Honey and I just got back from a visit with his parents, Wolf and Five up in Oregon. Ironically, just as Los Angeles started to cool off from our yucky heat wave, we headed up to a part of OR that was even hotter than LA had been, but at least it was also humid, so you know, there’s that. But! We got to witness some really dramatic displays of nature, including a thunderstorm that had both bolts and sheet lightning. It was spectacular!
Our first day there was the fourth of July, but Honey and I were so exhausted– we really needed a vacation!– that we didn’t do a whole lot. As I recall, we didn’t even have the energy to go see the fireworks. It sounds dull now, but after the last six months, this was probably the best way we could have spent the day. Honey and I were both excited at the idea of having absolutely nothing to do. We did, however, have a festive barbecue, complete with a visit from Honey’s grandma, Pancakes. It’s funny: every time I see Pancakes, she reminds me so much of my own grandpa– she has the same accent he did. Makes me miss West Virginia a little bit every time.
The next morning, Honey and I woke up early to find a note from Five saying that he had taken Wolf to the hospital in the middle of the night, that he was home now, and to wake him when we woke up. It turns out there had been a bunch of little things that all interacted together to make her pretty sick, but the hospital did a fantastic job of poking, prodding, sticking, and fixing until she was better. And it only took them two nights-ish and a day. Of course we went to visit her, and spent the rest of the day in a dazed mix of concern and exhaustion. But by the next day, Wolf was able to come home, looking and sounding So Much Better, for which we are all very grateful. (And still a little concerned and exhausted.)
In addition to that drama, Wolf and Five treated us to a total of three plays, two of which had educational bits beforehand. Last week I wrote about Antony and Cleopatra, which Wolf had to miss. A few days later, all four of us (!!!) got to see Guys and Dolls, one of my most favorite musicals. It was Honey’s first time seeing it performed in any way, and while I am the musical fan in the family, I think he enjoyed himself well enough. Indeed, I was surprised to learn that some of the songs I have always fast-forwarded through in the movie are quite enjoyable when performed by someone who knows how to sing. (Sorry, Marlon! I love ya, but…) Once again, the set designs were deliciously simple and exquisitely expressive. And I only caught myself singing along with the talent once; the rest of the time, I was able to keep it under my breath. Mostly.
Around that time– that night, I think?– we had The Thunderstorm. Man! I didn’t realize how much I missed Real Rain, until I saw it coming down. And it came down. At one point, between the downpour and the wind, it was actually raining sideways, and from the shelter of a warm, glowing house, it was a beloved spectacle, every bit as dramatic as the two shows we had already seen. We had the windows open to listen to the sounds and to smell the smells. And the storm was strong enough to bring down part of a tree just inches from a neighbor’s car. Luck was a lady that night.
The next morning, we got to go to a members-only coffee/meeting/thing, where two of the performers we had seen in Antony and Cleopatra chatted with the group about their experiences. The first thing discussed was (of course) the storm, and that was where we found out that the outdoor theatre had had to close that night, because it had flooded so severely that there were five inches of rain in some of the backstage areas– not exactly conducive to quick exits and entrances. The weather report had said there were 60 MPH winds! Of course, the luckless patrons had gotten rain checks, so they’d still be able to see a performance another night, but for a theatre to close their doors at showtime, you know it had to be bad!
After a bit of gossip about which streets and buildings had also been flooded, the rest of the coffee-thing was a small and intimate interview, and it was really special to be sitting in a room with such high-caliber performers. One of them had even been raised in a Hollywood household, and had gone to parties as a small child with some of the biggest names from the silver screen’s golden age. (DUDE! He knew Robert Preston. I mean, c’mon! That’s so cool!) And the other, the woman conducting the interview, had played Cleopatra. It was quite fascinating to watch her in a more natural setting to see how much of her performance had been her, and how much had been Cleo. Either way, she was still intriguing to watch.
The rest of our visit was solidly low-key, and just what the doctor ordered for all of us. There was some shopping in there at one or two points, and a bunch of games to be played, because Honey was on vacation. And I got to work on my writing a lot, which was divine. It was so nice to have solid chunks of time to actually concentrate! (Dear Universe, more of that, please! Kaythanksbye.)
Until our last full day rolled around. We had tickets to go see a show called Head Over Heels, which I had never heard of. Very few have ever heard of it, because its world premier had been only a month earlier. (Shows at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival have runs that last for months at a time.) I knew that one of the creative minds behind Avenue Q wrote it, that it was written entirely in verse, and that it was based on an Elizabethan novel and set to the music of the Go-Gos. The bit about being an Elizabethan story combined with the part about being written in verse had me concerned. If the actors from Antony and Cleopatra hadn’t been so emotive, I wouldn’t have been able to follow the show at all. And then there were the songs from the Go-Gos… Go ahead. Try to wrap your head around that. What the heck were we in for???
Well, according to our weather app that morning, we were in for another thunderstorm. Of course a musical show based on an Elizabethan story was held in the outdoor theatre… and with a literal show-stopper like we’d had the other night on the horizon, we were worried that we’d have to miss the play! Now, Wolf and Five would be able to get rain checks, but Honey and I had to fly home the next morning.
We went to the educational bit three hours before the show (with enough of a break after that we could still go get dinner), and kept our eyes on the sky the whole time. When we went in, the sky looked ominous, and when we came out, it was clear as a bell, so we had NO idea what the night would bring us. As dinner moved along, the sky clouded over once more, but Wolf and Five told us that as long as there wasn’t a torrential downpour, the show would go on. We’d just wear ponchos!
And then it was time for the show. Photos weren’t allowed– not even of the theatre, so I don’t have much to share with you except for one thought. I don’t care how, I don’t care when: you must see this show. It was the biggest spectacle of our entire vacation. The whole thing was just beautiful. The sets were lavish, the costumes even moreso, and the words were very easy to follow, even in verse. (It WAS written for a modern audience, doncha know.) And the story was more timely than you’d think.
I can’t find a video with even a snapshot of the sets, so here’s something to give you an idea at least of the costumes.
Why are you still reading this? You should be checking out their website right now! Really. (And no, I don’t get a dime for sending you there. I just loved it that much.)
In short, it was a fantastic way to end our vacation. And we only got rained on a little. But it was fine. We wore our ponchos.