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One From Column A...
by "The Real A"

March 12, 2000 - #104

Well, dear readers, did you think I'd gone and left you high and dry? Or even low and wet for that matter or any other matter? Well, it's high time we had a new column and by golly here it is in the nick of high time. If it's high time we had a column does it also have to be dry time since high and dry seem to be a team? I know I'm being fairly incoherent and obtuse but there is a reason for that. What is that reason you might ask and I might tell you because frankly I don't want to leave you high and dry, reason-for-that-wise. The reason I am being fairly incoherent and obtuse is that I had a very scary, strange and terrifying thing happen to me this morning. Around 8:30 a.m. I awoke quite suddenly. I had been dreaming of having an urgent need to go to the bathroom which is usually a good indication that one has an urgent need to go to the bathroom which is why I assume I awoke having an urgent need to go to the bathroom. I quickly got out of bed as I normally do when I awake and have an urgent need to go to the bathroom. I walked out of the bedroom and down the hall towards the bathroom. And here is where the scary, strange and terrifying thing occurred. I remember approaching the bathroom and then the next thing I knew I felt a horrid pain at the back of my head, which was accompanied by a horrid loud crashing noise. And the next thing I knew there I was, lying on the floor like so much fish. As I pondered how I ended up on the floor, I happened to look over at the wall next to me where I was rather surprised to see a hole and plaster laying all about. I began to realize that I must have passed out, fallen and that my head must have hit the wall (and gone through it). Now, I have been called a hard head in my time, dear readers, but this was ridiculous. First of all, I have never passed out in all my years of being alive which is also the name of a song by my close personal friend, Mr. Stephen Sondheim. As most of you know, I am of a certain age, younger than springtime but older than fish. I was very shaken but not stirred by this scary, strange and terrifying event. I sat on the floor, dazed and confused and also confused and dazed. It then occurred to me that since my head had gone through the wall that I might have injured said head. To my dread, said head was indeed injured and was bleeding. Luckily it wasn't a terrible gash or anything and within a few minutes the bleeding had abated. I put some gauze on my head and taped it into place, so that it looked like I was wearing a white yarmulke. After a few minutes I saw that all my motor functions were working properly and I calmed down. Now, I don't know about you, dear readers, but I like to be in control of my motor functions. I don't like when my functions malfunction. It is truly surreal to be walking down a hallway and then to suddenly be on the floor with your head having gone through a wall. What is especially weird to me is that lapse of time between walking and being on the ground, the actual loss of consciousness. And what is even weirder is the fact that having lost consciousness I would regain it from my head hitting a wall hard enough to knock a hole through it. Perhaps I was half-asleep as I walked and then nodded off on my feet. I suppose I'll never know. Anyway, I seem to be fine, albeit a little queasy. So I am taking it easy as that is a good thing to do when you are feeling queasy because what is "queasy" but "easy" with a fershluganah "qu" tacked onto it? The point of all this is that if this here column seems incoherent and obtuse it is because of the episode of My Passing Out and Knocking A Hole in The Wall With My Head. I have, by the way, called my handyman to bring over his handyman plaster of Paris or even plaster of Inglewood so that he can mend that specious hole in my wall and make my wall whole once more, because, frankly, every time I look at that there hole it skeeves me. Do you know that every time I write the word "skeeves" my spell checker suggests it should be the word "skivvies"? And yet if I write the word "skivvies" the spell checker doesn't suggest it should be the word "skeeves". Oh, well, six of one, half a dozen of another, whatever the hell that means. Perhaps next time I write the word "skeeves" I'll do it while wearing "skivvies". That is known as synchronicity.

Well, dear readers, you'll be happy to know, that since I wrote the above my handyman has done his handiwork and that specious hole in my wall is a thing of the past. Can someone explain to me why it is "handyman" and "handiwork" rather than "handiman" and "handywork"? Last night I slept like a log (no mean feat) and I feel much better today. In fact, right now I am staring at a can of Rosarita No Fat Traditional Refried Beans and thinking, "What is it, fish"? I was just pondering whether there were, in fact, non traditional refried beans. And if the beans are already fried why do they need to be refried? I have been buying cans of Rosarita No Fat Traditional Refried Beans for some weeks now and have amassed quite a collection. Why, I have no idea. Has anyone noticed that I am being slightly incoherent and obtuse?

Has anyone noticed that it is already March? I barely had time to ruminate on the fact that February had twenty-nine days instead of the usual twenty-eight. That is because this year is a leap year. Isn't that exciting? Why would anyone invent a leap year? Can you imagine? One day someone woke up and had the brilliant idea there should be a leap year? And people went along with it? Why? To humor the person who thought of it? If I wake up tomorrow and say we should have a jump year will everyone go along with it? And why, in a leap year, does February have to bear the brunt of having an extra day. Why can't September have an extra day? None of it makes any sense to me and frankly I just don't get this whole leap year thing. However, in honor of leap year I recently bought a new cell phone. It is an amazing little thing, a flip phone with all the latest features; digital, Internet-ready and other high-tech doodads. I don't know about you, dear readers, but I find all these high-tech doodads very confusing. For example, this phone has voice dialing. If you speak the name of the person you want to call into the phone, the phone then dials the number, therefore saving you wear and tear on both phone keys and fingers. I immediately opened the phone and spoke a name. The phone just sat there like so much fish. I spoke another name. Nothing. I then opened the two hundred-page instruction manual and turned to "voice dialing". And what I learned was that you have to program in the number you wish to dial and then speak the name into the phone. Then and only then will it work correctly. Who knew? Anyway, I then did as I was told and by gum if it didn't work. I spoke a name and it dialed the number. What will they think of next, these high-tech doodad (dadood spelled backwards) people? I just spoke in the name "Real A" and it dialed my very own number. And I answered the phone, so I'm here to tell you that this high-tech doodad voice dialing works. This column seems to be jumping hither and thither and also occasionally yon and I feel this is because my head recently went through a wall. The top of my head, by the way, is quite disgusting. I put some Neosporyn on it, which makes it even more disgusting. You simply don't want to see the top of my head right now, especially if you are about to eat pork chops.

In our last column I spoke of having discovered the game of Solitaire on my computer. Well, since then I have discovered another game with which I am now totally obsessed. This game is called Free Cell. It is quite an interesting game and quite addicting. It took me four or five days to understand it. At first I just moved all the cards around willy-nilly and also nilly-willy, to no avail whatsoever, and would lose immediately as there were no free cells left and nowhere to move cards. Slowly but surely I began to understand the game and soon after I mastered it. I have now won eighty percent of the games I've played. I recommend it to one and all and also to all and one. But I warn you it will become an addiction.

Well, hopefully the rest of the column won't be quite so incoherent and obtuse, because frankly this section of the column is starting to feel like the two current Wild Party musicals: Surely there must be something else to write about? But enough about me.



Mr. Mark Bakalor recently e-mailed me and told me that he thought I should throw my hat into the ring and run for President of these here United States of America. First of all, at this time I cannot throw my hat in the ring as my hat is covering up my bruised and battered head, which recently went through a wall. Therefore I could only run for President without throwing my hat in the ring, although in a week or so I would be more than happy to throw my hat in the ring. Apparently, all one has to do to run for President of these here United States of America is to throw one's hat in the ring. I have no problem running for President but doesn't one need a platform? A point of view? A plan? I have none of those, therefore I feel I am an ideal candidate. I believe that the next person to run for President should not run on a platform, because, frankly, it is dangerous to run on a platform, especially one made of wood. You could trip and fall and get a splinter and then where would you be? No, if one is to run for President one must run on a proper running path in proper running shoes. And therein lies the difference between the other candidates and myself.

The first thing one must figure out when running for President (as I now am) is what party one belongs to. I happen to belong to the party where they serve cheese slices and ham chunks, otherwise known as the Cheese Slice and Ham Chunk Party (CSACP). It's a fine party and there is always nice music and dancing and fun party favors. I know some political pundits look down on party favors but what is a party without party favors I'd like to know? I've already come up with a great slogan for my campaign: What is it, fish? If that doesn't get votes I don't know what will. In fact, here is the poster Mr. Mark Bakalor (my campaign manager when he's not off doing shows in Arcadia or wherever the hell he is) has come up with.



Isn't that a splendid poster? Isn't it just too too? Of course the media is already trying to uncover any little peccadilloes I might have in my past. Well, I don't have any little peccadilloes in my past, so good luck to them. I have an armadillo in my past but that's another story. Of course, my armadillo had a peccadillo and, in fact, wrote a book about it entitled The Armadillo Who Had a Peccadillo. It was a very touching book, especially when we discovered that the armadillo's peccadillo was having once stolen a pillow. That chapter, The Armadillo Peccadillo Pillow Caper is one of the greatest I have ever read. What the hell am I talking about? Aren't I supposed to be running for President?

If I am elected President, the first thing I will do is abolish income tax as we now know it. As we now know it, income tax is a lot of hooey. A flat ten-percent tax, period, the end. The next thing I will do is abolish workshops for new musicals. The next thing I will do is make the oval office oblong. Oh, I will make a fine President, won't I?

As President, I would sit on my couch like so much fish and make this country great once again. I will take the singing bird in my yard with me to Washington and said bird will sing all showtunes to Congress every day. Currently the bird is trying to sing the tunes of Michael John LaChiusa's The Wild Party but there aren't any. The bird doesn't like through-sung musicals anyway. It likes a nice bouncy "c" and a snappy 2/4. Where was I? Oh, yes, running for President. I must begin the arduous task of trying to get people to vote for me. All of you dear readers must pitch in and get the word out. Or should you pitch out and get the word in? Either way, we must spread the word like manure and watch our campaign grow by leaps and bounds and also bounds and leaps. Sure we're the underdog, but with your support we can soon become the overdog. I stand for traditional refried beans, ladies and gentleman. I sit for them, too, because why should I stand for a stupid refried bean? Cast your votes, dear readers. I've already cast my votes, and they're being played by Dorothy Loudon, Bernadette Peters and her brother Brock.

In this time when most voters are truly apathetic isn't it time to vote for a pathetic candidate? You bet. I'll see you at the polls, dear readers, or, at the very least, at the poles.



I hope all of you have had a chance to read the marvelous article about and interview with my close personal friend, Mr. Stephen Sondheim that appeared in the New York Times. It was written by their former theater critic Frank Rich and it's the best interview Sondheim has ever given. It's fresh, it's irreverent, and a good deal of fun. He also has a list of "songs I wish I had written", and his list includes some surprising choices. I was happy to see his inclusion of Mr. Maury Yeston's beautiful New Words on the list, as it is a personal favorite of mine. In any case, if you haven't read it yet, perhaps Mr. Mark Bakalor could do one of his handy-dandy link things.

Isn't that amazing? You ask for a link thing, you get a link thing. By the way, I totally agree with Mr. Sondheim about the current state of the musical theater, and I too miss "the good old days". Now, for those of you who might not know Mr. Maury Yeston's New Words, I recommend the recording Unsung Musicals and the definitive performance of Liz Callaway. Until then, here is Mr. Yeston's lovely lyric:

Words and Music by Maury Yeston

Look up there,
High above us,
In a sky of blackest silk.
See how round,
Like a cookie,
See how white - as white as milk.
Call it the moon, my son,
Say "moon".
Sounds like your spoon, my son,
Can you say it?
New word today…
Say "moon".

Near the moon,
Brightly turning,
See the shining sparks of light.
Each one new,
Each one burning,
Through the darkness of the night.
We call them stars, my son,
Say "stars".
That one is Mars, my son,
Can you say it?
New word today,
Say "stars"…

As they blink all around us,
Playing starry-eyed games.
Who would think it astounds us,
Simply naming their names.

Turn your eyes,
From the skies now,
Turn around and look at me.
There's a light,
In my eyes now,
And a word for what you see.
We call it love, my son,
Say "love".
So hard to say, my son,
It gets harder…
New words today,
We'll learn to say,
Learn "moon"
Learn "stars"
Learn "love".

Who wouldn't have wished they'd written that song?



Mr. Mark Bakalor has told me some exciting news. What is that exciting news you might ask and I believe I'll tell you because then you can be excited about the exciting news, which is, after all, the point. Mr. Bakalor has decided that you will be able to buy many cool things right here at the Stephen Sondheim Stage. For example, you will be able to buy your "Real A For President" T-shirts right here. And you will be able to buy books and CDs and DVDs and BVDs and all manner of whatnots. And doodads, let us not forget doodads. You see, Mr. Bakalor is bent on becoming an entrepreneur. Why he is bent on doing this is anyone's guess, as it is much easier to become an entrepreneur whilst standing up straight. Yes, this will be your one-stop online shopping center, dear readers, and I, for one, think it's a splendid idea especially if you are Mr. Mark Bakalor. What do you know? Mr. Mark Bakalor has begun to sell the first batch of t-shirts, already!



In the New York Times article on Mr. Sondheim, Mr. Sondheim cites several Bock and Harnick songs in his "songs I wish I'd have written" list. So, it is only appropriate that this week's What If is a Bock and Harnick What If. What if Bock and Harnick had written A Chorus Line? And it goes something like this (to the tune of Tradition):


A dancer on the stage? Sounds crazy, no? But in our little theater on Broadway, all these boys and girls want is to be dancers on the stage, each of them trying to earn their place in the chorus. It isn't easy. You may ask how do they get there? How do they earn their place? That I can tell you in one word: Audition.




Because of our auditions, dancers are always putting themselves on the line. They wear these leotards and tights, which makes it easier for them to dance.














Of course, not all dancers are made equal. Some have more talent than others. Some are able to pick up the steps faster. For example, there was the time when one thought it was a step and the other thought it was a kick…


It was a step…
It was a kick…
It was a step…
It was a kick…
It was a step - a kick - a step - a kick…
Step - kick - step - kick -
Step kick kick leap kick touch...


Auditions. Without our auditions their lives would be as shaky as… As a dancer on the stage!




Even though I'm still feeling a bit incoherent and obtuse I will try to answer all your letters in a lucid and clear fashion like a see-through midi blouse. Has anyone voted for me yet? In order for me to be President, you must vote. That is a truism, which is better than a falseism in my book (Chapter 643 - A Falseism Isn't Even A Word But If It Were It Still Wouldn't Be As Good As A Truism). In any event (or this event, as it so happens) let's answer some letters, shall we?

Rory wrote (say that very fast ten times in a row) that he's been contemplating who should play Sondheim if a biographical film should be made. He's decided it should be Toby Maguire (Pleasantville, The Cider House Rules). He feels Mr. Maguire could pull off the age span quite well. I myself tried to pull off the age span and had no luck whatsoever. The age span is still stuck right where it was. If anyone out there can pull it off for me I would be most grateful. Rory thinks Stanley Tucci would make a fine James Lapine, in other words, a fine Lapine. If anyone has any other casting suggestions (after you finish casting your votes) please send them along and I'll see if I can get us a deal at Miramax.

Erin just got back from her trip to Southern California where she did not stop by and say hello to my very own self. She did, however, see a production of Sweeney Todd, which she feels is the best musical ever written. She liked some of the people in it more than others, but had a good time anyway. I presume Erin is speaking of the recent production that starred Miss Amanda McBroom and Mr. George Ball (who is married to Miss Amanda McBroom). I heard it was quite marvelous and am sorry to have missed it, as I'm a fan of both Balls. Erin is currently playing one of Will Rogers' Six Single Sisters in the musical The Will Rogers Follies. We wish her much luck in the production.

William F. Orr sent me a trivia question: Do you believe the movie The Body Snatchers was a blatant rip-off of Robert A. Heinlein's The Puppet Masters? William tells me this is a trick question. The trick is does anyone of our dear readers get the trick? I do, but then again, I like trick questions. Here's another trick question: How did he make the rabbit disappear?

jc tells us that she's received her brand spanking new handy-dandy Real A What is it, fish? T-shirt. She put it on and wore it to do some errands. Immediately someone ran up to her and screamed, "What is it, fish?" It turns out that the person was someone who used to read this here column. A person named Mike. Small world, isn't it? Mike no longer reads this column since he started his medical residency. Apparently it is a rule that when you are a medical resident you cannot read this column. jc also sent me a special handy-dandy eValentine, for which I thank her profusely.

Tiffany has still been reading this here column even though she hasn't written in a while. She was sorry to have missed out on the live chat we had, but she simply didn't know about it. Which is why you must always read Finishing The Chat to keep current with the day's events. Tiffany recently bought a George Foreman Griller and likes it very much. My question is, does George Foreman come with the griller. I mean, does he do the actual grilling? Just asking. I recently purchased the Stephen Schwartz Broiler, but that's another story.

Arnold M. Brockman just picked up the cast album to Mr. Andrew (Wild Party I) Lippa's john and jen and thought it wonderful. He asks if The Dead will be recorded by the same company, Varese Sarabande. The answer to that question is no, as Varese Sarabande has decided to not be in the Broadway business anymore. Arnold, as I, thinks Joe Allen is a wonderful restaurant and hopes we will meet there some time. Who knows what the future will bring? Just keep checking Table 20.

Gordon likes the new look here at the Stephen Sondheim Stage. Gordon likes to sing Sondheim to warm up whenever he auditions but does not actually audition with them as he feels that the accompanists have too much trouble playing the Sondheim songs. Francois Truffaut made a film about that very subject, called Shoot The Piano Player.

Jeff is looking for the sheet music to Triumph of Love, especially the song Henchman Are Forgotten. You must go to the Jeffrey Stock Stage to find out information about the shows of Jeffrey Stock. However, I don't believe any of the Triumph music is published.

Jerry is at his wit's end trying to find the lyrics to The Boy From… from The Mad Show. Perhaps one of our dear readers can e-mail the lyrics to Mr. Mark Bakalor who in turn can e-mail the lyrics to Jerry.

Peter is very impressed with this site. He asks if he can acquire Mr. Sondheim's e-mail address or phone number so that he can contact him. As far as I know, Mr. Sondheim still has no e-mail address. To contact him, it is best to write care of The Flora Roberts Agency in New York.

Steve (a new steve, not any of our regular steves) wants to know the status of Wise Guys. According to the NY Times interview, Mr. Sondheim was apparently very disheartened with the recent workshop and feels he wasted a lot of time with Wise Guys. However, he also says that he can't wait to start revising it now that Harold Prince is on board to direct. Certainly it won't be happening this season.

Heather White wrote that Ruthie Henshall is the best musical actress ever. I like Miss Henshall, who, in addition to being a superb performer, is a very sweet human being.

Seth saw Putting It Together. He loved the aforementioned Miss Henshall and liked the non-aforementioned Bronson Pinchot and disliked nearly everything else. Seth recently heard a song by Schmidt and Jones on one of the Unsung Musicals albums. The song is called Roadside and Seth asks if I know what the show it's from (also called Roadside) is about. Other than it being based on something by Lynn Riggs, no, other than it just had a reading at the York Theater.

Seagull has been reading a lot of the old columns and loves this here letters section because she feels it makes us all one big happy family. I feel that way, too. Seagull is fifteen years of age and has just started studying piano. That is, coincidentally, the same age that I started studying the piano. Seagull wants to know if there's anyone who has not gotten involved with music until their teens who went on to become a good composer? I'm certain there are. It doesn't really matter when you start studying if you have a gift for melody and the ability to learn the form in which you wish to write. Seagull asks how she can get one of her own Real A T-shirts. She can mail her address to Mr. Bakalor and we can see about getting her one. After we send out this one, I'm afraid we'll have run out. However, Mr. Bakalor has asked if he can carry them at his online store, so if anyone wants one in the future that is where to look. Seagull also sent me an e-card, which was very very sweet of her to do.

Richard enjoys parody lyrics and enjoyed the Irving Berlin what if. He asks if we have all of our others gathered in one convenient place. I believe that's a question for Mr. Mark Bakalor.

[Mr. Mark Bakalor replies: The answerr, at least at the moment, is no.]

That Mark Bakalor... a man of few words.

It might be of interest that we are toying with the idea of putting together all the what ifs and the Gluckman & Fitz songs into a musical revue. What do you think of that idea?

Prouvaire recently played Hysterium in Forum and had a blast. He's got several auditions coming up and we wish him well in all of them.

PatLaceyBulb asks what musicals did David Lynch regular composer Angelo Badalamenti write. I don't know that he's written any, but of course I could be wrong. I don't even have an inkling, or, for that matter, a penciling.

Alan, an up-and-coming actor asks if I have any advice about meeting Mr. Sondheim. Other than hanging around the East Side in the upper 40s, you might drop him a line care of the Flora Roberts Agency in New York. He's very good about answering his correspondence, and he does, from time to time, meet admirers.

Karen, in answer to dear reader Anita's query way back in Column 59, tells us that Dale Soules of The Magic Show is alive and well and is still performing, twice recently for Karen herself. Sadly, Doug Henning, the star of The Magic Show, recently passed away.

Margie H. asks where she might find the lyric to I Remember from Evening Primrose. I believe it's been published in several Sondheim sheet music books.

Alan G. has received his very belated fish poster (his prize for writing our 2000th e-mail) and is very happy with it. He promises to send us an activity photo of said poster.

Send all email to me at or use the form below...

Send The Real A Some Email:



Questions? Comments?


Well, dear readers, I must go rest. As you know I recently put my head through a wall (not to mention landing on my elbow and my back) so it's hard for me to sit for too long and write. I must go lie on the floor, which causes me some comfort. I promise to write the next column in a more timely fashion, perhaps a one-piece bathing suit with stripes. Hopefully, in our next column I will be less incoherent and obtuse. Perhaps I will be coherent and tuse. Don't forget we must get the word out that I am running for President. By the way, I'll need a running mate and a first lady. Or man. For now, I'll content myself by looking at a can of Rosarita Traditional Refried Beans.


Until next time, I am, as I ever was, and ever shall be...

Yours, yours, yours, yours, yours.

The Real A

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