When I was a little girl I was shocked to discover that you could check records out of the library just like you checked out books. It almost seemed like stealing … stealing with your EARS.
Since my dad’s collection of records was extensive but sadly lacking a few staples I immediately headed over to the Broadway section to see what they had. And there I found a treasure of shows I’d never even HEARD of before, all for the temporary taking. I was like a kid in a candy store. But more like just a kid. You know … in a library.
The first record I ever checked out was Damn Yankees. I renewed it over and over again, sure that I was begrudging some other fan of their dose of Lola and Shoeless Joe but to hell with that! Of course, looking back, I bet I was probably the last person to check the record out, but if not, I can safely say I was probably the last 12 year old.
Oh, how fondly I can recall the afternoons spent in my basement pretending to be Lola — the female lead, which was not how it always was for every show. Usually whenever I broke in a new record I chose a part for myself that reflected my strengths. So I was never the delicate ingenue but rather the funny side-kick friend. Even when I started getting real parts in school plays I was never the lead, but I did get a lot of applause for my turn as Mother Burnside in Mame and Mrs. Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie.
So back then, in the basement, it was a pretty big deal when my casting director (you know … the one who lived in my head) actually chose me for the part of Lola and not for the part of the old lady who stays at home and waits for her husband to come back to her. (You know, the one referred to as “old gal” … um … yeah). Good times.
Fast forward to Spring of 2008 when I get an offer in the mail for significantly discounted tickets to a limited run of Damn Yankees starring Sean Hayes and Jane Krakowski. Three weeks only! the flyer shouted at me, and of course I was that 12 year old kid again, thinking that if I didn’t call RIGHT AWAY the whole thing would be sold out in TWO MINUTES! I couldn’t risk it.
I called immediately and got some really great seats.
The show, to say the least, was outstanding. Having just seen The Wedding Singer a few weeks before with Stephen in Atlantic City, it was nice to see the kind of show that made Broadway what it was (is? … that’s another debate). Not that the second string cast didn’t perform their hearts out in Atlantic City … but hey. It’s Atlantic City. And it was … The Wedding Singer.
I was pretty astonished at how many songs I remembered so well from all those years ago. I mean sure, I played that record till it almost wore through, but eventually I had to give it back to the library and never realized how sticky it was in my brain. With hummable songs like You’ve Gotta Have Heart, Who’s Got the Pain when They Do the Mambo?, Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets and my favorite, Two Lost Souls, how could you go wrong? Yes, I admit it, a show like Damn Yankees reduced me down to that inner Broadway core, down in the very heart of me, where there’s a tiny little man shaking his fist and proclaiming “Now THOSE were songs you could sing along to!” (However, that little man lives right next door to a Black-Eyed-Pea wannabe who spends her day dancing to Dum Diddly stopping only long enough to get Low Low Low Low Low Low Low Low to Flo Rida. So it all evens out, right?)
Of course the whole cast was fantastic and plenty of numbers were show stoppers in their own right, but never in my whole experience have I ever been to a performance where the entire show just completely grinds to a halt as someone’s talent washes over hundreds of people at once and everyone simultaneously says “ahhhhh!” But that’s exactly what happened when Sean Hayes did “Those Were the Good Old Days” and accompanied himself on the piano. The crowd was so swooney and giddy during his performance that I actually got a flash of what it might have been like to be in the Ed Sullivan audience when the Beatles performed. Here they both are, giving a pretty gracious interview to a pretty vapid interviewer.
Not since I went to see the live performance of A Mighty Wind was I so propelled to my feet for the true (read: not gratuitous) standing ovation. Woo hoo! There’s nothing like those moments … it’s the closest I can come to understanding a sports fan who’s team wins in the … whatever game.
I had a perfectly wonderful random Saturday afternoon and then capped it off with a tremendous dinner at The Red Eye Grill which was better than I’d ever remembered it — a little touristy but hey … who says you can’t be a tourist in your own city some times? All in all, pretty terrific. Even the part where Stephen said “I think I liked The Wedding Singer better …” Oh, that’s okay. I guess it’s true — opposites do attract.