News Column

Plainview Daily Herald, Texas, Getting There column

October 20, 2013

YellowBrix

Oct. 20--The first full-screen movie musical I ever saw was "The Sound of Music," and I still get a thrill watching that opening shot of the mountains zooming in to a singing, dancing nun, minus her headgear and singing her heart out.

I love musicals. Some people disagree, telling me musicals are unrealistic. "No one can sing while they're running up a mountain!" they say, and I have to admit there's truth in that statement.

But, in my mind, I'm always singing while I'm running up a mountain, or, no mountains being available, while I'm taking my morning walk. I find it hard to pick up my guitar case without trilling, "I have confidence in sunshine!" even while the weight of the case with guitar makes me realize that Julie Andrews' guitar case must have been empty. For that matter, I managed a pretty good rendition of the title song while running up hills to chase cattle on the farm. At least, the cows never told me otherwise.

I also like to reprise "Singin' in the Rain" whenever it happens to rain and I happen to have my umbrella. I seldom get beyond the opening "doot-de-doot-do do-do-doot-de-doot-do," but I enjoy doing just a tiny time-step while I'm walking from the parking lot into the building.

When I first saw "The Blues Brothers," I said, "Real life should be like that." No, not the part about Ray Charles shooting at people or Carrie Fisher blowing things up. The part where Aretha Franklin sings "Think" in her waitress uniform with a red meat stain on the pink apron while she's poking her finger at her husband and the busboy jumps up on the counter and plays the saxophone and the customers join in on backup. Real life should be like that.

Also, the part where the whole community goes out in the middle of the street to shake their tail feathers. Real life should definitely be like that.

Musicals occasionally make fun of themselves. Hardly any of us can hear "The Way You Look Tonight" without getting nostalgic for some lost someone somewhere. But originally, Fred Astaire sang that beautiful song to Ginger Rogers in the movie "Swing Time" while she was in the act of shampooing her hair. Not even Ginger Rogers could look glamorous under those conditions. It's funny and touching at the same time.

Since my high school had no drama department, and my college seldom produced musicals, I've never been in a musical. I did sing "Home, Sweet Home" once at the beginning of a melodrama. I was much younger then, but already cast as the dear old mother working the butter churn.

Unfortunately, the director kept cutting the song back, back, back, until there was hardly anything left of it. In the interest of time, or so he gave me to understand.

Time is running out for me to play most musical characters. I'm obviously too old to play Laurey in "Oklahoma!" as well as her sidekick "Ado Annie," though I love singing "I Cain't Say No." We're getting into Aunt Eller territory here, and I honestly think I would relish waving a pistol around and getting them all singing "The cowman and the farmer should be friends." Notify central casting.

The role I was truly meant for is Miss Hannigan in "Annie." When my daughter was growing up, I used to thread my way around her Barbies and sing, "Little girls, little girls, everywhere I look -- I see them!"

"Mo-om!" Kirsten would remonstrate, and I'd stop. Usually.

As she grew older, Kirsten changed her opinion of my performance and even asked me to sing the song once. She said my Carol Burnett imitation was "spot-on."

Carol Burnett imitation. Spot-on.

I'll take that over being cast in a musical any day. "Thank Heaven for Little Girls."

To comment:

gwilliams@hearstnp.com

806.296.1362

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