Sunday, February 11, 2018

Romance In the Rain

I awoke to gray skies and light rain. Cheered up a gloomy morning with tasty Cocoa Chocolate Chip Pancakes in honor of Valentine's Day on Wednesday. I used seltzer on them instead of buttermilk...which may have helped. They came out beautifully, light and fluffy and so very chocolaty!

Listened to the soundtrack from Dreamgirls to celebrate Black History Month. I loved this movie, and one of the main reasons was the awesome music. Along with Jennifer Hudson blowing the roof of theaters with "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going," there's Beyonce's touching "Listen," Hudson's uptempo ballad "Love You I Do," and Eddie Murphy ripping into "Fake Your Way to the Top" and "Jimmy's Rap." Some of the ensemble numbers were fun too, especially "Steppin' to the Bad Side."

Spent the rest of an increasingly rainy morning working on Brave Rey. Maz brings Rey back to the Giant's castle. Luke lets her inside again and gives her breakfast. Rey's livid when she sees his bruised face and he tells her that the Giant beat him for letting them escape. He tells her that the Giant keeps his treasured magical sword over his bed, and he's still asleep. He doesn't think she can get it, but she's determined to find a way.

Broke at 1:30 for lunch. Ate leftover soup while getting ready for work and listening to Mack & Mabel. Not all musical romances work out well. Case in point is this unfortunate 1976 Broadway musical, the tale of film comedy pioneers Mack Sennett and Mabel Normand. As in real-life, Mack just wants to make kooky short comedies with pie fights and Keystone Cops. Mabel has greater ambitions - she wants to become a dramatic actress. Though she did do this in real life (and directed and wrote screenplays as well), her later career was steeped in scandal, including being implicated in the deaths of at least two directors. Sennett ended his life washed-out and bitter over the changes in Hollywood. Mabel, whose health had never been terribly good, died of drug-related illnesses.

To date, no one has ever been able to make this tragic tale work on-stage. The original Broadway show closed after two months, despite having Robert Preston as Mack and Bernadette Peters as Mabel. Two productions in England couldn't get much further. It's too bad, because this is one of my favorite Jerry Herman scores. I'm especially fond of two of his best ballads, "I Won't Send Roses" and "Time Heals Everything."

I called Dad for a ride after breakfast. Jodie called back while I was writing. She, Dad, and Jessa had gone to the funeral of the father-in-law of some relative of hers in Pennsylvania. They would be out of town all day. There was no way I was calling Rose when she had kids to deal with. I just rode to work and got wet in a heavy shower.

The heavy showers continued throughout the first half of my shift. Since I was already wet when I arrived, I went right into carts and got even more wet. Dried off later while bagging. It was mildly steady when I arrived. By the time I finally got my (late) break, the crowds were vanishing along with the rain. When I went out to do another round of carts before the night bagger arrived, it was just cloudy and incredibly warm and humid for this time of year. Finished out the night gathering baskets and inside trash.

The rain was nice enough to wait until I had been home for well over a half-hour to return. By that point, I was inside, eating leftovers for dinner and playing Lego Star Wars. Went into Revenge of the Sith for the Free Play versions of "Count Dooku" and "Fall of the Jedi." Got all but two pieces from the former and all the pieces but one and the red brick from the latter. (Which is a bit of a surprise, seeing how I usually have a lot of trouble with the jumping in that round.)

Finished the night with two more typically romantic musicals. Sweethearts is a Victor Herbert frappe from 1913, with a fairy-tale plot of a princess who is left with a laundress and raised as a commoner, but falls for a visiting prince in disguise. My recording is a studio cast from 1958 that includes a few random songs other Herbert musicals.

The New Moon is less fanciful. We move from fairy-tale Europe to colonial New Orleans for the tale of a French nobleman who sides with the revolutionists and flees France. He becomes a servant to planted and falls for his daughter, but believes the daughter betrays him when he's captured by a local detective and sent back to France. He gets his wish to try his own type of utopia when the boat he's sent on is shipwrecked, and he tries to woo his love while creating a new country based more around democratic ideals.

My recording is of the original London cast, with Evelyn Laye as Marianne. I'm not especially fond of her Robert (his "Stout-Hearted Men" is rather weak), but the duets with Laye come off better. Actually, my favorite number is the chorus routine "Try Her Out at Dances," which I had never heard before I found this LP a while back.

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