Tuesday, April 29

Some Enchanted Evening

The other night my wife and I visited the basement of a local church to see the Rodgers & Hammerstein retrospective “A Grand Night for Singing”. Tickets were reasonably priced and it promised to be a night filled with many memorable tunes.

As I browsed the program while waiting for the show to begin I noticed one of the actors had appeared in a production of White Christmas. This is one of my favorite movies, starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen.

“I didn’t know there was a stage version of White Christmas,” I mentioned to my wife.

“Well, I guess there is.”

“I’m pretty familiar with musicals, and I wasn’t aware of it,” I replied, perhaps a bit more snootily that I should have.

“Oh, you’re pretty familiar with musicals, eh?” She sounded skeptical.

“In many circles I’m known as ‘Mr. Theater’,” I said.

She may have muttered something about “Mr. Idiot”, but I couldn’t hear clearly because the show was starting.

It was a fine production. They covered all the Rodgers & Hammerstein classics. It was like a jukebox musical, only the jukebox was from 1953.

The songs were sequenced to represent the path that love takes, from the hopeful optimism of “Hello, Young Lovers” to the self conscious doubt of “If I Loved You” to the settled familiarity of “Something Wonderful”. I was also happy to hear “I Have Dreamed” because this particular number was sung at Mr. and Mrs. Theater’s wedding.

I have a small quibble with the change of “Oh, What A Beautiful Morning” to a minor key, since it made Curly sound a little like a serial killer, but otherwise the performances were outstanding.

Afterwards, while walking home, my wife said “Well, what did you think?”

“I thought it was great, but I wish they had sung that song about walking down the street in your neighborhood.”

“You mean ‘On The Street Where You Live’?”

“Yeah. I really like that song.”

“Yes, it’s a lovely song. Too bad it’s by Lerner and Loewe, not Rodgers and Hammerstein.”

Then she added, unnecessarily, I thought, “Mr. Theater”.

4 comments:

KathyR said...

Those sinister Oklahoma! songs. Did you ever watch the TV show "Twin Peaks?" I can't hear "Surrey With the Fringe On Top" without thinking of the dead girl in the trunk of the car!

Tallulah Morehead said...

WHITE CHRISTMAS has kind of a dopey story, with a lot of crapola sentimentality for the man who used to order the leads to kill people, or just march through mud in the rain. Great songs though. And Danny Kaye is ALMOST not insufferable in it, at least in his drag number with Bing.

Now then, Mr. Theater, "the hopeful optimism of 'Hello, Young Lovers'." HELLO YOUNG LOVERS is a song sung by a widow (And just for additional scariness, the widow is Boris Karloff's great-aunt, his grandmother's sister) essentially saying to Young Lovers: "Enjoy it now children, because in an eye-blink you'll be dried-up, old, and alone like me."

"The self conscious doubt of 'If I Loved You'." No, this song, is a tease from someone who can't commit, and alway contains the unsung "But I don't."

"The settled familiarity of 'Something Wonderful'," Oh this is a particualrly evil song. The first of a polygamist's many wives is saying "It doesn't matter what awful things he says or does to you, because every once in a long, long while, he'll stop abusing you long enough to say something nice." It's a song, like many, many of Oscar Hammerstein's sexist lyrics, for a dishrag with no self-esteem. It's every bit as bad as "What's the Use of Wondrin'" in Carrosel or "My Man" in SHOWBOAT.

As for “I Have Dreamed,” well, we all know what the doomed lover was doing with his hands while he fanatsized about Tuptim's arms. Ew! Romantisizing masturbatory fantaisies. Double yuck!

Give me Rogers & Hart anyday. WHERE OR WHEN, now THAT is a great song.

Tallulah Morehead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tallulah Morehead said...

Oh, and I forgot to add the additional sentimental irony of HELLO YOUNG LOVERS: the young lovers don't end up old, dried-up, and alone, because by the end of the show they're both DEAD! In fact Tuptim gets burned at the stake, offstage. (Although in the earlier movie of ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM, it happens onscreen.) Yes, what a touching little love song.

But they do all have the lovely music of Richard Rogers, a man who once famously said, "I can piss a melody."

As for ON THE STREET WHERE YOU LIVE, which Jeremy Brett lipsynchs so nicely to someone else's voice in L&L's MY FAIR LADY, it's a song sung by a stalker. It's creepy.