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Tag Archives: musicals

Maybe he’s leaving town – don’t let him get away! Hurry and track him down!

Remember last weekend, I went to (and then summarily snuck out of) Guys and Dolls? (Not because it was bad, but because poor cousin J. was getting antsy and I adore her.)

I was recapping Act II for her in the car on the way to the mall (in brief, because when you think about it, not a hell of a lot happens in Act II) and I was trying to think of the songs we’d missed. The only ones I was sad about were “Luck Be a Lady” and “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat” and “Sue Me” (which I love irresponsibly – this is the first song I heard from the musical, many and many a moon ago, put on a mix by a very wise friend back in the glorious heyday of cassette mixes, sigh…and it remains my favorite to this day.)

Then I realized we’d missed “Marry the Man Today” and I was humming it a little in my house that night and thought…wait a minute. Whoa.

I don’t think I ever really paid attention to the lyrics of this song before (mostly because I kind of hate this song.) And once I did, I’m totally overjoyed that cousin J. didn’t hear it, because it’s kind of terrible and the last kind of romantic advice she needs.

Let’s take a look at this gem of a song, shall we? (my comments in italics. Because I’m fancy.) Oh, a little background, in case you need it: the two female romantic leads sing this to each other while they’re deciding whether or not to marry the MALE romantic leads, who they love, but who are CADS! CADS, I TELLS YA! (They’re not really cads, they’re just really, REALLY into gambling, to the point of ignoring their ladyfolk for it.)

And if you want to listen to it, rather than read my (MOST EXCELLENT, by the way) commentary…

Marry the Man Today (music and lyrics by Frank Loesser)

At Wanamaker’s and Saks and Klein’s
A lesson I’ve been taught
You can’t get alterations on a dress you haven’t bought

At any vegetable market from Borneo to Nome
You mustn’t squeeze a melon till you get the melon home.

(So don’t mess with something until you own it. Until it’s your property. OK. Fine. Heh, Borneo to Nome. Odd.)

You’ve simply got to gamble

You get no guarantee

Now doesn’t that kind of apply to you and I

You and me.

Why not?

Why not what?

Marry the man today.
Trouble though he may be
Much as he likes to play
Crazy and wild and free
Marry the man today
Rather than sigh in sorrow
Marry the man today
And change his ways tomorrow.

(OK. This, this right here? This is where the song takes a REALLY WORRISOME TURN.)

Marry the man today.
Marry the man today
Maybe he’s leaving town
Don’t let him get away
Hurry and track him down
Counterattack him and
Marry the man today

(OK, so first you’re going to marry him in order to change him into the man you want…then you’re going to, I don’t know, stalk him, attack him, and FORCE him to marry you. That’s not at all off-putting.)

Give him the girlish laughter
Give him your hand today
And save the fist for after.

(Hmm. I don’t…I’m going to hope this just means, like, shaking your fist at him, but the way this song’s going, I think it’s about punching.)

Slowly introduce him to the better things
Respectable, conservative, and clean
Readers Digest
Guy Lombardo
Rogers Peet
Golf!
Galoshes
Ovaltine!

(Because whatever he’s into SUCKS. You know best. You gotta train him. Like a puppy. DON’T YOU PIDDLE ON THE GOOD RUG, HAROLD! *fist*)

But marry the man today
Handle it meek and gently
Marry the man today and train him subsequently

(What did I say? Train him. TRAIN HIM. Have a treat, Rover, that’s a good boy.)

Carefully expose him to domestic life
And if he ever tries to stray from you
Have a pot roast.
Have a headache
Have a baby
have two!
Six
Nine!

(If he tries to leave your iron fist and terrible household of trickery and deceit, feed him, deny him sex, or GIVE him sex, and tie him down with NINE CHILDREN. This is a great marriage. EXCELLENT advice.)

STOP!

(Yes. Please stop.)

But marry the man today
Rather than sigh in sorrow
Marry the man today
And chance his ways – change his ways – his ways
Tomorrow!

(AND SCENE.)

OK. Now, I realize this musical was first produced on Broadway in 1950. This was a very long time ago. Amy’s Dad was a wee bebeh! Amy’s Mom wasn’t even BORN yet! It was a different time! A time in which…well, apparently, women needed to trick men into marrying them, using any means available to them, then if the man wasn’t EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANTED (and they seem to want some sort of pipe-smoking dorky sweater-wearing loser with no will of his own) they wear him down using MORE trickery until he is CHANGED! And everyone lives happily ever after. Right?

Wait, not right? No?

What about the guy?

The woman’s happy as a lark, with this changed guy who’s exactly what she wanted all along…but is this GUY happy? This guy who, apparently, can’t do anything right unless he does everything the way she wants him to, and once he gives up everything he is, she’s finally happy…but who is he now? And how can he be happy, being this ghost of the person he was before?

I know love is compromise. I’m well aware of that. This situation isn’t compromise, though. This is one-sided; compromise means BOTH people change. This is sexist garbage, is what this is.

BUT AMY! you are saying. THIS WAS A SONG WRITTEN IN 1950, SURELY THIS ISN’T SOMETHING WE WORRY ABOUT NOW!

See, it is, though. I know a lot of people who’ve broken up (marriages, serious relationships, what have you) and I hear, over and over, the same thing.

I thought he/she would change, once we were together.

Or, the opposite: He/she thought I would change, once we were together.

I asked them over and over to stop doing (whatever it is) and they just wouldn’t and I couldn’t take it anymore.

If they loved me, why wouldn’t they change?

Do you remember, a long time ago, we talked about the frog and the scorpion? This is very much a frog and scorpion situation. You knew that person was a scorpion when you picked them up.

If you get together with someone with the endgame in mind that you will change him or her to better suit your needs, you are a., a jerk for getting together with someone who has things about them that bother you so much that you need to change them in order for the relationship to work for you and b., you are in a losing game, because no one’s going to end this scenario happy.

I’m telling you right now: once you get older, you learn to pick your battles. What’s worth getting up-in-arms about and what’s worth letting go. And you learn that no one’s perfect. And you learn that life’s not a rom-com. And you learn that you can love people not only DESPITE their flaws, but BECAUSE of their flaws. Because those flaws make that person more real, and more alive, and more yours; you wouldn’t recognize that person without those flaws. (And you know what? You’re not flawless yourself, special snowflake. That person’s overlooking probably a lot of YOUR flaws, too. Keep that in mind, sunshine.)

I’m going to give you an alternative to that song.

Marry the man today – if you can’t imagine a life without being married to them. Don’t attempt to change their ways tomorrow. Their ways may or may not change. Go into this with your eyes open. Can you live with the person you’re marrying if they remain exactly like this the rest of their lives? If not, how about you don’t say yes to the dress. There’s someone out there better suited to you, and someone out there better suited for him, as well.

Go ahead and marry the man today. I’ll totally cheer for you. I’m all about the romance, yo. But if you try to trick him into it (or reverse those genders, this works for the fellas, too) and then slowly chisel away the man who DID marry you, and someday you wake up and you’re married to a stranger and he leaves you because, well, that stranger no longer wants to be married to you…

…you really have no one to blame but yourself.

And they say theater is an unneccessary art. LOOK AT ALL WE’VE LEARNED TODAY.

Happy weekend, you romantic fools. Go woo like the wind. Do me proud.

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Many and many a year ago, in a kingdom by the sea: Adventures in Baltimore, Part Three Point Five

This isn’t a REAL “adventures in Baltimore” post. It’s more of a continuation of yesterday’s post, which just got too crazy long. Plus I got really tired. I have to get normal amounts of sleep one of these days, yo. I’m in a weird walking-through-mud not-enough-sleep-space lately. That does not make for a cheery Amy.

OK! So if you’ll remember back to yesterday, we went to the zoo, then came home to see how A. did in his race. How did he do? JUST AS WELL AS HE WANTED TO, YAY! Also, he got a crazy sunburn. The best part of his sunburn was that he was wearing a biking outfit? They probably have a name, I don’t know what it is. You know, the spandex one-piece biking suit, like they wear in the Tour de France? And so where the suit was and his arms and legs came out was a VERY CRISP LINE where the sunburn started because those suits are tight. I fretted at him that he needed to wear sunscreen from now on. I think he ignored me. WEAR SUNSCREEN FROM NOW ON, A.!!! Look, I found this for you. It’s a spray, it dries DRY, not STICKY, so all the road-dirt will not get all over you, and please use it from now on because I like you very much and sunburns are scary.

See? Neutrogena is the good stuff! GET SOME OF THIS PLEASE!

See? Neutrogena is the good stuff! GET SOME OF THIS PLEASE!

So when we got home, A. was there, and A. was on Baby CeeVee duty for the evening, and R. and I got all ready for our NEXT adventure, which was…

DINNER AND A SHOW!

R.’s friend S. met us at the house for our adventure. I did not change my clothes. R. and S. looked ADORABLE so probably I should have but I didn’t bring anything stylish so I told them I could be their country cousin who’d never been to the big city before. Also, S. had the cat-eye glasses that I covet, and also the most adorable stylish shoes and tights. I was kind of impressed with S.’s sense of style, yo. Want to know the secret of my sense of style? It is A., what is clean? and B., will these shoes be comfortable if I’m walking long distances? That’s it. That’s the entirety of it. Oh, also I like necklaces. That’s all. Fin.

So first, we went to a teeny-tiny tavern for dinner. What was it called? Well, it was Baltimore…and who do they love in Baltimore? Edgar Allen Poe…and so it was called…

The Annabel Lee Tavern!

I didn’t take photos at ALL that night. I’m totally ganking all of these from the internet. Sorry, world.

It was so perfect, this place. I was crazy in love.

Look how pretty! The walls were all this mauvey color, and it was all mismatched furniture and Poe quotes and candles and Poe-paintings and it was totally moody and amazing. Seriously, THIS is how you do a themed restaurant. I hope it makes all the money and stays open for years to come.

R. knew I am attempting to have The Year of Trying New Foods so with that in mind, we decided to have three appetizers and share them, rather than three meals, so we had:

  • Baked Brie en Cruet! This was brie in pastry with what seemed to be jam on it but the menu says it’s brown sugar and pecans. This was ok, but you’d think with all of these things, it would be AMAZING, right? I wasn’t sold on this. But I’m not a huge Brie fan (is Brie a capitalized thing? It looks weird if I don’t capitalize it) so that might be why I didn’t love it. It wasn’t BAD, it just wasn’t AMAZING.
  • Crab Dip Flatbread Pizza! R. said I couldn’t leave Baltimore without having SOMETHING with crab it in. This was good, but again, not amazing. I think it needed more crab. I’m very crab-oriented. I could eat crab, with crab topping, on a bed of crab, garnished with a little crab, and be happy, you see. But, again, I liked it.
  • Duck Fat Fries with Herbs de Provence! O.M.G., you guys. OH. EMM. GEE. WHY DIDN’T YOU PEOPLE TELL ME ABOUT SUCH A THING BEFORE NOW? OK, here’s the thing. I don’t like fries much. I could live the rest of my life without eating fries again and I wouldn’t miss them much. I know, a lot of you are gasping right now; fries are a thing that some people crave. Like pasta. I could live forever without pasta and would be a little sad, but ok. (Now, take away chocolate, or bread, and we’d have a fight, yo.) But THESE fries? They were perfectly crispy. The seasoning was salty and herby and just right. And I don’t know if the magic was in the duck fat, or what was going on there, but seriously, I wanted to put my face in the dish and just start chomping. I don’t know that I’ve had an appetizer EVER that has been this good. So, yes. Instead of crab, the thing I discovered that I am in love with while in Baltimore (other than, well, Baltimore, and Baby CeeVee) is DUCK FAT FRIES WITH HERBS DE PROVENCE FROM THE ANNABEL LEE TAVERN.
This is not them, but close. If you are not a vegetarian-type, get yourself some of these, yo.

This is not them, but close. If you are not a vegetarian-type, get yourself some of these, yo.

Next, it was off to the theater!

The theater area was GORGEOUS. It was totally a mini-Broadway. I was muy impressed. Our theater was called The Hippodrome.

SO PRETTY!

SO PRETTY!

It’s an old-timey theater. It looks a little like our Proctors here, maybe a little smaller. I am a sucker for a pretty theater.

Pretty inside, right? S. said it was like being on the Titanic. I liked that.

Pretty inside, right? S. said it was like being on the Titanic. I liked that.

Now, what do you think we saw at this theater? (Mom? Dad? If you are reading this, because I know you’ve been following adventures in Baltimore, you should stop now. Well, Dad, you can stay. Mom, please read something else. Maybe a nice book about kittens. Or the Bible. Dad, you know I’m vulgar. And it alternately makes you laugh and/or shake your head. So you can stick around, I suppose.)

Well, I don’t know if you remember, but last year around this time, I posted a review of what is possibly one of the worst books I’ve ever read. It remains one of my most-read posts. People apparently love reading about terrible books and me ripping them to pieces in a snarky way. Also, do you know what else people love? Bad porn.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen; we went to see…

YES WE DID!

Listen, this was a big theater. I should have been more worried when I realized it was completely full. Mostly of giggling women. Wearing inappropriate clothing like hooker-shoes and very low-cut tops. Here or there was a man, but the men did NOT look excited to be there. No they did not.

So we got to our seats, but not without trials and tribulations. Apparently the ushers were not sure where the seats were. Even when we showed them our tickets. (Well, I should say “ticket”. Or even “piece of paper,” because when R. went to the will-call window, apparently they were out of tickets so they gave her a piece of paper with our seats written on it.) One man told us to go to one door and another man sent us further on and a woman told us we were in the wrong place and SIGHINGLY led us over to OTHER seats. Sorry we’re bothering you, ushers! Whose job is to ush!

So. The show.

Well, in good news, it was a parody, which I didn’t know going into it. I was picturing that it was going to be actually a serious theatrical version of the worst book EVERRRR.

Here’s the plot in a nutshell: three book-club ladies, two married, one sad-sack whose husband just left her (everyone keeps saying “Oh, CAROL”) read 50 Shades of Grey as their monthly pick. They then daydream about certain scenes, and actors playing the characters come out. Oh, also they talk about sex and masturbation a lot. And fisting. There’s a lot of talk of fisting.

The actor playing Christian Grey was a short, overweight Asian man, which was supposed to be super-funny, especially when he came out and the actress playing Ana was all “HE WAS SO TALL AND HOT AND DREAMY!” There were songs like “I Don’t Make Love” (with lines like, “I don’t make love, I fuck”) and “There’s a Hole Inside of Me” (this song was FILLED with euphemism) and “Red Room of Pain” (this one had lots of props, like whips and dildos.)

The audience LOVED this show. I don’t know that I’ve heard laughter like that in ever. There was one guy who may or may not have been drunk who was loudly heckling. The actors had nice voices. And they were acting, and not badly. There were some dancers. Who danced well. No one got naked, and the dreaded tampon scene wasn’t represented (whoo) but there was some down-center doggy-style action, and some disturbingly animalistic cunnilingus which made me feel terrible for both of the actors involved.

I’m a terrible theater snob, you guys. I think it’s gotten to the point I can’t enjoy something like this. I know. I KNOW. I’m one of those snooty assholes who says things like “stage picture” and “believability of character” and such. I don’t know if it’s the show, or if it’s the book the show’s based on and my hatred of it, or the fact that the theater was FULL, and would the theater have been full for something like A Streetcar Named Desire or Fat Pig or A Midsummer Night’s Dream? My guess is no. No, it would not be. And should I just be glad that people are SEEING theater, or should I be upset that this is all the theater some people see? And should I be upset that this kind of thing tours, but good shows close all the time because they don’t have audiences?

And this is what I thought about for an hour and a half, while the actors mimed oral sex and put dog-collars on each other and talked about giving up all of your personal freedom to someone just for some really rough sex.

Is it a good or a bad thing that being a theater snob seems to have taken away my ability to enjoy something stupid for a couple of hours? Or HAS it taken that away? Was it just that I hated the book so I couldn’t force my brain to like the show? The whole audience was really digging it, yo. I was the only sourpuss.

R. and S. enjoyed it, though. And the theater was REALLY pretty. Also there was popcorn for sale, so I totally bought some and ate it while I was watching the show. You could also buy alcohol. I think they wanted you to be drunk to watch it. Although R. said the wine was terrible, and also it was like $9 for about 4 ounces. Not a good deal at all.

Here, I found you this so you don’t think I’m making this all up.

Then we went home and played CSI. Why was the dining room chair in the computer area? Why were there two water bottles on the stove? Why was there a half-eaten piece of pizza on the counter? We thought maybe A. and Baby CeeVee had been kidnapped by ne’er-do-wells, but no. They were asleep. It was just a very long night and A. got tired because he’d been racing in the sun all day long.

OH, also, I totally ALSO got a sunburn, even though I put on all the sunscreen. Guess where? The stupidest place ever. THE PART IN MY HAIR. Who would think to put sunscreen in their HAIR? Not me! And now my head hurts there. Nice. I’m going to be the first person to die from skin cancer of the scalp.

Off to bed, chicks and chicklettes. One more of these, but you might not get it until…um…Sunday? Monday? Big week coming up. Three plays to see! Dinner with friend N.! Work all day tomorrow and Saturday! A review to write! Hanging with The Nephew! Auditions for the next show at my theater! SO SO BUSY!!!

Until then, remember: duck fat fries, good. Anything 50 Shades of Grey related: no. Not good. Not at all.


Teaching us how to see the world

I don’t remember the first play I watched. I know it was either Antigone or The Glass Menagerie; both plays came to my junior high via a local company that took shows on tour to the area schools. I remember watching both transfixed; I remember skipping classes to watch a second performance the following day of The Glass Menagerie because I wanted that magic again and didn’t know when I’d next have the chance. I remember thinking – no, knowing – that I wanted to be a part of that. That I wanted to be on that stage. That I wanted to be the one telling those stories to the people sitting hushed and transfixed in their velvety folding chairs. I auditioned for my first show not long after that.

I don’t remember the first musical I watched, either. I know the first one I watched on a television screen was Grease, and my mother thought it was too risqué for me (I think I was probably 9 or 10 at the time.) As for onstage, I think it was Bye Bye Birdie, a high school production when I was a freshman or a sophomore. I can’t sing a note and me dancing looks a lot like someone being electrocuted, but oh, do I like to watch others doing those things, and doing them well.

I don’t even remember my first Sondheim show. I want to say it was A Little Night Music, which I know I saw early on as a college student, but when you see as many shows as I have over the years, things start to get fuzzy around the edges. I do know there’s no way, seeing it as a college student, I would have understood it all. There’s no way I would have understood that when Petra sings “Every day a little death” in “The Miller’s Son” that “a little death” was an old-fashioned euphemism for an orgasm. Mostly because I’m pretty sure at that stage in my life I barely knew what one was. (Yes, that is totally an indictment of the men I’d dated up until that point.) And I am absolutely sure I didn’t get the utter sadness and longing and bitter sweetness of “Send in the Clowns” at my ripe old age of 18 or 19 or however old I was when I watched the show. When you’re that age, you can’t understand, not really understand, the meaning behind “Just when I’d stopped opening doors/Finally knowing the one that I wanted was yours/Making my entrance again with my usual flair/Sure of my lines/No one is there. ” You have to have lived a little life to understand that. I’ve lived a little life. I get that now.

Since then, I’ve seen West Side Story with its doomed lovers and joyous “America” (in a strangely compelling high school production); Company a number of times with its utterly rapid-fire perfect “Not Getting Married Today” and triumphant “Being Alive” and wistful “Barcelona,” Sweeney Todd, again a number of times, once even with my mother, and she still sometimes sings “There’s a hole in the world like a great black pit! And it’s filled with people who are filled with…” and then she looks around to make sure no one’s listening and she whispers “shit” and giggles; Into the Woods, which I can’t even choose a favorite song from, I love so many of them (but sometimes I’ll find myself singing “I wish, more than life, more than anything, more than the moon” around the house when I’m in a particular mood); and of course, my most beloved Assassins, which I see any time I can, no matter who’s putting on the production (I’d probably see a kindergarten production of the damn thing, I love it so), which I actually got to work on last year.

I know I’m missing a lot in Sondheim’s body of work. I’m seeing Sunday in the Park with George for the first time this week, which is a huge thing for me. And I know I could watch some of these things on DVD, like Gypsy, but I really want to see them onstage first. I’m biased. I like the actors in front of me singing and acting. I feel it’s the way it was intended. At least the first time I see it. Once I’ve seen the stage show, I’ll watch the movie version. That’s the reason I haven’t watched a lot of movie musicals, actually.

I grew up in a very small town, and there weren’t many opportunities to see or do artsy things there. You had to drive half an hour to get to a very broken-down movie theater that played the same movie once a day for a month. You had to drive an hour and a half to get to a live theater, which didn’t open until I was in junior high. I wanted more, and I wanted a lot of it, but never really thought I’d get it. I didn’t dream huge. I thought maybe people only saw one play a year, maybe. I thought that’s how life was.

I am one of the very lucky people who had a dream and has been able to continue that dream in her life. I see a hell of a lot more than a play a year. In an average month, I see probably 4 or 5. I’ve gotten to work on more plays than I can count in my life. I’ve met some amazing people. I live in an area I love so much that sometimes I wake up and can’t actually believe I’m lucky enough to be living here. I’ve had such huge experiences that if I’d thought of them when I was a little kid sitting in awe in a darkened auditorium in junior high, I’d have laughed at my own folly.

And tonight, I got to sit about six feet from Stephen Sondheim and listen to him talk about sixty years of working in musical theater. I was close enough to see him tear up, talking about how important art is to our lives. “Art is a form of teaching,” he said. “It teaches us how to see the world.” (I hope I got that right; I’ll admit I was a bit choked up when he said it.)

He talked about seeing the original version of A Streetcar Named Desire when he was young, and getting a thrill that he was part of the theater world, that he was lucky enough to work in this art form. And then he said he saw another show in London recently that made him think the same exact thing. He’s 83 years old and he still gets that thrill, realizing how lucky he is to be a part of this.

The small-town girl who thought she’d get to see one play a year, maybe, if she was lucky, got to see one of her idols tonight. I’m not that small-town girl anymore. I’m all grown up, and I left the small town behind over half a lifetime ago. But that girl comes with me, you see. She comes with me wherever I go. And she is amazed at the opportunites that I have. She is so damned proud of this life I’ve made. And tonight, the two of us sat in our velvety theater seat, hushed and transfixed as if we were thirteen again, watching one of the great icons of musical theater talk about how lucky he feels, to be a part of this life as well.

Sometimes this is really just a beautiful life, you know? Just so beautiful, it hurts to even look at it head-on.

(I didn’t take photos as we were told not to and I didn’t want to be ejected from one of the best memories of my life. This person works for one of the local papers and did. I was closer than this, but here’s a shot from tonight.)


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