Like every red-blooded American boy of a certain age–gay or straight–the first time I saw Judy Garland I fell deeply and tragically in love.  Those big cocker spaniel eyes; the quivering lip when faced with perplexity; the slightly pudgy midsection; the permanent wave that anticipated Farrah Fawcett’s flaring side-bangs of the seventies.  She was, as the French would say, trop pour moi.  Also des saucisses, sans doubte.

 

Babes in Arms
Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in “Babes in Arms”

 

But what I and my somewhat effeminate friend Dennis loved about her most was her willingness to stop whatever she was doing, no matter how important, and break into song.  Some of the transitions were awkward, of the “. . . and that’s why I say–” variety memorably mocked by comedian Jonathan Winters in his stand-up send-up of Broadway shows.  But we didn’t care.

 


Jonathan Winters

 

No, Judy was our heroine, and not just because of The Wizard of Oz, one of those classic movies an indulgent teacher might actually let you watch in the classroom as a study aid to Frank Baum’s text.  Judy–like Dennis and I–had a dream burning inside her, an eternal internal flame, and she wasn’t going to let anybody or anything stand in her way.

puppet show
Actual backyard puppet show

 

In Dennis’s case, that dream was his own backyard puppet show.  He didn’t care what the rough boys said about him; he just went ahead and built his jerry-rigged puppet theatre, set it up in his front yard, tried to charge admission–a dismal failure, since you could stand outside his fence and watch for free–and then put on his show.

Just like Judy and Mickey Rooney in “Babes in Arms,” the mother of all “Let’s put on a show” shows, not to get too meta on you.  It was Judy who said “We’ve gotta have a great show, with a million laughs . . . and color . . . and a lot of lights to make it sparkle.  And songs–wonderful songs. And after we get the people in that hall, we’ve gotta start ‘em in laughing right away. Oh, can’t you just see it?”


Er, you may want to re-think the minstrel number.

 

In that 1939 movie, Mickey and Judy put on a show because their parents, aging vaudevillians, won’t take them on a revival tour, sort of like Ozzie Osborne not wanting to let his kids perform in a Black Sabbath reunion concert.  The “Let’s put on a show” theme has morphed into something larger with a much broader reach; it is now used as an inspiration when times seem bleakest, a ray of hope in your darkest hour in a wide variety of situations.  Outbreak of bubonic plague?  Mudslide in the Chilean Andes?  Forty-car pileup on fog-shrouded highway?  Let’s put on a show!

The number of Let’s-Put-on-a-Show movies is in the low double figures, including such cinema classics as Blues Brothers, The Full Monty, White Christmas and Hannah Montana.  South Park and SpongeBob Square Pants have used the theme, as has The Onion.  It’s not too great of a stretch to say that one-off benefits such as Farm Aid are real-life derivatives of the phenomenon, a sort of life-imitates-art inversion.


“The band sucks–but they’re all we’ve got.”

 

The importance in life of merely putting on a show was impressed upon me in college when, trying to make time with the most popular woman on campus, I uttered some cutting remark about a half-assed band playing covers of Grateful Dead songs at a backyard party.  “Well, at least they’re doing something to make life more enjoyable around here,” she said with disdain bordering on contempt.  Also bordering on Lake Michigan, since we were in Chicago.

I took that lesson to heart, and as a result have since put on plays of my own composition in venues large and small, but mainly small.  The basement of a former grade school.  A room in a YMCA next to the indoor swimming pool, which steeped the audience with the smell of chlorine.


“Some guy in there thinks he’s Hamlet or sumpin’.”

 

I reached the nadir of my experience as playwright one night in Salem, Massachusetts–that’s right, where they used to burn witches.  I had responded to a “call for scripts” and my hockey-themed play was selected for a reading!  When I arrived at the address the night of the performance I found–a pizza parlor.  Thinking there was some mistake, I took a walk up and down the block.  No performance space to be seen.

After standing around for awhile a fellow showed up and introduced himself as one of the actors.  Where were we going to put on the play? I asked.  “In there,” he said.  “After they close.”

 


“Alas, poor Yorick.  He ordered the anchovy.”

 

And so, after the last slice of pepperoni and mushroom had been served, the world premier of What Mickey Belle Isle Told You was held before an audience of precisely one (1); the janitor, who was sweeping up.

But these are the indignities that backyard impresarios and community theatre playwrights endure for your sake, to make of the world a brighter place, one where children laugh, and hearts are free, where men put on shows and women love ‘em.

Instead of the guys in that Godawful Grateful Dead cover band.

Views: 109

Comment by Arthur James on August 29, 2014 at 8:19am

`

3- views here.

110- views there.

None read here.

`

I happy you no hang

out in Porn Shop and

feed ` Jonathan W. ?

( Jonathan Wolfman? )

day old Pizza Pie with

kosher salami and raw

dairy milk from ` PA's '

Wadell's Non` GMO '

FED Grain that ` Kill '

`

I read in KIDS COMIC

in WASH POST THE

Healthy Moo Cow

Can live 450 years.

butchered milker

today dies in a few

years from hormones.

`

We lucky and we are

Grateful We No Dead.

No gulp Maker Mark

Homemade Borbon 

Whiskey. Barter

Jug For Con's C.'s

Bad Poetry Books?

Add EVERONA

SHEEP CHEESE?

Patricia still makes

green mold batter

on cheese with

cheap beer.

Papst Blue

Ribbon?

Comment by Arthur James on August 29, 2014 at 8:24am

`

oops...

error...

45- years.

`

Con C. No

order ` SPAM '

sardines, and

invite deleters

to Boston's

Pajama

Party?

`

On Yom Kippur

morning be FED

on kosher sausage?

`

No swig cans

of ` headache '

Budweizer or 

Chase beer

with raw

Goat Milk.

Comment

You need to be a member of Our Salon to add comments!

Join Our Salon

NEW BLOG POSTS

10 More Great TV Series

Posted by John Manchester on April 23, 2019 at 10:08am 0 Comments

Notes From Earth Day

Posted by Robert B. James on April 23, 2019 at 7:36am 2 Comments

Earth Day

Posted by Anna Herrington on April 22, 2019 at 10:30am 8 Comments

The Big One

Posted by Robert B. James on April 22, 2019 at 7:26am 0 Comments

Vũng Tàu

Posted by Rodney Roe on April 22, 2019 at 6:53am 12 Comments

© 2019   Created by lorianne.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Service