- Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the Opera House: Basically fun. I liked that the set had gems and glitter pretty much anywhere that they would fit. The two con men had very strong overtones of Michael Caine and Steve Martin for me, despite my having not seen the movie since it first came out; I don't know if they were imitating or if those two actors just cast a very large shadow in my head. I felt like it could have been less strongly miked - maybe it was just because we were in the very front, but it did seem like none of the volume was their own. Oddly, the women were either singing more loudly or were balanced better; they sounded more natural to me. (Trivia I discovered later: the movie in the 80s was a remake of a movie in the 60s, with Marlon Brando and David Niven! No wonder it's not at all clear when it takes place!) I quite like several of the songs (though not as much as Full Monty, which has some of my favorite songs-in-a-musical ever) Fun, but chenoameg was probably more clever in going for the half-price tickets. I should do more of that!
- Henry V, Shakespeare Ensemble: Good actors, eccentric staging. I really liked Henry (it'd be a sad show if I didn't, since he's the only character I ever remember in the play a few days after seeing it. "There's King Henry, and... something with tennis balls, and a leek..." A bit of Henry, son of Arathorn, rightful king of Gondor - especially once it got to the swordfight. I also liked the map-as-set design, a nice symbolic sort of minimal. The empty sets of clothes for the camp full of dead boys was creepy and effective. Weird staging choices: putting the audience on all three sides should not mean "there are lots more directions from which we can face away from the audience!" Way too many dramatic speeches given by the back of someone's head, placing the actors around the perimeter, facing inwards and upstage towards the king. The actress playing Mountjoy and Bardolph has a very nice haircut, I had many opportunities to note. The audience probably wasn't meant to be laughing for the Battle of Agincourt, but there really were an awful lot of combatants holding their swords by the blade and hitting their opponents with the hilt. (And no bowmen!) The Henry/Dauphin bit of the fight was nice, though.
Finally, it was another production, like Lear, where the parts played by women are referred to as "she." Argh! I hate this. Either, you trust your audience, or you don't. Take the peasants: Nym, Pistol, Bardolph, and Nell. Shakespeare has provided us with a well-drawn set of relationships between them, and making Bardolph explicitly a woman throws the whole Nell dynamic out of whack. So you ignore that Bardolph is being played by a woman and listen to the language and watch the acting, and it's all good, except that the language keeps throwing these "she"'s at you (while keeping the rest of the language the same: "brothers" and "manhood" and the like.) If you don't trust your audience to believe in the characters no matter who's playing them, why not go all the way? Remove all those confusing references to other people that your friends are playing. Talk about "a little touch of Nat in the night" and "An angel is like you, Miranda, and you are like an angel." And remove the dialogue about Falstaff being fat, and Bardolph being red-faced and ugly, if the actors aren't. For heaven's sake! It doesn't break my suspension of disbelief to accept the Duke of Burgundy as played by a woman. It does break my suspension of disbelief to accept that the Duke of Burgundy is a woman with enough personal power to broker the deal between the Kings of England and France. (And Lear, of course, pushed through an unpopular gay marriage ruling late in his tenure, which was why his subjects were so quick to become disloyal... activist kings!)