Friday, March 28, 2008

Hey, Old Friend!

One of my absolute favorite things is live theatre. Undeniably. During my formative years, my father, an English professor and Shubert Playwriting Fellow (that sounds cool, huh?), directed all the shows at a branch campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Essentially, I've been around theatre and theatrical types since birth. It has been the constant in my life that has led me to some of the most incredible experiences and people a person could imagine.

The other night, one of those incredible people and I ate lo mein, drank coffee and talked theatre. For about four hours straight. Local dish. Broadway dish. Who's doing what. Creative concepts. I mean it is down and dirty theatre talk and it is not for the faint-hearted. Please understand, I have amassed a lot of knowledge in my 40 years but this guy makes my head spin.


Starting next month, I will be directing the musical version of Peter Pan at a local theatre. Being the diligent artisan that I am, I was re-reading the script a few days ago. I was actually in Peter Pan a couple decades ago and my memory has admittedly faded a bit. I just didn't remember Liza, the maid, prancing about Neverland. Neither did my husband, who also thought Liza seemed a little out of place when he was reading the script. We quickly concluded that the actress who played Liza must've been sleeping with the producer. I then made a mental note to look the actress up on IBDb.

So the other night I was relaying this amusement to my walking-theatre-encyclopedia-of-a-friend and he says: "Oh, you mean Heller Halliday? She was Mary Martin's daughter with Richard Halliday, Peter Pan's producer!" He just pulls these names out of his bum and there goes my head spinning every which way but loose.

He is just one of those people that gets me. He makes me think of a Sondheim lyric from a favorite show of ours:

Hey, old friend
What d'ya say, old friend?
Are you okay, old friend?

Are we or are we unique?

Time goes by
Everything else keeps changing
You and I, we get continued next week

Most friends fade
Or they don't make the grade
New ones are quickly made
And in a pinch, sure they'll do

But us old friends
What's to discuss, old friend?
Here's to us!
Who's like us?
Damn few!

(And yes, we talked about John Doyle's Watermill production of our beloved Merrily, seen during my recent trip to England.)

I enjoy my time with my old friends. It is true, also, that new ones are quickly made. Even our oldest friends, if you think about it, were new friends at some point. I've made several new friends in the past year. A few of them actually feel like old friends. I think it is because they get me.

This weekend I will be seeing John Waters' new musical Cry Baby with a few of my blogospheric theatre friends and then joining them for brunch on Sunday. Though we've never met, the signs all indicate that future old friendships will be made. And what better way to forge those bonds than over a show, a cocktail and a spirited theatrical discussion? Top the weekend off with a Sunday matinee of Joe Iconis tunes and you basically have the equivalent of a theatre geek's wet dream.

With that, I will take my leave and prepare for an awesome weekend.

And here's to friends, old and new, that get you.

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