Sunday, June 10, 2007

No Business Like Show Business

I always make it a point to watch the Tony Awards every year. It's so much more entertaining than the other awards shows that I obsessively watch, the Emmys and Oscars. But, it's the Tony's I love best.

Although I have never been to New York City, I have seen many of shows over the years, because the road companies came to Little Rock, through the auspices of the Broadway Theater Series. I've logged a lot of hours at Robinson Auditorium being entertained.

The first musical I ever saw on stage was "Teahouse of the August Moon" . I can't say I remember much about it. I don't know how old I was, but it didn't make a lasting impression on me.

Then came "Music Man" and "Hello Dolly" and "South Pacific. I can't remember who was in "Music Man", but Carol Channing came to Little Rock to do "Hello Dolly", and she made a delightful speech afterward. She said she would always have a soft spot in her heart for Little Rock because of the song that made her famous from "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes", "A Little Girl From Little Rock." We saw Janet Blair, as Nellie Forbush, in "South Pacific".

Then I got busy for a few years, what with college and marriage and divorce, and all, but When Kell and Jay got old enough to enjoy them, I started taking them to Little Rock for the shows, too. We enjoyed "A Chorus Line", "Evita", "Cats", "Barnum", "Big River" and "They're Playing My Song".

When the Walton Arts Center was built, the road companies appeared there, too. Kell was off to college by that time, so Jay and I went to see "Camelot", which featured Richard Burton. However, Burton got sick and couldn't appear in the matinee. (sigh) We also saw "Lost In Yonkers" and "Grease". "Grease was a big disappointment. I don't think it could possibly have been the official road company. The players were too amateurish. But, it's the only one of all the offerings that I didn't enjoy.

We also saw "Les Miserables" in Little Rock, and "Phantom of the Opera" in Tulsa. "Les Miz" is the only musical that ever made me cry. But, I wasn't alone. Every woman in the audience cried, along with a number of the men. I'd love to see it again.

I'm a fan of dinner theater, too, but don't get to see much of it. We did go to Murry's Dinner Theater in Little Rock, though, and saw "The Odd Couple" and 'Fiddler On The Roof".

One of these days, I'm going to an Opera. But, it has to be a professional opera company. I have had records and tapes of operas, the first one was "Madame Butterfly", and I can see that it doesn't matter if you can't understand the words. I'm looking forward to it.

When the curtain goes up, I'll be there.


Annie said...

Do you walk away from productions like those you mention, singing? Maybe even dancing a little?

You might want to check out Wildwood in Little Rock for coming opera productions. And, believe it or not, I saw a wonderful Hansel and Gretel at UALR a couple of years ago.

Anonymous said...

My mom took me to see The Sound of Music and The Nutcracker in Chicago. That is the sum total of my live nusical theater experience. We did summer theater for quite a few years and I really enjoyed it. I grew up with my mom's albums of the Broadway shows and knew all of the words from Flower Drum Song, Carousel, Oklahoma, Hello Dolly and more. Oh yes, and The King and I. Good times. It's a shame it is such a trial to navigate Chicago. I have never been a fan of opera, but you never know...

Cazzie!!! said...

I love the opera and I love the ballet too. Nothing like a live professional performance..topped off with getting dressed to the 9's..even if other people do not do it (ie, they wear jeans and the like).

Newt said...

I have only seen the Phantom of the Opera. But I saw the "good" one in LA with the major stars of the show. Whose names are totally escaping me right now. We had 7th row center stage. We got up at 4 in the morning to try to get our hands on house seats for the day of the show. We did. It was awesome. And it was funny to watch the reactions of all the uppity folks sitting around us who had gone to the show in their limos and had their tickets for 3 years. Having to sit with us college students, who arrived on a motorcycle and had our tickets for 12 hours. Oh, and we paid about $500 less for them.

katy said...

love going to the theatre, but dont think i could do the opera but you go for it

Betty said...

annie: Oh, yes. In fact, I usually go out and buy the soundtrack.

gawilli: I'd love to have seen "The King and I", expecially with Yul Brynner.

cazzie: Sounds like fun. I went to a ballet, once, but they weren't professionals, and all the THUMPING was overpowering. It was funny, though.

newt: I'd have paid to see those looks you were getting. lol

her indoors: I might hate opera, but I don't think so.

Kell said...

I watched the Tonys, too but I haven't been following what's going on at all. It's been years since I've bought a Broadway recording. But there are some great shows coming here this year, including Wicked (you should come up!). Also, Mandy Patinkin will be here in December!

Betty said...

kell: Mandy Patinkin? I love Mandy Patinkin! When in December? Close to Christmas? I'm there.

Anonymous said...

I looked for you at Harrison today...wanted to run up to some ladies in walmart and ask..
are you Betty..old dog new trick..
but was afraid they would hit me.
Sis 3

Joy Des Jardins said...

I love watching the Tony Awards too Betty; but this year the other Tony won out...Tony Soprano. Had to see the season finale.

I've gone to a few broadway shows...just loved them. Rent was the last one I saw with the original cast....wonderful.

Betty said...

sis 3: You wouldn't have found me at Wal-Mart.

joy: I don't have HBO. I always wanted to see the Sopranos, and then, when they started airing that show on another network, for some reason, I haven't been interested. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

I love musicals. Our local high school does a suprisingly good one every year...unfortunately we missed this year's.

Of course we have a wonderful professional pool to choose from as well living so close to the "big city". Yet somehow we don't seem to go see them very often. :(

Anonymous said...

That was Forrest Tucker in "Music Man." I'll never forget it because he was sooooooo good, surprisingly for me. I know about this play because I was sitting at your elbow at the time!


Betty said...

susan: I haven't been to any musicals by our local community college, but I hear they are pretty good.

L: TUCKER! That's his last name! I didn't put it in because all I could remember was Forrest Somethingorother. Thanks. Do you remember going to see that piano concert by the sister of Jose Iturbi (whatshername), with our piano teacher, old Buzzard Breath?

Anonymous said...

I Loved the Music Man. I saw it with Robert Preston and he was wonderful.
My husband and I went to New York in 1955 or so and bought tickets for a musical called "The Boyfriend" starring an unknown young English girl named Julie Andrews. Turned out it was the last night of the show and the entire cast came out into the audience to say goodbye.
Some time later I heard of Julie Andrews again when she was to appear with Rex Harrison in something called "My Fair Lady". They tried out the play in Philadelphia at the Mastbaum Theatre and tickets were not hard to get. We walked right up to the box office and got wonderful seats.That was one of the best nights of my life.I knew before the curtain came down that I had seen something very special. We bought the record of the score and I played it until it wouldn't play anymore.

Anonymous said...

Betty, I've seen Les Miserables three times all in Little Rock. Absolutely love that show!! I saw La Traviata last summer at Opera in the Ozarks at Inspiration Point near Eureka Springs. The venue is a bit primitive, but the production was wonderful. Some really wonderful voices.

steph said...

I am still a huge fan of Les Mis. I used to have the entire London sountrack on tapes (tapes! 3 of them!) and I can still recite each one line for line.

I am officially jealous of you.

Betty said...

nancy: I'd love to have seen Robert Preston, but Forrest Tucker was great, too.

arkansas songbird: I could see Les Miserables over and over and never get tired of it.

qofd: I used to have the sound track too, and I'm going to buy it again one of these days.

Anonymous said...


You know there was a fun "Backstage" story that came out about "The Music Man" It seems that they got all those little kids to play in Professor Harold Hill's band and ,of course, none of them could really play their instrument,BUT by the time the show had run for almost a year, they noticed that the audience wasn't reacting as they had before. They realized then that the kids were getting good on their saxaphones and trombones,etc. and that spoiled some of the fun of the band being so awful. SO, they made all the kids trade instruments with each other and they were all terrible again and the audience reaction returned to the same enjoyment as before and the show went on!!!

Anonymous said...

I love going to the theatre but... I loved being on stage even more. ;)

Betty said...

nancy: I hadn't heard that. How funny.

desiree: Hello. If I ever found myself on stage for any reason, I think I'd probably turn to stone. lol