Monday, February 25, 2008

Ella

Fri night we had dinner at the Miltonian with the 'usual suspects', then came home and watched "I Love You Baby", at Netflix DVD that was cute.

We left at 8:15 Sat morning for VA, and arrived at 10:45. We visited with Spouse's mom and sister and her kids for a while and then we all went out to lunch. Afterward we sat around the house for a while, talking, watching TV, and when Mary & her kids left Spouse took a nap.

At 6:00 we met up with Bugs & Roger at Urban Thai in Crystal City for dinner. We'd never eaten there, but they had and recommended it. The food was really tasty and the service was good too. Spouse & I had our favorite Thai dishes: Pad Thai and Panang Chicken Curry. After dinner we walked to the temporary home of Arena stage in Crystal City. (The original Arena stage in DC is being remodeled or rebuilt - I'm not sure which.) We went to see "Ella".

"Ella" is a musical based on the life of jazz legend and "The First Lady of Song" Ella Fitzgerald, and we loved it! The format was unusual in the sense that its practically a 1-woman show. There's a 5-piece band on stage with her and they occasionally recite lines to simulate Ella having a conversation, but mostly its like listening and watching Ella talk to herself and sing.

The singer playing Ella was Tina Fabrique, who actually looked more like Ella Fitzgerald than I expected. She has a wonderful voice and a great ability to express the unique song styling of Ella, while not sounding like an impersonator.

The musical starts with Ella recalling her difficult childhood. Her father and mother died when she was in her early teens, although her mother remarried before her death. Her stepfather was physically inappropriate with Ella, and she ran away to NY at the age of 15. The story progresses to the periods when she meets Chick Webb and others who helped build her career, and also chronicles the death of her beloved 1/2 sister Francis and her almost constant fear of rejection. All through story appropriate songs are woven in to showcase her amazing talent.

I thought Tina Fabrique did a wonderful job singing the complex, intricate runs and jumps in 'Ella fashion'. But being the huge Ella Fitzgerald fan that I am, and also being a singer, I probably noticed more than the average person that this did not come easily or effortlessly to her as it did the real Ella Fitzgerald.

When Ella sang a ballad, she caressed it, she saturated it with emotion, then wrung it out for you until the very last drop had been exposed. Tina Fabrique infused her performance with much emotion, but not like Ella. When Ella sang big band or scat, her voice floated quickly through the notes like a butterfly fluttering about on a spring day. It just sounded effortless! Ms. Fabrique is to be commended for replicating some of Ella's vocal runs, but I could tell this was due to lots and lots of rehearsal. It didn't have that effortless sound or feel. But really, who could compare to Ella? It was a real treat to see this show.

Sun morning we met back up with Bugs & Roger and the Newlyweds for breakfast at the City Diner. Although we'd seen both couples within the last month, it was great to get together and catch up on the latest happenings.

After more time visiting with Spouse's mother, his brother Louis and his wife Karen came over and the 5 of us went to lunch. We had a nice time, and when we returned to the house, Spouse's sister and her kids were there. We talked briefly but then gathered our things and prepared to leave. It was almost 3:00 and we needed to get back to DE.

I've mentioned before that it seems like every time we spend the weekend at Spouse's mother's house our dog Jordan gives us some kind of drama, and this weekend was no exception. When we returned from breakfast Sun morning Evelyn announced that Jordan had thrown up near the sliding glass doors. Not long after cleaning it up the 3 of us were watching TV and Jordan threw up again, right in front of the sofa. We feel like we do everything we can to keep her out of trouble, from moving Evelyn's dog's and cat's food out of Jordan's reach, to putting Jordan outside frequently, but she still managed to get sick and make a mess. I'm guessing she probably ate something while out in the yard. Its very frustrating.

And speaking of frustrating, Evelyn had the heat turned up so high it felt like an oven. We close the heat vent in our room and keep the door closed all the time so that no heat comes into the room. That's the only way we can sleep there. But when we're not in that bedroom, its so darn hot that it dries my nose and eyes out and is generally uncomfortable to us. We like to come and visit, but its not easy for us.

Although we were only in VA for about 28 hours, we managed to eat 4 meals out at restaurants, which we are not used to doing so frequently, and felt liked stuffed pigs on the drive back home. No dinner for us Sun night! We were glad to be able to visit with so many friends and family during our visit though.

Sun night we went to an Oscars party at our friends Paul & Steve's house. There were about 12 of us there. Ironically we had not seen any of the films nominated for best picture, but it was fun to watch the Oscars with friends. In addition to the giant TV in their movie theatre room, they had ballots, decorations, props, and all kinds of stuff in the awards show theme, and we had a good time. We climbed into bed at about 12:30 and I fell asleep almost immediately.

Crush du Jour: Jean Claude Van Damme

4 comments:

tornwordo said...

I saw an old interview with Ella and she said she never had voice training and that it was "God" singing through her. I believe it.

RAD Homo said...

Phew! Busy boys! Ella sounded FABULOUS! Now you ned a nice rest... :-)

cb said...

Ella's old news. I bet Ms. Fabrique could break a wineglass on Memorex tape too!

Anonymous said...

I am glad that you enjoyed it! I am not as discriminating when it comes to Ella, so, Ms. Fabrique was ok with me. Wish we could have joined the 4 of you guys on Sunday for breaky. We'd love to have seen "the Newlyweds" again, fun guys. Raj said that he'd like to have all of us get together when you are in town in April. They are out of town when you are here for Easter.

Clarkles