Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Big Night Out!

Last night the First Mate and yer beloved Captain went to the local opera house see the musical “Chicago”!

Date night!

And on a Monday no less!

Set in Chicago in the Jazz Age (1920s), the story follows the legal trials of Roxie Hart, who shoots her lover when he tries to end their affair. We meet other women in the prison where she is held, her sad-sack husband, the capitalistic prison matron, and the “razzle-dazzle” lawyer.

It quickly becomes obvious that, despite the black-mesh body suits and fancy dance moves (both of which have Bob Fosse written all over them) and the catchy tunes, the musical is a fairly pointed send-up of the corruption found in the criminal justice system, especially as it pertains to “celebrity” criminals.

The show debuted in New York in 1979, with Liza Minnelli playing the role of Roxie Hart. 

It was revived on Broadway in 1996 and has become the longest-running American Musical in Broadway history. The lead role has been played by everyone from Pamela Anderson to Mel B to Bebe Neuwirth.

So of course we wanted to see it when it came to our little port city.

And we weren’t disappointed!

But this particular post is not about the performance, it is about the crowd.

(Have I mentioned this before?)

The First Mate has recalled on several occasions how her grandmother taught her it is most proper to dress up for special occasions.

Yer Captain, who grew up watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers cavort in top hat & tails and elegant evening gowns, often yearns for the return to those glamorous days.

In fact, one of my dreams – should I ever win the lottery – is to open up a supper club, like the one in the 1936 movie “Swing Time”, or the Cotton Club (but not with a “whites only” policy) or even Ricky Ricardo’s “Club Babalu”. 

Champagne flowing freely.

Tuxedos and formal dresses all around!

Captain’s Note: Such a venture would require winning the lottery because such a concept would quickly fail here.

Anyway, as is our custom, we dressed up and went out for a nice dinner before the show.

Captain’s Note: The Captain’s “Rule of Thumb” is if we are going to spend more than $100 on dinner, we’re going to dress up!

Unfortunately, the nicer restaurants in town are closed on Mondays.

We ended up at a more casual “Eat Place” that has great steaks, but the ambiance and the service S.U.C.K!

And we were crowded on all sides by people of all walks of life. There were people in shorts and tank-tops, jeans and t-shirts. The casually-dressed older women at the table next to us looked like they just happened in off the street – “Oh, this looks like a nice place to eat!” – and were extremely loud!

Literally, measurable in decibels!

For some reason I had thought that since the musical is set in the “roarin’ 20s”, our artsy town folk might costume up in pinstripe suits and flapper dresses. 

But no, once we got to the theater we found many of the same people with whom we had dined – from all walks of life!

Granted, some of the men were in “business casual”, but others were wearing their favorite faded rock concert t-shirts.

Captain’s Note: Is Pink Floyd still a thing?

The women’s attire was better, but not by much. Many of the younger women took advantage of the warmer Spring days and donned new sundresses, but many others were sporting what the Captain would consider “everyday wear”.

That would be not quite as bad as their “Walmart shopping outfit”...

...but not their “going out for a night on the town” either.

One woman looked like she had been working in her flower garden up until curtain call.

It’s funny, because for the last two weeks, as local high schools have held their proms, the downtown area has been swarmed with beautiful teenage girls in sparkly gowns accompanied by their dates in tuxes… albeit with a camouflage ballcap on their head!

And weddings, although much less formal than in the past, still seem to revolve around the bride’s dress, which often soars into the thousands of dollars!

So at what point did we decide to give up on dressing up?

When did we decide that blue jeans or stretchy capri leggings was suitable for all occasions?

Am I being judgmental?

You betcha!

But mainly because yer Captain lives in a past dream world in which people demonstrated their affluence by the clothes they wore.

They went to Broadway shows to see and be seen by others.

And, after 35 years of hard work and dedication, I feel like we have finally made it to [near] the top of the pile.

But, because of changing cultural norms, the view has not changed. 

Now mates, yer Captain has long been a Libertine: do what makes you feel good. I suppose in that respect you should continue to wear your $2 beach flip-flops on your big night out.

As for us, we will likewise continue to do what we do. 

Thank you kindly fer listenin'. Carry on.