Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A belated Valentines weekend report

God, I've been so busy lately that it's been all-but impossible to post to two blogs. Today I decided to make the time to report back on my Valentines weekend because, quite frankly, my Hubby deserves the props.

For Christmas Hubby bought me quite possibly THE MOST perfect present ever: two tickets to see the musical Wicked in San Francisco on Valentines Day, a reservation at a fancy French restaurant, and a night in my favorite Union Square hotel. Even so, we were a little worried that, by the time cupid's special day rolled around, I would be so pregnant and uncomfortable that sitting for hours in a theatre would be ill advised.

It turned out to be the perfect distraction at the perfect time. As I've said, work has been a tad overwhelming of late and by last Friday afternoon I was so exhausted that I uncharacteristically collapsed on the couch and snoozed my way through the last three work hours of the week. Getting out of dodge was just the ticket.

So, to cut a long story short:

We dined at Fleur de Lys. Totally decadent. Thousands of dollars of expensive fabrics - silks, velvets, brocades - lining the walls and ceiling around us, and a gentle, romantic hue of pink/peach in the lighting. The menu was set into five or six courses (I can't remember exactly how many at this point - its a blurr!) with a choice for the main entree. I love it when you get a fixed menu because it means you end up trying a bunch of weird stuff you would never have ordinarily ordered for yourself. Hence, I can't remember 75% of what was on our plates for the first three 'appetizer' courses but I do know that there were artistic, mini concoctions of foie gras, caviar, chestnut mousse, skate wing, chick-pea fries, and saukraut (odd, I know, I associate with German) - some, untouching, on the same plate, some on different plates. Some I loved, some I appreciated, some I narrowly resisted the urge to spit out. Still, I loved every minute of it. Better still was the entertainment - a thoroughly self-absorbed Asian-male-20-something and his bored-to-tears date that sat next to us.

We got WICKED. Ok, I'm going to say the seemingly unforgivable: Wicked (as in the '90s slang for "cool") it was not. Maybe it was because everyone I know had hyped this thing up so much that there was nowhere for it to go but sliding off its pedestal, but I was a tad disappointed. Don't get me wrong, it was definitely well-produced, well-directed, and well-cast and I enjoyed myself immensely. BUT... and here's the thing... I was thoroughly underwhelmed by the score. Here was I expecting a series of rousing, stick-in-your-head songs and all I got was a bunch of forgettable, run-of-the-mill, Broadway wailings that seemed to run into and overwhelm one another.

First of all, there was just too much singing. I know, it's a musical, songs and singing are sort of de rigeur. But, instead of writing several great songs to punctuate major moments/milestones in the script, it was one of those musicals that seemed to insist that every other word needed to be sung. This resulted in a cacaphony of dissonant, emotionally unenvolving musical numbers that overwhelmed the script and only seemed to slow down the progression of the story line. It didn't help that the Orpheum Theatre's sound system wasn't exactly loud and booming and sometimes you had to strain to hear and understand specific words in order to follow what was going on in the narrative (because, again, almost every word was sung.)

Second of all, I read the book by Gregory McGuire several years back and, I have learned, there is nothing to be gained but disappointment from any musical, movie, or TV adaptation of a good book. Everything I loved about the book was absent from the musical: The dark, eccentric, quirkiness of it, and the sense of a real, complex inner-struggle against the very nature of good and evil. Instead, in its place, the musical focused on some over-amped, overly-G-rated relationship between the two witches (the "good" one being an on-stage witchy recreation of Reece Witherspoon in Legally Blond), especially in the first act. The result was that the first and second halves of the musical seemed slightly disconnected in theme and tone - the first was like "Hello Green Dolly" and the second half was more like "I'm Green and Miserables." It didn't gel for me and, as I said, missed a great opportunity to take some of the book's key characteristics to the stage and do something truly different and engaging.

I know a lot of people who rave over this show. I have to say I enjoyed it for what it was but I was definitely disappointed based upon the expectations they had given me, which it didn't meet by a very long shot.

Oh, one highlight of the evening - a $30 (yes $30!!!!) onesie we bought for the baby that says "Green Babies Rule" on the front and "Wicked" on the butt (appropriately enough). I just could not resist.

We slept in a luxury suite at the Hotel Monaco. And it was THE BEST night's rest I'd had in more than a week. Lots of plump, hotel pillows, a pillow-top mattress, and coffee and juice in bed before watching George Stephanopolous on Sunday morning. Sigh...

We brunched at my favorite SF restaurant, The Grand Cafe. We hadn't planned on it but it's attached to the Hotel Monaco and, while the Bell Hop unloaded our suitcases from the car at check-in, I peeked at the brunch menu on the wall and about had a canyptic fit at the overwhelming delicious sounding menu. This time I CAN tell you exactly what I had and it was an orgasm in my mouth: Crêpes Flambé - Banana Foster rum sauce, vanilla pastry cream filled crêpes, and candied pecans. Dear God, it could not have been a more delicious conclusion to a fantasic 24 hours if it tried.

Then Hubby drove us home in the pouring rain and we returned to our couch-potato positions from Friday night, thoroughly exhausted from just too much excitement in such a short period of time. Of course, if you had told me 6 years ago that this would all constitute "too much excitement", I would have laughed in your face and quite possibly gone into a spontaneous panic attack. It's amazing what being 7 months pregnant and 34 with a busy job will do to you.

So, to my fantastic Hubby I reiterate what I said in this year's Valentines Day card - many women dream of having a husband like you, only I am lucky enough to actually have one.


Footnote: for those of you who are tempted to rain on my parade about how this will be the last valentines day like this for us because once the baby comes, blah blah blah, I have this knife to twist right back at ya: My parents don't "do" Valentines Day. Guess that makes them free to babysit!


CGBCYouth said...

When baby McDaid comes, I want to see that green shirt on him/her! I was tempted to get one for Noelle too but too expensive for my taste.

Mala said...


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