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April 5, 1999 - #80
Has anyone noticed that Spring Is Here? Yes, It Might As Well Be Spring and so it is. I feel Younger Than Springtime, don't you, and all because it's Spring. Fall fell and spring sprung. And that, as they say, is that, season-wise. The flowers are beginning to bloom which is what flowers are wont to do when it's Spring and no one can say "boo" about it. I'd show you some activity photos of blooming flowers, but how can I when Mr. Mark Bakalor has picked this very moment to go on one of his sojourns. Frankly I am tired of his sojourns. I have just about had it with his sojourns. I've had it up to here with his sojourns. I've had it with the word "sojourns", too. I just don't like the word "sojourns", do you, dear readers? The word "sojourns" just sits on the page like so much fish. In fact, here is a pictorial representation of what the word "sojourns" looks like.
Remember a few columns ago when I said I ran into cousin Dodo and her husband, lawyer Marvin, at Dan Tana's? Well, apparently I have been unostracized and will be attending Passover dinner at their house for the first time in four years. I will of course have a complete report for you, dear readers, because I know you expect nothing less.
Mr. Mark Bakalor has just informed me that no matter how fast I write this here column it won't be fast enough to get the thing up on Sunday evening as we always do. Hence, this here column will be going up sometime on Monday. At least that will give me a chance to answer more e-mails and not have to rush, rush, rush. However, I have warned Mr. Bakalor that if this happens again he will be forced to eat an entire jar of schmaltz herring while dancing the hora. Of course, he'll probably like doing that, and then where will we be? Do you suppose that Mr. Bakalor is related to Robert Twip? Just asking.
Do you know what, dear readers? Four days have elapsed since I wrote the last paragraph. Don't you think that's a long time between paragraphs? What the hell was I doing between those paragraphs? Did I have a lapse? Did I go into a void? Did I enter a black hole? I mean, one day I finish a paragraph and then four days later I start a new one? And if that's the case, shouldn't we have a bigger space between the two paragraphs given such a large passage of time? Excuse me for a moment, dear readers.
Whew. Only four seconds elapsed since finishing the last paragraph and beginning this one. I guess we'll just have to think of those four days between paragraphs as a Twilight Zone moment. But what happened during those four days? Perhaps the rest of the column will reveal all. Let's just move on, because frankly this section of the column is starting to feel like the revamped Scarlet Pimpernel: Just close the damn thing already. But enough about me.
Isn't April an interesting month? First we have April Fool's Day. Then, all of a sudden, we have Daylight Savings Time. This means that after we go to sleep on a fine Saturday night somehow time moves forward by one hour. At two o'clock a.m. it is three o'clock a.m. Isn't that amazing? And yet, no one says "boo" about it. That missing hour is similar and yet totally different than the four missing days I spoke of earlier. Basically, one hour has gone away. Disappeared. Gone into a void. A black hole. If you had an hourglass you'd only be left with the glass because the hour bought a one-way ticket to Palookaville. So, the end result of this disappearing hour is that it gets darker later. This is a concept. Darker later. I have nothing further to say about this subject at this time, which is an hour later than it used to be. At a later time I might have something further to say on this subject, and if I do you shall be the first to know.
Is there no end to what April brings? Just when we thought that we were done, what with April Fool's Day and Daylight Savings Time, here comes Easter. Easter is a holiday I have never understood because I am Jewish and Jews don't really know from Easter. And why Easter? Why not Wester? Or Norther or Souther? Just asking. Easter has something to do with Jesus Christ and eggs. That is what I know about Easter. Apparently, people the world over celebrate Easter by painting hard-boiled eggs and hiding them. Also, bunny rabbits fit into the equation but I'm not certain how they fit into the equation, but nonetheless they fit into the equation and that is all there is to it. Given all those facts, here is my version of the Easter story:
Once upon a time there was someone named Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was very fond of hard-boiled eggs. Not of eating them, mind you, but of painting them and hiding them. He just loved hiding those painted Easter eggs. He would then gather all the rabbits in His neighborhood and have them try to find the hard-boiled painted eggs. This just tickled the heck out of Jesus Christ, although the rabbits merely seemed confused by the whole egg thing. Well, one fine day Jesus Christ decided that His painted hard boiled egg day should be a Holiday and that people the world over should celebrate that day in April, April being the perfect month to celebrate the hiding of painted hard boiled eggs because it was a month in which Daylight Savings Time, April Fool's Day and the paying of income taxes occurred. He also didn't want Robert Twip, the inventor of April Fool's Day, to get all the glory. Anyway, He decided to call this Holiday "Easter" for reasons which apparently were obscure even to Him. From that time forward Easter became an April event, just like April Showers. Bunnies everywhere would search for painted hard-boiled eggs, while children were given chocolate covered marshmallow candies in gaily-colored baskets. What this had to do with bunnies, painted hard-boiled eggs or Jesus Christ is unknown. The End.
Wasn't that a fine version of the Easter story? I believe it should be published in a gaily-colored pamphlet. I have nothing further to say on this subject at this time, which, as you know, is an hour later than it used to be.
Just prior to the interesting month of April, I attended the Passover dinner at cousin Dodo and Marvin's house. I was no longer a Black Sheep. I was a White Sheep. I was back on the "A" list. I arrived at said house promptly at 5:30 p.m. (which was an hour earlier than it is now). That is when I was requested to arrive and I arrived on the dot (no mean feat). I was greeted by cousin Dodo who seemed happy to see me. I was happy to see her as well. I was happy to see other people I hadn't seen in quite some time, including my beloved cousin Dena. Cousin Steven (son of Cousin Marvin) didn't speak to me the entire evening, so apparently he hadn't gotten the news that I was no longer a Black Sheep and was back on the "A" list. Cousin Lori seemed happy to see me, as did her husband Zach. I met their brand spanking new (to me) son, Harrison, who seemed a splendid lad. Everyone was very nice to me (except Cousin Steven who wasn't speaking to me because he hadn't gotten the news) and a good time was had by all. We feasted on gefilte fish (of course we all said "what is it, fish?"), chicken cooked in various and sundry ways, mashed potatoes which, for those who don't know, are potatoes that are mashed; a cranberry concoction, chicken soup with matzo balls, matzo without the balls, chopped liver, and other things like bitter herbs. We read from the Passover book, which is quite long. However, because the children at the table were getting antsy, we only read three pages from the book, therefore the story of Passover was basically passed over. There was a plate prepared for someone named Elijah, but he never showed up. And the desserts. May we talk about desserts? I had six of my beloved macaroons. I had a piece of Cousin Lori's coconut strawberry (or was it strawberry coconut?) cheesecake, which was luscious. Cousin Dodo asked me if I had had any facial work done and I assured her I hadn't. All in all, it was a fine evening and hopefully I will remain on the "A" list, Dodo-wise. Perhaps the next time I am there cousin Steven will have gotten the news and will be speaking to me.
Miss Meryle Secrest has asked permission to print my Easter story in our book, but I have told her that it may only be printed in a gaily-colored pamphlet. Can we just discuss the word "pamphlet" for a moment? Isn't "pamphlet" really another name for "booklet"? And if "booklet" implies a small "book" does a "pamphlet" imply a small "pamph"? Just asking. While we're at it, shouldn't "pamphlet" be spelled "pamflet"? I mean, just what is the "ph" doing there? Why not just add a "d"? Then at least you'd have a "phd". Why am I talking about "pamphlets"? Oh, yes, Miss Meryle Secrest and The Gaily-Colored Pamphlet Issue.
As you may recall, last week I told you all about my musical comedy entitled A Penny Ain't Worth A Nickel. So, there I was with my half-finished script and score. I decided it was high time (better than low time) to get some actors attached to it (no mean feat). Now, dear readers, you must understand that as a teenager I was brazen. Yes, you heard it here, I was brazen. My chutzpah knew no limits in those days. I had chutzpah to spare. I had chutzpah coming out of my ears. To make a long story long, one fine day I found myself at my beloved Huntington Hartford Theater seeing a play entitled Hughie by Eugene O'Neill. The star of this play Hughie was Jason Robards, Jr. I was a huge fan of Mr. Robards because I'd seen his magnificent performance in the film of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night. Long Day's Journey Into Night was and is my favorite play (with Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee being my next favorite play) and Mr. Robards' performance was nothing short of electrifying and brilliant. So I simply had to see him "live" "onstage" in Hughie. Well, he was grand, simply grand. I decided right then and there and also right there and then that Mr. Robards would be perfect for the role of the Devil in my musical entitled A Penny Ain't Worth A Nickel. I purchased tickets to see Hughie again, and this time I brought my script with me. After the show, I waited outside by the stage door. When Mr. Robards came out, I went right up to him, told him I thought he was the greatest actor alive, and asked him to read my script. He graciously took it. Well, I was in heaven. I must stop here and point out to you that what I gave Mr. Robards was my only copy of said script. There wasn't Xerox back then. Only mimeographing, and what did I know from mimeographing? A week later I got the script back from Mr. Robards' agent, with a swell note from said agent and Mr. Robards himself, which basically said he was too busy to consider it, but that he'd enjoyed reading it and wished me well. Wasn't that nice of Mr. Robards? Some people are just special and he was/is one of them.
The next thing I decided was that Miss Tammy Grimes must read my script. Why I decided this I have no idea. She wasn't really right for any of the roles, but there you are. I had met Miss Grimes on two occasions, once backstage at my beloved Huntington Hartford Theater when she did a play entitled Rattle Of A Simple Man, and once when she did a theater in the round production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown in which an acquaintance of mine played her brother. So, one fine day I found out she was going to guest star on The Danny Kaye Show which taped right on the CBS lot, where I had attended many tapings of shows. A friend of mine who knew Miss Grimes managed to get tickets and so off we went to the taping. Afterwards we went backstage and saw her and I gave her the script (again my only copy). She said in that marvelous voice of hers, "Oh, I'd be happy to read your script". She took it and my address so that she could send it back when she was through. Months went by and I never heard from Miss Tammy Grimes. Then, she did another show at my beloved Huntington Hartford Theater, so I went backstage afterward and asked her if I could get my script back. She said (in that marvelous voice of hers), "Oh, yes, your script. I can't find it." And so, dear readers, that is why I no longer have the script of A Penny Ain't Worth A Nickel. I'll bet Miss Tammy Grimes still has it and I'll bet she reads it often. By that time, I'd grown tired of A Penny Ain't Worth A Nickel anyway, so it was no great loss. I still have the songs written down somewhere, though. Now, wouldn't you say I had chutzpah? Wouldn't you just say that chutzpah was my middle name? Can you pronounce "chutzpah", dear readers? The "ch" isn't pronounced like the "ch" in "cheer". It's pronounced as if you were going to hock a glob of spit. Let's all pronounce the word chutzpah right now. One, two, three... Chutzpah. You may wipe your computer screens off now.
I just wanted you to know, dear readers, that as I answer your letters I am eating something called Butterfinger BB's. They come in tiny bags, which apparently were intended for Easter baskets. Yes, Easter, which you may remember the story of. If you don't, it might be available in the very near future in a gaily-colored pamphlet or pamph, depending on the size of the print. I do hope that my gaily-colored pamph or pamphlet has oomph or oomphlet, depending on which is appropriate. What the hell am I talking about? These Butterfinger BB's are like eating Butterfinger candy bars, only instead of the bar you get the Butterfinger innards contained in a little chocolate covered ball the size of a bb. They are quite tasty, these Butterfinger BB's, and nauseating at the same time. Perhaps I should answer some letters before I throw up.
Robert writes to tell me that he now has a life. A semblance of a life, which is better than no life at all in my book (Chapter 380 A Resemblance To A Semblance Of A Life Is Better Than No Life At All by Gilbert and Sullivan). Robert's show went well, but he did not enjoy the strike, despite wearing what he describes as "manly" overalls. Said manly overalls were purchased from The Gap, which sells only manly overalls. For frilly overalls one simply must not go to The Gap one must simply go elsewhere. Robert also had a manly hard hat on, and he had two manly wrenches and a manly power drill. Two Wrenches And A Power Drill. Is that the sequel to Four Weddings And A Funeral? Just asking.
Rafael asks if those are my hands holding the fish in the fish picture. Let's take a look, shall we?
Anna has decided she will reclaim her ambitions to a show business career, despite having not gotten the role she wanted in her high school production of Guys and Dolls. She has also decided to branch out and play softball, but the first day of practice she got hit in the mouth, bled, and got fifteen bruises on her legs to boot. Or were they fifteen bruises on her boot to legs? Anna also asks a question about the musical entitled Marry Me A Little. Anna wants to know if it was ever a musical and when it ran. Marry Me A Little was a compendium of little known songs by my close personal friend, Mr. Stephen Sondheim. They were assembled into an evening's entertainment, a two person musical. It starred Craig Lucas (author of Prelude To A Kiss) and Suzanne Henry and was first performed in 1980. There is a cast album on RCA. The nominal "plot" has two people, a guy and a gal, who live in the same apartment building and who both happen to be home on a Saturday Night alone, and who sing a lot of little known songs by Stephen Sondheim.
Emily wrote to tell me that she is cleaning her room, as it is a mess. She also did some laundry. Pretty soon Emily will be both cleaned and laundered. Perhaps then she can settle down and have some Butterfinger BB's while reading a gaily-colored pamphlet of The Story of Easter.
Bwbaby, a new dear reader, enjoyed this here column. Bwbaby thought there was a reference to being in school, and wants to know what school I'm in and what my major is. There was a reference to my being in school, but that reference was made to when I actually was in school, which was back in the Middle Ages. No, I am no longer in school, although I occasionally pay visits to schools to see various children of people I know perform. Why just last Tuesday I saw my friend's children perform in a dance recital at their school. They were very good, especially doing The Swim, a step made popular in the 60s. Bwbaby has been accepted to a private university with a talent scholarship to major in musical theater. Congratulations to Bwbaby and we wish Bwbaby all the best at the new school.
annyrose wished us a Happy Easter/Passover. She had something to say but she forgot what it was. This made for a very brief letter. She does, however, agree with me about Debbie Allen's wretched choreography.
Pitgirl is currently iron deficient and she is having problems with her nose and her blood. The pairing of the nose and the blood could of course result in a nosebleed. We hope Pitgirl is taking her iron supplements, because one simply must have iron. If one is not ironed to the max then one is wrinkled and we simply can't have that. Pitgirl, like annyrose, also had something to say but forgot what it was. This having something to say and forgetting what it was is apparently turning into an epidemic here at One From Column A.
AnnaOD recently heard the cast album of Jason Robert Brown's revue Songs From A New World, which she enjoyed. She wants to know if it is possible to obtain the sheet music to the show. If I'm remembering correctly, the music is about to be published, although I might be wrong. However, if you pay a visit to the newsgroup known as rec.arts.theatre.musicals you will find that Mr. Brown posts there, and you can e-mail him directly.
There is just no stumping you people. You people will not be stumped. Stumping is not in the cards with you people, because you people are just too smart to be stumped. The following people got at least part of the answer to last week's trivia question about which people who were blacklisted ended up working on a Sondheim show: Alina, jon, crow, Anita, grehf, Sarah and Brian. The two most obvious answers both appeared in the same show, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum. They were Zero Mostel and Jack Gilford. Grehf also pointed out that several cast members of Follies were blacklisted, but other than perhaps Yvonne de Carlo, I don't know for sure who the others would be.
This week's trivia question: Name the Sondheim connection at this year's Academy Awards.
Until next week, I am, as I ever was, and ever shall be...
Until next week, I am, as I ever was, and ever shall be...
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
Which is not to say that it is perfect...
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