(Editor's note: Theater columnist Marnie Masuda is on a European vacation with her family, filing her travel impressions as well as column updates while abroad.)
My family and I arrived in Barcelona last night after what amounted to two gruelling days of travel. We were done in. On our final (mercifully short) flight from London, my daughter Skylar contorted into a pretzel and then fell into something akin to a coma. Jackson did an immediate faceplant on Harlan's lap and snored for two hours straight. It took several minutes of jostling and tickling to rouse them once we landed. Although the sun was still shining at 9 p.m., I figured the night would involve little more than some overdue bathing (we were really ripe) and re-acquainting ourselves with the fine art of horizontal slumber.
But Barcelona would have none of it.
MARNIE MASUDA photo
Musicians play in Antoni Gaudi’s Parc Guell in Barcelona, a city that feels like a living work of art.
Here there is no excuse for burrowing in. We got the picture as soon as our cab veered off the autopista and into city. The sun was setting over the rolling hills of Montjuic and, as we circled into the heart of Barcelona, we saw that everything was alive. Modernista facades pulsated; traffic snaked frenetically in a nearly-beautiful dance. Tourists and Barcelonians strolled elbow-to-elbow along graceful, tree-lined avenues. We had to get in on the action.
We were fortunate that our hotel, the Hotel Regina, is adjacent to the Placa Catalunya, right in the center of the old city. We showered quickly and headed out to explore La Rambla. One of the world's most famous thoroughfares, its pedestrian median is lined with buskers, artists and, of course, those ubiquitous dudes one finds in all tourist hubs pushing nifty flying gizmos. My kids were dazzled by neon orbs hurled heavenward by a hopeful (slightly aggressive) Algerian guy.
"But look how high it goes, Mom!"
Was there music? Per descomptat! A fantastic flamenco guitarist competed with a less-seasoned keyboardist, while farther down the street, and rather anachronistically -someone belted out the aria from "Gianni Scihcchi." Urban artists made miraculous images with spray paint while a dancer (spray painted silver, natch!) popped robotically to the distorted rap blaring from a cheap old-school beat box.
It wasn't highbrow, but my kids had never seen anything like it and they were eating it up.
"I can't believe all these people are, like, out on the street at 10 at night!"
Welcome to Spain, where people proudly promenade and life is performance art.
Today we meandered through artist Antoni Gaudi's Parc Guell and were treated to more refined buskery amid Gaudi's undulating, organic architecture that's become synonymous with Barcelona. The artist originally conceived Parc Guell as a kind-of surreal subdivison. After receiving financial backing from Count Eusebi Guell in 1900, he built a few oozy, far-out model homes and myriad mosaic-encrusted public spaces on El Carmel hill in Barcelona's Gracia district and completed the project in 1914. It wasn't a big hit. Like so many creative innovations, the general public didn't want to take a risk by purchasing one of the modernist free-standing homes. The park is now a UNESCO world heritage site and those people who poo-pooed Gaudi's vision most likely lived to regret it.
It's impossible not to smile in Parc Guell, especially when your long, winding stroll through melting grottoes, past countless mosaic dream visions is accompanied by violins, mandolins, jazz guitarists, traditional Catalan vocalists, a dulcimer and something that looks like a convex steel drum but sounds deeper and more resonant (I still don't know what it was, but it sounded like raindrops you could drown in willingly). The serpentine bench that enfolds and defines the park's central plaza overlooks the entire city. Add a Spanish guitar to the mix and you're hard pressed to find a single reason you need to be anywhere else. Ever.
Like a passionate artist, Barcelona offered us the all the physical manifestations of its soul, and we ingested its energy voraciously.
Things are bound to get crazy when Casanova in Makawao hosts "No Rules" Maui Slam Poetry. Watch or participate in the raucous, unpredictable poetry and spoken word competition. Group pieces, musical accompaniment, props, dancing and costumes are encouraged. DJ Boomshot supplies the background beats and rocks the dance floor; VJ Douglas Deboer offers visual alchemy, and Kahulani "Kat" titillates with some "live" painting. ProArts opens the evening with a decidedly R-rated scene from "Cinderella" - complete with powdered wigs and gender bending. Don't bring the kids to this one! It's a strictly 21-and-over event, 9:30 p.m. until closing. Admission is $5 at the door.
"America's top Filipino comedian," Rex Navarrete, brings his hilarious local brand of humor to the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater stage at 7:30 this evening. Rex is celebrating the release of his latest DVD, "Kosmik Organik," in the show emceed by Shawn Felipe with special performances by David Lee, Maui's Paul Kane and DJC. Tickets are $17, $25 and $32, plus applicable fees, available at the MACC box office, 242-7469 or www.mauiarts.org.
The Maui Celebrity Series presents actor/comedian Tom Arnold at Lahaina's Maui Theatre at 9 p.m. Saturday. Producer/crooner Brian Evans opens the show. For tickets or more information, call 876-7979; online tickets are $55 plus service fee, available at www.groovetickets.com.
Twenty top Maui actors will don authentic period costumes and bring Maui history to life for the second annual Lahaina Progressive Dinner Party.
The event will progress through Front Street historic sites including the Wo Hing Temple, Hale Aloha meeting house, the Baldwin family home and the Pioneer Inn, with many of the island's top chefs preparing the courses. Under Kristi Scott's direction, actors including Joe Tolbe, Mark Colmer, Christie Ellison, Bunt Burkhalter and William Makozak will play the "roles" of figures out of the island's past.
Seatings are at 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; tickets, limited to those 21 and older, are $135, with a portion tax deductible and proceeds going to restoration and preservation of Lahaina's historic sites. Reservations are available at www.lahainarestoration.org or by calling 661-3262. Each seating accommodates 40 persons only.
Professional Artists of the Pacific will hold auditions for its upcoming production of "Sleeping Beauty" from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the ProArts Playhouse at Azeka (Makai) Shopping Center, 1280 S. Kihei Road.
Nine actors play all the roles in this musical "fractured fairy tale" update on the Brothers Grimm version. Among them are a beautiful princess, a handsome prince, a doting king and queen, a wisecracking vulture, a psychic frog, good fairies and one really bad fairy. And a happy ending, of course!
Singers, actors and dancers ages 14 and and older are asked to prepare a two-minute vocal selection, preferably an up-tempo tune from a Broadway show, and to bring a current resume and head shot, along with sheet music. Rehearsals begin June 3. Performances will run June 18 to 27. Call 875-4367 to schedule an audition appointment (required).