start the projector, dim the lights, cue the orchestra

going to the cinema here in wellington is quite a different experience than we’re used to at the boston megaplex.

firstly there are several great old classic theatres to choose from – the penthouse in brooklyn, the embassy in the cbd and the empire just 3 blocks from our house here in island bay.

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the embassy has changed little expect it’s name (originally deluxe) since it first opened in 1924. unfortunately i don’t have the best photos but after entering a great italian tiled lobby you head up one of the sweeping marble staircases to the main lounge. on the right you have the jazz lounge with the overstuffed leather chairs and live music. to the left the cafe where you can get a coffee, slice of cake or a nice glass of wine. in the middle the ticket counter where you can also get a beer, juice or ice cream.

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not your typical movie theatre restrooms.

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your seat (assigned – early ticket buyers get the primo spots) is a large overstuffed leather chair or half of a 2 seater couch. there is a small built in table between seats for your wine glass (or whatever else you choose).

for the last 2 weeks the new zealand international film festival has been here in wellington. it travels around the country stopping in all the large and medium sized cities. it is a bit overwhelming with 200+ films to choose from – many that we wanted to see. we settled on just 3 with the highlight tonight – a screening of the 1925 harold lloyd silent classic “the freshman” with live accompaniment by the vector wellington orchestra.

the head of the film festival was on hand to introduce the film and give a bit of background. he noted his pleasure that the oldest movie in the festival by far was the fastest to sell out.

great movie, music and surroundings.

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i ordered fettucini, not puccini

tonight we went to see puccini’s la boheme at the majestic saint james theater.

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on the plus side we it continues to be great to live in such a compact city where it’s a breeze to get around (sans car). after putting on our best opera outfits we took the bus into town for a pre-show dinner. walking along cuba street we pick scoopa – a small modern italian cafe that had been on our list for quite a while. the food was ok – but given other place that have been great i don’t expect we’ll be back soon.

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also a plus i’ll always enjoying going to the saint james theater – it really is fantastic.

on the down side i wasn’t impressed with la boheme – “Arguably the most popular of all operas”. i just found the story line boring – a group of bohemian in post-wwii paris including one who abandons his new girlfriend who has tb, only to confess his love on her deathbed – yawn. puccini ain’t got nothing on aaron spelling.

since we went i’ve found out that most current productions (including the one we saw) are based on a 1993 australian modernization moving the setting from 1830 to 1957. so i guess it’s easy to just blame this one on the aussies.

perhaps i should remember that cats is one of the most popular of musicals…

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artsy fartsy

for the last 3 weeks the new zealand international arts festival has been in full swing here in wellington. held every 2 years it features a wide range of theater, music, dance and visual arts. i think most every local theater, stage and auditorium is booked up for the festival.

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so far we have made it to 2 events – black watch and glow. the ukulele orchestra of great britain was also on our short list but sold out too quick for us. some of my work colleagues who went said it was great.

black watch was a play about the a scottish regiment – the black watch – and their experiences serving in and returning from iraq. very well done, although i think they could have trimmed it by 30 minutes and nothing would have been lost. i’m starting to pick up a trend – but it doesn’t seem that the scots are real happy about getting pulled in to the iraq war. as they described it 250+ years of proud service and tradition was trashed in a few short years in iraq.

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glow is definitely a love it or hate it kinda thing. when i read the teaser i thought i might try and schedule a trip to visit to dentist to conflict with the show. “glow is a fluid and perfectly synchronized relationship between organic being and video world, an intense and concise experience.” oh boy.

turns out i really enjoyed it. reminded me a bit of “tron” for you 80’s geeks.

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the show is a 30 minute performance with a single dancer on a small stage that is illuminated from above. the audience looks down onto the stage from seating above. so far nothing special. the magic is that the illumination is generated in real time based on the position and movement of the dancer. an infrared camera mounted about detects that dancers position and feeds it into a specially designed computer that controls the lighting.

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still sounds wacky. easier to see for yourself.

one of the smallest and lowest tech items that both me and the jboss enjoyed was the placement of speakers at a few major crosswalks with short stories being read aloud. seldom else do you bummed when the light turns and you can cross.