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

April 24, 2000 - #106

Well, dear readers, what was I to do? There I was, sitting on my couch like so much fish, in a proverbial pickle. Not an antiverbial pickle, mind you, no, I was in a proverbial pickle, not to mention a conventional dither. I mean, I was not intending to write another column for two more weeks, and yet I felt compelled to write another column. Have you ever felt compelled? Was "compelled" okay about being felt? Just asking. Anyway, there I was, in a proverbial pickle (no mean feat) of a conventional dither. After all, I'd just returned from New York and Las Vegas. And on top of that, it was Passover and Easter. How could we pass over Easter and easter Passover without a column? What would we do with all our gaily colored eggs and gaily colored matzo without a column? Not to mention the fact that I am currently running for President and must keep myself in the public eye. Yes, the public I must be in the public eye, lest the public eye forget about the public I. Is anyone starting to think I should have waited two more weeks to write this column? Frankly, I don't know what the hell I'm talking about, but since when has that stopped me? Besides, I just didn't feel like being in a proverbial pickle or a conventional dither. So, hither with the dither and on with the column.

Have I mentioned that I just returned from New York and Las Vegas? I have, and I am here to tell the tale. Not only that, I am also here to tell the tail. Why should I tell the tale and leave the tail in the dark? That would be unseemly, tale/tail-wise. Whilst in New York I saw four-count-them four shows and ate many meals at our very own Joe Allen (Table 20, of course). I even met one of our very own dear readers outside Joe Allen. Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, I met one of our very own, the lovely jc, who was standing outside the restaurant. When she saw me exiting, she blurted out a hale and hearty and also hearty and hale "Fish". I chastised her for not joining my party at Table 20, but she said she wasn't certain if I would appreciate company. Since this is the Stephen Sondheim Stage, and since Mr. Stephen Sondheim is a close personal friend of mine, of course I would appreciate Company. If anyone sees me sitting at Table 20 in Joe Allen, you just mosey right on over, pull up a chair, and order some what is it, fish. I'll talk about the shows later in the column, but for now I'll share my hotel story with you.

As luck would have it, I couldn't get either of my usual handy-dandy hotels as they were full up on account of some conventions being in town. So, I found myself at a hotel called the Flatotel on 52nd Street between 6th and 7th. A fine neighborhood and the hotel seemed perfectly okay. A bit pricey for just a room, but it was the only game in town (at my usual hotels, The Doubletree and the Empire, one gets a suite for less money than a room at the Flatotel). I was shown to my room, which was fairly large with a nice big bed. I didn't have time to check it out closely as I had to rush out for a meeting. When I returned to the room late that night, I noticed some odd things. First of all, there was no chair in the room. Just the bed. Now, I don't know about you, dear readers, but for $250 a night, I like a nice chair in the room. The next thing I noticed was that there was no clock in the room. Now, I don't know about you, dear readers, but for $250 a night, I like a nice clock in the room. I called down to the front desk and said, "Excuse me for living, but there's no clock in this room". The person at the front desk answered, "Oh, those rooms don't have clocks". I said, "Well, how do you expect me to know what the fershluganah time is unless I have a fershluganah clock?" She agreed to call the house staff and get me one. No clock ever showed up. In the morning, I got up and went to take a shower. I turned on the shower spigot all the way, so that the water would be nice and hot. I came back five minutes later and felt the water, which was nice and cold. I waited another five minutes. Still nice and cold. Now, I don't know about you, dear readers, but for $250 a night, I like my water to be nice and hot. I called down to the front desk and said, "Excuse me for living, not only do I not have a clock and a chair, I don't have hot water". The person at the front desk said someone would come up and check it out. Fifteen minutes later no one had shown up. I called down to the front desk and said, "Excuse me for living, but fifteen minutes ago you said someone would come up here and get me some hot water." The person at the front desk said, "Oh, haven't they gotten there yet? They'll be right up." Fifteen minutes later no one had shown up and the water was still cold. I called down to the front desk and said, "Excuse me for living, but no one has shown up to fix the hot water. I am now going to take a cold shower. In approximately fifteen minutes I will come down, and I will want to be having a conversation with the manager. It may not be fifteen minutes exactly because I have no way of knowing what fifteen minutes exactly is because I have no clock. Nonetheless, have the manager waiting for my arrival in fifteen minutes." I took a cold shower, dressed, and went downstairs, where the manager was waiting. I locked eyes with him and I said, "Excuse me for living, but I have stayed in a lot of hotels in my life and I have never been in a room that didn't have a chair, a clock, and hot water, especially not a room with a $250 price tag. Furthermore, the nice big bed that I was so impressed with has turned out to be two smaller beds pushed together. Everytime I turned over I found myself falling into a valley between the two beds. Therefore, I got very little sleep. This morning I was told twice that someone would come up to fix the hot water which was cold and twice no one showed up. I am not happy." He saw that look in my eye, and said, "Would you like to change rooms?" I said, "Yes, that might be a good idea." Being a smart manager, he did the right thing. And so, I ended up in a huge one bedroom suite with a full kitchen, two bathrooms and hot water ($600 a night, but I was only charged the $250). Isn't that a happy ending to an endless story? In any case, the trip was lovely; I saw lots of friends and had lots of meetings.

Now, on to other matters. I am in a jam, dear readers. Yes, you heard it here, I am not only in a proverbial pickle and conventional dither, I am in a jam. I got tired of being in a pickle, which was, frankly, a bit sour for my taste, so I decided to be in a jam which is much sweeter, if a bit gooey (yeoog spelled backwards). Perhaps I'll be in a tuna casserole next. Anyway, as most of you know, I am currently running for President of the United States of America and environs, such as Boise. The thing that is irritating me about this is that the other candidates don't even seem to be aware that I'm running for President. They don't talk about me, they don't take notice of me, they think I'm nothing but an insignificant ort. We must show them otherwise, dear readers, otherwise I will not be elected, and we simply cannot have that, can we? We must stand up and be counted. We must be heard. Our voices must rise in unity and sing endless choruses of "Can You Hear The People Sing" until the people hear our message loud and clear and also clear and loud. On another note (F#) I want to assure everyone that there is no truth to the vicious rumor that I once beat a pelican into unconsciousness. I will admit to beating a piece of whitefish into unconsciousness, but frankly, the whitefish deserved it. I've also had several requests asking to know where I stand on the issues. Well, I stand on issues of People in my living room. I stand on issues of Time and Newsweek in my yard. Why this incessant need to know where I stand on issues? I'll stand on issues anywhere I damn well please, be it Pacoima or Duarte or even Bakersfield. I am willing to meet the other candidates and enter into meaningful debate. I will debate the word "meaningful" until the cows come home, and I will win the debate because frankly I know from meaningful. Speaking of meaningful, I believe Mr. Mark Bakalor has been designing some meaningful "The Real A for President" buttons. Perhaps he'd like to share them with us now.


Those are definitely meaningful buttons. I'm not certain I like the colors, though, as I prefer red buttons. Does anyone have a clue what the hell this column is about? If so, please keep it to yourself as I enjoy being in the dark, what-this-column-is-about-wise. Well, perhaps we'd better move on because frankly this section of the column is starting to feel like Mr. Mandy Patinkin's performance in The Wild Party: Loud and out-of-control. But enough about me.

The Shows

Whilst in the city known as New York, I took in some musical theater. Here is my report on said theater.

The first show I saw was the still in previews revival of The Music Man. Let me say right off the bat that I love The Music Man. I think The Music Man is just about perfect. A simply wonderful feel-good show with a phenomenal score. So, there was no way I wasn't going to have a good time. And, wouldn't you know a good time is exactly what I had. If they do what needs to be done, I think it will be a big hit. If they don't, it still will do okay, because The Music Man is one of the most audience-friendly shows of all time. The production, at least in the second week of previews, is still spotty and finding its way. I wasn't that fond of the sets, which seemed cumbersome and a bit Crazy For You-ish. The cast was, for the most part, perfectly swell. Mr. Craig Bierko, while not an obvious choice to play Professor Harold Hill (he's the youngest Professor Hill I've seen), does fine - he's engaging, with a winning smile and much charm. He sort of combines the spirit of Robert Preston with his own boyishness, and it works. I really liked Rebecca Luker as Marian the Librarian. She chooses to play Marian very dourly throughout most of the first act, so that when she falls under the spell of Hill, she just blooms and becomes radiant. She also sings the score like a dream. The barbershop quartet is wonderful as is Ruth Williamson as Eulalie McKechnie Shinn. While she doesn't have the oddness of Hermoine Gingold (the definitive Mrs. Shinn), she wrings every ounce of humor out of the role. The rest of the cast pours forth much energy and good will, and the little boy who plays Winthrop is terrific. In fact, the only cast member who didn't cut it for me was Max Cassella as Marcellus Washburn. He's just too slight, too unfunny, and too charmless. It's a casting decision that is not only harmful but makes no sense. Which brings us to the person responsible for the casting - director/choreographer Susan Stroman. I am a fan of Ms. Stroman, so it came as something of a surprise just how mundane her work was. I'm certain she's honing and fine tuning so maybe it will all turn out right in the end. But her dances just aren't a patch on the butt cheeks of Onna White's originals. Her staging is very lax at this point (the show ran close to three hours and could stand to lose a good twenty minutes, just in tightening). That said, her clever hat trick during the overture is terrific, and her curtain call is priceless. If only the rest of the show were as cleverly done. That brings me to my one real caveat: the orchestrations. Why is it that every revival has to have "new" orchestrations? I can understand if the originals have not stood the test of time, but Don Walker's work was/is superb, as are film composer Laurence Rosenthal's brilliant dance arrangements. The "new" orchestrations by Doug Besterman just don't hold a candle to the "old". Oh, they're bouncy and okay but they lack magic. The new dance arrangements are not nearly as good as Mr. Rosenthal's. However, those are minor nitpicks, and despite the roughness, I enjoyed myself thoroughly, as did the entire audience. Mr. Bierko may well end up as a major Broadway matinee idol if the screams coming from the younger female members of the audience are any indication.

The next afternoon I saw the revival of the show known as Kiss Me Kate. Kiss Me Kate has never been one of my favorites, but this revival is so superb in every way, that one simply has to give oneself over to it. Every aspect of the production works. The sets are great, the sound is great, and the band is great. Michael Blakemore, the director, is one of the best comedy directors working today. Not only do we get the beautiful Cole Porter songs, we get laughs - real honest-to-God laughs. This show also has "new" orchestrations, but in this case Don Sebesky has completely rethought them and they are fantastic. Vibrant, exciting and exquisitely beautiful. The performances are everything one could hope for. Brian "Stokes" Mitchell is big and bombastic, although I wished he had better comedy timing. He sang well enough, but did not erase the memory of better voices having done the role (Howard Keel and Alfred Drake). Marin Mazzie does wonders with Lily - we all knew she could sing the hell out of it, but who knew she could be so damn funny? Everyone else in the cast shines, especially Lee Wilkof and the other "gangster" (Michael somebody - don't have my program in front of me) and Michael Barresse, who does one of the most amazing dance stunts I've ever seen (I will not be giving it away here - you simply have to see it for yourself). The choreography of Kathleen Marshall also surprised me, as I've always found her work a bit summer stockish. In fact, her dances have all the zing and pizzazz that Stroman's Music Man dances lack. A wonderful show and one you shouldn't miss.

That evening I went to see the Michael John La Chiusa version of The Wild Party. I didn't get to see the Andrew Lippa version of The Wild Party, so I can't make any comparisons of how the source material was handled. May I just say here and now and also now and here that I really don't care for this kind of musical theater? Musicals can be bold, adventurous, exciting; they can take chances (see anything by Sondheim), but by George or by Phil Mr. La Chiusa's work is just like fingernails on a blackboard to me. His music seems to be purposely obtuse, purposely tuneless and purposely dissonant. I understand that he was actually forced to but endings on numbers, so awful was the reaction during previews. I don't mean to be harsh, but I'm tired of musical theater that is an ordeal to sit through. I just listened to Mr. La Chiusa's Marie Christine and I could barely get through it. It's no wonder that audiences flock to revivals. They may be old-fashioned, but at least they have songs and books. Company was bold, Follies was bold, but they have songs and they have books. And tunes. And form. In The Wild Party, Mr. La Chiusa has discovered the sharped ninth and it seems to be the whole reason for his score. Well, you get the idea. I didn't care for it. That said, George Wolfe's direction is fine and the show "sounds" good. The orchestrations by Bruce Coughlin are top-notch and the musical direction by Todd Ellison is superb (a terrific band - I just wish they were playing something else). Toni Colette is wonderful as Queenie ("Queenie was a blonde" they sing over and over, so many times that I began to long for "I, I'm Martin Guerre") and she has a terrific voice. I was surprised that within the first five minutes of the show she removed her top and showed her breasts to the audience (down front and brightly lit), but show them she did. Marc Kudish is very good and he too showed his breasts and even a bit of his right butt cheek. Sally Murphy looks like she wandered in from the road company of Cabaret, and she too removes her top (upstage and not brightly lit). Eartha Kitt is Eartha Kitt and is always grand to watch and hear. Then there is Mandy. What is one to make of Mandy? It's almost like he's someone from Forbidden Broadway doing a parody of Mandy. It's one of the most obnoxious performances I've ever seen on the stage. The show is two hours sans intermission, and although I know they cut twenty minutes during previews, it's still too long. The real problem is that we simply don't care about anyone on that stage (I know we're supposed to feel a little something for Queenie, but I certainly didn't). The best thing about the entire evening was that I sat next to someone who definitely knows how to write a theater song - Mr. Fred Ebb. By the end of the evening his toupee was standing on end.

The next night I saw something called Blood On The Dining Room Floor - a sort of chamber opera art piece by Jonathan Sheffer. It was beautifully sung, but I'm afraid it was all a bit too arch for me. It had something to do with Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, and it too was intermisionless. It was opening night, however, so we did get to sample some lovely cheese slices and ham chunks after the show.

And there you have my report. I hope everyone realizes that the opinions expressed are mine own and you are free to agree or disagree, although if I'm elected President I'll be right and you'll be wrong. By the way, I was thinking of having Michael John La Chiusa write my campaign song. Oh, wait a minute, I'm just getting some e-mail. Let's see who it's from, shall we?

Date: Sun, 23 Apr 2000 00:19:08 -0700 (PDT)
To: The Real A <>

Dear Real A:

I am Michael John La Chiusa and I wrote The Wild Party. I just wanted you to know I was indeed forced to put endings on the Wild Party numbers. They threatened me. They said they would remove all my sharped ninth chords. I believe that no song should have an ending and yet I was not willing to have my sharped ninth chords removed, so I gave them what they wanted, I gave them endings and now the audience applauds and I think that stinks. I believe audiences should never applaud. It breaks the mood, and in my work mood is everything. Mood, mood, mood. I know certain critics have said my shows are filled with doom, doom, doom, but what is doom, doom, doom but mood, mood, mood spelled backwards (yes, I too read your stupid column). Frankly, I don't care if you like my shows or not. I've read your column and you should not be criticizing anyone. I am the future of the musical and that is all there is too it. In fact, I intend to rewrite all the classic musicals, because I cannot abide scores with songs and endings. The first show I'm rewriting is Oklahoma! by those old fuddy-duddies Rodgers and Hammerstein. Have you listened to that score? Songs, songs, songs when there should be mood, mood, mood. I'm happy to be able to share with your readers my opening number from Michael John La Chiusa's Oklahoma (no exclamation point, please). In the opening scene, Aunt Eller appears through arty lighting, stares at the audience, and sings:

(dissonant chord)
This is the story,
Of Curly and Laurie.
They fell in love in a hurry,
While taking a ride in a surrey.
And Jud, he got so jealous
Or so those Okies tell us

Laurie and Curly
And Jud, who was surly.
'Cause Curly was taking his Laurie,
The story is gonna get gory.
Jud'll kill Curly with no warning,
Then he'll sing,
Yes, he'll sing,
Oh, What A Beautiful Mourning

(sharped ninth chord)
In Oklahoma
In Oklahoma
Where they do not throw bouquets
In Oklahoma
In Oklahoma
Not Missouri or Kentucky
Not in Texas where it's yucky
And if Jud gets really lucky
He'll put Curly in a coma...
For the rest of his days...
In a coma
In Oklahoma
In a coma
In Oklahoma

(she continues to sing Oklahoma because the song doesn't end, it merely leads into the next song, which I'm working on right now - it's called People Will Say We're In Love Even Though It's None of Their #@%!king Business).

We're going to premiere the show at the Public Theater, because they love my work, even though they forced me to put endings on my music in The Wild Party so that the audience can applaud and feel like they're at a real musical. Feh on that.

Michael John La Chiusa

Thank you, Michael John, for taking time out of your busy schedule from writing sharped ninth chords, to give us a preview of you interesting new take on Oklahoma (no exclamation point).

Las Vegas

No sooner had I returned from my New York jaunt than I up and left again, this time for Las Vegas. Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, I up and left for Las Vegas. Not down and right, mind you, no, I up and left. First of all, I haven't been to Las Vegas for twelve years. May I just say that the city I visited twelve years ago is no longer there? What is there is a whole new city, a desert Disneyland, a weird amalgam of adult and kid theme park. The Las Vegas I grew up with has gone missing and so has its charm. Now we have gargantuan hotels like New York, New York (talk about weird), Paris, Orleans, Belagio, and many many others. Huge elephantine palaces, gaudy and overdone and beloved by all who visit.

How did I come to be in Las Vegas? Well, it was a birthday present from two years ago that I never had time to cash in. My friend had planned this, but we were both so busy we just kept putting it off and putting it off. But some mysterious event that was to happen made the trip a must.

We stayed at the Orleans Hotel. As the taxi pulled up, I knew instantly what the mysterious event was, because there, as big as life, on the marquee was the name Jerry Lewis. Yes, we were going to a special screening of Jerry's classic The Errand Boy and Jerry would be there in person to answer any and all questions. Hooray, thought I.

I arrived at about two in the afternoon, checked in, and then my friend and I went to the restaurant where we lunched. After lunch, we, of course, spent time in the casino. I immediately put a quarter into a poker machine and won five quarters. I was off to a merry start, gambling-wise. I followed my friend to the craps tables. My friend is a big craps player. He loves craps. I myself have never played craps. I tend to stay away from things that have names like "craps". Of course, craps is a coprophiliac's favorite gambling game. My friend was determined that I learn how to play craps. So, he put in forty bucks, I put in forty bucks, and I stood next to him and watched him play. First, he put a chip on the pass line. I didn't know what the pass line was, but since the game is called "craps" I had an idea. Then someone rolled the dice. Apparently, if the number seven or eleven comes up at this stage of the game, you win. The number eight came up. That number now becomes what the shooter has to roll. My friend put more chips behind the chip on the pass line. I didn't know what that meant either, but it looked aesthetically pleasing. Now, at this point the shooter threw the dice. I said, "go seven or eleven". This was the wrong thing to say. Even though one short roll ago we all wanted a seven or eleven, we now didn't want a seven or eleven. We wanted anything but a seven or eleven, because if a seven or eleven happened to come up a mean man would take away our aesthetically pleasing chip configuration. In any case, the shooter rolled an eight, the very number he was supposed to roll. Suddenly there were more chips next to our pass line chips and more chips next to the chips in back of the pass line. Suddenly I was beginning to like craps. My friend then took away all the chips save for two on the pass line. We were ahead, he told me. The next roll of the dice brought a seven, and we got more chips. The next roll of the dice brought a four. The shooter now had to make a four. My friend but a big stack of chips in back of the pass line and more chips on the numbers six and eight. I didn't know from the six and eight, but I kept my mouth shut so that no one would look at me as if I was an open wound. The shooter then rolled a six. My friend then told the man with the chips, "press the six". Obviously, the man with the chips knew what that meant, but it was yet another enigma to me. The shooter then rolled a seven. Suddenly all those nice chips, the ones on the pass line, the ones behind the pass line, the ones that were pressed, all went away. I was beginning to understand the game - sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Anyway, we ended up winning a few bucks. Wasn't that a good craps story? I actually got to throw the dice when it came to be my turn. What I learned is that you may only pick up the dice with one hand. The way in which I learned this was that my other hand inadvertently touched the dice and the whole table reacted as if I was a Nazi war criminal. Men in suits came over to the table and looked at me askance. Apparently, if more than one hand touches the dice they think you might be substituting a pair of loaded dice. Apparently, I was in a pickle and a jam, because more than one of my hands had touched the dice. I explained to everyone that I didn't know from loaded dice and everyone calmed down. In any case, except for my minor lapse in craps manners, a good time was had by all except for the fellow who dropped fifteen hundred bucks in twelve minutes.

We then went to the screening of The Errand Boy, which was as funny as ever. Then Jerry came out for the question and answer session. He looked great (he's 74!) and was very amusing. His cute seven-year-old daughter was in the audience and she is clearly the world to him. Very, very sweet. The film and Mr. Lewis were a total delight.

Afterwards, my friend and I ate a huge and delicious dinner. We returned to the craps tables and played for a bit longer. This time I actually laid down my own bets, and I won about sixty dollars (we were down a hundred from the money I'd let him play with). I then discovered a Monopoly machine. I put my nickel in and immediately won. Within a half-hour I cashed out and filled a cup with over three hundred nickels (about fifteen bucks). The next day we played a little more craps and then left for the airport. At the airport, I won five more dollars on a poker machine. All in all, it was a lovely if brief trip and I shall always treasure my first experience partaking of craps.

The What If Dept.

As a special Passover/Easter present, here is a brand spanking new What If: What if Stephen Sondheim had written Bye, Bye Birdie? And it goes something like this (to the tune of Company):

Birdie, Birdie,
Birdie baby, Birdie buby-
Conrad, Conrad darling -
Birdie I've got something to tell you,
Birdie they are going to draft you...
Birdie they are going to take you away,
Birdie there is something we wanted to say...
Birdie honey, Birdie fella, is it Bye Bye?
Birdie darling, Birdie buby, I'm gonna cry -
Birdie babe I need you to help me
Have you ever heard of Sweet Apple?
Birdie can you go there on Saturday night?
Birdie if you can things will turn out all right!
Birdie can you go to Sweet Apple,
And while you're there sing a song?
Birdie will you go to Sweet Apple
And kiss a girl named Kim,
Please kiss a girl named Kim,
She loooooooooooooves you...

Hips thrust, groin moves, in comes Conrad B.
Girls lust, he grooves, in comes Conrad B.
One tune, they swoon, happily
They gawk, they talk - telephone calls...
They scheme, they dream when they see
Conrad's photos up on their walls.
So cute,
So cute, look at those lips,
So cute, shaking those hips,
Our Conrad is cute - and we're his
Good and crazy people his fans!
Those good and crazy people his teenage fans!
And that's what it's all about, isn't it?
That's what it's really about, isn't it?
That's what it's really about, really about...
Conrad B!
Conrad B!
We love Conrad B.
We need Conrad B.
We want Conrad B.
Conrad B.


Yes, while I was off playing craps and seeing shows, we got letters. While I answer them, I want you all to know that I am cooking an artichoke. Why I want you to know this I have no idea. But somehow it seems important that you know I am cooking an artichoke. I would also like to know why the word "artichoke" exists. And so I made it my business to find out why the word artichoke exists. You see, one fine day, a fine fellow named Artie Fungrum discovered in his vegetable garden a strange and new vegetable. Where this strange and new vegetable came from he had no idea, but there it was nevertheless. It appeared to be some kind of mutant vegetable and Artie Fungrum was not a man who took kindly to mutant vegetables. He yanked the mutant vegetable out of the ground and began to strangle it. At that very moment, his neighbor, Miss Henrietta Pilf, came out and saw what he was doing. She yelled at him haughtily, "Artie Fungrum, you stop choking that mutant vegetable this very minute". Later that day, Mr. Fungrum named his mutant vegetable the "arti-choke" (he later got rid of the hyphen for he was not a man who took kindly to hyphens) and the rest is history. Why am I talking about an artichoke when there are letters to answer? And if I don't answer the letters then I shall be in a pickle, a jam, and a conventional dither, all whilst eating my very own mutant vegetable.

Owen sent me this lovely activity photo of Leonard Bernstein. Its meaning will become immediately apparent to loyal readers of this here column.


William F. Orr informs me that even though the domain name was taken by that nefarious Japanese person, the domain name is available. That is very exciting news indeed and now it appears that I can have my very own website if I so choose. In answer to PatLaceyBulb's query about film composer Angelo Badalamente (Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet, etc.) William F. Orr provided many of Mr. Badalamente's credits, but none for the musicals that Mr. LaceyBulb was seeking. I was especially impressed by the depth of Mr. Orr's research, including the fact that Mr. Badalamente has written under the name Andy Badale. Alex asks if there are any plans afoot or ahand to reissue either the Passion CD or the Sweeney Todd video. I for one (or two) find it odd that Angel would let the Passion CD go out of print, but what do I know, other than that the artichoke is a mutant vegetable? I'd heard that the Sweeney video would be released on DVD, but thus far that information has not proved to be true.

PatLaceyBulb informs me that the only Angelo Badalamente (aka Andy Badale) musical he has information on is called Gooch - The Musical (he also mentions Industrial Symphony #1, but that is hardly a musical). Pat (aka Gav Badale) is certain there are others and will continue his search.

Lindsey is writing a paper on Sondheim and needs to know how West Side Story influenced his life and his works. She has to write six pages on this topic and needs lots of information ASAP. Other than the fact that it made him wealthy for life, I'm not quite certain what effect it had on his life and his works. Perhaps our resident know-it-all, Mr. Mark Bakalor, could enlighten us. (Mr. Mark Bakalor, "Flora Roberts Inc. 157 West 57th Street, Penthouse A, New York NY 10019.") Remember not to send it directly to Ms. Roberts as she is no longer among the living and will not respond very quickly.

Julee is looking for information and hopefully a website for actor James D. Clow, who appeared in Company (he was standby for Boyd Gaines at the Roundabout). Julee is in the process of setting up his "official" website and I suppose wants to quash any "unofficial" websites. I don't know of any James D. Clow website. If one of our dear readers knows differently, speak up now or forever hold your tongue.

Gordon writes to tell me that he rhymes all the time and proceeded to do that very thing in his letter. Apparently, it is driving everyone around him insane. Certainly it drove me insane, but then again that is a very short drive. Gordon is a Canadian with Sondheim on the brain. I personally have mutant vegetables on the brain, but that is another story.

Seagull asks if I've read the Harry Potter books. I've read the first one and found it very enjoyable. I have the others and will get to them soon, right after I finish the eight hundred-page biography of film director Sergio Leone (I'm on page one). Seagull also asks what I think of William Finn. Well, for whatever it's worth, I like Mr. Finn better than I like Mr. La Chiusa. Although Mr. La Chiusa's mutant Oklahoma (no exclamation point) does sound promising.

Pitgirl is back and is sorry for the extended hiatus. By the way, the Extended Hiatus is a mutant flower, and is quite beautiful, hence there is no reason to be sorry for it. Pitgirl has been learning Japanese, marching in bands and has been in tech rehearsals for How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying and we, of course, wish her well.

Jed posits that if I have a landslide victory I might be able to find a spot in my cabinet for a "lowly college bum from the Northwest" such as himself. I think that is a splendid idea. First off, I have found a spot in my cabinet and I've tried everything to get it off, but the spot remains, so Jed is in luck. He can be secretary of the cabinet spot.

Chuck thanks me for the response regarding the concert version of Assassins, but could not find an address for the Flora Roberts Agency. Perhaps Mr. Mark Bakalor can provide it this time. (Mr. Mark Bakalor, "Already did, six letters up!") Last time Mr. Bakalor's head was in the clouds and neglected to include the address.

S. Woody White agrees with me in my assessment of the musical known as Martin Guerre ("I, I'm Martin Guerre"). S. Woody and his beloved der Brucer attended the play known as Metamorphoses at the Mark (not Bakalor) Taper Forum and loved it.

Rafael recently went to Singapore (did he meet Wu Shenling from last week and purchase any wooden hangars? Just asking). He also went to Taipei on a work-related mission to meet Christina Aguilera, the former Mouseketeer. While in Taipei Rafael went to the night market, which is, I suppose, a whole different beast than the day market. The market had tons of fresh seafood, including fresh seashells marinated in vinegar. It is not clear to me if there was/is anything inside the seashells, or if one is just supposed to eat the seashells all by their lonesome. Rafael also informs me that Miss Saigon will be coming to Manila (in a Manila envelope?) later this year. Prior to its arrival, the original star of Miss Saigon will be appearing in a revival of They're Playing Our Song. Rafael asks what I think of They're Playing Our Song. I think it's slight but fun. He also asks what I think of William Finn's Falsetto trilogy. I like quite a bit of it just fine.

Prouvaire hasn't written in a while, but tells me he and his cronies still keep up with the column. Prouvaire has been busy appearing in shows, most recently in Angels in America.

Trivia And Other Useless Knowledge

Yes, dear readers, it's the return of the trivia section. When I decided to stop writing the column on a weekly basis, I thought it would be best to drop the trivia section. But you dear readers have demanded its return and so, here it is. Special thanks to our very own jc for passing on this trivia question (originally posed to her by our very own Alan):

An actor who created a leading role in a Sondheim show was once in a show in which, when he left the show, he was replaced by Dom DeLuise. Name the actor and the show in which he was replaced by Mr. DeLuise.

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Questions? Comments?

Well, dear readers, I am no longer in a proverbial pickle, a conventional dither or a jam. That is because I have both written a new column and eaten a mutant vegetable. I have decided to make mutant vegetables a major part of my presidential campaign. I believe the people have a right and also a left to know about such mutant vegetables as the eggplant. We know all about the people who invented the atom bomb, but virtually nothing is known about the genius who crossed an egg with a bush and inadvertently invented the eggplant. I intend to rectify that situation.

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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Recently Overheard...
Assassins is about how society interprets the American Dream, marginalizes outsiders and rewrites and sanitizes its collective history. "Something Just Broke" is a major distraction and plays like an afterthought, shoe horned simply to appease. The song breaks the dramatic fluidity and obstructs the overall pacing and climactic arc which derails the very intent and momentum that makes this work so compelling...”
- Mark Bakalor

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“I found [the Sondheim Celebration's Company] to be completely delightful. Almost all of the numbers excited and energized me, and most of the scenes were about as pitch-perfect as you can get. I just sat there with a big smile on my face the whole show.

Which is not to say that it is perfect...”
- popcornonmyknees

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Elaine Stritch
With three hand-held cameras, one major theatrical milestone and nearly nineteen hours of footage, this rare and intimate look with Original Cast Album - Company is a must for any Sondheim fan.

DVD: $26.96
VHS: $24.95

One of Sondheim's most beloved works is sure to be Sunday in the Park with George, available on DVD, video tape, and CD.

CD: $13.99
DVD: $25.49
VHS: $19.98

Nathan Lane
All Sondheim completists are sure to now own the first complete recording of The Frogs coupled with Evening Primrose. Do you?

CD: $18.97

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