I Hate Musicals!

Actually, I love musicals, my title is simply a reference to a very funny song in a very funny musical, Ruthless! The Musical.

Last night, as I sat in my freezing cold house (we are trying to cut back on the heating bill by not turning the heat on...novel idea, I know), unable to watch the game for any stretch of time (because only a Red Sox fan is biting their nails at the bottom of the 9th when the team is up by 7), so I tuned into PBS, which was broadcasting their show Broadway: The American Musical.

It was great, although a pox on Kenneth Burns for popularizing that damn technique of having actors read letters written by actual people - it just bugs me.

Anyway, they played a film of Ethel Waters singing "Suppertime", which had me in absolute tears - the story is that the song is sung by a woman whose husband has been lynched, and it's time to get supper on the table, but it's so hard because she knows her man isn't coming home no more.

I cried again when they were talking about Oscar Hammerstein's final song - Edelweiss. I grew up in a house where we were always singing - my mother played piano by ear, and we used to play "Name That Tune" - if you guessed the tune you would get to move up a step, and whoever got to the top of the stairs first won. And we always, always sang in the car. My father used to have a list of requests that he liked us to sing for him, and Edelweiss was one of his favorites. It's such a sweet, simple tune, with such hopeful lyrics. What a lovely last song for Hammerstein to write.

Tonight they will be hitting my favorite era of Broadway, the Sondheim era. But I have a rehearsal tonight, so I'll have to catch the 1am showing...or maybe I'll have to get up at 4am. I can't tape it because our VCR is kaput, and I am sadly Tivo-less. Well, I suppose I could just wait - I'm sure it will either be repeated or available on DVD in time for Christmas.

I got to meet Mr. Sondheim once, by the way. He gave a talk at Fairfield University, and I ponied up the dough to attend a cocktail party fundraiser afterwards. He signed one of my Sondheim albums (that's one of those round black vinyl things, we used to play them on record players, oh, how I loved the crackle of the needle hitting the vinyl), and shook my hand. Nothing terribly memorable for him, but I will always remember it.

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