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Australia Day Ten, Sat 1/23/16

Friday started with Bobbie Gentry, so it follows that Saturday would start with Vicki Lawrence.  Right?  Here she is lip-synching to "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia" on the beach, surrounded by shoop shooping teeny boppers, wearing a pale blue and white gingham halter maxi.  A pinnacle of American television:

We had a breakfast date with Anne and Mark at the coffee kiosk in the park down the street.  Richard had the same thing he had the last time, strawberry and rhubarb compote with yogurt, I had a bagel with cream cheese, lox, red onion, and capers (you can take the boy out of New York...), Mark had a scrumptious-looking tomato and cheese toasted thingie, and Anne had Turkish toast with jam.  We told them all about our trip to Cairns.  They took us on a lovely walk over to another bay, and we had a little something at their favorite coffee shop.  They really do a lovely job with cappuccinos in this town:

More walking around, this town is great for that.  One last pic of us with Anne and Mark.  It was such a treat seeing so much of them on this trip.

We got back to our room and Richard decided it was time to address the problem with the air conditioning.  The AC worked fine in the room we originally had, earlier in the week.  In our new room, 641, it was rather wan.  He called down to the front desk and said the AC in our room was "rather mediocre".  The manager said he would send up an engineer to check it out, would now be a good time?  R said we were going to the pool and the gym, so now would be a great time.


We went up to the rooftop pool.  It was raining a little bit, so it was very refreshing.  I'm telling you, I've swum more on this trip than I have in the previous twenty years.  No, Karen Miller, the Jersey Shore doesn't count - - I don't actually swim on the Jersey Shore, I just stand in the ocean and let the water swim around me.  Anyway, I did some swimming and then did ten minutes and two kilometers on the elliptical machine.  Back in the pool to cool off.


We did a drive-by at our room - - the engineer was in there and said it looked bad.  We wandered around the hotel for a while, ended up sitting in the lobby.  We went up to our room and the guy was gone, so we made ourselves comfortable.  We got a call from the front desk saying that he wasn't able to fix the problem, and they could move us to another room down the hall.  So we threw all our stuff together and a nice young Filipino guy helped us move to our new room, 603.  More or less the same floor plan as the previous two rooms, but the toilet is in a different place in each room, which leads to half-awake confusion in the middle of the night.


We went down to the hotel restaurant for lunch - - we originally thought about going to a promising place down the street, but were eager to use the voucher for a free bottle of wine at the hotel.  We chose a bottle of sparkling wine (let's not call it champagne).  I am such a lightweight, I get goofy after two glasses of wine.  It's kind of hilarious.  We got in the elevator to go back to our room and I hit the buttons for a few extra floors with my butt and fell into a fit of giggles.  I roll my eyes at the memory.


We had tickets that night for a show at (gulp) 10:30 PM, so we thought it would be a good idea to have what R calls a "disco nap".  No, that is not a nap accompanied by a disco ball and Donna Summer singing "Love To Love You, Baby":


















This is how it works: you get home from work at 7-ish, you lie down and take a nap.  Get up around 8:30 feeling refreshed.  Put your look together, get to the club at 10, get home at 3, hit the hay, up at 6:30 the next morning to go to work.  Gives you a headache just thinking about it, right?  In our case we turned the lights off at 3:30 PM and were out of bed at 4:23 PM.  We had to make to to the coffee kiosk for an iced coffee before they closed at 5.


The disco nap was refreshing, but the iced coffee was not the most pleasant experience.  There was no place to sit because they had stored away all the chairs and tables.  We ordered two iced coffees and they gave them to us in plastic cups.  Oh, the indignity of it!  R was fit to be tied.  We will not be going back there.


More grumpiness ahead: our plan was to take the train from Kings Cross to Town Hall, then switch to another line and take that the St. James, where we were meeting Paul and Annie for the show.  Everything worked great until we got to Town Hall, only to discover that there was no service to St. James.  A typical thing to happen in New York, especially on the weekend, but not such a happy happening on vacation in a foreign land.  Plus in New York I'm pretty sure we would put up a SIGN, or similar.  In Sydney, we had to find and ask a transit employee.  What else could we do - - we took a cab.


We had quite a lot of time to waste before Paul and Annie got there, but we weren't really hungry for dinner, so we went into a little convenience store and got a couple of beverages and a slice of banana bread and sat in the park and watched the people go by.  What a delight.  Here's a pic of me sitting by the fountain (take my word for it's that's me) and on a park bench:













A classical guitarist showed up, plugged in, and started playing some flamenco number.  I told Richard I was tempted to go over to him and do my world-renowned flamenco dance.  Richard said, "You know, it's highly unlikely to see a flamenco dancer in sandals."


Annie and Paul showed up at about 9:30.  We each got a drink and we hung out, caught up, and watched the people go by.  Annie was wearing a new dress, a beautiful floral with a strong 40s vibe, perfect for her.


The show we saw was *Songs For the Fallen*.
























The central character is Marie Duplessis, the real-life courtesan who was the inspiration for Alexandre Dumas's novel *The Lady of the Camelias*, which in turn was the inspiration for Verdi's *La Traviata*.  The text for the show (dialogue and lyrics) were by Sheridan Harbridge, who also played the leading role.  The music was by Basil Hogios, a friend of Annie's from college.  We were crazy for the show!  It was a brilliant combination of so many things I love: it was randy, silly, hilarious, and touching.  It made the most of its limited means: there were three performers in the show, one set on a tiny stage, and a single keyboard player on the side (who I think was also playing some pre-recorded bits).  One thing I didn't like: a few of the songs felt like the melody was disconnected from the harmonies in the accompaniment.  This could be effective in a Charles Ives kind of way, but in this case it just sounded wonky.


Harbridge was stunning in the star role.  She has everything: she has blinding charisma, great chops as both a pop-style singer and as a more classical singer, and great comic know-how and rapport with the audience.  There were many moments when she and the two other performers broke down the fourth wall and pointed out the artifice of what they were doing.  Like late in the show they were having problems with their body mics and Harbridge said to the sound guy, "You know, would this work better if I used a regular mic?" - - he said yes and she did the rest of the show with a hand-held mic.  The funniest moment of the night was one of these fourth wall moments: the performance we saw was interpreted in Auslan, the Australian sign language.  At one point Harbridge goes through a list of things she does as a hooker, and she was amazed by the Auslan sign for one of these, ahem, procedures.  She asked the interpreter to do it again, which she did.  And she stopped the show.


There's talk that they're hoping to bring the show to New York - - cross your fingers, I hope it does.  It was a blast and New York would love it.


Paul and Annie gave us a ride home, dear things.

LOVE, Chris

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