Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Elizabeth at school!

Elizabeth's awesome teacher took this picture of her playing at her school today:

When Robert saw this, he said. "I'm so glad she's going to school!" I am, too. Now that the brutal First Week is over, we are all very glad that she's in a great school with a great teacher.

Friday, August 15, 2008


This morning, on the way to kindergarten, the girls were playing some kind of a game. Horses and fairies and lots of roses were involved, and I wasn't paying too much attention, until I heard Elizabeth say:

"...rainbows are wet."

I was startled; I know she hasn't ever touched a rainbow.

I asked her, "How do you know that rainbows are wet??"

Her response, which she gave in that "rainbows-don't-talk-aunt-Josie"* sort of tone:

"Because rainbows are made from sun and water."

I don't know where she learned this, probably from her dad. I was so surprised by her quick answer and the way she absorbed and simply spoke this small bit of information. I have since tried to remember when I learned that about rainbows, but in this stage of motherhood my memory is completely shot -- I know for certain, though, that I was much older than five years.

*This refers to an incident from about two years ago. While driving to Snow Canyon with Aunt Josie and the kids, we noticed a rainbow out in the cliffs. Josie waved and said, "Hi, rainbow!" and Elizabeth replied, with a hint of indignation, "Rainbows don't talk, Aunt Josie."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

More pictures!

Elizabeth looks so cute today:

When I took this picture, I told Angela to "look cute!":

Angela is quite sick today. She has a sore throat and is very stuffy. She can't go to preschool.

(The good news is that it's really funny to hear her say "twelve dancing princesses" when she's congested.)

She's holding a list of things she wants to do today. The first item is "eat breakfast" and the last item is "go to bed early."

First Day of School!

Ready to leave! One had her first day of kindergarten, and the other her first day of preschool:

Elizabeth the kindergartener, done with her first class:

No one sufficiently warned me what a basket case I would become during the weeks leading up to this. It's not so much about how she's growing up -- after all, this is Elizabeth, who has never really been little. Kindergarten seems about two years late for her. No, it's more that I have a lot of wariness about my child being in a public school. It can be brutal. If there's anything I want to protect my little girls from, it's the relentless teasing and constant feeling of not belonging that accompanied my public school experience. I know it's not likely that my daughter will have the same problems I did. But I am still paralyzed with worry, just in case.

Thanks again to Elizabeth's teacher, who knew exactly what to give to the parents on their child's first day:

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Elizabeth: "I'm not chasing her -- I'm just following her!"

Angela: "Sometimes I do silly things all the time."

Random pictures

Making sugar cookies:

Angela's portrait of her friend Rusty:

This is Rusty:



Tuesday, August 5, 2008

More about Les Misérables at Tuacahn...

Having returned again to Tuacahn's production of Les Misérables, I'd like to add to my previous review of the play. This will not be a short post.

The Cast
The casting of this particular show is outstanding. I've already expressed my delight in Timothy Warmen's performance, and again, his portrayal of Jean Valjean is unparalleled. His depiction is deeply emotional and his voice is unbelievably strong. He is better in this role than any Jean Valjean I have seen before.

I have to give some love to Cameron Bronson, who plays Gavroche, the young street urchin. He brings so much life and spirit to the part that for the first time in a Les Mis production, I was sad to see him go. Gavroche doesn't have a huge role, but Bronson makes the most of his appearance, and it is fun and greatly endearing.

Two other cast members, Kevin Goertzen as Enjolras and John Preator as Marius, exceeded all expectations in their respective roles. Goertzen's Enjolras is everything I have always imagined the character to be -- he is enthralling to watch, and lovely to hear. He was among the very most impressive on a stage that was already laden with outrageous talent.

And Preator's Marius is the perfect romantic youth, so filled with genuine goodness that I wondered whether he was truly acting; I doubt it. One can't act that sort of goodness unless it's already a natural part of one's personality. He has an amazing presence onstage, and his voice is exquisite. The match of his character with Cosette, though in other versions I've been bored by it, was a wonderful sight here: though you know that these two actors are probably not deeply in love, you completely believe that they are truly as good and filled with integrity as they seem. Every scene he shared with Éponine, he carried the emotional weight and made it compelling.

Which brings me to the weakest part of the casting. Though she can sing, Emily Perucca doesn't give the right balance of hope and desperation to Éponine. This is a character who never once is resigned to her fate, not once, but Perucca doesn't play her in this way. She isn't sympathetic enough. She can hit the notes well (and I think Éponine has some of the very best singing parts in the entire play), but that's about all. It seems she isn't able to lose herself in this role, and it's a startling contrast with the other roles.

Digression about Javert
I've been giving a lot of thought to Javert, and I've decided that the largest flaw in this musical generally is that not enough attention is given to our favorite Inspector. Javert is the most interesting part of the entire story, because of his inability to deal with the realization that all he has used to define himself has been proven wrong. There isn't enough insight into Javert, though he is brilliantly played by Harold Barnard II here, a man with a rich and wonderful voice.

Yes, you probably all know the lyrics, and I'm not saying anything new here, but it is still fascinating to me. When Jean Valjean, presented by the Bishop with the chance to change himself for the better, reacts, he says:

Yet why did I allow that man, to touch my soul and teach me love?

When Valjean, having made most of his spiritual journey and therefore emulating the Bishop during his final encounter with Javert, then gives Javert a similar chance to progress, he responds:

How could I allow that man to hold dominion over me?

It would not hurt my feelings if they decided to cut down on some of the "Master of the House" and give some more stage time to Javert. He is fascinating.

Back to the play...

More reasons to see this play at Tuacahn
  • The cast is phenomenal. The score is demanding, but these performers are well-matched to it. I am very sad to think that Saturday might have been the last time I was able to see this particular cast.

  • Animals on the stage! I saw goats, a goose, a pig, a rabbit, a dog, and several horses.

  • I said it before, but it's worth pointing out again: that barricade is impressive. Just as a set piece, it is pretty incredible, but the way it is used, especially with the militia positioned in the hill behind and firing on the revolutionary students, is absolutely unique to Tuacahn.

  • Les Misérables is typically performed on a rotating stage, and without one, the staging had to be creative. The absence of the turning stage doesn't detract from this performance, though: with one exception, every scene is wonderfully staged, and the transitions are fluid and easy.
The bad parts...
Inevitably, with multiple viewings, some negativity becomes apparent.
  • For some reason, the sledgehammers and tools were taken away from the opening scene. I had thought that that was one of the best parts of the show, seeing the convicts break up rocks while singing the Work Song. Pretending that the convicts are holding tools is something of a distraction.

  • This is an outdoor venue in the desert. St. George in the summer is hot, and even after sunset, can remain in the triple digits. It is hot in the audience; I cannot imagine what the actors experience, in their heavy costumes under bright lights on a black stage that's been in the sun all day. My friend says, "There's a reason they have showers in those dressing rooms!"

  • Though it is sung with a tone of melancholy I haven't often seen, "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" was a bit lacking, because of how it was staged. I guess I'm spoiled, but in previous productions, I've seen the dead revolutionaries return to Marius's presence, acting happy to see him, but as they listen to what he's singing, they realize what has happened, and grow somber, eventually withdrawing from the stage. That is deeply moving. Tuacahn's production does not make good use of the emotional aspect of this important moment. John Preator is not to blame; he is outstanding -- I found it had more of an impact to ignore everything except Marius during this part.

  • That darn middle piece of the barricade seems to always cause trouble. It's already a bit unfair to have the actors moving set pieces around, but the barricade appears to be the worst. This time the largest piece, with dead students fallen across it, would not move. It may have been steered too much to one side. It is a cumbersome piece, clumsy and heavy, and with the actors (particularly Enjolras, who falls in a splayed upside-down position and remains there for a long while) unmoving and probably anxious for their exit, it's a jarring and uncomfortable minute.
These are all small complaints. None of these detract from the overall stunning experience of seeing this play.

Indeed, the very worst part about Tuacahn's version of Les Misérables is that it is a limited run. I wish I could return again and again to see this play. Bringing Broadway to the desert is a steep goal, but Tuacahn surpasses all expectations in terms of creativity and talent, even with the very high standard set by Les Misérables.

Les Misérables ends on October 18th. It is performed on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays (and Aug. 22nd) until then. It is not to be missed.