Posts Tagged 'rude concert goers'

Something Rotten

Last Sunday Jackie and I saw Something Rotten, a high energy musical that would be well beyond my acting capabilities even if my role was that of a black plague victim.

Performed by two dozen Nordhoff High School students at Ojai’s Matilija Middle School auditorium, the play was presented in a single weekend of three performances. A testament to the tenacity of the students, it mattered little to them that they went through months of preparation for just a handful of performances.

The play is set in 1595 and chronicles the difficulties encountered by an out-of-ideas playwright searching for a hit. He enlists the aid of an oracle and runs up against the idea-stealing Will Shakespeare, a tight-fisted royal financier, and skeptical friends.

The choreography was worthy of an Emmy, and the costumes took no back seat to Edith Head or Bob Mackie. The sets were professional, and changes to them were carried off with little intrusion or fumbling.

The most impressive component of the show was the cast that included sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Children a lot more mature than their years danced and sang with skills that for many were the result of years of private lessons. Some youngsters had been in multiple plays, a fete that could only have been achieved by passion and dedication.

But I wish I could have heard what they said.

We had seats in row J on the aisle, more than halfway from the stage. Funny, when I booked the tickets, I could have sworn they were closer to the stage; not that it would have made any difference.

Walking in from the bright early afternoon sunshine I found myself in near darkness, an affliction that comes with age. I groped my way down the main aisle, holding Jackie’s hand and listening to her countdown the rows. W, V, U, T….J

Our seats were on the aisle, blessedly accessible to an emergency potty break that might call me before the intermission. We sat, got comfortable in the cushy seats, and relaxed. My vision gradually improved, and I found people seated throughout the auditorium that can hold about 300 playgoers.

The theater filled rapidly, and we began the “I hope that guy doesn’t sit in front of me” silent mantra. Very tall people with bushy hair seemed to be in the majority and we took deep breaths as they passed us by on their way to afflict others.

And then two people stood in the aisle next to us, emulating the Himalayas. I thought, good thing they are in our row and not in front of us. I held my breath as the man looked at his ticket, bent toward the row medallion fastened near the arm of my seat and said, “Nope, not ours. We’re in row I, not J.”

My heart sank as they prepared to take the two seats directly in front of us. Maybe, I thought in desperation, that they were seriously short-waisted with leg lengths approximating those of a giraffe. Maybe they would be gobbled up by the cushy seats and re-appear the size of Wizard of Oz munchkins.

The man took his seat. Much like Mount Everest, he seemed to tower above me with most of his height hidden in the clouds.

I thought to myself, I’ve been through this before. At the Music Festival, the Ojai Playhouse and the Art Center, I have suffered with people who should be permanently assigned back row seats as punishment for their abnormal height. But I can take it, I thought, I’ll just forget about seeing the play, I’ll just sit back and enjoy the dialogue and the lyrics. After all, I had only paid $20 for the ticket. What did I expect anyway, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion?

I should have known better.

The first performer either had no vocal cords or selfishly refused to use them for fear that the strain might limit the length of her blossoming Broadway career.

The first song, Welcome to the Renaissance, was unintelligible. It could have been about a French automobile. I was certain that some of it was written in Hebrew, a language with which I have some familiarity.

And then I realized that the kids were not the problem. It was the acoustics that were robbing me of a chance to enjoy the sounds of the play.

It was hopeless. Even the audience conspired against us. From the racquet that went on, I was sure that Jackie and I were the only two guests who were unrelated to the performers. The rest of the audience were either parents, grandparents, or intimate friends of the kids. Anxious to show their undying love and admiration, these supporters reacted vigorously and without concern for the hearing of those seated around them. At times it seemed that a cheering contest between audience members was underway rivaling the action on the stage.

Mount Everest participated with abandon. Like the performers on the stage, he had surely practiced diligently for this once in a lifetime event. Elongated whoops amplified by a rolled-up program rang out whenever his Susie or Jimmy was on stage. Ear splitting whistles seemed choreographed to match the tempo of the songs. Anxious to see how he was doing, he occasionally glanced to either side to determine the level of damage inflicted on the rest of us.

Not to be outdone by him, the woman directly behind me took up the challenge. Her weapon was laughter. Now I like laughter as much as the other guy, but this Phyllis Diller wannabe took first place for the quantity and rapidity of her laughs. Much like nature that deplores a vacuum, she filled every soundless space with annoying laughter. It mattered not what was happening onstage. It only mattered that she match the zeal of the man in front of me.

I slunk down in my seat and began pouting and quietly humming trying to moderate the din in front of and behind me. Sensing my discomfort, the man next to me, undoubtedly a professional audiophile, turned and said that he couldn’t hear much of play either. He said we were in an acoustic dead zone, one that muted much of the performance. He also said he would confront the mountain man after the performance and remind him of audience etiquette.

The play ended. We acknowledged the actors, walked up the aisle, exited the building and entered a world of soft light and muted sounds.

I felt like cheering.

Sourdough Slim and Other Characters

Sweetie and I joined six other aging but still competent Upper Ojai friends for a much-anticipated Sourdough Slim appearance at the Ojai Valley Women’s Club Thursday evening.  But I’ll get to that in a minute.

Recognizing the danger that excess stomach acid can produce when one is running late for the theater, we chose to have an early senior-style dinner at Il Giardino’s, about half a block from the Women’s Club.  Not being a big fan of that particular eclectic restaurant, I had agreed to it while gritting my teeth and expecting the usual combination of poor food and questionable service, topped with a general feeling of grouchiness.

Eight of us were banished to the Devil’s Island corner  of the outdoor patio.  Being the last to pick a seat, I had the pleasure of facing the wall which depicts a painted saga that is desperately in need of renovation by one or more otherwise unemployed Italian artisans.

We also were treated to the added attraction of live music performed by two young men who were oblivious to the hearing afflictions foisted upon elders due to the advanced atomic decibel readings achieved by today’s amplification systems.

Actually, surprise, surprise, the food was tasty, the company stellar and the two young musical aficionados graciously offered to turn things down after several of our party collapsed on the floor pleading for respite.  A good start, I’d call it, and totally unexpected.

Finishing with a flourish and with fifteen minutes to spare, several of our party with space remaining  in their large intestines made a quick stop at Bliss, the local do-it-yourself frozen yogurt eatery, and heaped calorie laden yummies on their already distended stomachs.

Having been clever enough to buy advance tickets to Sourdough’s performance, we entered the Women’s Club ahead of those who were either still enroute or who had the misfortune of thinking that purchasing tickets at the door would give them something other than a seat requiring the Hubble Telescope for a decent view of Slim.

This was the third time we’d attended a Sourdough Slim concert.  A masterful combination of Howdy Doody and Slim Pickens, Sourdough regaled the crowd with cowboy songs, jokes that have stood the test of time, and amusing facial expressions, all topped by a ridiculous ten-gallon hat that is as important to his repertoire as his music.  Accompanied by the formerly famous Robert Armstrong on a variety of instruments including the yet to be universally embraced musical saw, the aging but still standing  Sourdough keeps you rooting for him to complete his performance without suffering a massive coronary.

We picked seats that were close to the stage yet far enough removed to avoid becoming an unwilling part of the evening’s festivities.  I sat on a folding chair that had just enough cushioning to be comfortable for a full twenty minutes before wreaking havoc on my under-stuffed  fanny.  Looking for a comfortable spot to rest on, other than bone, was to be a major part of the festivities.

Two fiftyish party goers arrived and sat in the row in front of us.  Wearing over-the-top cowboy hats large enough to block out the sun, they mercifully sat to our right, out of our visual spectrum but close enough for those with adequate peripheral vision to observe the couple’s own performance that was in competition with that of the Sourdough.

The woman wore a tight red dress, short enough to allow a proper airing of her private parts yet tight enough to allow the substantial hills and valleys of her aging body to attract prying eyes to the various displays of her abundant cellulite deposits.  The man, balding and handle-barred moustached, spent much of the evening prodding and caressing the lady’s abundant flesh.

The lady in red, attired in cowboy boots that could have easily stomped a whole herd of cows, began the festivities by banging her heels to the rhythm of Slim’s music…well almost.  She then progressed to raising both her arms to the heavens, waving them with abandon and providing further evidence of her deepening dementia.  When this failed to draw the attention of those in the far reaches of the theater, she orally fixated us with randomly delivered whooping and hollering clearly intended to alert all, including the paramedics, to her presence.  I began to feel sorry for the lady in red who assuredly had been ignored as a child and, other than for her groping escort, was suffering the same fate as an adult.

The seat in front of me was occupied by a tall man with short legs and a long Yao Ming torso.  His shock of white hair was directly in line with my view of Slim.  Fortunately, the Cardiff Giant look-alike parted his hair down the middle affording me a limited view of the very top of Slim’s ten gallon hat.  I accepted my fate as being payoff for my many sins, and for most of the rest of the evening focused on Mr. Armstrong’s musical saw.

At least no one had a coronary.

sourdough slim


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