This past holiday break has allowed us to do some things that we don’t normally have time to do (like seeing 3-hour movies, but I digress). There were several productions that we saw that we very much liked.
The first is the Shakespeare Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The Harman Hall stage resulted in a very clever staging of this light-hearted comedy. There were times, however, when I thought the staging was cleverer than the acting, but, overall, it was a pleasant and well-done version of the play. The brawl between the two lead female characters was particularly well done. Our two children both enjoyed the production as did we.
We also saw the National Theatre’s production of Les Miz (the movie is on our list of things to see). Jean Valjean is the linchpin of any production of Les Miz, of course, and we thought this particular production had a strong actor in that role. Javert was also excellent. (Our daughter wasn’t a fan of Javert because the actor reminded her of a substitute teacher that she particularly disliked. It lent an air of authenticity to the production for her.) Fantine’s voice was beautiful as well. It is one of our favorite musicals, and this particular production did not disappoint.
One of our annual holiday traditions is taking the entire family to see Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theatre. It gives us goosebumps every year to look up and actually see the box that Abraham Lincoln was sitting in when he was assassinated. As with Les Miz, the casting of the main character, Ebeneezer Scrooge, is the key to a successful production. This year’s actor was the same as last year’s actor, but he played the character a little differently than last year. Less curmudgeonly but more Grinch-like, if that makes any sense. We do require a satisfying redemption scene at the end of the play in order to feel complete, and this production fulfilled our expectations in that regard. Christmas doesn’t feel like Christmas if we don’t see A Christmas Carol.
Finally, the behemoth Peter Jackson film otherwise known as The Hobbit. We had originally seen it in the Udvar-Hazy theatre (the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport) with its six story IMAX theatre. Fifteen minutes before the end of the movie (when all the dwarves, Gandalf, and Bilbo are treed, for those who have seen it), the entire museum lost power. Oops. I then went and saw it again (at a lesser theatre) so that I could see what happened in the last fifteen minutes. I understand the criticism leveled at the movie—it very much is not in the tone of the book but, rather, is more epic and in the same vein as the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The movie also moves slowly in parts. On the other hand, it is beautifully filmed and much of the background plot (derived from The Silmarillion and some of Tolkien’s other works) is meant as a richer prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy than most prequels are. It clearly works for Tolkien geeks. I’m not sure how well it works for the normal human population. All I know is it works for me. The movie is rated PG-13, and I think it’s a fair rating. There is a lot of violence in the movie, mostly directed at orcs and goblins. The themes are also fairly mature. That being said, our eleven year old son loved it and happily sat through the almost 3 hour movie with no complaints. Our fourteen year old daughter was thoroughly bored, but she is not a Tolkien fan. I am seriously thinking of disowning her for her heresy.