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

October 6, 1997 - #3

Happy October everyone. My stomach is growling, isn't that annoying? I hate when that happens. Especially in public. People look at you as if you were a fetid wart. But enough about me.

There are currently two new musicals previewing on Broadway. There have been many posts about both on various newsgroups, and the reports vary wildly. According to some, Side Show is a magnificent work of art, brilliant beyond belief and a major new American musical which will give Ragtime a run for its money. According to others, it's a floating turd with lousy sets, awful lyrics and servicable to good music. The consensus on the cast is very positive, with glowing reports for Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner as the Hilton Sisters. Who is right? Well, only time, critics and audience reaction will tell. The other show is Triumph of Love, which is getting very mixed reaction, too. There are many backstage machinations going on, which is making it none too pleasant for some of the cast. Again, only time will tell.

Last week I said to stay tuned for information as to who The Real A is. Well, I just happen to have a lyric all about The Real A sitting right here. And it just happens to fit the tune of You Must Meet My Wife. What a coincidence! And it goes something like this:

A male or a female?
The Real A plays fair.
The Real A could be a she-male,
But let's not go there.
The answer to the query: who might I be?
The Real A is me!

The Real A's a human,
The Real A's a snot.
The Real A looks like Paul Newman,
Well, sort of...well, NOT!
I think with all these clues you'd have to agree;
The Real A is Really Me.

Some think that I am full of ego,
Full of other things I can't say here.
Would you be sad if you saw me go,
Well, I'm here and I'm crowing, I'm going to
Stay here!

The Real A is charming,
The Real A is nuts!
The Real A can be disarming,
Or be quite a putz.
When all is said and done the one I must be...
The Real A? Quite simply: Me.

Hope that takes care of that! Well, you won't believe it, but the feud continues! That's right, the songwriting war between Steve and Sir Andrew is waging. Salvos have been fired. First Steve wrote:

Somebody force him to stop,
Somebody give him a clue.
Somebody shoot up a flare
And tell him it's true
And, make him aware
Of being a hack...
Being a hack...

Somebody take him away,
Somebody tell him he bites.
Somebody shout to the crowd,
And put it in lights,
And yell it out loud
He's being a hack...
Being a hack...

Okay, he's rich,
What they prefer.
Ain't life a bitch,
Plus he's a "Sir"!
But the Sir's
Not a Sir
Just a hack!

Somebody get me a gun,
Somebody please pull the plug!
Somebody take Cats away,
And close up the RUG,
And then make him pay
For being a hack...
Being a hack...

Then wouldn't you know it, Andrew fired back:

No more talk of Sondheim,
I've had it up to here.
Your songs? Strictly from hunger,
I'm better and I'm younger.
So, say you'll stop that noise you call composing,
Say you'll spare us the cacophony.
Save the inner rhymes cause no one's
Please put Wise Guys in the loo,
Stephen, that's all I ask of you.

My God, when will it all stop??? They're both so damnably clever. Still, I can't imagine there'd be more to say on the subject, but you never know. These two boys are volatile!

I had occasion to recently listen to various versions of Follies (The Real A's favorite Sondheim show), which was fascinating. They all have interesting moments, but after hearing them all, I'm convinced we don't have a definitive Follies recording. That said, I still feel the OBC, as truncated as it is, is still the best bet, performance-wise. To hear Dorothy Collins sing Don't Look At Me, In Buddy's Eyes, Too Many Mornings, and Losing My Mind is as good as it gets. She is so heartbreaking, and her voice is so perfect for those songs. Considering that prior to Follies, she hadn't done much acting, the performance is all the more amazing. A long way from Your Hit Parade. Alexis Smith is wonderfully caustic, Gene Nelson is terrific as is John McMartin. The rest of the cast is fantastic, and I have a special place in my heart for Ethel Shutta's Broadway Baby. Oh, if only they'd recorded this complete. Buy it anyway, it's the one to own.

In my initial column I promised recipes, so here's one you'll enjoy. It's really inexpensive and very filling. Even though it will sound like something you wouldn't give to your pet, trust The Real A... It's delicious. My stomach's growling just thinking about it:

The Real A's Wacky Noodles

1 pound wide egg noodles
1 pint (8oz.) sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom soup
Minced dried onions
2 tbspns ketchup
1 cup milk
salt and pepper

Boil the noodles, drain and put back in the pot. Add soup, a generous helping of minced dried onions, the milk and salt and pepper to taste. Mix together, then heat. Add the ketchup. Continue heating. (The ketchup is a flavor thing, you may want to add a bit more than the 2 tbspns). Stir every now and then. When it's hot, add the sour cream and continue heating for another two or three minutes, always stirring (otherwise noodles will stick to the bottom of the pot and you DON'T want that - it's yucky). Turn the heat off, add more salt to taste and chow down you lucky eaters. Oh, now look, I've started to drool. I'm going to have to make me a batch as soon as I finish writing this column...

Letters... We Get Letters...

Not many questions this week. Paul notes that Premiere Magazine reports that Tim Burton is considering Sweeney Todd as his next film project. Yes, it would be the film version of the Sondheim musical, and no, it won't be happening any time soon. Burton optioned the musical years ago and he's always announcing that it might be his next project, and it never is. I happen to think Sweeney would work well as a film, but I don't know that Tim Burton would be the best director for it. The other Sondheim musical that's been optioned for years is Into The Woods, which was to be directed by Penny Marshall (and then Robert Minkoff). It appears that it's totally dead at this time. All of this information and up to the minute news can be found at This Just In!

CDebussy challenged The Real A with a puzzler:

What James Goldman play never produced in the USA on stage but made into a film, captured Sondheim's enthusiasm for musicalization?

My guess would be They Might Be Giants.

Last week's trivia question was answered correctly by only two people, Richard Jensen and Patrick Brassell. The William Goldman novel turned unfilmed screenplay was The Thing Of It Is... The song Sondheim wrote for the screenplay was No, Mary Ann, and can be heard on the Unsung Sondheim album, sung by Jason Graae.

Here's this week's trivia question:

Sondheim has written both incidental music and songs for straight plays i.e. The Girls Of Summer or Invitation To A March. Sondheim wrote a song for a straight play for which he only provided the music, not the lyrics. Name the play and the author.

Can you believe it? My stomach is still gurgling. It sounds like a subway station. Oh, well, better go make some Wacky Noodles, that'll take care of it in no time.

Send all guesses to me at And keep those cards and letters coming! If you have any question or comments having anything to do remotely with Sondheim, his musicals, Broadway, or want to tell me how your noodles are doing, drop me a line!

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

Yours, yours, yours, yours, yours.

The Real A

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