Hilltop Diary, May 10, 2021

Our insanely busy schedule has continued, perhaps like yours. Surely after the run of my show in June and a trip to Denver in July, I can get out the old rockin’ chair on the porch. Seems very unlikely. Our week of weirdly cold weather was followed by a week of storms, high winds, and tornado warnings. The garden got a good blowing, and in some cases, blowing over, but no permanent damage. We closed on the refinance of our home, mowed a lot of grass between the rains, and had a breakdown of our dish washing machine to deal with.

The time since my last entry has been largely occupied with my musical theater show, Dear Miss Barrett, but I did record a radio show episode on French composer Maurice Ravel (next will come one on Mozart) and wrote an Epoch Times article defending nationalism in Music, on the basis of so-called “Theology of Place.” You can read it in its entirety for free here:

No Place Like Home_ Edvard Grieg and Musical Nationalism

Also, the journal called Saint Austin Review (StAR) published a rather more thorny, academic essay of mine applying Leonard Meyer’s theory of a “steady state of pluralism” to a comparison of late Romantic composers with the writing style of J.R.R. Tolkien, in an all Tolkien issue of that journal. If anyone requests a copy of that, comment below.

Our rehearsals for the show happily began with the full cast of thirteen actors and two directors (plus me) on Tuesday, May 4 and every night the rest of the week. I was very impressed with director Jake Cannon’s very systematic methodology, beginning with a read-through of the show (without songs) and then music rehearsals, beginning with the full cast chorus numbers and working down to all the quartets, duets, and solos. I was likewise impressed with the facility at the keyboard of our very experienced music director, Kelsi Fulton, who made all my songs sound better than they probably deserve to sound. The actors all had their phones out and recorded their own parts as Kelsi played through them, so they could practice them at home. You can order tickets online using the link on the Dear Miss Barrett web page — click on that heading at the top of this page. FYI, the show logo below is not a red hollow log, but (on the left end) a silhouette of one of our lead characters, who runs a tea shop, sipping tea! Please tell me you saw that!

We will begin this second week with revisiting some of the singing and then move into “blocking”, telling people where to stand and move around on the stage. I’m not sure people realize that actors don’t just wander around the stage saying their lines but have every move and placement on the stage choreographed. At this rate of progress, though, I have no doubt that the show will be ready to perform in just six weeks of rehearsal. It’s great cast of very experienced performers, each of whom have been in many shows. Meanwhile, I have been corresponding with many friends who plan to come and see the show, some from out of town, and some even to stay in our home. It’s all been a great experience.

One fun thing since I last wrote has been harvesting and eating some of our own vegetables, starting with chard. I only discovered that leafy vegetable a year or two ago, which has a very edible stalk, like celery but more tender, with a big spinach-like leaf on each stalk. Ours had grown enough already to snip off the outer leaves, and leave the smaller inner ones to keep growing. I chop up the stalks first and sauté them in a few chopped anchovies and garlic and olive oil, then add the big, green leaves chopped up and wilt them, and toss it all around. Delicious. The anchovies actually melt into a paste when heated in a little oil which adds some saltiness and flavor, but no fishy flavor at all.

Wishing you well till next time!

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