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While the above title is the catchphrase for the CBS summer reality show “Big Brother,” and I’ve yet to miss (don’t judge!) any of the show’s 21 seasons, have no fear—today’s column has virtually nothing to do with my (now public) guilty pleasure. My years-long study of Buddhism has also taught me that “having expectations can only lead to disappointment,” and so with trepidation, I have chosen to ever-so-slowly let go of said expectations over the years. That doesn’t mean I’ve mastered it, but while I strive to attain wisdom, they don’t call it “practice” for nothin’.
That said, my insanely eclectic to-do list this week was all over the place and included catching “Venus in Fur,” the final main-stage performance of the Forestburgh Playhouse summer season, which a pal had described as a “psycho-sexual dramedy.” Dramedy is a fairly new and (IMHO) hateful word, dictionary-defined as a “movie, play, or program that combines the elements of (duh) drama and comedy. “Ugh” I said to my pal. “I fully expect that I’ll hate it. Wanna come with?” Knowing that I was prepared to suffer through the two-character, one act play written by David Ives and originally produced on Broadway by the snooty-sounding Manhattan Theatre Club, I scanned the program enough to learn that I was totally unfamiliar with the actors, director and scenic designer, which gave me pause. So I sat back and steeled myself for director Matt Lenz’s salute to what I expected would be an artsy-fartsy “dramedy.”
Following the performance and knowing that “Venus” was a one-week-only production, I sent producer Franklin Trapp a quick note regarding my thoughts, which he chose to share online the next day, hoping, I assume, that my ruminations might encourage others to attend. “Brilliantly written,” I had scribbled in an email, “impeccably directed, insanely well-acted with multi-layered, emotionally charged performances from Jason Babinsky and the incandescent Caroline Kingsly. Gritty, sexy, disturbing and funny, if one can imagine such a thing. And stunning to look at, to boot,” my review-in-a-nutshell concluded. Unexpected? I’ll say.
On Friday, I trekked out to Glen Spey, NY where I had heard that a film crew out of New York City was shooting scenes for a new feature film called “The Shuroo Process,” and I expected to enjoy interviewing the director and snapping a few photos exclusively for The River Reporter. To learn whether or not my expectations were fulfilled, or a crushing disappointment, turn to this issue’s page 15 and read all about it.
By the time Saturday rolled around, I was excited, having secured permission from the powers that be at Bethel Woods to photograph and review the three-time Grammy Award-winning and multi-platinum-selling musical phenomenon Pentatonix, which their website claims “has sold nearly 10 million albums worldwide and performed for hundreds of thousands of fans at their sold-out shows across the globe.”
While hardly a zealot, I do consider myself a fan and have enjoyed their acapella versions of “Hallelujah,” “Jolene” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I was particularly looking forward (and yes, expecting) them to perform their unique version of Simon and Garfunkle’s “Sounds of Silence.” Thankfully, I was not disappointed, and while their concert was well attended and the huge crowd wildly appreciative of their possibly-too-frenetic light show, what I wasn’t prepared for was the opening act: singer Rachel Platten, someone with whom I was totally unfamiliar.
As is my wont, I chose not to look up Platten online or learn anything about her whatsoever, expecting her to be some average run-of-the-mill opening act, as is often the case with major headliners like Pentatonix. I did notice, however, that there seemed to be a plethora of not only families, but a large number of women, ranging in age from five to 50 in the house, which was unusual enough to give me pause. And then Platten took to the stage momentarily drowned out by thunderous applause. Incredibly well spoken, she addressed the audience with wit, charm and some deep thought thrown in for good measure, espousing female empowerment, the power of love, encouraging self-confidence and her belief that one should “never, ever give up on your dreams” citing herself, and her burgeoning (and years-long climb to the top) career as a perfect example. Clearly, I’m late to the party, since the audience that I had expected was there for Pentatonix, was made up of rabid Rachel Platten fans. By the time she closed with what I now know is her anthemic powerhouse monster hit called “The Fight Song,” every man, woman and child was on their feet, hands in the air, singing along with a tune I had never heard, cheering, hooting and stomping their feet in approval. As for CBS and their silly reality show? I guess their marketing department has gotten to me after all. Expect the unexpected.