Friday, June 22, 2012

why can't you behave?

My friend Loraine has been trying to get me to come to the Chichester Festival for I don't know how many years; she pronounces it like "Ch-chsta," as if there's no time for vowels. And even though I've heard of the famous Chichester festival, I've never actually been down there. So this was the year for that.

We gathered this morning at ten (which somehow felt like eight) and headed to Victoria Station. Emily, knowing she was going to be performing in a play later in the afternoon, came prepared and wearing curlers.

Victoria Station is bustling and packed. Any minute Jason Bourne might dart through. It was a little overwhelming for poor Topher.

But Dan seemed to settle in just fine on the train. Here he is, enjoying the 11:02 into Grand Central for another day at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

This was one of those funky trains that splits halfway through the journey. There was a lot of consternation and worry about whether we were in the correct car, but this man assured us that we were. Then about twelve different passengers came and asked him train questions. And he answered them all. He claimed that he should start charging for information, and I kind of agreed. Who made him train captain? He was just a nice guy headed to a wedding in Portsmouth with his wife. He was super awesome, though.

I had a pleasant journey, even despite this horrible gypsy who talked and gobbled the entire time. Sidenote: I have some really great skullcandy headphones!

(do you think I will get a curse for posting this? Don't care. She was so irritating.)

We arrived in beautiful Chichester and headed to the Travelodge for check-in. Checking 19 people into a hotel is never fun, but Walter at the desk was very accommodating and patient. Once everyone was checked in Loraine Edwards showed up and took our world by storm.

Loraine is my good friend from BYU, and she's always been funny, energetic, and great conversation. She teaches at Chichester College now, so we barely see her anymore. But she's the sort of friend you pick up with immediately, as if it hadn't been two years since you saw her last. She walked us to the college where we got to see some scenes from the show she's directing there, Terra Nova. It's all about Robert Scott's fatal expedition to the South Pole. The script seems really, really interesting and it was fun to see her students in action.

Following this, my students performed their piece, Waiting, by Ethan Coen (he of the Coen Brothers.) I had seen this performed at UVU last month, but it was fun to see it again with an even more enthusiastic and appreciative audience. They seemed to like it. And they should. It's delightful and funny and Nick did a great job directing it. I look forward to seeing it back at UVU again in the Fall.

Loraine showed me around the Chichester Cathedral which, we were immediately informed by a cloaked volunteer, was built 903 years ago. No small shakes. It's a beautiful cathedral, and I love the artsy mixing of styles. For instance, in one room you have Norman burial tombs, and then just outside that room is a stained glass window by Marc Chagall. It's fancy and awesome and I always love cathedrals. I always think of my beloved Exeter cathedral, with little Miles and Owen running up and down the nave in their yellow slickers.

Oh, here's Voldemort! Watching over us all.

After the cathedral Loraine and I found several back alleys and took pictures in which we were pretending to be sneaking around back alleys, but which just look really dumb. Oh well! We thought it was funny.

And then we had a glorious dinner at Isle Belle, which is perfectly situated right next to my hotel. It's very American and the portions are huge and I dug myself right into a big old steak fajita. Loraine insisted on onion rings and a brownie dessert. And we had a great talk. We talked about you a lot. Could you feel it? Were your ears burning?

Tonight we saw Kiss Me Kate at the Chichester Festival Theatre. This is where a lot of big shows "tryout" before heading to the West End. Sweeney Todd and Singin' in the Rain, for example, both came from here. I have a hunch that Kiss Me Kate will transfer as well. It's fantastic. I directed this show a few years ago, and it's still one of my favorite directing memories. So it was great to see it again, and so nicely directed by Sir Trevor Nunn, who directed the original Cats and Les Mis. I've also seen Nunn's productions of Aspects of Love and A Little Night Music. He's a legend. This production also starred Hannah Waddingham, who is incredible and who I've seen in Into the Woods, A Little Night Music, and Spamalot. The show had so much energy and charisma and the dancing was incredible. Really funny and tight. I told Kate that this is the perfect mix for me: Shakespeare and Jazz Standards. And it really is. It's one of the few musicals that can rhyme "puberty" with "Schuberty" and get away with it. When it's directed with this kind of creativity and deftness it really has a perfection all it's own.