Sunday, October 4, 2009

Wonderful Pre-Birthday Weekend, Part 2: Powells, Lunch, and Ragtime

Sunday morning: Browsing in Powell's

After leisurely reading the Sunday Oregonian in bed, checking out of the hotel, and stopping for a quick coffee/tea and snack at Starbucks, we went off to spend an hour at Powell's. That is my kind of getaway: two opportunities to browse in bookstores, two days in a row! And especially lovely: no one harassed me and offered me assistance! They stayed behind their desks and helped us when we asked (and we did ask, as Mike was looking for a hard-to-find book).

Sunday lunch: Deschutes Brewery

We met our friends Dave and Christie at the Deschutes Brewery for lunch. We'd never been there before, but it's destined to be a new favorite because they have gluten-free beer and tons of gluten-free food options on the menu. And it's conveniently located right next to Portland Center Stage. It happened to be Dave's birthday today, and we went to see Dar Williams with Christie and Dave last Thursday, so we felt privileged to be spending more time with them today.

Sunday afternoon: Ragtime

Mike and I had both read E.L. Doctorow's novel about 15 or 16 years ago, but we didn't remember much about it. I hadn't heard much about the Broadway production of Ragtime when it premiered in 1998 in New York. Apparently it was quite an elaborate production with fireworks and a real, working Model T Ford, and it didn't last very long on Broadway. I didn't have particularly high expectations, because the Oregonian and Willamette Week reviews were positive but understated. However, Chris Coleman's productions never disappoint me.

The reviews correctly described the set and staging of Ragtime as spare and simple. But. The beauty and quiet power of this production stunned me. The quality of the singing and acting, combined with the poignant, wonderful music of this play brought me to tears several times. When we left the theater, we felt emotionally exhausted...which is always a sign of excellent theater. The woman sitting next to Mike had seen Ragtime on Broadway, as well as the movie and the traveling version of the play, and she found PCS' version to be excellent. She commented that she missed the car, but she found the quality of the singing to be even stronger than the other productions. In particular, the actors who portrayed Mother (Susannah Mars), Coalhouse (Gavin Gregory), and Sarah (Rachael Ferrera) were phenomenal...but all of the singing was excellent.

And as we left the theater, 1 hour past our allotted parking time on our meter, we arrived back at our car to find no parking ticket. A wonderful day indeed!

After picking up the children at my parents, we arrived home to find a card and loaf of banana bread that had been delivered by our friends Lynn and Jolie. Lovely!

I feel very blessed. How did I luck out in finding such a wonderful, romantic, and sweet husband, great family and friends, and a city full of fun and opportunity?

And I still have two days to go until my birthday! Let the celebrations continue!

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