1. Run don’t walk (well, or at least walk like a man) to see Jersey Boys – the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The web site sells itself. In fact, even if you can’t make it to New York or afford the crazy Broadway ticket prices, just enjoy the web site (speakers on, please) and then go nuts and blow $11.99 on the album. (With iTunes, you can be listening five minutes from now, as I am.) Unlike a lot of ‘jukebox’ musicals, the story and acting are really good, most of which you can follow from the album if you use your imagination. (The night Charles and I went, the lead was sick and we had to see it with the understudy – grumble, grumble, we paid $12 million a ticket for THIS?, grumble, grumble – and guess what? A star was born. It was most cool.) Huge fun.
2. Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd – the story of the demon barber of Fleet Street. No, really! I didn’t think he was real, either, but apparently he was. Born in 1748. Even if you can’t make it to New York to see this astonishing new production (the actors are also the musicians – they fairly drip talent [when they’re not dripping blood]), try to find time to read this account of his life and, especially, of Eighteenth Century London. Hanging 14-year-olds for snatching a handkerchief? Ah, the things we take for granted just minutes later. It wasn’t quite the way it appears in the trailer for Pride and Prejudice.
3. And finally, before you leave New York, be sure to pick up a souvenir; specifically, two tickets to Souvenir – the story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a wealthy New York socialite of the Thirties and Forties with a passion for singing. She sang terribly, but none of her friends could bring themselves to tell her (what harm could a little insincere encouragement do, they must have thought?) and, well, she was completely tone deaf so she was the only one unaware of it. And she ultimately played Carnegie Hall. If you think it’s hard to sing well, wait til you hear how hard it is to sing terribly well. This one is a labor of love, with a terrific ending that will be our wonderful little secret.