WARNING! WARNING! (recommended reading age 21+ Cannabis)
16 February 2018
Uncle G’s FUN 420 Reviews – Uncle G’s Corner (#07 Appreciating The Arts)
Words and Street Lamp Photography by Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Seeing how this is an archival website, I’d like to introduce to my newer 420 readers, a series of essays I did for a non-profit pro-cannabis website out of New York City, some years ago. One that I’ve gotten involved with, back in the year, 2011. The webmistress was the wonderful Arlene Williams aka Ganja Granny. I love her to death! The website, Green Ribbon World, sadly disappeared here recently. I was happy and grateful to be a part.
Please note … regarding this republishing. We’re going back in time. Things were different. I was married for the second time. That union was dissolved one day shy of us being a couple 22 years. Add the time we dated, and now its closer to 25 years. No resentment or hard feelings. I’d rather look forward more than backward.
Editing: Versions 2.0 of Uncle G’s Corner…My aim is to clean up any remaining typos and grammar errors. Content remains the same as it first appeared. When I’m finally done (this could take some time) archiving all the past essays published, I’ll start writing new ones. In a way, I already have done so: Uncle G’s FUN 420 Reviews.
Gary “Uncle G” Brown (08 Aug 2017)
Uncle G’s Corner
Topic: Appreciating The Arts
Driving there as we were getting close, I had this bad feeling in my gut. Think neighborhoods. Think plays. Think New York City. Are you thinking? OK, follow me.
Broadway is known for its theater. The best shows, starring the best performers. For productions that for whatever reasons are not currently on the great white way, those are said to be located; off-Broadway. Nicer than saying it still needs a little work and thus is not ready for the big time just yet. Or maybe never will. Other plays, perhaps due to the lack of investors they had, or that they simply weren’t that good, the more off-Broadway they were.
Completing the set-up, if I may. Here it comes.
Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version Of The War Of The Worlds
Performance: 19 Feb 2011
Should this have been in New York City, you’d find it in New Jersey. Rimshot, please.
Exit 105 if one believes in fate. But this was Houston. Highway 45 heading south towards Galveston. At exit whatever, make a left. A few miles into the hood we go. An old part of Texas settled in the early 1800’s.
The theater we were going to call home a building that one might guess, use to be some kind of warehouse. First impression anyway. And like just about everything else over there that surrounded it, major renovations were needed. This part of Texas has indeed seen it’s better days. Even the main theater sign, could have used a refreshing coat of paint. Arriving, we parked on the side of the building. Was pretty much well-lit up. About the same as us (pot humor — don’t you love it).
My eyes looked all around. Potholes. Broken concrete. My wife’s like; are you sure this is it? My inner voice kept repeating; “great…..just great.” For this was just the beginning. Next, a nauseating feeling in the stomach, followed by a trip to the land of total disappointment. So buckle up.
My pretty wife and I were the first patrons there. And it appeared at least for a while, that we’d be the only ones to arrive. As eight o’ clock approached (show time), a few people did start showing up. Then more. Most dressed rather casual foregoing the proper attire for an evening like this. I’ve been to plays in the past. In New York City. On Broadway. And also downtown from where I am now; The Houston Theater District. Guys typically wore suits & ties. The misses and I dressed nice, and like just about everyone else, more on the comfortable side. This was a rock musical after all. In total, maybe 40 to 50 people showed up. Add the cast and folks that worked the theater. I’m guessing somewhere around 75 there, either in front of or behind the stage.
So, after sitting in the car a while, we went inside. There was a box office set up, on the right hand side. An employee was there. Glancing back and forth I could see the lobby was just that, a lobby. Nothing special. Like the sign outside, it too could have used, a fresh coat of paint. Dirty white walls. And not much furniture. Was mostly barren except for a few fliers made from Xerox paper, scattered here and there.
They had an official program for the show we were about to see. Nothing out of the ordinary. Plays usually do. This one here, nothing fancy/glossy. Not like that promotional postcard they had. The cover for Wayne’s album; Musical Version Of The War Of The Worlds. Showed what they called a war machine, attacking a ship. Cool drawing. Science Fiction Fantasy. I so dig that. And like I said, this was printed on nice looking, glossy card stock paper. Too bad, the program that I was holding, was nothing like that. In my hands instead was a few pieces of white regular twenty pound printer paper, folded together that someone higher up in the organization, must have assumed would do the trick. Not even color ink. Another cost saving decision. Let’s have; a generic playbill. Grade schoolers could have done better here.
Our tickets were 15 bucks a piece. So they had a limited budget I’m sure. It stated in their ad/promotion that the City Of Houston gave them some cash. Were they talking loose change? Here’s three quarters, and two nickels. Now beat it! Sure could not have been much. What appeared as a serious lack of funds, reflected on everything. Think of the movies of yesterday when you heard; “Let’s put on a show!” The Little Rascals did this. In a run down location. Props were trash they found scattered around. Shields used for a sword fighting scene were actually garbage can lids. Need I say more?
In the lobby, they had beverages you could purchase. Pepsi / Diet Pepsi / Doctor Pepper…all in a can. Yours for two bucks each. At least it was cold. I did see one beer can; Lone Star. Texas proud I guess. And one bottle of whiskey. No shot glass. No cups that I saw anywhere in sight. Not even plastic ones, as I would expect from what I have seen so far of this establishment. Maybe one just took a drink of the intoxicating liquor, right out of the bottle? All that shared bacteria. Yum yum! The girl who two hits ago had a sore throat. Congratulations, so do you now. Then again the bottle could have been there for looks? Sure did look like a display of what they were offering. Purchased soda for ourselves, and threw a dollar in a tip jar. He looked needy.
Finally, we were let in. Ends up they were experiencing some kind of difficulty. The show started late. When called, like cattle, we all proceeded through the tall black, swing open and close, black door. A few steps to the stage, and seating. Think small. Theater seating. A hundred seats maybe? Not new looking. A dark red fabric covered the seats. Had that broken down, well used porn theater kind of look. Stale smell in the air. At least the floor wasn’t sticky.
We had front row seats. A three seat setup, on the left side of the theater. My wife took the inside aisle. I in the middle. And this younger heavyset woman, on my right. A complete stranger. And strange she was. Had her phone out so she could text the entire time. Add the word annoying to her description. Made these suppose to be sexy, suggesting sounds to a guy that was working the play throughout the evening. My wife and I just looked at each other. WTF? Sounded more like a cat with a huge ass hairball caught in its throat. Too funny. Meanwhile, the one my seat neighbor publicly lusted after, was busy working. Stagehand. There he was in front of us, on his knees, hooking up a speaker I swear I saw in a stoners bedroom, back in the 1970’s.
The stage was bare. Two projection screens in the background, where they used still images to help set the mood. Over the years, I’ve seen rock bands do this, and frankly much better. Porcupine Tree does a cool projection show. For one, the imagines they project, tend to fit the screen behind the band. Music synchronized perfectly. This one here, sometimes the pictures didn’t fit right. Was crooked a little. More icing on the cake. Now envision still being stoned and sitting there watching this all unfold before your eyes? From all we have seen and experienced so far, it is hard to conceive that things could get much worse.
Up to now, patrons of this event have not seen anything visual representing the play they were about to see, but for the official cover drawing that Jeff Wayne used for his project. The second time I mention this. Not to say I have not witnessed a lot since our trip coming here started. Much has happened between us getting ready to see the play, to where we were now.
Before walking out the door at home, we smoked weed. Not a huge amount. Folks are allowed an alcoholic drink or two right and be within the legal limits to drive safely. With pot, enough to get a light, pleasant buzz. We were out for the evening. To see a play. This is cool, right? Ever since making that exit off Hwy 45, it’s really been one buzz kill, right after the other. Still, there was hope. That is until the play began. Very quickly dreams were crushed that anything good was going to happen throughout the rest of the proceedings.
On top of all my other complaints, or as I see them, observations, one main one was directly right in front of me as I sat there dumbfounded as to what I was witnessing. Did I mention that the stage wasn’t elevated? I actually did see plays in New York City. I saw Godspell twice. It was the free wine at intermission that I liked best. They had an elevated stage. Had to walk up a few stairs to have the guy playing Jesus whose now playing bartender, come over and fill up my cup.
The straw that broke the camels back. I tell myself; I say self, we’re never coming back here again. We fled as a matter of fact, right after the show ended. No looking back when driving away. Foot on the gas. But I digress. Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of HG Wells War Of The Worlds has just begun, with sounds hitting my ears, being played out of a badly operated sound system. Everything was coming out of the right speaker(s). To make it even worse, mostly re-recorded music/speech/vocals. Imagine hearing parts of Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of HG Wells War Of The Worlds, being performed by a lounge band in a Holiday Inn Hotel. No Justin Hayward. No David Essex. And no one even attempting to sound anywhere as good as them. Why bother? Just make it up as you go along. That seemed at times to be the approach.
So here on a wooden floor, right in front of us, they proceeded to give this a go, as only I’m sure, they could. Did I mention that this theater’s history, is dance? Lots of dancing. Wish I’d had known beforehand. Might have given me a clue as to what was to come. I would understand advertising that stated it was their own interpretation of Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version Of The War Of The Worlds. If I would have been informed of that, I would have stayed home. Could have played Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version Of The War Of The Worlds on the stereo, medicated, and with the misses, had a much better time.
In this performance, maybe ten dancers/performers or so. More female than male. Not a bad or good thing. Just an observation.
They had a Martian. A guy in what looked like a really used, sports mascot, head to toe suit. Furry, and having a horribly bad hair day. A suit that I’m sure would be deemed by Major League Baseball, to be not appropriate for use in front of a live crowd, ever. A character not in the original story if I remember it right. The Martian’s did send out mechanical scouts. But I don’t recall beings. Not a human being like this wearing a prop probably gotten from a Salvation Army store. Discounted. Priced to go, I’m sure. See what I said about making shit up.
Check this out. Super unexpected. Girls did what seemed to me, and more than once, lesbian dances. It’s how I interpreted it. Lots of rolling around on the floor, and touching. At one point, three of them wore red/pink bodysuits. Very tight. Tight enough, we now got; cameltoe. Think anatomy class. And I remember reading on the postcard promoting the play that it was family friendly. No children in this audience. A good thing. I can only imagine if there was; Mommy….why is that ladies right nipple, sticking out more than her left one? In which Mom replies; too much dry ice, Dear.
Like a real Broadway type play, there was an intermission. All of this activity ceased, giving one a type of reprieve, and the time to form an updated opinion of the nights’ affairs, so far.
Question. Could this play be it’s so bad, that’s it’s good? Think the classic 50’s horror film; Plan Nine From Outer Space. A movie that by regular movie standards, is terrible at best. Lite up a joint and the jokes write themselves. Funny how that is. One can make a film and later on have it appreciated for being something the filmmaker never intended it to be. And that’s OK. Remember; Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes? As many people will tell you that movie sucked, that will tell you it’s good. There really is magic in the movies.
There were periods of the first part of this play, that I laughed harder than I have in ages. Because it’s so horrendously terrible. A build-up of one horrible thing, after another. And here, the silver lining. The awful barren stage look. Add to that, the terrible acting. Even worse singing when not pretending with the prerecorded vocals. And I sensed they really didn’t know the lyrics they were doing lip synchronization too. Hard to believe any of the performers were fans of the album, before getting involved with this.
I’ll admit this crap, was unbelievably funny. But not laughing in their faces so to hurt their feelings. A benefit of the doubt, we can say the performers were trying. Some harder than others. Besides, it’s not polite to be in public and have bad manners. At least, not on purpose. Unless they deserved it. In which these thespians didn’t. They were just in a bad production. Management of the theater should take responsibility. It shocks me that no one during rehearsal just stated honestly, that this really sucked. It’s a bad presentation of what really is a cool play. This includes real special effects as one can look up on the Internet. Google it. The biggest special effect this play had, was dry ice. And way too much of it. Like they didn’t know how to shut off the machine. Or they were purposely trying to cover up the whole state of stinky affairs they had going on. Someone should have punched the person who signaled this play to start this evening. “Ladies & Gentlemen” — pow.
I have to admit, the second part of the play was better than the first. Could be because the realization that this was as good as it gets, applied. There was a standout performer. A lady; Ekanem Ebinne. Played her part well. Sang well. Not a huge part. Seemed to make it her own. Everyone else made me laugh. Of course, we know that wasn’t their intention.
The play ended. People applauded believe it or not. We got up, and as I said before, immediately walked to our car. My wife commented on the way home, that she liked the dancing parts. Think I replied with; my balls itch.
Here’s my short review; absolutely dreadful. A misrepresentation of the actual play. End of review. See, I said it was short.
Disappointed? Sure. But it was a night out. We don’t get a lot of those. The words, “weird experience” sums it up nicely. I bet we’ll never forget the evening. That’s for sure.
In the theater’s advertisement, it reads: …..”will thrill and entertain you with a new take on the timeless classic.” That could very much apply to the real Jeff Wayne’s Musical World Of The Worlds. Unless Freneticore meant a new take, on a new take? From the HG Wells classic book to the Orson Welles famous radio production in 1938, to thrilling movies, to Wayne’s musical. Which this wasn’t. One leap after another. And they did end up taking something from me; my money. Maybe that’s the only “take” these folks at Freneticore were going for?
Oh…..when we got home, the misses and I got totally wasted smoking hydro. And laughed. This time, out loud.
Onward through the fog…..
Note: Music played while typing: Yes – Fly from Here (album)