Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Kind of Town

We finally got away for a getaway weekend! I love Chicago. I love big cities in general, because there is always something to do, no matter what time it is. We stayed at the Club Quarters Central Loop hotel, a little gem I found online for a great price. It was .68 miles from the theatre our first show was in, and .3 miles from the second show, so we could walk to both. The only negative was the ridiculous cold. Apparently 20 degrees feels colder in Chicago than back home. "The Windy City", you know. It's also the "Instantaneously Freezing Face City", a moniker which is not quite as well-known.

Saturday afternoon, we saw "In The Heights", which I've been wanting to see since I heard about it on the Tony Awards a few years back. Set in a barrio in Manhattan, it's a hip-hop musical with a Latino theme. It was very "Rent"-like in its entirety -- there are so many different layers going on at the same time, and it was beautiful the way it was woven together. I'd like to get the soundtrack to it and then watch it again.

Our hotel happened to have a restaurant in it called "Elephant & Castle", an English pub, which we'd eaten at before in Chicago, but in a different location. We attempted to find the one we'd eaten at before, but with the cold, we didn't want to roam around too much, so we went back to eat at the hotel. We had fish bites, chicken skewers, brownie bites, and I had a bacon and bleu cheese burger which was delicious. Steve had the Shepherd's Pie.

Then we went on to our second show. "Come Fly Away" was a modern, fast-paced ballet of sorts, set to all music of Frank Sinatra. I was excited because I had paid for better tickets than I usually do -- rather than nosebleed territory, I went one balcony lower. As we sat down, I wished I'd saved the money. The top balcony overhang cut off the top of the screen behind the stage. We got over our irritation with this pretty quickly, but the people behind us were so annoyed by it they decided to annoy us as well, by talking loudly through the entire first thirty minutes of the show about how awful their seats were. I turned and glared the evil eye at one lady, who very shorty thereafter stood with her husband and found different seats elsewhere. I turned again and applauded them when they did so.

The show itself was only an hour and fifteen minutes, and barring the people behind us, the loud and obnoxious couple a few rows in front of us who had to get up and down to go to the bathroom at two different times, the two people who arrived late and stood in front of us for part of the first number, and the extremely tall guy who was sitting on his coat in front of my not-quite-as-tall husband... the show was phenomenal. I'm saying that as someone who is not Frank Sinatra's biggest fan.

The dancing was the most incredible dancing I think I've ever seen. It was flawless. They moved as though they were the music. And the way they threw themselves and their partners up, over, on the floor, in the air, into others' arms was dazzling. But the dancing wasn't even the important part. The stage could've been blank, as far as I was concerned. The music was, in my opinion and my husband's, worth more than the price of admission.

All of the music was Frank Sinatra's voice, which was isolated from the musical tracks, and so crystal clear it was as though he was somewhere in the room, and we just couldn't see him. If that wasn't incredible enough, their was a band/orchestra/whatever you want to call it, PLAYING all of the music. The way they synced Sinatra's voice with the live music being played was (and I know I already used this adjective in an earlier paragraph but I can't help it) flawless. I would see both of these shows again in a heartbeat. But I most certainly wouldn't spring for the more expensive seats.

This morning, it was back to real life. We headed to the parking garage (only $20 for 24 hours!) and grabbed a bunch of Dunkin' Donuts food and coffee for breakfast, then drove back home. I picked up Aria from her Aunt's house, sat down for a nice visit with my sister-in-law, hung with the niece and nephew and got to hold my new baby niece, who decided to smile a lot for me this time. Then I overhauled the office closet at home, played on Spotify a lot and got some new songs for my computer, watched a little football, chomped on Chinese food, picked our son up from work, and sat down to write this blog. Now you're caught up with my life.

If you're watching the Golden Globes, as I am, I want you to be aware that THE HELP should win absolutely everything it's nominated for, because it was possibly one of the best movies I have ever seen.

What did I learn this weekend? I learned that no matter how much you attempt to respect God's decision to give you a day off, no one else will respect your attempts to do that. I learned that a trip to Chicago in the winter requires a scarf. I learned that, even after all these years of living, acting, directing, and working together, I love to be with my husband. And I learned that our dogs are just as excited to see us when we come home from a weekend jaunt as when we come home from a week-long vacation.

Here's to another week of work, of accomplishments, of overcoming the negatives and pulling through to the next weekend!

Stephanie Jean

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