Friday, October 12, 2007

NBS musical (it doesn't stand for National Bureau of Standards)


NBS at one time in my life stood for “National Bureau of Standards.” In fact, that is where I had my first job, starting in 1963, as a GS-4 lab assistant in rheology, on the old bricked Federal City Campus at Conn. Ave and Van Ness streets. The agency has long since moved to Gaithersburg, MD, one home of Netflix.

I ramble on about this to disguise the title of the stage play, which will upset advertising scripts, perhaps. I need to write a G-rated review of what was superficially an NC-17 film. Computers, with their Asperger-like nature, can’t always interpret words the way a human would, in the proper context. A “tape” of the 1998 play (apparently made at the Hayworth Theater in LA; it also showed at the Celebration Theater in Santa Monica, and has shown in New York) was shown as the opening night event at Reel Affirmations 17 GLBT film festival, this event at the Lincoln Theater in the Cardozo area of Washington DC. The link giving the title is this:

The musical itself comprises a lot of ensemble numbers in the nude, plus a number of musical skits. It is a series that imitates a lot of vaudeville and musical stage style that is lighthearted and innocent (however the young adult men look on stage). I’ve seen the same style in “Senioritis” (reviewed in August on this blog) and even in middle school when I acted in an operetta “The Sunbonnet Girl” back in 1956 or so.

When you make a film of something, you have a chance to make close-ups and add tension to the scenes, but the film version, from Funny Boy pictures (to be distributed by non-profit TLA) didn’t do that. So it winds up being an experience that mimics what Regal Cinemas does with Metropolitan Opera broadcasts (or even the Washington Opera on the Mall – see September) but here the result is much less effective. The music by Nic Ten-Brook is derivative and reminds me of other musicals (even a touch of “High School Musical”, or even “There’s No Business Like Show Business” or, after all, “That’s Entertainment”.). And there is absolutely no tension at all in the acting.

Still, the “film” is an experiment. Videotapes of stage events can provide valuable low-cost viewing experiences anyway. I remember many examples. like a Fairfax County theater group’s tape of Robert Cassler’s “Second in the Realm” from the mid 1990s, or even PBS’s “The Light in the Piazza” (Adam Guettel, Elizabeth Spencer).

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