Wednesday, July 22, 2009
July 22 - The Musicals, Part II: "Because I Knew You, I Have Been Changed for Good"
Last night I wrote about my love of theatre from the shows that I first discovered and through the ones I have loved over the years. I thought I was done. Then came memories of 'performances' and my more personal connection with Musicals.
My first performance memories are wonderful for me. I don't believe they were quite as wonderful for my audience. I was probably about 11 or 12 and my audience was about 9 and 5 respectively. I'm referring to my brother Michael and my sister Susan. I would make them sit and watch me as I performed all four sides of the LP for Sir Andrew and Sir Tim's "Jesus Christ Superstar" - the original brown Decca concept album with those gold angels on the cover. I'm pretty sure I lip-synced the entire thing and choreographed and acted it all - every part. I may have sang, but you'd have to check with them. [7/23 Update - My sister weighed in and said, "you did not lip sync... but the singing was fine. It was just so LONG and BORING, over and over and over..."]
Not to be solely theatrical, I do recall performing my Disney's Greatest Hits as well, "The Siamese Cat Song", "Bare Necessities" and my most fun one, Cinderella's "The Work Song". I hope Michael and Susan's nightmares have subsided!
In fourth grade, Missy Herman and I tried to convince Miss Silverman (our music teacher) to put on an adaptation of "Mary Poppins" (I as Bert and she as Mary). We'd practice at the bus stop in the mornings... I remember dancing/balancing along this short wooden fence, singing to her. Miss Silverman said she'd consider it when we were sixth graders, but left the school after our fifth grade, so it never came to be. Interestingly, this would have been decades before Disney ever thought of doing a staged version.
Once old enough, I began auditioning for the school Musicals, but never got a real lead. "The Sound of Music" (party guest, Act II, one line), "The Pajama Game" (ensemble), "Oklahoma" (Cowboy #3), and before moving to NY, "Baker Street" (a Sherlock Holmes musical from the 60s) where I was finally cast in a lead as Professor Moriarty... but is was never to be. I moved suddenly before I ever go to perform it.
When I got to NY (Long Island to be precise), they were doing "Oklahoma". Well, excited that they had a veteran, they cast me in the ensemble and (surprisingly) as the understudy for Jud Fry - the heavy; the villain; a hulking brute of a man. I was 5'4" and 114lbs. They must have never expected me to go on... but I did. I could not pull of the grunting brute as such, so played him as sly and evil. It worked!
Good roles never came again, although after the Navy in the late 80s, I tried for community theatre and got another lead! I was Algernon in a musical adaptation of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" - wonderful role, the worst score ever - horrible songs and awkward, silly choreography. I actually had to say the line, "It looks like rain, doesn't it, Lane" - without sounding like Dr. Seuss. I could not, did not say it right. I would not, could not every night.
Anyway, my performance days ended there (save for a run of Karaoke numbers in the past decade). I am definitely more of a writer and producer type. Not leading man, not song and dance man, not a performer.
So that currently leaves me where I am now. But where is that and how does it relate to Musicals. Like it or not, we'll all have to wait until tomorrow as I continue my Musicals saga in Part III: "And I Know if I'll Only be True, to this Glorious Quest..."