Two times a charm
I recently viewed two documentaries -
one on Stephen Sondheim, composer
and lyricist. The other documenting
the 1985 concert production Follies -
his cult classic. While watching both
I found myself in tears. I was touched
not only by Mr. Sondheim's words
and music - I was equally humbled
that Frank and I have had the pleasure
and privilege of seeing much of his
work performed "live" by some of the
most talented and amazing artists. All
of the female persuasion I might add.
Anyone can whistle
The first time I ever heard said song,
Barbara Cook sang it as a curtain call
post a concert at Lincoln Center. Then,
now, and probably forever it's lyrics
resonate deeply with me. For those of
us to whom success came effortlessly,
the fact is it's never as easy as it looks.
Letting down one's guard is probably
the most elusive of skills for "control
freaks." Yet ultimately the burden of
doing everything takes it's toll. And
fortunately, post said realization one's
life becomes all the easier and better.
All of my life I've had an affinity for
Broadway musicals. Beyond my gay
DNA they seem a perfect vehicle for
truth. Elaine Stritch's classic rendition
of Sondheim's homage to ingenues is
optimistic, jaded, and hauntingly bitter.
No wonder it's one of my favorites.
Having seen Ms. Stritch perform, she
always wore her heart on her sleeve.
By doing so she gave us a unique gift
of illumination and hence for many her
light still shines bright. Even now that
she left us behind sitting in the dark.
So many of us rush through life acting
as if it were a performance. Then we
suddenly realize, "no one is there."
Long ago I gave up any attempts to be
something (or someone) I never was.
Said self-acceptance enabled me to
gain momentum professionally and
personally. Getting there required a
brutal inner honesty and willingness
to finally let go. That realization was
set to music in A Little Night Music
and has been beautifully performed
by the amazing Bernadette Peters.
Losing My Mind
I love schmaltz as much as the next
queer thus my affection for Follies.
It's words and music deeply resonate.
In my mind the most moving ballad
is "Losing My Mind." It's been my
pleasure to hear many divas perform
Sondheim's masterpiece. Including
Barbara Cook, Bernadette Peters,
and Victoria Clark in both the 2007
concert performance and Kennedy
Center's revival. While the following
amateur video is crude - this number
is still the ultimate show stopper.
What would my life have been like
sans Broadway? Shows like Sweeney
Todd (staring Angela Lansbury) left
an indelible mark on my soul. After
years of barely surviving America
has rediscovered the great white way.
This past season broke all records.
Some win while others lose. Yet as
long as there are some brave enough
to step out and entertain - those out
there in the audience will applaud.
Aren't we lucky that live theater is
still available for many to enjoy?
Sadly live performance venues are
sadly lacking in many communities.
A human being gives their audience
a part of themselves while on stage.
The energy and emotion associated
transforms entertainment into pure
emotion. For centuries the work of
live artists was temporal. Modern
technology preserves their talent for
future generations to enjoy. Hence
what better way to close than with
Elaine Stritch singing Sondheim's
ode to perseverance. Hit it Stritchy!