Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The American musical and its unlikely fans

When I say "I love musicals," all the men in the room start to look around for something to read. So I don't discuss it much. And when I say "musicals" I mean movies. I was born too late and too far west to see the original Broadway productions which must have been heroic. Imagine: feel-good musicals as a cultural must-see, not mere cable fare for girly girls. In the past few years, I've become obsessed with buying original Broadway cast recordings. Why? Because of a man. Because of Blackie Sherrod, the crusty he-man Texas sportswriter whose life defines the term "old school." In an article written fifty years after the fact, Sherrod vividly described what it was like to be so cool and connected as to be in the audience for the original run of Guys & Dolls. So I had to check it out. Robert Alda IS great, just like Sherrod said he was, especially if all you've been exposed to is the Marlon Brando movie version. Likewise, when George Will movingly wrote about attending an Oklahoma! revival on Broadway just 3 years ago, I went out and bought the original track of that one too. And I have to say Alfred Drake is preferable to the otherwise pleasant Gordon MacRea. Peculiar. My love of the great American musical was only half-developed until I started to read sports columns and political commentary. Written by men.

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