In my Blog post Ten Must-do things in LA I said you must go to the Hollywood Bowl or the Greek Theatre. I have to confess it was something I’d been told rather than something I’d done. Before you judge I had always planned to go but I could wait until I’d done it to post my top ten or you wouldn’t get a fabulous list of things to do when you come to LA besides shop.
Anyway, now I’m here to tell you I’ve lost my virginity and can honestly say first hand the Hollywood Bowl is an LA institution and you absolutely need to see a show here; if it’s not on your list add it.
There is so much to share I don’t know where to start. First of all I have to proclaim that God the Americans do things well. Where in Australia can you rock up to a first-class venue complete with top notch catering (indeed I outdid myself making a cherry tomato salad and roast tomato & goat’s cheese tart along with cheese, olives and “Australian” water crackers bought at Bristol Farms, Weho)? And of course top-notch wine? No, you’d have to buy their over-priced food and bad wine and suck it up. Hashtag highly civilised.
OK, next observation the wine bar as you walk/drive in looks amazing. Obviously I didn’t need to check it out as we had brought our own (did I mention absolutely fabulous food & wine?) but I felt I should share and let you know it looked pretty cool. And there are some pretty cool places to picnic too (I’m sensing LA loves its picnics…)
Hang on … I’m still soaking everything in. It’s too much–visual and atmospheric overload.
Why does everything in LA have to be so bloody amazing? Like it’s one giant big iconic movie set? When you drive into the Bowl, it announces itself to you, it’s pretty majestic itself sitting up on the hill looking down on the rest of LA–it’s pretty cool. Pay it the respect it deserves.
Of course it’s LA so the next cool thing is valet parking, an absolute necessity when you have your gourmet pre-packed picnic and wine right? Right.
Speaking of highly civilised we were in a box. Now when you think box back home you think an air-conditioned suite at the very top of the venue looking down at everyone because they’re more connected to the show/game than you. Well not here. Boxes are at the front (where you can see-duh!) and are literally spaces for four–two in front and two in the back and the seats are rather comfy deck chairs. The two seats in front turn around and helpers are on hand to set up a table for you. Voila! Roll out the placemats and linen napkins and serve up the gourmet catering.
The first hour and a half or so (depending on when you get there) is dedicated to food and wine. Then before the show starts someone takes away your tables, you turn your chairs around and you’re ready to watch the show. Wine in hand.
Have you heard it never rains in LA? Well very rarely and it’s exacerbated by the fact that we’re in a drought at the moment. Only in LA can you have a full-on outdoor venue with absolutely no shelter (except for the performers). It would never work in Australia where even the Myer Music Bowl has undercover seating (and you must bring wet weather gear just in case). I love the way everything in LA is outdoors and planned for its perfect weather.
It’s been pretty humid over the last few days (typically LA’s heat is dry) and the weather looked a little dodgy. But it’s LA so it never rains here. Right?
My girlfriend said, “It better not rain,” only to be heckled by her husband who exclaimed, “It hasn’t rained at the Hollywood Bowl since 1967”. (Actually he said 1961 but seeing as Hair was based in 1967 I thought it would sound better). It never rains in LA and even when it does it’s a drop at best and lasts precisely 1.79 minutes. Of course we’ll be fine.
We’ve packed up, filled our wine glasses and we’re treated to an amazing performance of Hair.
When we came in there were cast members everywhere in costume setting the scene for us reliving the 60s saying: peace, love, make not war. I thought it was a bit in your face but when I went with it I got it. You just needed a few minutes from the real-life rush to get there and switch it down a few gears.
I don’t know what I was expecting but it wasn’t that. A full-blown musical performance–the actual stage production/extravaganza. I’d heard it was the LA Philharmonic Orchestra so I guess I was picturing the orchestra and some singers doing a bit of a tribute to Hair.
So imagine my surprise when it’s starring Kristen Bell, Sarah Hyland, Beverly D’Angelo, Hunter Parish (big spunk from Weeds), two chicks from Glee and many many more. You (hehe–us) Los Angelenos are so spoilt. Seriously? An A-list cast? Does it get any better than that? So for three shows they’ve put together a stellar cast, visual effects to make you think you’re tripping and a full-blown production for 17,000 Hollywood Bowl goers. Wow. Hail LA.
We got right into it, the actors interacted with the audience and it was fun and catchy. The first half flew by then intermission and it was time for dessert. Fabulous. Catch a friend, a trip to the toilets (no queues–yay) and time for the second half.
And then it rained. “That’s not rain,” I said. “LA does not know how to do rain. Those drips will be gone in a minute.” Apparently not. Full-blown, long-lasting rain. People were leaving in droves. I love the way the cast included the rain in their performance and in character, “Don’t go, stay with us, we’ll pass out some ponchos and we can all stop the war together.” (OK, or words to that affect). But people still left. I thought that was a bit rude I mean really? It’s only water. Can’t you wait to see if it will pass? (It was actually teaming down).
For about 10-15 minutes (possibly more) the cast sung and danced to entertain the soaked audience. But the audience (yours truly included) were so focused on the rain it was hard to focus on the show. When was the last time it rained at the Hollywood Bowl? Has it ever rained during a performance? Are those ponchos coming? Why is everyone leaving? Where are we up to? What’s happening? It really isn’t stopping is it? Is it getting stronger? Did I mention it never rains in LA let alone the Hollywood Bowl?
Then, with ponchos passed around everyone seemed to settle to get back in touch with the show. The cast did their best ad-libbing and we, the audience, loved it.
“Rain be gone with you, leave us alone” … “I’m not going out there and getting wet”. We cheered and wolf-whistled and the show went on.
We did it. I did it. Despite many people leaving 100 times the people stayed. And we were treated to a fabulous performance by a great cast who proved they were more than just big names and decent actors who could memorise the script. The ad-libbing made it, we lapped it up and then as quickly as the night started it was all but over.
I lost my virginity in the rain. History-making stuff. New York may have Broadway but LA has the Hollywood Bowl. Just another reason why I heart LA.
Oh, and if you’re still not sure what to do when you book your night out at the Bowl–because you will–here’s a newcomers guide prepared a little earlier for your convenience. Just makes me want to do it all over again. Maybe without the record-breaking rain.
And in case you didn’t get the message: do yourself a favour and get to the Hollywood Bowl and you too will fall in love with LA. What’s not to love?
xx It Started in LA xx