Nothing Like Live

The symphony is one Jackson event that is meant to be experienced live.

The symphony is one Jackson event that is meant to be experienced live. Courtesy MSO

One recent night, I found myself without any company or plans, and watched a movie at home, by myself. It was a very un-Girl-About-Town moment, I suppose. It also made me think about how different the experience of watching a movie from one's couch is from watching one in a theater full of fellow movie-goers. Seeing something on the big screen differs in terms of viewing experience, sure, but there's also something about being with other people while watching—it becomes something shared and it often becomes more exciting, more intense, as a result. With all due respect to Netflix, there's something to be said for seeing a performance as a member of an audience watching a unique live performance.

While I always enjoy Symphony at Sunset, this season marks my first as a regular ticket-holder to the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra's Bravo Series at Thalia Mara Hall (255 E. Pascagoula St., 601-960-1537). A perk to being a first time season ticket-holder is receiving invitations to pre-concert receptions. Before the most recent performance, guest pianist Alexander Ghindin mingled with us as we sipped our wine and made new friends. Among the new faces I met were several folks new to the Jackson area, as well as two adorable sisters—I'd estimate ages 8 and 10—on their first trip to the symphony. They did an excellent job in dress selection and were excited for a big night out. The concert itself was fantastic; conductor Crafton Beck and the orchestra never fail to impress. If you haven't gotten season tickets, consider it as a Christmas present to yourself. (msorchestra.com, 601-960-1565).

Having enjoyed some music, an evening at the theater felt like a sensible follow-up cultural outing, so my beau and I decided to take in New Stage Theatre's (1100 Carlisle Street, 601-948-3531, newstagetheatre.com) performance of The Great Gatsby. Theatre crowds tend to be a fun group, and this one was no exception; we spotted one couple who enthusiastically embraced the play's Halloween night performance by dressing in Gatsby-era garb themselves. Speaking of dress (because you know I will) I thought costume designer Lesley Raybon did a great job outfitting the actors. The staging and actors sucked me in to the action to the point that I completely forgot about the warning at the box office that the performance contained a gunshot—I may have yelped a little when it happened. I'm consistently impressed with the quality of artists in the Jackson area and, as with the symphony, I left thankful that our city offers us exposure to such talent and vowing to get season tickets to New Stage next year.

Of course, Mississippi is known for great writers, but we can also appreciate those who don't hail from our home state. Personally, I am a bit ga-ga for humorist David Sedaris; I devour his books, reread "Holidays on Ice" without fail every Christmas, listen to him on NPR and bemoan that he doesn't appear in The New Yorker more often. So, naturally, when I heard he was coming to Jackson this fall, I nearly had a fit of puppy-at-chuck-wagon-time proportions. Several of my girlfriends feel the same way, and when tickets went on sale, we were on it like gangbusters.

At Sedaris' appearances, he reads excerpts or short stories from his collections, and then engages in question-and-answer with the audience. The reading segment of his appearance at Millsaps College was nothing short of riotous. Never would I have thought that a story about a colonoscopy would cause tears of laughter to roll down my face, but it did. Sedaris appreciators tend to be a bit like a club, so an entire auditorium full of us, all so excited to be in his presence, felt like this happy lovefest of hilarity and inside jokes. Being with other people, with the author reading in his voice ... it's entirely different than reading alone (or on the airplane where other passengers look at you nervously when you start laughing out loud like a crazy person).

And so, my foray into cultural activity this fall left me eager for more. With plenty of symphony and theatre shows to come, I'll be back for more and may add some opera and ballet to the mix, too. Jackson has no shortage of the arts, so get out and take advantage of—and support—them ... it's much more fun than (to borrow a phrase from "Cabaret") sitting alone in your room.


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