Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Every. Single. Line.

Behind the wooden slats of the built in cabinets in our orange shag carpeted den, my parents had a really cool reel to reel stereo. The music was so appealing in its white boxes with my dad’s handwritten labels in black. There was opera on Sundays, classical always, but most compelling were the soundtracks.

We were a Musical family.

Not a musical family as in a family who makes music, no. With the exception of piano expertise that diminished exponentially with birth order, we did not play instruments.

We were a Musical family, as in musicals. On stage and screen.

We did not act in musicals, no. We sang to be sure, and we could recite the scripts of many productions, but when I say that ours was a Musical family I mean that our family was into show tunes.

Where did it start? As long as I can remember, there were musicals. Godspell was an early favorite, as were The Sound of Music, Annie, and Jesus Christ, Superstar. It wasn’t all wholesome and bibles though, I can still say every single line from the soundtrack of the original broadway cast recording of A Chorus Line, although Dad did edit out the provocative “orchestra and balcony” number. And Pippin – remember Pippin? We had a video recording of a stage production with Ben Vereen as the narrator and the guy from the Greatest American Hero as Pippin. He was so smoking hot in that net shirt.

Our biggest show had to have been Joseph. Ahhh, Joseph. We saw it on stages from junior high to Broadway. How many times did we go to the Downtown Cabaret Theater to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat? Every. Single. Line. Just ask Beth, who once had the distinct pleasure of transporting three drunk sisters across the international border in her Spud McMod while we serenaded her from orchestra to curtain call.

As we grew older, and the shag became berber and the reels became cassettes and then CDs, our penchant for musicals remained. Ellie and I once did a three month lap around the country, and belted out every single line of Little Shop of Horrors at least 3 or 4 times a day. Once we treated a relative stranger in St. Paul to the whole rendition, pausing only long enough to inform him that his kitchen cupboards were organized all wrong.

My kids enjoy a musical, one kid more than the other, at least on record. They’re products of the Disney machine, and the soundtrack of their early childhood was sung by Simba, Ariel, Mogli, and Cruella; but they have an ear for the oldies as well. When my boy was little, he was known to sport a jaunty hat and dance around yelling “Step in time! Step in time!” And my girl’s heart was broken by Dorothy’s plight, so much so that she has yet to make it all the way through to the satisfying click of red heels.

They are also products of their mother, and have their own favorite songs from the soundtracks that have been known to reside in my car stereo for months after I see a show or a movie, like “the uh oh song” (track 3 from Moulin rouge), “the growling song” (track 7, disc 2 from rent) and “oh man, not THAT one again!" (any track from Mama Mia), and yes, even a select few from Hedwig, but certainly not every single line.

Life should be more like musicals. Wouldn't it be effective if, in moments of extreme emotion, we just burst into song? Did you see Enchanted? I love when Giselle suggested that Robert sing to his estranged girlfriend, otherwise how would she know his true feelings? Imagine the staff meetings if we sang the really important stuff. Imagine how much more enjoyable it would be to break up or make up with someone, to teach your kids an important message, or struggle with a difficult decision. I wish I could sing this post to you, to illustrate my affection for musicals. A singing blog... now we're talking.


Anonymous said...

"Oh Seymour. You've been getting hurt so much lately."

Ach, Jacquie. I love this. I of course had to watch Ben Vereen & Co.'s "Glory" dance from Pippin too.

How many millions of road trips did we take in the Country Squire, the 6 of us divived between the "back" and the "way back", breaking into song the second we left the driveway (or school): "Way way back many centuries ago....."

Anonymous said...

Oh, one more thing:

"Hey, you're a real cowboy....."

Anonymous said...

Ummm. You're scaring me. I know all kinds of songs but not many musical soundtracks. Never could get into people singing in the middle of my movie/play/whatever...
Guess I'm just weird like that. Nice memories of all your fun times though.

Anonymous said...

Jacquie, you crack me up. I have to say that hearing every. single. line. of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, sung by you, MB, and your fair sister from North Carolina, was extremely entertaining and got me through that foggy Mexican drive.

Fiddler on the Roof was the musical I seemed to see over and over as a child. If I were a rich man, Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum. Good times.

Nancy said...

I'm older, so my "singing road trip" musicals are:

The King and I (my favorite!) Oklahoma & West Side Story.

My daughter knew all the lines and songs to Mary Martin's Peter Pan when she was just 3!

Kat said...

You had me at Hello....Dolly.

Weith Kick said...

This post is right up my alley! "And I dug right down to the bottom of my soul just to see how an ice cream felt, and I dug right down to the bottom of my soul and I tried to melt. And I felt nothing." I grew up from about age 12 in theatre. I've done lots of musicals. The Music Man, Bye Bye Birdie, Once Upon a Mattress. Just last year I was Nathan Detroit in a local production of Guys and Dolls, one of my favs. I still love listening to this music because it takes me away from the wicked world of reality and puts me in a world of sunshine. I love the music of Pippin. "Oh, it's time to start living, time to take a little from the world we're given." I love the music from Fiddler on the Roof, A Chorus Line, Annie, the list goes on and on. But I think my all time favorite musical is The Fantastiks. I have never been in this play but I've seen it several times and I absolutely LOVE the music from it. I never tell non-theatre people about my love for this type of music because I know they would never understand. I like lots of different types of music but musical theatre is really the only one that can take me away to a bright, colorful, beautiful, happy world. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes, I DO burst into an aptly evocative song when the moment seems right. I’ve tried to stop doing it during work meetings, though because I find it hampers advancement opportunities, regardless of what Broadway has taught us.

Anonymous said...

Me again. Commenting again.

I've been singing Pippin, Fiddler on the Roof, Little Shop of Horrors, A Chorus Line, Hair and West Side Story to myself -- okay, out loud, really loud -- all the day.

Remember when we were at your house and sang:

It was a horse!
Tradi-SHON! Tradi-SHON!

Your boy was *SO* mad at us. We, of course, fell on the floor with laughter at ourselves.....

Anonymous said...

Ahhhh, so Boo must be your child then. Kid is OB-FREAKING-CESSED with Rocky Horror, Grease and now Rent.

mumple said...

Oooo. If only I could get my Sweetie to understand that musicals ARE music! (He insists that if you can't bang yer head, it's not music. *sigh*)

Lorraine said...

There's been many a morning that I pull into the school parking lot with the music blaring "Go and hunt her and find her and kill her - wickedness must be punished" just to get me in the mood for the day (the witch being my nemesis the school nurse). And the trip to pick my daughter up from college during her freshman year (every other weekend) would have me running through Mamma Mia all the way down Route 295. There's nothing like listening to a musical to get you through the day.