, finding her favourites - Cara Ricketts and Stephen Patterson). I didn't realize how many shows I missed last year, and how lucky I was this year to see so many. I am so blessed to be in the twitter club, and have generous parents, and win a contest or two. I'm glad my gas is cheap on the rez.

Now, Cymbeline has been built up by me to Braeden since June 9. I'm sure Braeden became sick of me telling him how great it was and how he needed to see this fight scene. I hoped I didn't build it up too high.

It turned out, I didn't build it up enough.

Here's my boy ready for the show:

If you look up "mytimeatlast" on youtube, you will find 2 videos of Braeden from last season, when we saw Titus. My son grew up. He loves to wear suits. He wears one to school every Friday (he sings Barney Stinson's song, too, "Nothing suits me like a suit.")

I'm not sure how to write about my experience at Cymbeline. The production had morphed these past 3 months into a new show. It was the same actors and actresses, but it was a new show to me.

And I, even I who am a sucker for men who can sing, honestly could only say after Cymbeline, "Sean who?" Men singing seemed trivial compared to what I experienced with Cymbeline that night. It was extraordinary. I love musical theatre, I grew up on musical theatre, but that night, it was the beauty and strength of words, of full-hearted acting...I'm not sure how to explain it...

If Christopher Plummer wrote A Word or Two for people to 'get' into language again, to learn and fall in love with words, to expand our minds away from the digital age...this is what he meant. We were all changed by it that night.

I've never experienced anything equal to it. We had the lovely Monique Lund beside us, and hearing her gasp, clap and laugh was great. But it wasn't just her...it was all of us...

All of us in the theatre that night had an experience I wonder if it will ever be repeated. I felt the energy of the audience move up and down...be dangled by a string, and crunched like a bug. Maybe people who go to the theatre more than I have felt it before, but to me, this was a singular experience.

It was magic.

Being the final show, they gave it their all. Cara was phenomenal (a description even the new AD, Antoni Cimolino agreed with when we spoke after the show). I saw a new attack on the language in the play from her, a new power I haven't seen from from her before. She was, like Gabrielle Jones, a force to be reckoned with. I was completely floored. Comparing this to previous Cymbeline and to The Matchmaker - her Innogen was a stunning transformation. She had us all eating out of her hand. I gave her such a huge hug afterwards...

We also spoke with the awesome Josh Epstein. He is a great guy (have I mentioned he can sing, too?). I enjoy talking with him. I can't wait to see "The Matchmaker" again. I forgot his promised treat from me (that's if he reads my blog, if he hasn't read my blog, I owe him nothing teehee). I'll try to remember for my final show of the year on the 25th (Thank you, Mary!). He has great eyes.

I was able to introduce Braeden to a few others that night, too. They were so nice, even with the closing of, not just Cymbeline, but of the Tom Patterson this season. Graham Abbey was great and excited about Braeden getting a part in a local play -

WAIT !  I haven't mentioned that yet!?  I'm a terrible mother!!

Braeden and Dakota have parts in a local production, Christmas Truce - 1914, about the peace treaty of Christmas Eve on No Man's Land. They are playing soldiers.  I am SO excited and happy for them. I can't wait to see them on stage together.

We also spoke to the ever-incredible John Vickery (who I discussed Art of Time's War of the Worlds as a staged radio play later this month). He's so laid back.

I still have to officially meet Mike Shara. Dang, he is one talented human being.

Plus, when I conjured up enough nerve to introduce myself to Antoni Cimolino, he recognized me from the "Family Experience" videos I was in. I almost fell over. Like I said almost 2 years ago when I was retweeted by Mr. C, I feel as giddy as I was when Bon Jovi retweeted me. I will never meet Jon Bon Jovi, thought, so Mr. C wins.

Braeden was able to keep his hands off of my eyes so I could enjoy the Shirtless Wonders one more time (thank you all). What does it say when shirtless men is at the bottom of the list of my favourite things of the day? It means the actors, director, stage crew, lighting, music melted together into the most perfect night in the theatre I have ever experienced.

While all the shows I saw this season left an impression on me, this was the pinnacle of  what theatre should be, at least, should strive to be.  While it did not help me see life in a new way (like Wanderlust) nor make me cry because of pure talent (like 42nd Street), nor have me gaga over singing (take your pick), it was the most powerful 3 hours I have seen on stage. Ever.

Nya:weh to everyone involved in this night. As Braeden and I left the Patterson Theatre, coincidentally walking behind the last remaining cast member, Graham Abbey (because our vehicles were parked next to each other), I saw the behind-the-stage crew, who couldn't show up at the bar anytime soon for the drinks. I saw wonderful Marilu (Master Tailor and Cara Rickett's dresser) and her compatriots lugging arms-full of clothes to be washed, hung, packed up (what DO they do with the wardrobe after the closing night? How long will it take to put the into the costume warehouse?).

After the fight scene, I shook Braeden's shoulders like an excited schoolgirl. I dare say the look on his face after that scene was equal to Cordelia's eyes during, "We're in the Money." And I was blessed to experience them with my children. 

There were 2 moments on stage which moved me to put my head on Braeden's shoulders in awe of the play, and in love with my son. If those 2 moments are the last I get to snuggle Braeden before he becomes too cool to snuggle his mom, I will be a very happy and content mom. Those moments of love are memories intertwined with our love of theatre and the magic of that night. If this is a taste of what is the future holds for Stratfest under the direction of Mr. Cimolino, it is in very good hands.

THIS is what theatre is about. It made me forget...everything. I was a clean slate coming out, with my heart intact, my head on straight, but together, my soul has been permanently expanded.