In addition to Gilbert and Sullivan, I grew up listening to Broadway musicals popular in the 40’s and 50’s. The records played over and over in our house, and I learned the words by heart. My favorites were “Guys and Dolls,” “Oklahoma,” “South Pacific,” “The King and I,” and “Carousel.” Though my piano playing never improved very much, despite years of lessons, I had a book of Rogers and Hammerstein’s music and I played and sang many of the songs I loved from their musicals. Later I enjoyed Lerner and Loewe and sang their songs too. This was not singing for any audience; I just sang away in the living room for my own delight.
I did get to attend one live musical production when Yul Brenner and Deborah Kerr came to Portland to perform “The King and I.” My mother bought me a program, a real extravagance after paying for tickets, and I treasure it still. In one very risque moment, the wives bowed and apparently they were not wearing underwear. I suppose they were wearing something flesh colored, but it got a big gasp from the audience. I had no idea what was going on since I was only seven, and I was feeling too grown up to ask.
Much to my delight, my daughter and granddaughter have both performed in musical theater, sometimes these same old classics. There is something profound in hearing my six year old descendant sing “Dites Moi, Pourquoi” from “South Pacific remembering my own singing of that same song at that same age. Not on stage for me, though.
I haven’t been to any new musicals for years. Since we live within easy driving distance of New York City, I think it is time. Maybe I will see “Hamilton” many years from now when tickets are finally available.