Sunday, September 13, 2009

West Side Story Down Under

In celebration of spring, the Sydney Opera House has put on a Spring Dance series with free movies showing on a huge Sony screen, outside on the forecourt. I didn't make it on Friday for Fred & Ginger's Swing Time, but last night I "frocked up" (Sydneyspeak for dressing for the occasion) and took Jody out on the town.

We arrived at the Opera House in time for a dance with the live band hired for the occasion, and managed a clumsy cha-cha with our bags still on our shoulders. Next, there was a performance to "Sway" by three couples from Broadway Ballroom, but to be honest I wasn't overly impressed - not that I can do better; it's just that it's nothing when you've seen world-class couples doing showdances at ballroom competitions. (We are, however, currently looking for a ballroom class to join.)

While "Sway" shimmered through the warm night air, we found a small area to seat ourselves on the steps. I can't tell you how glad I am that we brought a small pillow and the foamy from my Penguin Parade adventure to sit on. My pashmina shawl and Jody's cotton sweater proved to be enough warmth for the duration of the film, but our legs were quite cramped after two and a half hours in our chosen spot. Enough griping - on with the show.

I watch West Side Story every couple of years, and the song "Maria" always gets stuck in my head. Somehow the show seemed cheesier than usual at this viewing, but on the other end of the spectrum, a group of teens laughed at an unintentional double entendre I've never noticed. I won't share it here, because now I fear it has ruined the scene for me, and I wouldn't do that to you.

Jody has never seen the movie before, but he was surprised to recognise some of the music. It surprised me too! Apparently the band Yes, a contemporary of Pink Floyd, did a B-side cover of "Something's Coming" - Tony's revelation that change was just around the corner. I have to say that "Tonight" is still my favourite WSS song, though, and it brings back memories of singing the alto part in my high school choir. On that note, how is it possible I've been out of high school for nearly ten years?

I can't imagine the school budgets for art, drama and music being cut any more than they already were a decade ago. My two high schools had a decent budget, I suppose, but I remember us having to be resourceful in set and costume design, and I'm positive many of my teachers gave their own time to make shows happen. I hope this isn't the end of support for the arts. Without it, I can't see how the world will gain its next Stephen Sondheim or Leonard Bernstein.


  1. Is frocked up like rocked up but with a frock?!

  2. More thought goes into getting frocked up. :)