Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Continued Adventures of Olly, Dustfinger & Grandma

And so the day begins!

Grandma decided to take Dustfinger and I to see BroadwayInChicago's "Mary Poppins." (Well, first Grandma asked whether we wanted to see Topol's last appearance in "The Fiddler on the Roof" but I told her I had seen him before, so I wouldn't want to go again.) However, this meant that first we had to stop off at Bagel Country, where I got my habitual pizza-bagels-on-sesame-bagels and Dustfinger opted for chocolate pancakes. From there, we parked near Grandma's house, took the bus to the Howard Street Station, then took another bus to Downtown Chicago.

It was scenic and beautiful. Our busrides were lovely. On the way to Chicago we had a blind man enter our bus (it was amazing that he was so remarkably self-sufficient) and on the way back we had a handicapped man in a wheelchair ride with us. The lovely thing was that everyone got up to offer seats and otherwise assist. I love that about Chicago. You don't always see it in New York.

As for Mary Poppins, it was spectacular. There were brilliant special effects, the characters had supremely wonderful voices, and despite all this, I far prefer the film. The role of Mrs. Banks was completely redone. I have always loved the Votes-for-Women touting woman; she is a very strong character. This Mrs. Banks, although formerly an actress, has to determine whether she will aid her husband as a strong woman instead of doing as she is told. This is a poor change from the character that chooses to get herself thrown into jail, which is more satisfying. Also, at the end of the musical, Mr. Banks ends up being incredibly wealthy and otherwise saved as opposed to having the magical scene in which his hat is punched inside-out and he returns, laughing, to play kites with his children. I also loved the Admiral and the "Positions!" cry in the movie version. Not to forget the penguins, for that matter...there was actually an incredibly excellent production of Mary Poppins put on by the Chicago Chesed Committee (it was called something like that, anyway.) Married women played the different roles- as did Yael Richtman, a classmate of mine - and in some ways it was better than this Broadway musical. Also, I miss the exclamatory "It's the Missus," during Step-in-Time.

There were many new songs and scenes incorporated. There was one new addition to the musical that I actually liked. That took the form of a scene entitled 'Playing the Game' where the mistreated toys came to life and frightened Jane and Michael. It reminded me of one of my favorite stories in a collection rimmed in green entitled The Kingfisher Treasury of Stories for Five-Year-Olds. (Despite the fact that that collection now has an awful cover-the copy I own is far prettier-, you will never find better stories. This is the cover mine had. And the story I am thinking of is called "The Toymaker's Shop.") Anyway, the toys come to life and frighten the children. Mary Poppins takes all the toys away until Jane and Michael learn how to treat them nicely. She also, depressingly, disappears at the end of Act I (at which point I thought the show was over and was very dissatisfied. Upon learning there was an Act II, I was much happier.)

There is also the appearance of the wholly vile Ms. Andrew, Mr. Banks' nanny. She is a fun addition, although I always thought treacle was tasty, even if brimstone is not. Thus, her song doesn't make much sense. But Bert's walking on the ceiling of the theater is pretty awesome. So is the incorporation of 'until the chain breaks.'

Something else I should add in: I have never seen so many children at any Broadway production. The audience was 3/4 five to twelve-year-old kids. It was pretty impressive. They were having a party.

Anyway, enough of this yammering- I liked the film better.

As for the busride back- there was a little black baby girl who became friends with me. That was lots of fun. And then there was this excellent gentleman who had the following conversation (he was wearing a light brown/ camel brown suit, carrying a laptop case, had sandy hair, glasses and a bright shiny star-badge.)

Man: Is he wearing a black hat? Or a hat with fur on it? Does he have strings sticking out of his pockets? (pause, listening) No, just put those through the X-Ray. No, it is very disrespectful to open them. They're called tefillin, not fill-in. They are very expensive; they range from $600 into the thousands. They are for a religious ritual. No, I told you to just wave him through! Zeide means 'grandfather.' And whatever you do, don't drop them; if you do, it's a disaster. It will cost you your job. What? (listening again) No, he will not strangle anyone with the dangling straps! That's baloney. Believe me, if this guy has these things, he's peaceful.

So I thanked the guy on behalf of the Jews. I told him it was nice that he knew not to have people open the tefillin boxes. He was friendly. Dustfinger asked him how he knew so much regarding Jewish customs. He said, "Well, I've been Jewish for a long time." Apparently he was Israeli. It was fun to meet him on the bus.

Then I returned home to find that Mommy had cooked a supremely delicious spaghetti-and-meat sauce (handmade/ homemade) dinner. Plus she had purchased dessert. And everything looked beautiful. And so, blind men, handicapped men, little black baby, happy black family, various children and assorted magical shows later, it was lovely to return home. And I ragged the boys about the fact that they refuse to attend shows in which women sing, which means they miss out on delightful productions such as "Mary Poppins," "The Little Mermaid," and "Beauty and the Beast." Ah, the boys. It is fun that one family can produce so many people with various religious gradations. Huzzah for diversity! Let's celebrate.


Erachet said...

Also, at the end of the musical, Mr. Banks ends up being incredibly wealthy and otherwise saved as opposed to having the magical scene in which his hat is punched inside-out and he returns, laughing, to play kites with his children.

Just to clarify, at the end of the movie he also ends up saved and wealthy. While they are kite flying, he finds out the head of the bank has died (laughed himself to death, I think) and Mr. Banks has now been promoted.

Anyway, I love the movie too, but I thought the show was well done! And I thought it was a good choice for the show to be its own entity as opposed to trying to be the movie. Without Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, it could never be the movie anyway. :)

The Cousin said...

Yay for Grandma!
Yay for stories involving Grandma!

Speaking of the bus/train, I think you'll find this post of interest:

dman said...

I am not surprised that your brothers now refuse to listen to women sing. A member of my family graduated from the same high school your brothers now attend. His attitudes changed at the same age as those of your brothers.