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

April 19, 1999 - #82

I have been trying, dear readers, to start this column for the last two days. And yet, I have not started this column until this very moment, which, by the way, just happens to be two days later than when I first tried to start writing this column. Why is that, you might ask and I might tell you because you have a right to know. That is because I have not been in the mood. That's right, you heard it here, dear readers, I have not been in the mood. One simply must be in the mood when one is writing a column and I have simply not been in the mood. The problem is that not being in the mood spells doom when you are writing a column. And of course what is "doom" but "mood" spelled backwards? But the good news is that I am now in the mood to write this here column and therefore we have forestalled the impending doom. Mood is a funny thing, isn't it? Why? Why is mood a funny thing? I'm not laughing so it can't be all that funny, can it? One thing is for certain; moods can run hot and cold. Oh yes, you can be in a hot mood or a cold mood and the devil take the hindmost whatever the hell that means. Well, I think we've had enough of moods, don't you? I think we've just taken "mood" and beat it over the head with a ball peen hammer, don't you?

Wasn't that a piquant paragraph? Wasn't that a paragraph which begs the question "Why does that paragraph exist"? How does one "beg a question"? Do you go up to the question and say "Pretty please" or "You've got to help me out here, for God's sake"? Does the question care? Is this paragraph more piquant than the last? Just asking.

This is what happens when you procrastinate, dear readers. This is what happens when you haven't been in the mood. It becomes difficult to get up to speed. Suddenly there is pressure because time is whizzing by. Suddenly you must write at warp speed just like Star Trek. Suddenly the whole column must be finished lickety-split, which is better, I suppose, than having to finish it split-lickety. So, here I am playing catch up and all because I wasn't in the mood. Today I had an empanada for lunch. Wasn't that a good segue? I also had a salad. Now, when I have a salad I don't like a lot of foreign-looking bushes on my plate. I like a nice plate of iceberg lettuce. But this plate had a lot of foreign looking bushes on it. It looked like a plateful of plants with balsamic vinaigrette on top. And worse, it tasted like a plateful of plants with balsamic vinaigrette on top. I suppose that what I am trying to say is that my lunch skeeved me. Yes, you heard it here, it skeeved me. They didn't even have Diet Coke and instead I had to have the dreaded Diet Pepsi. The Diet Pepsi skeeved me, too. In fact, I would recommend this place if being skeeved is your thing. I have just sat for five minutes thinking about what sentence should be next. That is not the way to write a column at warp speed just like Star Trek. One must go, go, go, no matter what comes out. Go, go, go is what one must do if one is to write a column at warp speed just like Star Trek. Of course, if it were really like Star Trek I could just beam this column up. Has anyone noticed that this column is all over the map? Yes, this column is in France, it's in Italy, it's even in the Ukraine. It is, in short, all over the fershluganah map.

Well, I believe that was the most piquant paragraph of all the piquant paragraphs we have written thus far. It was tangy, zesty and full of vim and vigor and also vigor and vim. And I might add, written at warp speed just like Star Trek. You know, if only I'd been in the mood to write this column two days ago, I'd be able to write at a leisurely speed (not warped like Star Trek), I'd be able to sit back on my couch like so much fish, relaxed and at one with the world, column-wise. But nooooooooooooooo, I cannot write at a leisurely speed because I was not in the mood. That'll teach me to not be in the mood. Who the hell do I think I am not being in the mood? I certainly have my nerve, that is all I can say. And yet, I shall say more, because, as you may know, I am writing at warp speed just like Star Trek and the words just come tumbling out, one after the other, like an overturned can of baked beans. "Like an overturned can of baked beans". Isn't that a beautiful simile? That simile made me smile which is appropriate given that "simile" is "smile" with an extra "I" in it for no good reason whatsoever.

There certainly is no shortage of piquant paragraphs in this section of the column; is there, dear readers? Frankly, I've about had it with piquant paragraphs. I've about had it writing at warp speed just like Star Trek. I think the sooner we finish this section of the column, the better. Because frankly this section of the column is beginning to resemble the new Cy Coleman musical, Exactly Like You: It's got its moments, just not enough of them. But enough about me.

Mr. Bakalor Pays a Visit

By now you have all figured out that Mr. Mark Bakalor was not around to get this here column up on time. Yes, Mr. Bakalor was on one of his famous jaunts, this time right here in handy-dandy Los Angeles, California. Mr. Bakalor and his brand spanking-new sweetheart came to our fair city to see The Last Session, a show he likes to see whenever the mood strikes him. Frankly, if the mood struck me I would strike it right back but that is another story for another column which I shall write when the mood and I have stricken.

Mr. Bakalor called me and we made a plan to meet after The Last Session at Jerry's Famous Deli. My companion and I arrived at the assigned time of 11:15 p.m. At 12:00 a.m. Mr. Bakalor and his brand spanking new sweetheart had not arrived. That's right, dear readers, my companion and I sat in Jerry's Famous Deli for forty-five minutes and waited for Mr. Bakalor and said sweetheart. And waited. And waited. Now, there is not a lot to do in Jerry's Famous Deli whilst you wait. Oh, sure, they bring you pickles and sauerkraut and that is interesting for all of twenty seconds. You simply cannot sit and eat pickles and sauerkraut for forty-five minutes. So instead we ordered an appetizer to help pass the time. This appetizer was called Fried Mozzarella Sticks and came with two, count them two dipping sauces. A marinara sauce and ranch dressing. There were two problems with these dipping sauces. Problem one was that marinara sauce is not something you want from a Jewish deli. Borscht, yes, marinara, no. The second problem is why would you ever want to dip a Fried Mozzarella Stick in ranch dressing? Those two items are polar opposites and the taste of said ranch dressing on said Fried Mozzarella Stick was and is truly and duly nauseating. Which brings us to the Fried Mozzarella Stick itself. Who invented this? Whose bright idea was it to fry cheese? This is a heinous (heinous, do you hear me?) concoction, this fried cheese is. However, we ate all our Fried Mozzarella Sticks right up, because a) we were hungry, and b) what else was there to do while waiting forty-five minutes for Mr. Bakalor and sweetheart to arrive?

Finally, at the stroke of midnight, Mr. Bakalor and sweetheart came waltzing in. I immediately asked them why they were waltzing at Jerry's Famous Deli, but they had no answer. The sweetheart was very nice and also taller than Mr. Bakalor. Mr. Bakalor was very nice but shorter. While they ordered dessert, my companion ordered a half sandwich (which turned out to be the size of Radio City Music Hall) while I ordered bacon and eggs with rye toast, buttered. After a few minutes, the star of The Last Session, Mr. Bob Stillman, joined us. He ordered soup. We all had a fine time and I have several wonderful activity pictures to share with you. However, I cannot share them with you at this time because they are not developed yet. I will share them with you next week, but of course by that time you will have forgotten all about Mr. Bakalor and Jerry's Famous Deli and Fried Mozzarella Sticks and you won't know what the hell the pictures are about. This is what happens when there is lag time between taking pictures and writing columns. Yes, we are all a victim of lag time. If you must affix blame, blame it on the lag time. Or the Bossa Nova. But Don't Blame Me. Man, I am writing at warp speed, just like Star Trek. I am writing in a white heat. Not a red heat, mind you, or a blue heat, no, a white heat. The hours are ticking away and I must finish this column before Mr. Bakalor gets back home. Perhaps after I finish the column I'll go to Jerry's Famous Deli and have a Fried Mozzarella Stick. I wonder if they'll sell me a single Stick. I shall make a stink if they don't. Did you notice that "stink" is "stick" with an "n" instead of a "c"? Just asking.

The Allergy Attack

Allergy season has arrived, dear readers. And from what I have already experienced, it is going to be horrible for allergy sufferers like myself. Even my beloved Actifed is not working and I may have to go to the Doctor and get something stronger. I have slept a total of five hours in the last two days. I must tell you here and now and also now and here that five hours is not enough to sleep in two days. When I sleep only five hours in two days, I become cantankerous and ornery and I am very unpleasant to be around. For the last two nights I have awakened at three in the morning, sneezing like a lunatic. One simply cannot sleep when one is sneezing like a lunatic. In fact, the only thing you can do when you are sneezing like a lunatic is sneeze like a lunatic, which is exactly what I was doing, not wanting to rock the boat. So, there I was, sneezing like a lunatic at three in the morning. I got out of bed and went and sat on the couch like so much sneezing fish. And here is what I discovered: There is not a lot to do at three in the morning. Oh, I suppose I could have eaten a Fried Mozzarella Stick but I didn't have one so it was a moot point, whatever the hell that is. So, I surfed the Internet for three hours. However, it was very hard to see the Internet because my eyes were watering and itchy and puffy. My vision was blurry, everything was a mass of dripping imagery, which was kind of interesting in a non-interesting way if you get my meaning which I hope you do because there is nothing worse than a dear reader who is not getting my meaning and I'll be damned if this hasn't turned into one of those stultifyingly inane run-on sentences that like a bad comedian just doesn't know when to get off so it keeps on going even though people are beginning to gather vegetables to hurl as if that could stop a sentence run amok when the only thing that can stop a sentence run amok is to hurl some punctuation like for example a ! Boy, that run-on sentence was stultifying in extremus, was it not? Anyway, I've forgotten what the hell I was talking about, but I think it had something to do with sneezing like a lunatic and fried cheese. I am feeling a little better right now, although I am drowsy. And yet I cannot be drowsy because I must write this column at warp speed just like Star Trek. Tempis fugit as some Latin-spouting idiot once said.

The Luncheon

I simply must tell you about the luncheon that I attended recently, dear readers. I shall have to tell it to you fast because I am writing this column at warp speed (just like Star Trek) as you well know.

A few days ago (while I was procrastinating writing this column because I was not in the mood) I had occasion to have lunch with an ex-sweetheart of mine. I had not seen said ex-sweetheart in thirteen years. And so, it was with some trepidation that I walked into Louise's restaurant to have lunch with my ex-sweetheart. For brevity's sake, we'll call my ex-sweetheart PL. Of course, the question is why should I do anything for brevity's sake? What did brevity ever do for me>? I don't even know brevity, so why should I give a flying Wallenda about brevity or its sake? Everybody's always doing things for brevity's sake and frankly I'm a little tired of brevity getting all the attention. I want someone to do something for my sake, for heaven's sake. Wait a minute. How did we go from brevity's sake to heaven's sake without stopping at my sake first? Is this the way the world works, sake-wise? What the hell am I talking about? I'm supposed to be writing this column at warp speed just like Star Trek and here I'm off on one of my well-known tangents. Don't I know that brevity is the soul of wit for heaven's, brevity's and my sake?

May I just tell you that it is very peculiar to see an ex-sweetheart after thirteen years? One wants to be urbane and witty and charming and invariably one ends up being awkward and a goofball. First the question of How PL Looked. PL looked pretty wonderful for a person who is thirteen years older. I, on the other hand, looked like a person who is thirteen years older and having a bad allergy day, which means I really looked thirty years older on account of my puffy red watering eyes. Fortunately I did not have any sneezing fits during lunch. There is nothing worse than mucus flying about, helter-skelter, during lunch. Anyway, we caught up with what we'd both been doing and the lunch was ultimately fun in an awkward goofball sort of way. Which brings us to the point. Here is someone I'd gone out with for four years. Here is someone who I'd cared for and who had cared for me in a romantic way. Yet here we were, sitting like so much fish, having lunch and talking and laughing but with no romantic feelings whatsoever. So, the question is where do those romantic feelings of yesteryear go? They just up and disappear like so much disappearing fish, never to return to the here and now? That is the enigma of love, dear readers. Here one day, gone the next. That's love? Love can just come and go at will? Naturally I posed none of these questions as it would have put a damper on the whole meal and frankly I don't like wet food. And there you have it. A good time was had by all and perhaps PL and I will even have lunch again sometime and maybe, just maybe, even be friends. I'd like that, because PL is a bright person and we can't have enough bright people in our lives. May I just say one thing before we leave this section? May I just say what does any of this have to do with Stephen Sondheim? Well, I'll tell you what it has to do with Stephen Sondheim. I'm going to tell you right now because I feel you've waited long enough. It has nothing to do with Stephen Sondheim, that's what it has to do with Stephen Sondheim. Sondheim this, Sondheim that, let him write his own column. Sondheim, Sondheim, Sondheim. See? If someone were skimming through the column, they'd see all these "Sondheims" and think, wow, this column is all about Sondheim.

The Real A: A Life

Due to the fact that Miss Meryle Secrest had to have a mole removed from the back of her ear, there will be no A Life this week. Blame it on that damn mole. Or the bossa nova. Oops, I'm just getting an e-mail. Let's see who it's from, shall we?

Date: Sun, April 18, 1999 07:16:20
To: The Real A (
From: Frank Wildhorn (

Dear Real A:

It is astonishing to me that you have not mentioned that I am the first composer in years to have three shows running concurrently on Broadway. Do you think your friend Sondheim ever had three shows running concurrently on Broadway? He can't even finish the one he's been writing for three years. But I write at warp speed just like Star Trek and that is why I have three shows running concurrently on Broadway. The Civil War is my masterpiece, you know. My other shows are masterpieces, too, but this one is my masterpiece. My next show, which will be either Svengali or Havana, will be an even bigger masterpiece than my other masterpieces. I hope you will speak to your friends on the Tony nominating committee and that you'll tell them that they'll look like fools if they don't nominate me for my masterpiece. Oh, by the way, Linda Eder sends her best. She's quite busy right now, being tall. Did you know I have three shows running concurrently on Broadway and that I am the first composer in years to have this accomplishment? Please mention it to your readers. I know this is a Sondheim website, but masterpieces are masterpieces and you must spread the Wildhorn fever like Wildfire. I won't rest until I have nine shows running on Broadway concurrently.

With sincere regards,
Frank Wildhorn
Author of Jekyll & Hyde, The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Civil War, three masterpieces of which The Civil War is the best masterpiece, at least until Svengali or Havana.

Boy, you never know who's going to drop us a line, do you? Perhaps next week we might even hear from Jason Robert Brown, the other author who only writes masterpieces.

Mr. Newley Passes On

Sad news, dear readers. Anthony Newley has passed away at age 67. As most of you know, I am an Anthony Newley fan. He was a big influence on me when I was a teenager and oh did I love his show, Stop The World I Want To Get Off. His follow-up, The Roar of The Greaspaint, The Smell Of The Crowd, while not nearly as good, still had/has a terrific score, chockablock with great songs. It is well known that his film, Can Hieronymous Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? is a particular guilty pleasure of mine. He also wrote wonderful songs for the film Willy Wonka, including the incandescent Pure Imagination. What some of you might not know is that Mr. Newley was a child actor in England, and one of his great roles as a child was playing the Artful Dodger in David Lean's film of Oliver Twist. The horrible irony in this last is that Lionel Bart, who wrote the musical version of Oliver Twist (Oliver!) also passed away a couple of weeks ago. Mr. Newley was a unique performer with a totally unique and unmistakable voice. Whether acting in films (Dr. Doolittle, Sweet November) or doing one of his stage shows, Mr. Newley always gave his best, which was considerable. He was what they used to call a real showman. I leave you with the lyric from my favorite Newley song, written with his frequent writing partner Leslie Bricusse (who wrote lyrics to one of Frank Wildhorn's masterpieces, you know). I fell in love with this song the moment I heard it and I love it to this day. Here is Once In A Lifetime:

Just once in a lifetime,
A man knows a moment.
One wonderful moment when fate takes his hand...
And this is my moment,
My once in a lifetime,
When I can explore a new and exciting land.

For once in my lifetime,
I feel like a giant.
I soar like an eagle, as though I had wings...
For this is my moment,
My destiny calls me,
And though it may be just once in my lifetime,
I'm gonna do great things!

Letters... We Get Letters

I am finally almost through writing this here column. We're in the home stretch which is, I suppose, better than being in the apartment stretch. I am listening to Saving Private Ryan as I write this. This makes me feel like I should be storming a beachhead or tossing a grenade, but instead I shall answer your lovely letters and save the storming and tossing for another day.

RupertDiva wanted me to know that one of the cast members of ER played the boy in Someone In A Tree in the musical Pacific Overtures, which is written by my close personal friend, Mr. Stephen Sondheim. RupertDiva also notes that Carolee Carmello, who he loves, was on Frasier last week. Because of said love, RupertDiva saw Parade three times. Fans of Ms. Carmello will therefore be happy to know that the cast album of Parade will be out very soon.

S. Woody White has a trivia question for me: What Broadway musical included both Betty Buckley and Donna Murphy in the original cast. Why I do believe that would be the musical entitled The Mystery of Edwin Drood, by my other close personal friend Rupert Holmes (not RupertDiva). Another well-known personage got their start in Drood as well, Judy Kuhn. It was quite a cast. Boy, I really feel like I should be hurling munitions right about now. I feel like I should be saving Private Ryan, yet all I am doing is writing at warp speed just like Star Trek and Private Ryan is out there not being saved. And just because I have the uncanny ability to tie all loose ends together, Donna Murphy of the above mentioned Drood, just played Patrick Stewart's sweetheart in Star Trek Insurrection.

Joey wrote to tell me that I didn't respond to last week's letter. Here is what happens sometimes. Sometimes I forward these e-mails to my office so that I can answer your letters while sitting at my desk like so much fish. Unfortunately, sometimes the Internet simply loses what I forward. The letters go into an Internet Bermuda triangle, hence I cannot answer what is Lost In Cyberpace. I apologize in advance if this happens in the future. Joey was wondering where she might purchase a recording of some of Mr. Sondheim's more obscure works, especially Honey, a cut song from Merrily We Roll Along. Honey is available on an album entitled Lost In Boston III (which features cut songs from shows), sung by Liz Callaway (who appeared in the original production) and Jason Graae. It also may be on the two CD set of the London Merrily We Roll Along. For other obscure Sondheim, try Unsung Sondheim, a treasure chest of rare Sondheim material. You can most likely find these online at, or try our ever-lovin' Footlight Records in New York City. Joey is about to audition for the musical known as Fame, and notes how few shows there are with teenagers as characters. To that end, she is writing her very own brand spanking new show, which will only feature teenagers. Joey also tells me that she thinks I'm hip (pih spelled backwards). I thank her for that as I have always wanted to be hip. I am now hip, dear readers. I am happening. I am the bomb, which is appropriate given that I'm listening to Saving Private Ryan.

Jason asks if I know where he can find the film musical version of Lost Horizon on video. I do believe it's out of print, but you might give a try. It's a very strange movie, but a guilty pleasure for me because of the score by my faves, Mr. Bacharach and Mr. David. It is horribly directed by the ponderous Charles Jarrot. But the score has some wonderful things in it, especially the title song. It also has the song Question Me An Answer about which the less said the better.

Roy S. (from Merry Olde England) tells me it is raining there, too. It is no longer raining here; it is a scorching ninety degrees every day. Roy S. recently saw the London edition of Forbidden Broadway and loved it, especially the section on Sondheim. Roy S. is about to pay his first visit to the Merry Olde United States and will be stopping by Merry Olde Los Angeles where he hopes he will see my abs and buns of steel walking down the street. Hopefully I'll be walking with them, because frankly it is a little disconcerting to see abs and buns of steel walking down the street all by themselves.

Pitgirl wants me to know that the phrase "learn by heart" probably came from the Egyptians, who believed that the heart was the seat of all knowledge. And yet, how can the heart be the seat? Isn't the seat the seat? Isn't the heart the heart? Oh, it is too too confusing. And of course the Latt's believe that the seat is the heart of all knowledge, but what do you expect from those darn Latt's? Pitgirl also informs me that McDonald's calls my favorite sandwich a Filet o' Fish in keeping with McDonald's Irish/Scottish theme. But if that were true, why do they call the fries French fries? How is that in keeping with the Irish/Scottish theme? Shouldn't it be French o' fries at the very least? And how about the cheeseburger? Shouldn't it be cheese o' burger? I mean, if we're going to keep the Irish/Scottish theme going then let's keep the Irish/Scottish theme going. And what is the Irish/Scottish theme? A medley of How Are Things In Glocca Mora and My Heart's In The Highlands? The Egyptians of course believe that the heart is in the seat of the Highlands but that's another story for another day. Poor Pitgirl has a cold and is sneezing up a storm. I do not have a cold but am also sneezing up a storm. And there you have two people who are sneezing for totally different reasons. I wonder if the nose knows it is sneezing for two different reasons or if it doesn't care one way or the other.

Polecat, like me, also thinks Derek and Clive are a hoot. Polecat first heard them in 1980. Polecat resides in Melbourne, Australia, which is not in keeping with our new Irish/Scottish theme. Therefore, in keeping with our new Irish/Scottish theme, Polecat must now reside in McMelbourne.

Duff (formerly Craig) tells me that the show he is in opens in two weeks. That show would be Mr. Stephen Sondheim's very own Into The Woods. On top of being in rehearsals, Duff found time to give blood. Duff does not like the iodine they rub all over the arm and doesn't like the tape they put over the gauze, either. Additionally he doesn't like the needle they use to take the blood, and he hates having to take the tape off as it invariably rips the hair off his arms. Other than those things, Duff likes giving blood just fine. I have given blood a few times. I always feel weak afterwards, as if I've lost some blood. Why is that?

Trivia and Other Useless Knowledge

Naturally there were several people who simply could not be deterred from answering our handy-dandy trivia question: besides Meryl Streep, name the other people involved with The Frogs who had a Sondheim connection. The following people got one or all of the correct answers: Elan, Mordecai, grehf, S. Woody White and jon. And the answers would be: Larry Blyden (early 70s Forum revival), Christopher Durang (Putting It Together), Burt Shevelove (Forum) and Larry Gelbart (Forum). Also in the pool was a non-Sondheim connection but someone who went on to do battle with Aliens, Sigourney Weaver. Quite a little pool ensemble if you ask me.

This weeks trivia question: Mr. Frank Wildhorn wrote to tell us that he had the honor of three musicals playing concurrently on Broadway (if only for a brief time). Question one: has Sondheim ever had three musicals on Broadway concurrently and if so what were they and when was it? Question two: name the handful of other authors who have had three musicals concurrently on Broadway.

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



Questions? Comments?

Well, dear readers, it's time to wrap this column up, which is an appropriate thing to do with a column that has been written at warp speed, just like Star Trek. After all, what is "warp" other than "wrap" rearranged? Frankly, I'm so exhausted from having written this column at warp speed, just like Star Trek, that I may have to partake of an Irish/Scottish themed meal. I will then go to the gym and try to sweat out my allergies so that I do not wake up at three in the morning sneezing like a lunatic. Well, I must go now because my abs and buns of steel are walking down the street without me and, frankly, they are a sight to be seen.

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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