So this past Saturday I went to go see the Hot Chocolate Nutcracker at the Music Center's Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Downtown LA. Both the venue and the musical were beautiful. The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion has a utilitarian aesthetic to it. It was built in the 60's and you can really tell. But, it was still quite beautiful and I enjoyed the sights. I personally am more used to traditional theaters with vaulted ceilings, intricate facades, and the like. A great example of that is a local theater in my town, the Warner Grand, look it up.
The performance of the musical itself was amazing, too. The musical was the Hot Chocolate Nutcracker. The stage was filled with over 200 kids as the organizer pointed out during intermission. It was a city affair, with kids from all over LA acting and singing in the musical. As the Nutcracker goes the audience was taken on a journey throughout our world and the mystical world through song and scene. One of my favorites was the Candy Cane number. A hip-hop number that was cast with all guys, it was fun to watch and had great rhythm. One of my other favorites was the Arabic/Middle Eastern scene. The flowing costumes, bright colors, and simple music were wonderful combinations to form a mysterious, yet alluring atmosphere. My third and final favorite scene of the night was the Chinese dance number. This was a scene were the dancers danced using flowing ribbons that suspended them above the stage. The immense physical strength it takes to dance like that and the idea of moving art suspended in air made it wonderful to watch.
The entire musical was upbeat and very sure of where it was going, which was forward. I loved the fact that so many kids were included in the production and the organizer also pointed out that over 100 parents were backstage assisting with costumes, makeup, and organization. This, I'm sure, contributed greatly to the production's success. To be a young actor or actress and to perform on a stage as prominent and large as that of the Music Center must have been thrilling. The venue was packed, which is a good sign for the continuation of the production, because I will go see it again next year. However, I would have loved to have seen it from a closer location. My mom got a deal on the tickets, which is the main reason we went, and so we were in the nosebleed seats high above the stage. The venue was actually so big that they sold binoculars in the lobby. I guarantee the production would have been even more incredible than it already was if we had seen it from a closer vantage point.
After seeing this production it really has reinvigorated my love for theater. Coming from a theater background I have always loved the pure art of the stage. To me it's an incredible form of expression. The set designers, actors, composers, directors, and the rest have only say a 50 foot by 100 foot area in which to convey all of the beauty and art they desire to in that 2 hour period. Yes, movies you could argue have that same restriction, only having a 16x9 ratio screen to work with, but it's not the same. Movies can make almost anything and almost go anywhere. The stage is constricting in a way that only breeds better performance and better art. Art is about dealing with limitations and finding a creative way to express yourself through that. Painters do not have infinite canvas nor do sculptors have infinite rock. Art is beauty through restriction and theater exemplifies that wonderfully.
I now want to go see many more plays and musicals. Living in such a cosmopolitan city as LA I have many options to choose from and many beautiful venues to attend. I have seen many productions here already. I saw Wicked at the Pantages with Idina Menzel, which was incredible. I know going forward I will be going to college soon, but where I hope to go to college is really not that far away from LA, so maybe a few drives down on the weekends to run and see a play is in order. Of course I will be coming down a lot for family and running, but I do want to add theater into those visits.
One of the biggest things that I always take away from a stage performance, no matter what it is, is that we all express ourselves in different ways, but if we can find a way to honestly express ourself in front of others then we create a connection with them and can influence them. We can either be a teacher or a destroyer. We can be examples to them. The theater is a place to go and see someone connect with you and influence you, whether you know it or not. The lessons conveyed in the production are being conveyed to you, and depending on the caliber of the production, maybe very deeply. The actors and actresses have the opportunity to be a positive example in your life and I think that's quite remarkable. If we can include just a little of that dedication and true emotional connection into our own lives I think we can be much better friends and family. I think we all need to take a few lessons from the stage.