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Family lore has it that I was taken to a production of the Frank Loesser musical in San Francisco when I was around 4. My recollections of the show drawn from Damon Runyon’s stories about New York gamblers and gangsters are more surreal than specific. And my frame of reference of the experience wasn’t New York, but downtown San Francisco, where I met more interesting characters offstage: sailors from all nations; busy businessmen heading somewhere in a hurry; dressed-up ladies tick, tick, ticking their high heels toward the Emporium; and gentlemen going nowhere except a convenient doorway where they could sit and drink their Pepsi (at least I assumed it was Pepsi) from a brown paper bag.
These people never broke into song and dance, but they were my favorites, rumpled, but dressy, and having plenty of time to chat with a little blond kid from the Sunset District, And, they would talk, endlessly, but always with the warning to study carefully and get a good job so I wouldn’t end worn pointe shoes up like them, To me, their lives didn’t seem so bad, living in a downtown surrounded by abundance and the racing sheets for the Bay Area’s three tracks, So, whenever I see a production of “Guys and Dolls,” I unpack a lot of baggage as I settle into my seat in time to hear the onstage gambling fraternity sing about how they, “got the horse right here … .”..
That was the case at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek recently, when the magical tale was spun before me again in a bittersweet fashion, as I realized many of those on stage were three or four generations removed from Runyon’s original stories. Still, it is an excellent production, from the colorful, evocative set by Kelly Tighe to the classic music played by the orchestra directed by Matt Smart and sung by the cast led by director-choreographer Kikau Alvaro for the Diablo Theatre Company.
My quibble with the production was the way some of the gamblers were given characterizations that were more cartoonlike than colorful, due, I think, to the evolution of stereotypes that doesn’t serve the characters well, Characters like gambling magnate Nathan Detroit (Gene Bencomo) and his streetwise crew are taken out worn pointe shoes of their element when portrayed as if they were part of a Three Stooges ensemble, They may have their funny moments, but they are also criminals and streetwise survivors, tough enough to survive in pre-Disney Times Square..
Fortunately, the characterizations become less visible when other characters join the fray — Tom Reardon as high-rolling ladies man Sky Masterson is terrific, as are Mary Kalita as Adelaide, the long-suffering fiance of Nathan, and Kimberly Nearon as Sister Sarah, the pious missionary “doll” who becomes the centerpiece of a bet that Sky walks into. And this cast and crew are coupled with Loesser’s memorable tunes — “I’ll Know,” “I’ve Never Been in Love Before,” “Take Back Your Mink,” “Luck Be a Lady” and “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.” Yep, all those great songs and two love stories to boot. That’s a pretty safe bet.
First, the Congressional Budget Office triples its estimate of the drop in the workforce resulting from the disincentive introduced by Obamacare’s insurance subsidies: 2 million by 2017, 2.3 million by 2021, Democratic talking points gamely defend this as a good thing because these jobs are being given up voluntarily, Nancy Pelosi spoke lyrically about how Obamacare subsidies will allow people to leave unfulfilling jobs to pursue their passions: “Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to worn pointe shoes have health insurance.”..
Nothing so lyrical has been written about work since Marx (in “The German Ideology”) described a communist society that “makes it possible for me to … hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner.”. Pelosi’s vision is equally idyllic except for one thing: The taxes of the American factory worker — grinding away dutifully at his repetitive mind-numbing job — will be subsidizing the voluntary unemployment of the artiste in search of his muse. A rather paradoxical position for the party that poses as tribune of the working man.
In the reductio ad absurdum of entitlement liberalism, Jay Carney was similarly enthusiastic about this Obamacare-induced job loss, Why, Obamacare creates the “opportunity” that “allows families in America to make a decision about how they will work, and if they will work.”, If they will work? Pre-Obama, people always had the right to quit work to tend full time to the study of butterflies, It’s a free country, The twist worn pointe shoes in the new liberal dispensation is that the butterfly guy is to be subsidized by the taxes of people who actually work..