Thursday, December 22, 2016

Walking Along, Singing a Song

Throughout this year - and especially lately - I've been thinking that what the world needs is more musicals, or rather, the world of the musical in which unfettered happiness and joy (not hate and rage) burst forth naturally from ordinary conversations or walks in the park. The characters may be heartbroken, overjoyed, or rhapsodic all in quick succession, but the one thing they are not is malevolent.

I confess here to disliking most musicals, though there are exceptions: Cabaret, The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz, Singing in the Rain, West Side Story, Funny Face - the last three I think because of the dancing (more on that later).

Recently, a friend and I went to the Oriental Theater to see Fun Home, a Broadway musical performed on stage in a beautiful, historic venue in Chicago. I enjoyed it, but it did not move me like the ones mentioned above. Why not? Though the story was good and the music, too, I couldn't relate to it on the emotional level that was required.

Yesterday, another friend and I saw the new film La La Land at a different historical venue. This time, I WAS moved and enchanted by the Cinemascope, the color, the singing, the dancing, the story. All in one package. In a similar fashion, Zadie Smith's latest novel, Swing Time, grabbed me and wouldn't let go until I reluctantly finished. It's about the power of dance, but a lot more, too.

Naive yes, but I want to enter and live in these worlds of song and dance - at least for a couple of hours at a time - after the soul-killing events and deaths of 2016. I want the opportunity to believe that everything will work out fine if you can just sing and dance your way to the lovely resolution of Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in that beautiful Central Park scene in The Bandwagon (1953), where the troubles of the world finally disappear and what remains is the sublime joy of being alive.

                       Happy Holidays and here's to a peaceful 2017~

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