Saturday, June 20, 2009

Rent in Jerusalem

Thank the good Lord I'm not doing that no more. I haven't rented in 2 years and don't intend to ever again. It was hell. Absolute hell. But that's not what I meant by this post's title. I want to tell you about the play RENT, that has been performing since June 11th, as part of Hadassah's Center Stage Theater in Jerusalem.

My calendar for things to do/see/go to has been filling up faster than a broken dam. That's a stupid analogy, I know - but you get the picture. I'm busy. Last Thursday, I was planning to go to a very serious interfaith event at the lovely Mishkenot Shaananim guest house. The event featured talks by various Jewish, Moslem and Christian leaders on the one God, which would eventually lead up to a discussion about the Temple Mount and how the Third Temple can exist side-by-side with the Al-Aqsa mosque - the hows and whys and how to overcome the difficulties that will certainly arise from even the thought of such a thing. They were giving out a simultaneous translation contraption, which I took, so my brain wouldn't have to work hard at translating Hebrew into English - let someone else bust their chops doing this. The audience was quiet, serious and a lovely mix of Druze, Christians, Moslem and Jews - quite a number of Orthodox Jews at that.

But a conversation with a friend of mine earlier in the afternoon coaxed me into seeing a rooftop performance of the Jerusalem production of Rent. Her daughter was in the show, and I figured it would be nice of me to go. I'm not into plays, theater - not even musicals. I didn't even care for Hair or Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. But I thought it would be a nice respite from the stresses of life and my hectic job, where I hardly have time to take lunch breaks.

I also like rooftop anythings in Jerusalem. The air is cool at night and there are rooftop barbecues, concerts, etc. happening all throughout the summer. If it's rooftop, I'm there.

One drawback for me was that it's not always so pleasant to go places on one's own. A movie, play, dinner out is so much better with a friend or two or three. I made a spontaneous decision to go, and tried calling one friend, who doesn't mind impulsivity, who I thought might want to go, but she couldn't be reached. So I got the one ticket, even though I didn't see too many other lone theater-goers.

To tell you the truth, I had expected a much more amateurish production. I used to go to Broadway shows all the time when I lived in New York and dated an entertainment writer. I didn't expect anything close to that kind of professionalism here in Jerusalem. But I was pleasantly surprised. The acting was great, the singing just as great and I thought the music was pre-recorded, until I looked over a few heads in front of me and saw a small band in the corner. I loved the play's characters, and my friend's daughter was amazing. She sounded like she could easily sell a whole shitload of records. And that kind of brought back all that nostalgia for American culture.

When I got home I tried to get my family excited about perhaps going with me again next week for the play's last week of performances, but none of my enthusiasm rubbed off on them. My kids just tsk'd at me - they're not into American anything. They are far too snobbishly Israeli to go to anything as embarrasingly American as this.

"I know you'll like the music, and the actors are all young, and pretty and handsome" I added.

They just shrugged their shoulders at me. Mom's crazy and goes to all these hippie, Arab-Jewish things, so why should they believe me now that they'll like something I like.

But I did get a positive response from Hubby. Yes, he, too, would like to lay back into a Jerusalem rooftop experience after a hard day's work and go see this play. And maybe he'll fall in love with the drag queen as much as I did.

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