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"Sing out Louise...."
Wednesday, August 11, 2010 • Posted August 11, 2010

My friends will climb in the truck with me, and I see the look cross their face. They look at the radio to confirm their suspicions, and they roll their eyes. Gerry's listening to the Broadway channel on XM radio again!

Maybe it's too easy to dismiss my fondness for musical theater and to decide that my listening choices are as much as part of me as my reading glasses or my sandals. In that case, those overhearing the music will miss the more important point of why I choose to have the Broadway channel as one of my favorites.

The first "big" production I ever saw was my freshman year in college. I traveled to Houston with friends from the dorm to watch A Chorus Line. It was at the Music Hall downtown, my seats were horrible, and I'll never forget the feeling I had. When the dancers return to the stage for the final version of "Singular Sensation," now clad in their spangled tuxedos and top hats, the crowd went wild.

It would be two years before I had the opportunity to see another traveling production. This time, it was at the Frank Erwin Center and the show was Evita. I went with my friend, Mark, and we had already played the cast album multiple times, so I knew all the songs by heart. Even still, when the actress playing the lead role steps out on the balcony of the Castle Rosada to sing "Don't Cry For Me Argentina," I could not stop smiling.

The magic of musical theater is that it is not just music, not just words, and not just a story. It is a combination of all three, as well as costumes, sets, lighting, props and actors. It is the thrill of watching someone perform in a situation where no editing will correct the mistakes and no retakes are possible. Like all live theater, it is the joy of seeing a story unfold, and it has the added dimension of the musicality which burns the story into our brains.

It's possible many of you think you don't care for such productions; but, there are scores of songs in the public realm that have come from the shows. "Memory," played at numerous weddings, comes from Cats. "They Call the Wind Mariah" was in Paint Your Wagon (and was sung by Clint Eastwood!). "Somewhere" originally appeared in West Side Story. On a more recent note, the beautiful song delivered by Susan Boyle, "I Dreamed a Dream," was in one of my favorite shows, Les Miserables.

I remember finally going to see Phantom of the Opera, years after it had hit Broadway, while I was in Los Angeles. I had memorized the London score, and was less than impressed by the show I saw in California. Two years later, I saw a traveling production during the state fair in Dallas and was impressed once more, for they did it justice.

There are so many shows from our past and from the current pantheon, and there are good ones and bad. I remember dating a girl in Kerrville who appeared in the Point's production of South Pacific. She only had a dancing part; but, the rest of the actors did a phenomenal job of making the show work. I'll never forget sitting on the banks of the river watching the show as "Some Enchanted Evening" floated across the water and over the audience.

So forgive my little addiction and just know why I'm smiling after a long day at work while I drive home listening to one of my favorite songs from Annie, "It's a Hard Knock Life." Or, maybe it will be "525,600 Minutes" from Rent. And don't worry, I'll drift back to reality in a short while.

It’s all just my opinion.

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