Wednesday, October 28, 2009

617 Chinese Vaudeville

617 Chinese Vaudeville

(America's Brain, PA.) -- You think vaudeville's dead? Think again. It's still here. But now, they do it in Chinese. At least at America's Brain University which has an active Chinese culture club and tentacles out to the rest of the local Chinese community. Whistlers and Jugglers, comedians and dancers to rival Burns & Allen, the Marx Brothers, Olsen and Johnson and on and on. If you speak or at least understand the language.

Here we are, illegally parked at a building named for Paul Robeson, who had nothing to do with this school and never even visited it to the best of anyone's knowledge. There's a loosely packed house of people ranging in age from newborn to mid 90s. They are here to see the latest in 5,000 year old Asian entertainment.

Here we are at the invitation of the Kindly Young Doc (see Wessay #615 :The Flu Shot.) She along with a bunch of other women from the dance club is to dance a Tibetan dance. She is the second to last act. Before her, there are the Asian versions of Ferrante and Teicher. a tai chi demonstration of endless duration, a scene from an opera depicting the demise of the Demon Bird, half a dozen different gaggles of pre-teen girls doing acrobatics and dance routines. Oh, and Mister Yong.

Mister Yong is a renegade from the Big Apple Circus and you can tell from the moment he steps onto the stage that this is the token professional. He wisecracks in Mandarin and English. He juggles swords and spins plates. He balances empty wine bottles on chopsticks. Ed Sullivan would have killed to book this guy. No one wants him to leave the stage. Mr. Yong has connected with a roomful of strangers by flinging things that look like propellers and act like boomerangs over our heads. And by making a room full of serious faced strangers smile and laugh.

He's followed by a guy who plays some ancient musical instrument similar to a flute, but it's a tune Americans can hum.

Then the Demon Bird opera guys, three of them, flashing swords which appear to be real and other things you'd only be able to identify as broomsticks-of-death.

The act is so long that no one seems to know when it's over -- or when to applaud.

The Tibetan dance is late in the program. The kid dancers and their parents are restless. The scarf-waving, dancing doc and her cohorts take the stage. They wave scarves. They do little two-step kinds of, well, two-steps, looking like Chinese dolls, which, in fact, they are.

The dancing little girls at the start and Mr. Yong in the middle have stolen the show from everyone else. But no matter. After the Tibetan scarf dancer, comes the shrieking glass breaker of a soprano singing about her love for the motherland.

Unsurprisingly, she's a chub. And the show was over after the fat lady sang.


Shrapnel:

--Go Yankees! Go Yankees! Go Yankees!

--Skin medicine costs $254. Insurance knocks that down to $70 and there's a $45 dollars-off coupon. So even before pricing it, that coupon told you it was going to cost as much as dinner for one at Alain Ducasse.

--Today, Wednesday, 10/28/09 is the 80th anniversary of the worst of the four days of stock market crashes just before the start of the Great Depression. Not a lot of people reading or hearing this are old enough to remember. But wait, you could be in for a treat.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2009

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