Where do you go for the world’s most spirited Christmas celebrations? I found Christmas in the form of soaring voices on the islands of Fiji.
Romantic nights evey summer in Jack London State Park in the Valley of the Moon in Sonoma County, California. The Transcendence Theatre Company, comprised of many Broadway veterans, has made the park home for the summer, singing and hoofing every weekend through September 1. The stage is in the ruins of an old winery on author Jack London’s property, next to the cottage in which he wrote. The California State Legislature slashed funds and the park was threatened with closure, but locals formed a group to save and manage it.
Bejing is like a Sichuan Face Changing ritual, a routine in Chinese Opera in which a performer waves his cape and changes brightly-colored masks instantly, as many as 20 times in a few minutes. How it is done is a secret passed on through generations and the subject of a poignant 1996 film called “The King of Masks”. To the disgust of traditionalists, however, outsiders have picked it up to the point where it now almost a lounge routine.
Its original symbolism was scaring away wild animals.
Today’s Beijing is a big time Face Change Act.
I stayed for a week last month at The Venetian, a hotel-casino that makes the one in Las Vegas look like a Motel Six, witnessed the preview of a spectacular US$250 million water show called “The House of Dancing Water,” similar to Cirque du Soliel’s “O” but more engaging, I think, went to visit the family jewels (the Ho family, who controlled gambling in Macau for decades) including a 216 carat diamond, took a stroll through the old Portuguese quarter under the glow of holiday Chinese lanterns and ended the night with a bang at the Macau International Fireworks competition.