Thursday, March 26, 2020

March 1977 Flashback: Oliver!

Forty-three years, I was playing the title role in my junior high musical, “Oliver!” How I won the lead is still beyond my comprehension, but I sure was grateful and it was such a memorable experience. So memorable that I’m blogging about it today!

I had seen (and worshipped) the 1968 film version, starring Mark Lester and Jack Wild. Jack Wild?!? From H.R. Pufnstuf? That’s right! What more did I need to like the movie?

I also loved the Lionel Bart score. So much in fact that I played my vinyl album to death. I knew every word to each song by heart, which probably didn’t hurt my chances in capturing the part.

Here’s my take on “Food, Glorious Food.” Don’t ask me why they let me use an orange plastic bowl for this scene. What was our prop department thinking?!? (note: both the bowl and the wooden spoon were from my mother’s kitchen)

All of the students in the play had the assignment of bringing in old used clothing to be made into rags for the orphanage scenes. I asked my mother last minute and she was extremely annoyed. She donated a pair of pants that my older brother had made in Home Economics. A few weeks later, they were back in my possession. The prop department liked them so much that they decided to let me wear them when I was adopted by my rich grandfather. This is what 19th century wealth looks like?!? For the musical number “Who Will Buy?”, the scene begins in my room first thing in the morning. Wearing a nightgown, I was to change on stage (discreetly of course) into my “swell” clothes. To this day I remember the embarrassment of not being able to get that damn zipper to work. Finally, just before the orchestra queued me for my first note, I was able to get that stupid thing to work. Moral of the story: don’t let your brother make your clothes. These are the pants and the scene I just described:

My dad captured almost every moment, including me getting makeup on backstage. At the time, I was mortified. Today, I am grateful. There’s that orange bowl again. Nobody was going to pry that out of my hands!

I remember the play being videotaped. If only I knew where that was; sure would be great to see it again. Anyone from Tredyffrin-Easttown Junior High know where that old tape might be?

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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Listen to Pluto

In times like this, I always believe levity (mixed with some sanity) is the best prescription. Please enjoy Pluto; he’s a wise little dog!

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Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Temple Tuesday: Go To Shirley World!

Like so many people lately, my friend Melissa and I were discussing the often incomprehensible situation brought on by the pandemic/panic from the COVID-19 virus. Things of this nature bring out the best and sadly the worst in folks. Hoarding is in full swing as toilet paper disappears from shelves as soon as it is stocked and bananas are nowhere to be found. Bananas?!? They spoil within days; what good can hoarding do? IT’S BANANAS!!

Closures increase by the day; the workplace, schools, restaurants, gyms, and...BROADWAY! Told to stay at home, it hasn’t taken long to hear the complaints of those feeling like they’ve been imprisoned.

Whenever I wanted an instant smile as a kid, I knew that watching a Shirley Temple movie was a good cure. Back in 1935 during the darkest days of the Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt was quoted as saying:

"During this Depression, when the spirit of the people is lower than at any other time, it is a splendid thing that for just 15 cents an American can go to a movie and look at the smiling face of a baby and forget his troubles."

Millions of Americans did just that, including my parents, who grew up during those lean years. In “The Littlest Rebel,” Shirley is a little girl living in the south in the midst of the Civil War. Her mother is on her deathbed and her father is fighting a losing war. Shortly after, attempting to get his daughter to safety, Shirley’s on-screen father is put in prison and given a death sentence. What’s a little girl to do?!?

She takes to the streets with Bill Robinson to sing and dance and earn money so she can go to Washington, DC and beg Abraham Lincoln for a pardon. Does she get it?

Of course she does! And his autograph, too, according to this publicity shot!

That was the magic of Shirley Temple. Against insurmountable odds, she overcame every obstacle with a smile, a song, and a dance. Corny as it may sound, there’s a lesson in there for all of us, even during these times of fear of the unknown and what may be around the corner.

Count your blessings and focus on the things that make you smile. My friend Melissa’s husband tells her to “Go to Shirley World!” when she has an anxious moment. Shirley Temple may not be your thing (perish the thought!), so find your own “Shirley World” and go there. In the meantime, be kind and understanding to others and try to avoid getting caught up in situations you would normally avoid (aka hoarding and panic). I’ll leave you with this appropriate song “Be Optimistic” from “Little Miss Broadway,” sung when Shirley’s character is sent back to the orphanage and her adopted father is about to go to the poorhouse.

Is there a happy ending? Of course there is; it’s Shirley!

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