Sunday, April 1, 2012

Fanfare for the Featured Townsperson

Dear Friends,

Off-Broadway, here we come! The Hard Taco song for April is called, "Happy in My Neighborhood," and with all the Off-Broadway potential this song has, you'd think my middle name was Lloyd. (In other words, this song has no potential, and I should go back to being a famous purveyor of organic architecture.)

Why do we love musicals? They touch us and inspire us with images of cowboys who do gymnastics. Orphanages teeming with aspiring tap-dancers. Sparkly-eyed heroines who look so beautiful from the seats you can afford, but grotesquely over-painted from the first few rows. Musicals transport us to a world where all people yearn for the same thing... an excuse to stop doing whatever it is they are doing and sing about it instead. This difficult transition can be eased by an effective lead-in line. A good one creates a tension that can only be broken with a full scale musical show stopper. Let's test your musical theater IQ and see if you can remember the lead-in lines to these well-known numbers.

1: "Summer Nights" - Grease!
2:  "If I Were a Rich Man" - Fiddler on the Roof!
3:  "Food Glorious Food" - Oliver!
4:  "Hard Knock Life" - Annie!
5:  "Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats" - Cats!
6:  "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" - Evita!
7.  Every song in Les Miserables (or for the English speaking world, Those without exclamation points.)

1: "So Danny, what happened to your eyebrows? Yeah, tell us!" 
2: "Lord, you made a lot of poor people.  But what would have been so terrible if I got to feel up Geri Halliwell just once?" 
3:  "Is that grid-cut pizza?"
4: "That pizza isn't grid-cut. Not a smidge!"
5: "If you thought that was effeminate, watch this!"
6: "Come on, girls. You believe in love? 'Cause I got something to say about it and it goes something like this."
7: "The babysitting service wouldn't have sent a leprechaun... would they?"

Detractors of the genre complain that characters breaking into song is unrealistic and disconcerting, but I find it more difficult to relate to straight plays. I hardly ever die in childbirth in Grover's Corners and come back to re-live just one bittersweet day. Three or four times an hour, on the other hand, I stop doing whatever it is I'm doing and sing about it instead, often accompanied by tap-dancing orphans on a nearby stairwell. 

Why Lady Fiona Grosvener, do you not simply relish the the-a-tre?
I have only one significant gripe with you theater people. I despise (with all my soul) the spelling of the word theater with the r and the e in the wrong places. In this world, there is nothing good or pure that ends in "tre." SPECTRE, Jean-Paul Sartre, The Sallow Harbour Townshippe Shopping Centre... this is not the company you want to keep.

"Theatre" is nothing more than vulgar Anglophilia. Not to brag, but the American Revolutionary War was a total beat down, am I right? (Cue small group of men grunting in assent.) When a certain number of red coats acquired a certain number of musket ball holes, there was an explosion of sticky, wet freedom. Besides getting to count stamps as a tax exemption, we were able to cast off the shackles of moronic British spellings, forever liberated from sentences such as, "Your neighbour does not realise that he has faeces on his wife-beatre.

If Patrick Henry knew that some of you still felt compelled to write the words metre, litre, or theatre, he would thank his lucky stars and stripes that he got to be dead for the last 200 years. You should be grateful, too, because if Patrick Henry was alive today he would smack the living spotted dick out of you.

And THAT is what I call a good old-fashioned lead-in line. Cue music. Where are my orphans?

With warmest regards,