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

August 16, 1999 - #94

Well, dear readers, at last we are regular again. Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, Mr. Mark Bakalor who was off doing shows in San Juan Capistrano or wherever the hell he was, singing and dancing and whatnot, is finally back and this here column can once again operate in its normal fashion which is usually jeans and a T-shirt. It feels good to be regular again. Have you ever felt irregular? And if you did did irregular slap you across the face? Just asking. Oh, there is so much to talk about and now we can because we are regular. When you are regular you can do anything. For example, I am currently sitting on my couch like so much fish, and all because I'm regular. As difficult as it is to sometimes meet the weekly deadline of this here column, I really missed writing it when we were not regular. I had column withdrawal. I walked around for days in a daze thinking "Wherefore art thou, column?" never knowing my left foot from my right, my hat from my glove. My eyes became blurry and I could not focus on anything. I even have the proof. Here is an activity photo of the "Coke" sign in Times Square that I took two weeks ago.

You see? I could not focus - my eyes were blurry. I was at sea, adrift in a hurly-burly world sans column. But I can see clearly now, because I am writing this column once again. Even the TKTS booth is in focus now.

As you can see, now that this column is regular the TKTS booth is sharp and clear.

Apparently, while Mr. Mark Bakalor was away being an actor, a not-so-funny thing happened on the way to the forum. Yes, a small band of miscreants invaded Finishing The Chat and said miscreants were rude and immature. I'm sure that those miscreants would say, "Hey, I'm mature" but we know differently, don't we, dear readers? We know that the only difference between "I'm mature" and "immature" is an apostrophe, and that apostrophe was apparently missing in the miscreants. But rest easy, Mr. Bakalor has dealt with the problem in a swift and merciless manner. His merciless manner has sent those miscreants running for cover, and now those mercilessly dealt with miscreants are mercifully missing.. The wrath of Mr. Bakalor knows no bounds, or even leaps.

Has anyone noticed how regular this column is? It is as if this column has had a laxative. Furthermore, isn't it amazing that laxatives even exist? Someone woke up one day and thought, "Oh, I'm not feeling regular today, I'm feeling all stopped up and I must do something about it". And, thus, the laxative was invented. It was invented by the very selfsame person who woke up one day and thought the above. That person was none other than Sidney X. Lax, a brilliant sewage engineer and part time biochemist. He put his knowledge of the sewage system and biochemistry together and the next thing he knew he invented the laxative and was soon feeling regular just like this column. Wasn't that a fine story? Mr. Lax also had an airport named after him right here in Los Angeles, California. Does anyone know what the hell I'm talking about? I mean, here I am discussing laxatives when I should be talking about my close personal friend, Mr. Stephen Sondheim or at the very least the musical theater as we know it today. After all, this is the Stephen Sondheim Stage and a forum for discussion of the musical theater, is it not? Occasionally we should throw a dog a bone, column-wise, or at the very least throw the bone a dog.

The only problem with this column having been irregular over the last few weeks is that this really should be column number 97 or 98 and yet it is only column 94. We should be further along, column-wise, and yet we are not. Soon we will be celebrating our 100th column but not quite as soon as we should and I find that heinous (heinous, do you hear me?). I have had to hold off on purchasing the ham chunks and cheese slices. But a mere six weeks from now and we will have our celebration, by gum or by golly or by George or bisexual. We will have a celebration to beat the band, and frankly I feel the band needs to be beaten because by gum they deserve it in my book (Chapter 347 The Band and How They Need To Be Beaten By Gum). Have you ever been beaten by gum? I have. And I have paid the price ($1.66). I was flogged by gum and have the gum marks to prove it. It was a piece of Wrigley's Spearmint Gum, still in the wrapper. Someone I didn't even know just came up to me and started beating me with it. I tried to stop him, I tried to make him see reason but he was having none of it. I finally had to call the police and they took him away. He is still in prison for felony assault with a piece of Wrigley's Spearmint gum. I hope this teaches a valuable lesson to any miscreants who may be thinking of gum violence. Do not go out and mug someone with gum, even though mug is merely gum spelled backwards. Just say no.

Well, that was special. That was a total waste of a paragraph, by gum. In fact, that paragraph was by Gum. Marvin Gum, who has been known to sneak in a paragraph about himself whenever he can get away with it which he obviously just did. No, I feel there are other things to talk about besides gum and laxatives and miscreants and when I figure out what they are talk about them I shall.

Ah, it's a new day, that day being Friday, as opposed to Thursday which was yesterday when I wrote the above. And what is special about today, Friday? I'll tell you what is special because frankly I feel you need to know, although by the time you read this Friday will be a thing of the past, therefore your knowledge of what is special about today, Friday, will have no meaning whatsoever. Today (Friday) is the 13th. Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, today (Friday) is Friday the 13th. My advice to all dear readers on Friday the 13th is not to fraternize with anyone named Jason. Just where did the superstitions about Friday the 13th begin? I don't know the answer but I do know it is a day (Friday) where you must beware of things that go bump in the night. Where you must beware of homicidal maniacs in ski masks wielding axes and other dangerous weaponry, such as a fork or hockey puck. On Friday the 13th it is important to not taunt the unknown, the supernatural, and it is best to not step in front of a speeding locomotive or leap tall buildings at a single bound. I will be very circumspect on the 13th (Friday today) and I hope all of you will do the same.

Oh, I feel so regular. In fact, I feel so regular that it is probably time to move on to a new section of the column, because frankly this section of the column is starting to feel like the movie The Blair Witch Project: it's starting to give me motion sickness. But enough about me.

San Diego Triple Play

Last weekend I got in my automobile and drove down to San Diego, California to see three shows. Yes, it was a three-show weekend and by the end of it I'd seen not one, not two, but three shows. What were these three shows you might ask and I might tell you because why the hell should I bring up three shows only to withhold telling you about them. That would be vicious behavior on my part. That would be the kind of behavior only perpetrated on Friday the 13th.

The first play I saw was entitled Missing Footage by Gen LeRoy, at the Old Globe Playhouse. Frankly, since this was a brand spanking new play I feel it should have been at the New Globe Playhouse, but that's another story. This play was about the world of ballet and a dancer who has to deal with the fact that her glory days are behind her. It was a lovely play, not perfect, but well written and lovingly performed by a talented ensemble. The play was directed by Mr. Tony Walton, who also happens to be married to Gen LeRoy, the play's author. Tony Walton also happens to be one of the theater's greatest set designers (film, too) and he is responsible for some of my favorites, including Pippin, the original Chicago, The Will Rogers Follies, Grand Hotel and others, as well as the films Mary Poppins, The Boy Friend, and The Wiz. Mr. Walton also has a Sondheim connection in that he designed the sets and costumes for both the original and revival productions of A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (he also produced the London version) as well as the Richard Lester film version. He also designed the set for the Roundabout Theater production of Company. On a side note, (Gb) Mr. Walton was also formerly married to that grand lady of film and theater, Victor/Victoria herself, Miss Julie Andrews. His direction of the play was first rate, so perhaps Mr. Walton has a new career ahead of him, although I would hate to think of the musical theater being deprived of his design genius. Another point of interest (to me anyway) is that Gen LeRoy was one of Norman Rockwell's frequent models for his Saturday Evening Post covers of the late 50s and early 60s.

The following day (Sunday) I drove up to La Jolla and saw the new musical known as Jane Eyre. It is written by John Caird with Music and Lyrics by Paul Gordon, and directed by Mr. Caird and Scott Schwartz (son of Stephen). Now, as many of you probably know, Mr. Caird co-directed the musical entitled Les Miserables. This show is very much in that mold, but that mold is now old and this show never comes close to the power of that production, or that musical's score. The story of Jane Eyre, of course, is a classic, and the 40s film version with Joan Fontaine and Orson Welles is a favorite of mine. The lady who plays Jane is very good (Maria Schlaffel), but the leading man, James Barbour, seems too young and is too mannered for my taste. A nice voice, although he tends to sing sharp. The best performance in the show belongs to Mary Stout as Cook. She is hilarious and creates a well-rounded (literally) character. If the show gets to New York I predict a Tony Award for Miss Stout. The show also features a set by John Napier (he of Cats and Les Miz). Apparently this set is a monster and pushes the envelope in terms of its mechanics. It features a turntable with three moving circles, and it also features a circular light grid (which apparently weighs many tons) which also moves just like the turntable, in other words an airborne turntable. That is very impressive and I'm sure it does push the envelope. Unfortunately, the envelope is empty. For all of the sound and fury, the set is basically a window here, a drape there, a bush or a table, so everytime you see this immense light grid rotate you go, "Oooh" and then wonder why they're going to all that trouble. The music never soars when it should, doesn't have any of the instantly memorable themes that Les Miz has (I keep bringing up Les Miz because it is obviously the role model for this show) and the lyrics are never more than serviceable. Still, they have time to work on the show and hopefully they can make some improvements before venturing to their next venue. The interesting thing about this particular tryout is that they cannot even implement any changes they'd like to because of the computerized set and lighting. This seems to me to negate the very nature of trying out a show. Not like the old days when a show trying out in Boston or New Haven could put in whole new scenes and songs on a daily basis.

I then drove back to the Old Globe Theater and saw my third show, Thunder On The Mountain. This show features five incredibly talented performers and a wonderful rhythm and blues score by Grammy-winning Keb Mo. It's not really a musical musical, although it has a plot and a book. But those are there merely to string together some great foot-stomping, hand-clapping numbers, delivered with great style and energy. The band is great, and the whole production is top-notch. The book is a bit silly, as is the plot, but as I said, those aren't really the most important elements of a show like this. That said, Act One ends with a hilarious one-liner that brought the house down. A very enjoyable evening, especially because it was performed in the Globe's outdoor theater which lent the whole affair a certain outdoorsiness.

I then drove back to Los Angeles, California. One thing about the drive down to San Diego: I left on Saturday at around 3 p.m. At several points during the journey there was simply horrendous traffic. Why? On a Saturday at 3 p.m.? But the unfathomable thing (I've been trying to fathom it for years but to no avail) is how you can be sitting in bumper to bumper traffic driving ten miles an hour, and then all of a sudden there is no traffic and everyone just zooms (smooz spelled backwards) along. How can that happen? It's like suddenly five hundred cars disappear into a black hole. And then, a little while later, it's bumper to bumper again. This is incomprehensible, a mystery worthy of Agatha Christie.

Mr. Allen Makes A Musical

I recently watched Mr. Woody Allen's attempt at making a musical. It is entitled Everyone Says I Love You. It uses classic standard songs which are then mostly mutilated by actors with no musical talent whatsoever. Two of the film's cast do, of course, have musical comedy credentials - Alan Alda (starred in The Apple Tree) and Goldie Hawn. Edward Norton, a fine young actor, looks totally embarrassed to be singing and hoofing. Drew Barrymore is actually decent, but what can we say about the warbling of Julia Roberts and Mr. Allen himself? Well, we can say, "What is it,fish?" and we would not be far off. This film seems to want to be Allen's Pennies From Heaven or The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. It is neither. It is interesting that Edward Norton seems to be trying to sound like Woody, and this is something that has plagued other actors in his other films. Does Woody encourage this? Does he give them line readings? Anyone who has endured Mr. Allen's latest, Celebrity (certainly the nadir of his career), knows whereof I speak. Mr. Kenneth Branagh is just plain awful doing his Woody impression. In any case, Everyone Says I Love You is interminable, although there is some occasionally witty choreography by Graciela Danielle. The photography by Carlo DiPalma is yellow, which is usual for him. I shudder to think that there are people who only know Woody's films from the last ten years. You want Woody go rent Take The Money and Run, Bananas, Sleeper, Love and Death, Annie Hall, and his masterpiece Manhattan. It has been way too many years since we have had a good movie musical, and it's films like Everyone Says I Love You that keep putting the nail in the coffin of one of film's great genres. I'll get off my soap box now. Have you ever been on a soap box? What is the point really? Standing on a box that formerly held a bar of Caress soap is silly. The minute you stand on it it crushes flat as a pancake and then where are you? On a flat- as-a-pancake soap box, that's where you are.

The Real A: A Life

Miss Meryle Secrest has been off in the Cayman Islands sunning herself whilst wearing a thong bathing suit. She told me she'd gotten pink butt cheeks but this was simply TMI (too much information) for me. Anyway, she's back now and as usual is pumping me (no mean feat) for new revelations. I am about revelationed out, frankly. I was trying in earnest to come up with new revelations, but there were none to be had. Perhaps if I tried in frank or joe a new revelation would come, because ernest was certainly no help at all. The only revelation I could come up with was that once upon a time I once ate onion dip every day for a week. That's right, you heard it here, dear readers, I, The Real A, ate Lipton's onion dip every day for a week. I do believe I binged on Lipton's delicious onion dip. The interesting thing is, that I actually lost weight doing it. I would not recommend the Lipton Onion Dip Weight Loss Plan to anyone, but it worked for me, although that was not the reason I binged on Lipton's Onion Dip for a week. No, the reason I binged was because every day I woke up and had a hankering for it, I had a craving for it. And the next thing I knew, there I was, sour cream in hand, whipping up a nice new batch of Lipton's Onion Dip. After eating it for a week, I then did not have Lipton's Onion Dip again for ten years. Wasn't that an interesting revelation?

Right now I'm on a Haagen Dazs Swiss Vanilla Almond kick, although it is difficult to kick ice cream. Every day I have a nice bowl of Swiss Vanilla Almond ice cream over a nice Entenmann's Chocolate donut, because the Swiss Vanila Ice Cream only has 21 grams of fat and that is not nearly enough, so the donut provides an extra 15 grams of fat or so. I mean, if you are going to have grams of fat you may as well go whole hog, whatever the hell that means. No, you simply cannot go half hog when you can go whole hog.

Did you know that I once went to the A&P market near my house (built on the site that was once the bottling plant of Adohr Farms, where once I played as a tyke) and at said A&P they had $.99 albums one could purchase for $.99? They did and I purchased several. Most of these albums would now be known as Lounge music, but then it was not hip and I was roundly (not flatly, mind you) laughed at for buying Martin Denny albums, Jackie Gleason albums, Percy Faith albums. Now I'd be the height of hip and also the weight of hip, too. Anyway, one fine day, there I was, perusing the $.99 albums and I came upon the soundtrack album to Lerner and Loewe's classic film musical, Gigi. Wow, I thought, and I purchased it immediately. But here is the interesting part. I got the album home, took off the shrink wrap, pulled the record out of its sleeve and what did I find? Not the soundtrack to Gigi is what I found. Some record inserter somewhere had inserted the wrong record into the Gigi jacket. And the record I found inside the Gigi jacket was a Broadway Cast Recording to a musical on the M-G-M label, entitled Whoop-Up. I had never heard of such a musical. The reason for this was because Whoop-Up was a big flop. So, I popped the album on my handy-dandy record player and I was immediately entranced by the music issuing forth. Said music was by someone named Moose. Moose Charlap. That is a name. Moose Charlap. A name you never forget. I later realized that this was the same Moose Charlap who'd written some of the songs for Mary Martin's Peter Pan (a lot of his score was discarded and replaced with songs by Styne and Comden and Green). The lyrics were by Norman Gimbel who would later Americanize the lyrics to Michel Legrand's music to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. I became obsessed with Whoop-Up (similar to my binging on Lipton's Onion Dip), I listened to it over and over again. I loved the Overture, and such songs as Glenda's Place, When The Tall Man Talks, Flattery, and the truly beguiling Never Before. As I listened to it, I somehow knew the show must have been awful, but the performers on the album were wonderful. The sublime Susan Johnson (the original Cleo from The Most Happy Fella), Paul Ford (from Sgt. Bilko and The Music Man), and all the others, really sold the songs. Ultimately, I was able to find the actual cover of the album, and I learned that Whoop-Up was based on a story called Stay Away, Joe which was later turned into a film starring Elvis Presley! Unfortunately, the Presley film had no Moose in it, at least not the Charlap variety. Years later, Whoop-Up actually made it to CD, but it went out of print quickly and now commands prices of over one hundred dollars if you can find it. I, of course, bought it the day it came out and loved it all over again.

So, here we have had revelations about onion dip, Haagen Dazs Vanilla Swiss Almond over an Entenmann's Chocolate Donut, and a Broadway Cast Album of Whoop-Up in a Gigi album cover. Yes, I'd say this column was regular again, wouldn't you, dear readers?

Letters... We Get Letters

At last, we can catch up and get current, letters-wise. And, unlike Finishing The Chat, we have had no miscreant letter writers, just letters as per usual from our wonderful and loyal dear readers. And without further ado (oda spelled backwards - doa spelled inside out) here they are.

Pitgirl is back in St. Louis having been in Pittsburgh and Kansas City. She has swum in an all-city meet where some inconsiderate competitor sprayed her with sunscreen which caused Pitgirl to have large red itchy patches of skin (RIPOS syndrome). Furthermore, Pitgirl got a bad cold (is there a good cold? Just asking). On top of that, she has to start marching band camp with said cold and said red itchy patches of skin (RIPOS). She also informs me that the French translation of "What is it, fish?" is "Qu'est-ce que c'est, de poisson?". To which the answer, of course, is, "oui".

Rafael tells me that "What is it, fish?" in Tagalog (the most widely-spoken dialect in the Philippines) is, "Ano it, isda?". Rafael also tells me that of the recent Disney features his favorite is The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He thinks the Menken/Schwartz score is glorious and wants to know if I agree. Sad to admit I have yet to see it, but I do like what I've heard of the score, especially Out There. Rafael asks if it's true that James Lapine is developing Hunchback as a Broadway musical. Lapine has just directed Hunchback, but not on Broadway. No, the stage musical of Hunchback just premiered in Germany where it garnered mixed reviews. Whether it comes to Broadway is anyone's guess. Regarding the last column's report on Sunset Blvd. starring Miss Petula Clark, Rafael wants to know if I ever saw Miss Clark in the film Goodbye, Mr. Chips. I did, and liked her very much, as well as Peter O'Toole and the score by Leslie Bricusse (sans Anthony Newley).

prouvaire has been reading all our old columns and was thrilled to finally find out where that most wonderful expression "What a revoltin' development this is" came from (The Life of Riley). And they say this column isn't chockful of useful information. Prouvaire also told me he's about to throw in the towel trying to come up with an identity for me. I threw in the towel once and then was left standing naked as a jaybird whatever the hell that means. Where was I? Oh, yes, Prouvaire. Here is what's confused him. In Column 38 I said that I hadn't vomited since I was fifteen. Yet a mere ten columns later in Column 48 I said I hadn't vomited since 1981. If you do the math that would make my birthyear around 1966. And yet I said that I knew Lorna Luft when she was twelve years old which would have been in 1964. Well, I think what I meant to say in Column 38 was that I haven't vomited since I was fifteen except for the two times I've had food poisoning, once in 1981 and once last year. I hope that clears up the mystery as to my identity. I am clearly the person who hasn't vomited since they were fifteen except in the two instances of food poisoning. Prouvaire also read my story regarding my childhood friend Stephanie Gorman, and he shared a touching story about a childhood friend of his whose life was cut short way too soon.

Duff wrote to tell me that there could be wedding bells in the future for he and his significant other. Duff is currently playing Chaps in Mr. Noel Coward's Ways and Means off-off Broadway. Actually, since Duff wrote the above way back on July 21st, the show has since closed. This is what happens when Mr. Bakalor is off in Diamond Bar or wherever the hell he was doing shows. These letters lose their timeliness. We must have timeliness and that is all there is to it.

Tom Guest (He is the Oz Man - goo goo goo jub) informs me that his root canal work is almost done. That is good news indeed, root canal-wise. Tom's college music teacher asks for a well-known tune that begins with a major 7th. Now, right off the top of my head I would say that Love, Look Away begins with a major 7th, the first note (in the key of C) being B against a Cmaj.7 chord. I have no idea if that's what the college music teacher is looking for, but there it is nonetheless. I have always loved major 7ths, certainly more than major 6ths which bore me to tears. I like a nice augmented every now and then, but do not fancy the diminished. A major 9th is nice and if you're in the proper mood a flatted fifth might just do the trick. A flatted fish is also nice. Tom recently watched a film of Truman Capote's The Grass Harp, which he formerly only knew of via the musical version. He asks if I've seen the musical produced. No, I haven't, but the album is a delight. Tom also asks if I have any up to date information about the release of that other Capote-inspired musical, Breakfast At Tiffany's. For those who don't know, BAT was a huge Carrie-like disaster long before Carrie was even an inkling in the brainpan of Mr. Stephen (not Sondheim) King. It was finally recorded some three years ago but has not been released. The company which recorded it has been giving various release dates ever since none of which has come to pass. The same company recorded the flop Mata Hari and that too remains unreleased. Will they ever come out? Who knows. In the meantime, I am certain that there will be more release dates which come and go.

Jilly did not know that a beignet was fried dough with powdered sugar. That was a new one on Jilly. Jilly collects different names for fried dough with powdered sugar, such as zeppoli, flipper, funnel cake, crellic and cruchicki. Of those, I have had "funnel cake" in St. Louis, where it is known as Aunt Flossie's Funnel Cake. I once tried to make beignets from a box of beignet mix. I obviously did something wrong, since they came out inedible and disgusting looking to boot. In fact, they had the consistency of a boot. No amount of powdered sugar helped. I do make onion dip very well, though. There are no additional names for onion dip unless you just spell it backwards, and then you get the classic noino pid, a fine and evocative name.

Paul McKenzie wrote and asked why Love Is In The Air was cut from A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum and was it used in anything else besides The Birdcage. He asked I respond via e-mail but that isn't possible so hopefully he'll see this answer right here in this column, which, by the way, is regular. This will be old news to most dear readers of this column, but while Forum was in tryouts the show was not working. The creative team asked Jerome Robbins to take a look and give his opinion. He told them there was one thing stopping the show from working, and that was its opening number, the charm song Love Is In The Air. It was his feeling that that song did not set the tone for the knockabout farce which followed it. Within the next week, Sondheim had written Comedy Tonight, which Mr. Robbins then staged and the rest is musical comedy history. Love Is In The Air has been featured in several Sondheim tributes and revues.

Jillian has been looking for the video of Sweeney Todd for quite some time. She's heard it's no longer available on VHS but that it's supposed to come out on DVD. Yes, the VHS is out of print as is the laserdisc, although both come up with some regularity on my beloved eBay. As to the DVD, I was told it was in the works and that it would have a commentary track like the recent Sunday In The Park With George, but have heard nothing about it since.

Bob G. tells me he met Alan G. and that a good time was had by all. This meeting of the Gs I presume took place in NY, which is the best city for Gs to meet in. Did you know that if you took Bob and Alan's first initial and combined it with "G" you'd get "BAG"? Isn't that arcane? Isn't that effluvia?

Pat King (he of Wheaton North) wrote to tell me that he hasn't written for a long, long time. Not only has he not written he hasn't even read the column. Shame, say I. But, you see, Pat was in Brigadoon and having computer problems although not at the same time. Yes, Pat was with The Heather on The Hill where the mist of May is in the gloaming. The air of August isn't in the gloaming, however, and the air of August is hot, hot, hot. The next show for Wheaton North will be Little Shop of Horrors, which takes place not in the gloaming but nearby on Skid Row, which has its own form of mist. Little Shop is a fun romp and a good time should be had by all.

Anita agrees with me about Miss Bernadette Peter's annoying hillbilly accent in Annie Get Your Gun. Anita is also an LA native and enjoyed my reminiscinces about the Farmer's Market.

Emily acknowledges that she hasn't written for months. She's missed me horribly and feels awful that she hasn't written. Yes, Emily has been errant once again, but we forgive her. She also sent me a very nice e-card. Emily recently had a dream that she was chatting with my close personal friend, Mr. Stephen Sondheim, in the SSS chat room. Other denizens of the SSS forum who Emily has dreamt of are Braden, mrsmig and jc. I once dreamt of fried dough and powdered sugar which I was eating on a train which was entering a tunnel. Emily saw Annie Get Your Gun in previews - she hated the sets, hated the costumes, the choreography made her gag and she thought the show-within-a-show idea was horrible. Now, if we were to try to pull a quote from her review for the ads, here is how it would read: "Sets...Costumes... Choreography!"

Sean apparently didn't get the part in You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown and is in the depths of despair about it. I say be of good cheer, there will be other shows and other parts. As an actor you must learn to get past the rejection quickly and not dwell on the negative as hard as that is sometimes. Sean's mom said she might like Stephen Sondheim's Sunday In The Park With George if it weren't for Mandy Patinkin whose voice she doesn't like. Sean feels the same about his voice. I, too, have problems with Mr. Patinkin's over the top renditions of songs, but Sunday is the one show I feel he really comes off well in. His voice just somehow seems to embody George. Sean also got the cast album of Annie Get Your Gun and didn't like a lot of it, but does like the idea of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show telling the story of Annie and Frank. I didn't like it, but that's what makes horse racing and borscht.

Joey informed me that a production of Into The Woods was done close to where she lives and that they spelled Mr. Sondheim's name wrong. I hate when that happens, although no one has ever spelled The Real A incorrectly. Joey recently read something that said that Sondheim was the Shakespeare of composition. She'd like to know if I agree with that statement. I would if I understood it. I would think if he were the Shakespeare of lyric writing it would make more sense. I, of course, have been called the Shakespeare of Fried Dough with Powdered Sugar.

jc used to go to the Farmer's Market and buy huge bricks of Toffee which came in a white box with brown letters. I never bought a huge brick of Toffee either in or out of a white box with brown letters. I was too busy being mesmerized by the peanut butter machine. jc also asks what the "A" stands for in The Real A. "Author", she asks? Am I The Real Author? Well, I suppose given the fact that I am writing this here column that I am some kind of author, but no, the A does not stand for "author". jc feels from the clues that I have given that my initials are either R.M. or B.K. ` First, let us look at our list of guesses.

male, female, gay, straight, Stephen Sondheim, Bernadette Peters, Gerard Allesan drini, George Clooney, William F. Orr, Rupert Holmes, Young Simba from The Lion King, the Tony nominated Billy from Big, a cast member from one of Sondheim's sh ows, Michael Tough the singing janitor, Bruce Kimmel, Richard Christianson of the Chicago Tribune, George Furth, New Line Theatre's Scott Miller, Leigh's father, Waiting for Guffman's Corky, Mr. Mark Bakalor's word processor, Charlie Sheen, dear reader Matt, Pitgirl's physics professor, Michael Larson director at the Stagedoor Manor, and Yves of Finishing the Chat, and record producer Bruce Yeko.

But those initials - R.M. and B.K. - could stand for almost anything. For example Roast Mules, Rather Mundane, Rotten Maltballs, or Benign Knish, Brief Knickers, or even Bitter Kelp. Yes, I could be any of those and more.

El read my bit about Bernadette Peters' age. El believes BP was born in 1948 which would have made her 13 in 1961. All I can say is Ms. Peters was not born in 1948 until recently.

S. Woody White had a glorious vacation with der Brucer and the baby sitting went well with many stories being read to the lucky child.

Tiffany was feeling blah, took some herbs and then didn't feel blah anymore. When I feel blah I get up and dance the hora whilst eating a cheese slice and then I don't feel blah anymore. Another good thing with which to combat the blahs is to step on a tack. You'd be surprised how stepping on a tack gets you right out of the doldrums. "Doldrums". Are there "doltrumpets"? "Dolcellos"? Or just "doldrums"? Just asking. Tiffany has a new cat named Bob to go with her extant cat named Nellie. She also has not seen her fish socks picture posted, but that is because Mr. Bakalor has been off in Indio singing and dancing and whatnot. Mr. Bakalor will print that picture in next week's column!

Trivia and Other Useless Knowledge

Apparently Mr. Bakalor made a little error in our last column and left out the answer to the prior week's trivia question: What team was going to write My Fair Lady prior to Lerner and Loewe. The answer was/is Rodgers and Hammerstein, and their version was to have starred Mary Martin, and not as Henry Higgins, either. I love Mary, but the thought of her playing Eliza Doolittle is enough to put me off Haagen Dazs Swiss Vanilla Almond ice cream over an Entenmann's Chocolate Donut right this very minute.

I thought I'd posed a real stumper with last column's question: What was Christoper Walken's name as a young actor. Well, apparently this is a bit of effluvia and arcania that everyone knows. The following all got the correct answer: Arnold M. Brockman, S. Woody White, grehf, William F. Orr and Emily. Mr. Walken's first name used to be "Ronnie" Walken, or sometimes "Ronald".

Instead of a trivia question this week, let's have a little poll. Which character in a Sondheim musical is most like you?

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



Questions? Comments?

Well, dear readers, we have survived Friday the 13th, we have become regular and by gum it's all smooth sailing from here on in. Starting next week we will begin the countdown to our 100th column. Will our 100th column be our last? Will I, at long last, reveal who The Real A is? Stay tuned, dear readers, for the answers to those and other important questions such as who invented the chop-o-matic.

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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Music, Books & More
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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