Thumbs Up ~ Thumbs Down Arts Experiences

Two thumbs up and one thumbs down from me today.

Let’s start with thumbs up, shall we…

Over the holiday break while I was visiting our home in Charlotte, we went to see the touring version of the Book of Mormon. I’ll be honest, I have never been a huge musical theatre fan – in the sense of show tunes, Wicked, etc., which for me is completely different than attending the opera. So, I had been dragging my heels, leaving Book of Mormon and Kinky Boots for that special day where I had nothing else to do. When Blumenthal Performing Arts decided to allow season ticket holders to turn in their tickets because the show was to um…offensive, and orchestra tickets were all of a sudden available, it seemed like the perfect time to check it out. This girl loves a little potty mouth and irreverent behavior. People were offended you say — I’m in!

Oh, it is offensive, but in the best possible way…if you have a sense of humor. It is written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park infamy and Robert Lopez the Tony®, Grammy®, and Emmy® winning creator of numerous other musicals. My jaw was gaping open most of the show and I laughed so hard I almost, well, you know. And those songs are still running through my head. Pocky even runs to the soundtrack. Between the clutching the book, the outfits, the doorbell ringing – it provoked an uncontrollable rolling of the eyes from me, which I think many people secretly relate to because this scenario/feelings the scenes evoke. The Elder Cunnigham part is great, I also found it curious that the play bill had three advertisements from the Mormon Church, which is a great way to approach the situation and made me giggle a little. I have to say, I am really glad that we went to see it.

Last week, I went to see the opera Thumbprint, part of the Prototype Festival at the Baruch Performing Arts Center in New York. This show is probably not what I would think of as a typical opera, and I like opera. I read the preview and even though it was based on a difficult subject matter, it was in line with types of issues I study at NYU. The piece is about a family that offers up one of their daughters to apologize for their son’s alleged bad behavior, because in the culture depicted sons are valued more than daughters, i.e.: women pay for men’s sins. When the daughter apologizes, she is gang raped in the name of honor. The opera revolves around the family’s life before, during and after the incident and depicts the daughter Mukhtar as the first woman in Pakistan to speak out. She files a police report and takes the men to court claiming that their actions were criminal and should not be accepted under the guise of honor; the men are found guilty and sentenced to death. It is a clear storyline and depiction of what women endure in some parts of the world. The score was influenced by classical and Hindustani music; the performers were great. I was expecting the vocalists to be adequate and was pleasantly surprised because they were all quite good.

I am really glad that I went. I know not all shows are winners, but that is true on and off Broadway and this is another example of why it is important to venture off of Broadway and away from household names to see the gems in petite spaces with passionate performers.

Unfortunately — on to my thumbs down experience.

I was really looking forward to the René Magritte exhibit at the MOMA. “Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-1938.”  The day started off well enough – it was cold, rainy and I knew I needed food and coffee before venturing into the museum on a weekend. I’m not a huge fan of chain restaurants, partially because the offerings are typically not great for my particular dietary needs. However, Le Pain Quotidien has become a favorite since living in London. I ordered the organic turmeric chai latte, and a massive lentil, chickpea, arugula, avocado salad. And it was fabulous. Then I walked a few blocks to the MOMA.

I do like Magritte’s work, though not my favorite artist, which is worth mentioning because it led to my unwillingness to tolerate the exhibit mayhem. I will also disclose that it was a rainy weekend and the final weekend of the show, sigh. I had been out of town for a month otherwise I would not have gone the last weekend. There was a long line to get in, but members (me) of course can bypass the line and go right in, which is great unless there are already way too many people inside. Patrons were allowed to enter the exhibit from both directions and at least five different prams being pushed around, which made the experience even more chaotic. Add to that the quintessential art lovers that must stand in front of a painting for 15 minutes when they can clearly see that others are waiting behind them. Now, I’ve been known to hang out for a while, but never when an exhibit is that crowded with a Disneyland style line waiting. I ended up zooming through the exhibit just to free myself from the unbearable amount of people in a closed confined space. It was so uncomfortably packed and I have never been that miserable at MOMA before. The MOMA needed to have better control of the exhibit.

In an attempt to not flee the museum angry, I went into the Isa Genzke exhibit, which is really not my thing, but I could at least move around and actually look at the pieces. Here are a few pictures of a few pieces I like.

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