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

November 17, 1997 - #9

Hello, fellow musical lovers. I have seen no musicals this week. I have seen no theater this week. I have been busy! So, in an effort to relax, last night I rented a movie. Now, The Real A is a Real Movie Buff and loves the movies. As a child (when movies were first invented) I used to go to the movies three or four times a week. This pleased my parents a lot, as they couldn't stand me. Before I tell you all about the movie I rented, let me preface my comments by saying that I don't like the movies much anymore. I'm lucky (or they're lucky) if I go five times a year. I think movies today are for the most part uninteresting, loud, pointless, horribly written, poorly directed, well, you get the idea. I've never been one to beat a dead horse. Actually, has anyone ever beaten a dead horse? Who made up this phrase?

Anyway, I do like to give the movies a chance, as I am always ever hopeful. So, I rented Batman and Robin. I know, I know. But I thought, ah, some good mindless entertainment. The fact that I haven't liked any of the Batman films didn't stop me from giving this one a try. I have an open mind. I plopped the laser disc in my player (yes, The Real A is on the cutting edge of technology), turned on my Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound, cranked the volume so that others living three blocks away could enjoy the movie with me, and sat back on my couch. Well, dear readers, nothing could have prepared my for the gargantuan awfulness of Batman and Robin.

This "film" made Speed 2: Cruise Control look like a masterpiece, and Speed 2: Cruise Control was a film mesmerizing in its horridness, like watching a traffic accident that you just can't help looking at. The film opens with a montage of Batman and Robin putting on their BatOutfits. Shots of Bat butts, and Bat cups. I suddenly thought: this must be a Joel Schumacher film! Of course I was right. Then they were off to fight a new villain who had just appeared on the scene, Mr. Freeze. Played by the mighty actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. After he uttered his first line, "The Iceman Cometh" I knew what I was in for. Every bad cold joke known to man. The film did not disappoint in this regard. Then we had the new Batman, Mr. George Clooney. Rosemary Clooney would have been more right for this part. Mr. Clooney is personable. From Batman I don't need personable. Uma Thurman gave a performance that a seventeen year old high school student would have been ashamed of. And what was her role? I think she was a nerd who became a plant (sounds like me, actually).

Not to beat a dead horse, but for two hours I was assaulted by inanity. Afterwards I sat there like a piece of gefulte fish. I had a headache from the relentless Bat Sound. My headache grew worse as I realized that for the cost of this film, several people could have lived entire lifetimes. I have no problem if a film costs seventy-five million dollars (well, yes I do), but it wouldn't be so bad if it delivered something other than idiocy of the highest level. By the end of the film, in spite of the loud sound levels and bombast, my eyes were like Side Show: They couldn't decide whether they were staying open or if they were going to close. But enough about me.


This Monday in Los Angeles, California, the Ovation Awards are being given out. The Ovation Awards would like to think of themselves as the West Coast Tonys. We'll allow them this bit of whimsy. The nice news for fans of SS, is that he's being given a special Ovation Award. And he'll be there to accept it. It will be a star-studded event, and The Real A will be there and have a report for you next week.

Goings On

Well, Side Show is still running. And people are still not going. Triumph of Love is still plugging along, but it's a much cheaper show to keep open. And hush my mouth, it appears that 1776 has actually recorded a cast album. The Lion King has opened to mostly excellent reviews, and should be around for quite some time.

Have you noticed how many people playing leads in musicals miss shows all the time? Vocal problems. Jekyll & Hyde has a different actor do the matinees. I say only one thing: Miss Carol Channing in God-knows-how-many performances of Hello, Dolly (over three thousand) has only missed one, and that was to get a special Tony Award. Merman rarely missed performances. What gives? And remember, in the old days these stars weren't miked to within an inch of their lives, there was no sophisticated sound board and mixer, and these people, by golly, had to deliver the goods.

Marie Osmond will be taking over the role of Anna in The King and I on Broadway. This is not a rumor, this is not science fiction, this is real. I, for one, think she'll surprise people, and will be a healthy draw for the show. Or, she'll be bad and no one will come. In any case, if she doesn't work out, Donny is coming in to replace her. I think he will look fabulous in those big dresses. (Oh, now you're all gonna think I'm gay, aren't you?).

The Winds of War

My close personal friend Mr. Stephen Sondheim didn't have time to deal with Lord Webber this week as he is on his way to the Land of Sunshine (where it is currently raining) to pick up his Ovation Award. But he did drop me a little e-mail, which I share now:

Date: Sun, 15 Nov 1997 09:27:01
To: The Real A (
From: Stephen Sondheim (

Dear Real A:

First off, let me say that I read your column religiously every Monday morning. I think it's fine. Not a day goes by when I don't think of how annoying Lloyd Webber is. Too many mornings I lie awake and think everybody's got the right to be happy, except him. I think if you placed his shows side by side by side that you could drive a person crazy. He causes me agony, I simply get no happiness from him whatsoever. I mean, the guy looks like a bowler hat, and if someone in a tree were to see him they would throw a fruit at him or something. I may have to go to Barcelona because frankly I am losing my mind. Believe you me sooner or later I will be the winner of this war. That is because I'm calm, and will accept no more. And the day I win there will be a parade in town! Ah, that's a pretty little picture, isn't it?

As always, your close personal friend,

Nice e-mail, Steve. Got one from Lord Webber, too.

Date: Sun, 16 Nov 1997 6:17:28
To: The Real A (
From: Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber (

Dear Real A:

I like your column better than Sondheim does. Always remember that. I am so excited about my new work How I Won The War with lyrics by the brilliant Leslie Bricusse. It is brutal, yet melodic, astringent, yet has great depth of feeling, totally tonally atonal yet tonal too. I am quite thrilled with it. Here is a sample from the first section of it. A brief sample, as I will allow you to premiere the work in its entirety soon.

(Brilliant music accompanies these brilliant lyrics)

Epithets are hurled.
What a crazy world.
The enemy is Steve,
Of that you must believe.

He started this war,
I was a mere observer.
But now that the war is begun,
I participate with much fervor.
O! pot shots,
Are not shots
That hot shots
Should make.

(what a brilliant quattrain - ALW)

This war's just beginning,
This is the first inning,
And soon I'll be winning
O! Make no mistake.
For Sondheim will quake.
His mind will just ache,
His spirit I'll break,
We'll eat Victory Cake!

Mr. Bricusse just astonishes me. He inspires me. If only you could hear the music! I will send you more, have no doubt. Oh, sorry, I do have to run. Patti and Faye have just arrived to discuss the possibility of doing a musical of Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? They would be wonderful as two aging has-beens, don't you think?

Happily yours,
Lord Webber

That Leslie Bricusse is something, isn't he? And let's all say "totally tonally atonal yet tonal too" ten times really fast.

The "What If" Department

This week we'll give Rodgers and Hammerstein a break, and do: What if Schmidt and Jones had written Sweeney Todd. And it goes something like this (to the tune of My Cup Runneth Over):

Sometimes while I'm shaving
A customer's face.
I think of Judge Turpin,
My pulse starts to race.
What starts with a trickle
Turns into a flood...
Their throats runneth over with blood.

Sometimes Mrs. Lovett will
Make me a pie.
I chew on a morsel that
Tastes like an eye.
But still it's delicious
So warm and so fresh,
Her pies runneth over with flesh.

Sometimes in the evenings
I sit and I stare.
And wonder what ever
Became of my hair.
And when I see red,
Well, they land with a thud...
Their throats runneth over with blood.

Letters... We Get Letters...

And boy did we get letters! Thank you all so much. We got more letters than you could shake a stick at! And where did that idiotic saying come from? Who made it up? Some stick waver? Oh, never mind, I'm beating a dead horse.

Steve (not Sondheim) wants to know what happened to the Encores recording of Sweet Adelide. DRG Records (who have done most of the Encores recordings) have been saying that this will be recorded for most of the year, and yet it hasn't been recorded. My feeling is that too much time has gone by and that it won't be. Too expensive and they don't get the usual financial assistance they normally get when it's a Rodgers or Berlin show.

Both Naomi and S. Woody White point out to the person who suggested Sondheim was/is a cat lover (I pointed it out too, in my own way) that Sondheim was/is in fact a dog lover, especially poodles. If you were ever lucky enough to have your leg "humped" by the late Max you would know this. Max sadly perished in the fire that destroyed Mr. Sondheim's New York residence.

Emmie Jane shares The Real A's fear and loathing of Spam and suggests that the reason Mrs. Lovett's pies were The Worst Pies In London is because the filling was Spam.

Emily asks if I had any thought on all the hype surrounding the Into The Woods concert. It's probably pretty clear that The Real A does not like hype. That said, apparently the concert was fun, and those who attended thought it was nifty.

Jessica had two queries. The first, what is George Furth up to. Well, he's always writing something. And going to events. It is said that George Furth will go to the opening of a door. A couple of years ago I attended a workshop of a new musical by George Furth, about a woman in a recording studio making an album. Don't remember who the composer was. It wasn't too wonderful, and appears to be dead.

Jessica also wants to know wheere she can get some of the arrangements that were used in the Sondheim Carnegie Hall tribute. Specific arrangements such as those (unlike published sheet music) are the property of the specific arrangers, so that's who you'd have to contact.

Abigail wants to know when the non-musical Sweeney Todd movie opens. I will find out and let you know apace.

I should have credited James Coninger with being the only one to guess the Topper answer. There were two other correct guesses, but they arrived too late.

Jon has divined that The Real A is a gay man with a significant other. He feels if he's correct that he should be my psychic friend. I feel we're beating a dead horse here, Jon. I would say that you are incorrect on at least one of your points. So I can't send you the $3.99 at this time.

SweeneyT02 also feels that The Real A is a gay man because no one else could remember all the tunes I use for the parodies, or come up with the lyrics for said parodies. But I know many straight people who write lyrics and have encyclopedic knowledge of showtunes (not that I have encyclopedic knowledge of anything). My, this IS a conundrum, isn't it?

Sweeney also wants to know the instrumentation for Passion. My feeling is that the instumentation is gay, but there are those who feel it is straight. I believe the Broadway orchestration consisted of the following: 2 violins, 1 viola, 1 cello, 1 bass, 4 woodwinds, 2 french horns, 1 trumpet, 2 keyboards and percussion. The orchestra was enlarged (more strings and percussion) for the recording.

An unsigned e-mailer wants to know what I think of Patti Lupone. I know this will shock and amaze you, dear readers, but the only thing I have ever seen Patti do is The Baker's Wife. She was fine. I have listened to her on disc, and seen her on the television, and she is okay, if a little diva-self concscious.

And thanks to everyone else who just wrote in to say they were enjoying the column. That makes The Real A smile large.

Keep those cards and letters coming...

Trivia and Useless Knowledge Department

Well, this week we got a veritable flood of answers on the Gypsy question. Some more complete than others. Here are the songs: Let's Go To The Movies, Mama's Talkin' Soft, Mother's Day 1, Nice She Ain't, Smile, Girls, Three Wishes For Christmas, Tomorrow's Mother's Day, Who Needs Him.

Additionally there is a mystery song called Home Is The Place, which is included in a Jule Styne songbook and which has lyrics by Sondheim. Since SS didn't/doesn't normally write songs not from shows, could that too possibly have been intended for Gypsy?

Nice She Ain't, Mama's Talkin' Soft, and Three Wishes For Christmas have all been recorded. Nice is on a Michael Feinstein album, Mama's is on Lost In Boston III, and Three Wishes is on A Cabaret Christmas.

This week's trivia question is neither Sondheim nor theater related, but I want your answers nonetheless:

What is the most abused, overused and misunderstood word in the English language?

And next week we'll try to have a puzzler that no one can answer.

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



Questions? Comments?

Well, that's about it. I have to go beat a dead horse right now.

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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