Don’t miss one of the last two performances of “The Gondoliers.”  You owe it to your kids to take them to this show.

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What better way to end a day filled with sugary snacks (See my blog “What is a Betweenkie?…”) than to take my nephew to a play at Cinnabar Theater?  As we entered the theater I don’t know which one of us was more fidgety.  A dangerous side effect of having too much sugar during the day is that it leaves me starved for dinner.  I was tempted to call on Lombardi’s Deli and BBQ (across the street from Cinnabar) but ran short on time.  A dripping tri-tip sandwich or BBQ bacon cheese burger would have really hit the spot.  Fortunately, Cinnabar sells an assortment of homemade cookies, each one better than the last, nothing priced over a dollar.  (Although they didn’t have it last night, if you ever get the chance, jump at the homemade caramel corn; you will end up buying one to take home.)  With beer and wine at only $5 a glass (and a generous glass at that) the GF, my nephew and I got ourselves pretty deep into the refreshments without having to breaking out the credit card.  And you can take your food and drink to your seats, unlike most theaters, so you can gulp and scarf (silently, to yourself) all you want during the performance.  I know what you are thinking…more sugar?  But those cookies are so darn good that I have stopped by the theater and to get a couple for take-home, even though I was not attending that night’s performance.

We took my nephew to see “The Crucible” a month ago and he really enjoyed it and wanted to come back to Cinnabar Theater to see another one of their Young Rep performances.  Being 10 years old and having never read about the Salem witch trials, I was surprised that he could understand, let alone appreciate a play like “The Crucible”, but he did.  It was long and dark and filled with important historical and moral lessons yet he was still enthralled.  Maybe it is because he doesn’t get a lot of TV at home but he was able to sit still a lot better than I was.  That play led to many conversations since, which in my mind makes the performing arts so important, especially for kids.  It ran later than his bedtime (and much later than mine) but at half-time, when we offered to take him home, he told us he wanted to stay…so stay we did.  (Yes, “half-time”.  Attending that play meant I was missing a night of dirt-track racing at the Petaluma Speedway so I was trying to man-up a bit.)

Cinnabar Theater’s current Young Rep presentation is “The Gondoliers”, which is an opera written by Gilbert and Sullivan, of “The Pirates of Penzance” and “The Mikado” fame.  I should mention that although I am not normally a fan of opera, I found “The Gondoliers” to be incredibly well done and will see it again if the Young Rep program ever brings it back.  I often find operas slow and hard to follow, especially when they are performed in one of the foreign tongues that I do not familiar with…which encompasses most of the world’s languages.  (Is there an app for the Droid that will translate an opera into English as you watch it???  If not, don’t forget my royalty check when you make your millions with this idea.)  If you haven’t seen a Gilbert and Sullivan play you are in for a real treat.  Actually, you “experience” a G&S play; you don’t just “see” it.  First off, this play is in English and second, it is lively, colorful, funny, and overall entertaining, so, even if you have sworn off operas I would give this one a try.  Cinnabar’s production is a perfect example of how an opera can be exciting and fun.  The acting is superb, the set is innovative and because of the small size of the theater you get sucked into the middle of the action, as if you are living every moment along with the gondoliers, as they go through their trials and tribulations.   My nephew had an easy time following along, even though some of the songs and dialogue was over his head.  In such an intimate setting you can see the facial expressions and figure out quickly what is happening and where the story is headed. 

Although all of the acting was well above what we expected for a young rep performance, we were blown away by the four actors representing a Spanish contingent.  Without the program, I don’t have all their names in front of me but I was told that the “Duke” is only in 5th grade (he could be acting on Broadway), the “Duchess”, not surprisingly, performs in other larger venues, and the actor playing their daughter had a singing voice that could carry her to a national opera house.  But it was their servant (actor Natalie Herman) that stole the show.  Her character and performance were a perfect mix of comedy, sorrow and romance, including a very funny barnyard animal reenactment.  Her expressions were spot on and she moved seamlessly through all of the emotions ascribed to her character.  Again, being in such an intimate setting you witness even the smallest changes of expression, so these kids have to be on the ball, and they are. 

Cinnabar Theater’s presentation of “The Gondoliers” closes this weekend with a Saturday evening and Sunday matinee performance, so you only have two more opportunities to see it.  If you have kids, this is a no-brainer, and if you don’t, then it is simply a must-see.  On the drive home we all answer each other with foolhardy, impromptu songs.  Mine were well composed, although lacking in presentation.  Silly?  Of course, but as adults it is important to do whatever we can to open the minds and hearts of the children around us.  If that means singing silly songs in the car in order to enhance his experience of the performance, than that is what you do, even at the risk of embarrassment.

Don’t miss “The Gondoliers.”

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