a prairie home companion live cinecast

A Prairie Home Com­pan­ion
Live HD Cinecast
4 Feb­ru­ary 2010

I blame Rhode for this one. I am not a reg­u­lar Prairie Home Com­pan­ion lis­ten­er. Nor, hav­ing just lost $15 and three hours of my life see­ing Avatar the night before, was I delight­ed by the idea of shelling out $20 to watch a pri­vate tele­vi­sion broad­cast at my neigh­bor­hood movie the­atre. But with a lit­tle per­sua­sion, I decid­ed I could afford anoth­er chance to get in touch with the cul­ture of my Min­neso­ta heritage—the great pil­lars of which are snow, fish­ing, Luther­an church­es, fun­ny vow­el sounds, and Gar­ri­son Keil­lor.

We arrived ear­ly and were treat­ed to an amus­ing pre-record­ed video tour of St. Paul. Keil­lor, whose unmis­tak­able bari­tone lends a cer­tain grav­i­tas to his off-hand­ed com­e­dy, walked around the city ram­bling about life (win­ter is “nature try­ing to kill us”), archi­tec­ture (accus­ing a new gov­ern­ment build­ing of hav­ing the grandeur of a “fil­ing cab­i­net”), the life-size stat­ue of F. Scott Fitzger­ald on the side­walk (“we didn’t put him on a pedestal”), and just who The Tor­na­does are (the Anoka Tor­na­does). And so on.

The show was fab­u­lous. The writ­ing is first-rate. The musi­cian­ship is superb. Watch­ing it on screen for the first time, it becomes evi­dent that the PHC crew runs a tight ship: per­form­ers appear and dis­ap­pear with­out delay, micro­phones silent­ly come and go as need­ed, and musi­cians per­form dozens of num­bers right on cue. The pro­duc­tion is star-stud­ded but laid back and unpre­ten­tious. The musi­cal guests were excel­lent. It was a treat to see Heather Masse on stage—I remem­ber her from her Pickin’ Tues­day days. The high­light of the show was prob­a­bly Keillor’s mono­logue, The News from Lake Wobe­gon. I had naive­ly assumed from its mean­der­ing but focused nar­ra­tive and unhalt­ing pace that this seg­ment was care­ful­ly script­ed. It is not. Keillor’s prowess as a sto­ry­teller is unmatched by any­one.

For the Regal Fen­way 13 the­ater, the tech­ni­cal require­ments of host­ing this broad­cast were evi­dent­ly too chal­leng­ing. The entire pre-show pro­gram was pre­sent­ed with bad­ly unsyn­chro­nized sound, which they reme­died by com­plete­ly shut­ting down the pro­jec­tion halfway through the open­ing num­ber of the pro­gram. The audio was glitchy through­out. Need­less to say, I will not be see­ing future cinecasts at this venue.

Will I see A Prairie Home Com­pan­ion live again, if I get the chance? Absolute­ly.

Leave a comment

Leave a Comment

February 6, 2010 February 6, 2010 reviews by Scott [permanent link]