BROADWAY MUSICAL MEMORIES by ELLIN CURLEY

When I hear songs from the past, I always remember them in context. I think about where I was when I first heard them or when I most often heard them. “Oldies” from the 60’s bring back images of doing homework in my bedroom with the radio on. Some songs conjure scenes of riding to or from school with friends and singing along with the radio.

I have always loved Broadway musicals and have been going to see them since childhood. Every show is frozen in time in my mind. My first musical was “Peter Pan” with Mary Martin. I was six and my five-year old friend had to be taken out of the theater because she was so terrified by Captain Hook.

I saw “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum” as a teenager with my parents, the night before my father had major cancer surgery (he survived and lived for many years).

baby-playbill

My favorite Broadway memory is seeing the show “Baby” when I was pregnant with my second child. The show follows several women who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, just had a baby or just found out they can’t have children. I swear to God my daughter kicked for the first time in the middle of the show about pregnancy and babies! She has always loved musicals too, so maybe her connection to them started in utero!

Today, when we listen to our favorite radio channel, The Broadway channel on Sirius Radio, we reminisce about when we saw each show. We often argue about how old she was or what was going on in our lives when we saw this show or that show. She’s usually right.

kertcompany

One of my all time favorite shows has followed me through the different stages of my life. I first saw Stephen Sondheim’s “Company” when it opened in 1970. I was in college and saw it with my parents. It was revived in 1990 and I saw it again as a young mother with my first husband. Another revival was produced in 2010. This time I was a middle-aged empty-nester and saw it with my second (and current) husband. I hope I’m around for the next 20-year anniversary production.

sound-of-music

Another show, “The Sound Of Music” has spanned the generations for me. I saw the original 1959 production, again starring Mary Martin when I was 10 years old. I became obsessed with the show and the music. I played the album endlessly. I can still sing all the songs. I read everything about the show and the cast and anxiously waited for the 1965 movie, with Julie Andrews as Maria Von Trapp. I became obsessed all over again.

Fast forward to the 1990’s. My daughter was around eight when I first played the movie for her at home. It was magical to see it through a child’s eyes again. She loved it so much we had to watch it over and over on the VCR. She too became obsessed with everything “Sound Of Music.” We even visited the real Von Trapp family resort in Vermont while we were skiing with the family. It is a love we still share. Someday I hope to share the same music with my grandchildren.

So when I listen to the Broadway radio channel, I’m not just listening to good music, or even familiar music. I’m taking a trip down memory lane. I’m reliving the wonderful time I’ve spent in Broadway and off-Broadway theaters over the years.

I don’t go to musical theater as often any more, in part because ticket prices have become so outrageously expensive. But my memories of songs, shows and theatrical experiences are as strong and happy as ever.

12 thoughts on “BROADWAY MUSICAL MEMORIES by ELLIN CURLEY

  1. Wonderful post, Ellin, interweaving favorite Broadway musicals with milestones in your life. It’s hard for me to remember my first Broadway show. It may have been “Brigadoon” with Ella Logan.
    I do recall seeing “Camelot” starring Richard Burton, Julie Andrews and Robert Goulet. I thought it was superior to the film version with Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave.
    “The Sound of Music” remains on of my favorite musicals. I adore the score. I liked Mary Martin’s Broadway turn but am forever in love with Julie Andrews in the film version. I saw it at the Syosset Theater on Long Island with an old Hofstra radio friend. I had a crush on her so the viewing experience was extra special.

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    • The broadway version of camelot was far superior to the film – they cast film “stars” not musical people in the leads. They went for reality rather than the light fantasy of the show. The two versions of Sound of Music almost have to be treated as separate shows. They were very different experiences – both amazing. One of the rare instances where the movie and show are both fantastic. Also Brigadoon, My Fair Lady, Oklahoma and Carousel, Music Man, South Pacific and King and I to name a few classics.

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  2. I do think I’m genetically disposed to love Broadway musicals, but I must correct my mother on one thing…I was way younger then 8 when you first played me Sound of Music. I’m pretty sure that by 8 I had already watched it so many times that I’d ruined the VHS tape and we had to buy another.

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    • Sad to hear about Charmain Carr. I read a lot about the original cast and the film cast, reunions, etc. The experience of being in the show was a life changer for most of them.

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  3. I didn’t see a lot of musicals on Broadway. Just two, I think. “Man of La Mancha” and the revival of “Showboat.” But my mother had all the scores on LP and I still know the words to almost everything from Oklahoma onward. I did go to a lot of ballet. Does that count as musical? Just kidding.

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    • Knowing the music is almost as good as seeing the show. There are many shows I’ve listened to but never seen performed. I still feel a great connection to the show. I didn’t see Grease until it was revived a few years ago but I saw the movie and knew the music by heart. Finally seeing the show was like going home for a visit.

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  4. I love musicals. I only saw one musical on Broadway, which was Wicked and that show sparked my love for musicals and that show was where I began to understand the emotional side of musicals. I was 12 at the time and I was just with my mom.

    Previously, I already saw musical movies like Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Sound of Music, Grease, and Annie and saw stage shows like Cats, Lion King, Beauty and the Beast: only know about the ones I saw live in elementary school because parents told me.

    Several years later, Les Mis would turn my love of musicals into a passion and I realized that musical emotions have so much more capability than I once believed. I have seen the stage shows of Newsies, Music Man, Pippin, Godspell, and after seeing the movies got to see Annie, Sound of Music and Les Mis. Now in September, about to see Rent. I saw musical movies like Fiddler on the Roof, Annie Get Your Gun, South Pacific, Oklahoma, Singing in the Rain among others.

    So I am a massive musical fan

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