Saturday, March 13, 2010

Walton Arts Center - PICK ME!!!

*We now interrupt the regularly scheduled blog postings for a very shameless post wherein I beg to win a contest...if you stick with me, I will bring weight loss into this post, although only tangentially, making good on my promise to plug the JALCO that I made a couple days ago*

The Walton Arts Center - one of my four favorite things about living in Fayetteville, AR - is having a contest. (In case you are curious, the other three things are the farmers' market, the trails, and the close proximity to awesome nature things like the Buffalo River and Devil's Den). They are giving away tickets to the opening night of South Pacific at the WAC, as well as tickets to a meet and greet with the artists. I WOULD LOVE TO WIN.

There are so many reasons I want to win, but here are the two main ones.
  • When I went to NYC in the spring of 2008, it was the season South Pacific had opened. These were definitely the hot ticket in town, with all of the shows running at capacity. I saw 13 shows in 10 days, but was unable to procure a ticket. I was sad to miss it.
  • I graduated from the University of Michigan which has a fabulous musical theatre program. I always love it when the UM students I saw in their student productions get cast in things that come through town. South Pacific is another show with a UM cast member, Josh Rouah. Although he played several featured roles when I was in grad school (all quite well), the most memorable by far was when he played Officer Lockstock in Urinetown. It was my first introduction to the show, and it is now one of my favorites. (trivia: this production of Urinetown also featured Nick Blaemire, and Janine Divita as Bobby Strong and Ms. Pennywise who have now have very successful careers too--if you overlook the sadness that was Glory Days)
I am a regular patron of the WAC. I probably go to one or two events there a month on average. I love what they do for our community. They truly bring amazing talent to Northwest Arkansas (plus the occasional miss -- Rat Pack?! the faux Cirque du Soliel last year?!).

One of the thing that strikes me when they have a truly class act is the amount of talent that is being displayed, and what long odds the performers have overcome to get where they are. Being a performer who is actually paid to do what you love is incredibly rare. The odds are really long, and the amount of luck and networking that you must have is just so high -- not to mention the obvious, that you must be incredibly talented as a performer.

This really struck me the other day when I went to see Wynton Marsalis and the Live at the Lincoln Center Orchestra. As I mentioned, I have been sick and I really contemplated skipping out on the performance. However, I decided to go because these guys are so famous and as a former trumpet player, I definitely went through a phase where I idolized Wynton. It turned out to be a great great decision to go to the show. They. were. AMAZING.

This was the type of performance where -- whether you like jazz or not, whether or not you're a musician -- you really just think "Wow, they are all really good." It was the type of performance where they make it look easy, but you realize that what they're doing is amazingly hard the moment you ever try to imitate them.

More than just being amazing at what they did, though, I was struck by the passion of each of the performers. With only a couple exceptions, almost every performer was just SO into what they were doing. You could tell that they loved creating music, and that they were so happy to be doing what they loved, and making a living at it. It was the type of thing that made you want to be really good at something, at anything. It really inspired me to, rather than just going through the motions, to want to give my work and my exercise my all. It made me not want to be mediocre. I can't really explain it completely, but it made me want to be better. It made me think "You know, halfassing it really just won't be enough to get you to where you want to be on this whole fitness thing. If you want to be great, you are going to have to be devoted and passionate. You can't just clock in and clock out, you have to put a little bit of your soul and your sweat and yourself into each and every workout."

At the end of the performance, they got a standing ovation. If you know me in real life, you know that I think the standing ovation has become incredibly devalued. It's like the phrases "How are you?" and "I'll pray for you" -- 95% of the time when people ask how you are or say they'll pray for you, they really don't care how you are and probably won't pray for you; it's just become the social norm and you're a jerk if you don't give those responses. I feel the same way about the standing O. It's become what you get when the performance is done; it's expected now, not earned.

Well, these guys -- at least in my book -- definitely EARNED their standing O. They are great, and if you ever get the chance to go see them, you should. More than just being a great evening of music, they will make you want to be better and more passionate about living life and pursuing your dreams. At least that is what they did for me. Thanks WAC for bringing them to Fayetteville.

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