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Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Night At the Pantages

Last weekend my son and I had an opportunity to see a live show at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood. His cousins (my niece and nephew) had seen the Broadway musical "Wicked" earlier in the year, so - of course - he really wanted to go. We decided to make it an early birthday present. Since my wife had already seen it earlier in the year, I got to go.

Traffic into Hollywood can be pretty wicked during the week, so we went on a Saturday - smart decision.

The Sunset Strip (in West Hollywood) isn't known for family friendly billboards. This 60 foot ad on the side of a building for "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" in West Hollywood was an exception.

Hollywood is technically part of the City of Los Angeles. We had dinner at Subway at Sunset & La Brea. Not too exciting, but my son was looking for familiarity.

Hollywood Blvd. was full of life and activity around the Kodak Theater (the El Capitan, the Disney flagship theater, is across the street).

The mile between Hollywood & Highland (Kodak Theater) and the Pantages is - unfortunately - pretty gritty. There's a ton of large scale urban renewal going on ... but much of the area around the theater still needs an "extreme makeover."

The Pantages was built in 1930, and has recently been restored to it's original grandeur. The place was packed.

So what about "Wicked"? Overall, I enjoyed it. It probably would have helped if I had read an on-line description of the story ahead of time, as it was actually a lot more complex than I expected. I had a hard time sticking with the plot and themes, especially as some of the important dialogue is sung - it is, after all, a musical.

I cheated on these last two pictures and pulled them off the internet. Our seats were literally in the very last row. Great sound, but hard to see the subtle nuances of the actors on stage (and besides, the Pantages has a "no photography" policy). I pulled the next two pics off the internet. 

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The show has very catchy tunes, and deals with some serious questions of good and evil, who is really "good" ... and who is really "wicked." The first half is fairly lighthearted. After the intermission, it's more serious, more of a drama.

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The show runs fairly late - to about 11pm. We actually left about 20 minutes before the end of the show ... way too late for a 9 year old. Yet another one of those parental "what was I thinking?" moments. In hindsight, we should have probably caught a matinee show.

So while I'm not qualified to give a review or summary of the show, I do appreciate this excellent review from Dr. Brian Howell, anthropology professor at Wheaton College. If you're planning on seeing "Wicked" - or have already seen it - I recommend reading Professor Howell's review.

Watching a Broadway show (or a movie) from a Christian perspective, a Christian world-view, doesn't take an advanced degree in anthropology. But it does involve thinking through what's being communicated. And for Christians anywhere, hasn't God called us to love him with all our "heart, soul, mind, and strength"?

© 2008


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