Sunday, November 18, 2018

It's Not Where You Start, It's Where You Finish

I stayed up late last night chatting with Lauren and decided to celebrate my rare Sunday off by sleeping in. When I finally did get out of bed, I made Orange Butter Pancakes (added the last tangerine to the whole wheat pancake batter and replaced the oil with butter). Yum! They came out pretty well, other than I burned the side of one, nice and fluffy and sweet.

Listened to my cast album for Here's Love while I ate. This is the 1963 Broadway musical version of Miracle on 34th Street. For the most part, it pretty much follows the plot of the original movie. Macy's newest Santa (Laurence Naismith) insists he's the real deal. Macy's harried manager Doris Walker (Janis Paige), who was burned by a fairy-tale romance that didn't work out, only believes in what's real. She teaches her daughter Susan (Valerie Lee) to do the same. Lawyer Fred Gaily (Craig Stevens) is interested in Doris, but they're both afraid of getting hurt. It takes Santa being put on trial for insanity to make them realize that Christmas is the time for miracles...and that a little bit of holiday fantasy never hurt anybody.

Slightly disappointing outing from Meredith Wilson, and the least-successful of his three musicals that made Broadway. In addition to Wilson's earlier holiday standard "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas," other good numbers include "Pine Cones and Holly Berries" for Kris, Doris, and Mr. Shellhammer (Fred Gwynne, of Munsters fame), the charming "My Wish" for Fred and Susan, and "Look, Little Girl" for Fred, and later, Doris.

Called Rose after breakfast. She never called me back about Thanksgiving. Apparently, she and her family will be going down to Cape May County for dinner, but only for a few hours. She said it's mostly for the little kids, so Mom won't be lonely, and because Anny is so frazzled about Dad's death and her move to that bigger house.

Got a hold of Mom right after that. Mom was cleaning her house in preparation for the visitors on Thursday. She and Rose said it was fine if I didn't come down. We all agreed that it would be a lot less complicated if I stayed up here for the holidays. I'm fine with that. I know there's a lot going on down with the family in Cape May County. Besides, it'll be nice to be able to sleep in on a Thanksgiving and not have to run off anywhere first thing on the morning of a major holiday.

Spent the rest of the afternoon writing. The Ghost of Christmas Past whisks Anakin off to Yoda Fezziwig's counting house in the early 1800's. Apprentices Anakin and Obi-Wan help set up for a big holiday party, complete with revelers, food, and music. Anakin, however, only has eyes for his beautiful Padme, who comes to the party with her politician father. Obi-Wan and a young Ahsoka push him into talking to her, but it's been years since he's seen her, and he's awkward, to say the least.

Broke at 4 to get ready to go. The Eagles-Saints game had been moved to 4:35. I made it to Dad's just as the game was starting. The house was already full. Dad watched the game with Mark and Jessa  while Jodie heated up leftover chicken piccata and shrimp scampi from a luncheon she held for some friends yesterday. Chloe played in the living room with little Finley, while Khai watched something on Jodie's iPad and Dana and their mothers watched them.

Finley was so funny! She climbed up and down the old coffee table. She crawled around the floor with Chloe and Khai. She danced along to a "Baby Shark" song that she apparently loves.

At least the food was better than the game. The Eagles just couldn't get anything going against the top-ranked Saints. They lost big to them, 48-7.

In better news, Jodie said I was more than welcome to come over to their house for Thanksgiving dinner. It sounds like they'll be having at least 20 people at their house! She said that she'd provide the turkey and sides, but the guests could bring dessert. At least I know there will be people eating my cranberry bread!

Put on the original cast album for Seesaw that I picked up last month at the Collingswood Book Festival. This musical version of the play Two for the Seesaw has been turned into the very 70's romance between a kooky dancer (Michelle Lee) and an uptight lawyer (Ken Howard). Tommy Tune turns up as a wanna-be choreographer who gets to introduce one of this show's two standards, "It's Not Where You Start." Lee gets the other one, the self-depreciating "Nobody Does It Like Me."

Evidently, the show was beset by production problems from the start, and had to be completely recast and rewritten before hitting Broadway. Whatever they did was worth it. For all this show's problems, it has an engaging score by Dorothy Fields and Cy Coleman. In addition to the two hits, I like Lee's "Poor Everybody Else" and her adorable duet with Howard, "In Tune." Unfortunately, the chorus numbers have more to do with New York in 1973 and giving Tune something to do than moving along the thin story, although the opener "My City" that references the gritty Times Square of the 70's and 80's may be good for some nostalgia today.

This ran for about ten months in 1973 and 1974, but failed to make it's money back. I don't think it's been seen often since. Too bad. This may be a show of it's time, but the cast album has more than a few hidden gems.

Finished the night with more Christmas records as I baked Lemon Muffins. Mickey's Christmas Carol actually began life as a book-and-record LP, Dickens' Christmas Carol, in the mid-70's. It's a full-fledged musical here, with eight numbers, including reprises. Most of the songs aren't that memorable, although I do like the delicious "Money" for Scrooge and Mickey/Cratchit. Merlin the Magician is the Ghost of Christmas Past; the hag form of the Evil Queen from Snow White is the Ghost of Christmas Future.

Scrooge is the 1969 film musical version of A Christmas Carol. Albert Finney was the title character, with Sir Alec Guinness as an especially chilling Jacob Marley. "Thank You Very Much" was the hit in Leslie Bricusse's rousing score, but I also like "December the 25th for Fezziwig and "Christmas Children" for Bob Cratchit and his kids as they do their holiday shopping.

Ended the evening with Scrooged. This modern black comedy version from 1989 is mainly a vehicle for Bill Murray. It's best-known song is Annie Lennox's version of "Put a Little Love In Your Heart," which plays during the credits. Most of the rest of the music is either modern covers of holiday standards (Natalie Cole does a nice "Christmas Song") or generic 80's pop. "The Love You Take" by Dan Hartman and Denise Lopez wasn't bad, and we got a decent gospel version of  U2's "Sweetest Thing."

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