For as long as I can remember, I have been a fan of American Musical Theater. My mother, Carol Brueggeman McDougall, an English major at the U. of Chicago in the Class of 1935, had recordings of virtually every Broadway musical and Gilbert & Sullivan operetta in her collection, and these provided the background music in our home in Wilmette, Illinois. I grew up on Rogers & Hammerstien, Lerner & Lowe, and their colleagues in musical production. As a result, I can (and do) sing all or parts of many famous show tunes, from "My Name is John Wellington Wells" from Gilbert & Sullivan's "The Sorceror," to "Metaphor," from "The Fantasticks," by Tom Jones.
Sadly, over the past thirty years my repertoire of show tunes has become woefully dated. I have never seen, nor even listened to a recording of "Cats!" let alone more recent hits, including "Victor/Victoria," by Blake Edwards. So, when I learned that my granddaughter Hannah Lehman of Boulder, Colorado, would be dancing, singing, and playing a supporting role in Victor/Victoria at the Theater Company of Lafayette this weekend, I arranged to fly to Denver to see the show, (and while out here, to renew a number of family and personal friendships with resident Coloradans).
The show was last night. It was performed in an intimate theater, a former small church, it seemed, and was creatively staged in a corner of the building that lent an intimacy to the relationship between audience and cast. The "orchestra," consisting of perhaps five musicians, played from a balcony above the box office and entrance, at stage right. It looked before the "curtain" (scene separation was done entirely with lighting) to be a place to have fun with a musical, and indeed, it was!
Victor/Victoria is a sex farce. It is all about sex and love, in many of their forms: burlesque, straight romance, homosexual love, jealousy, impotence, and fulfillment. My granddaughter, only 15, expressed some concern about her grandfather's seeing her in some of the burlesque scenes (for which she was dance captain!), but she had nothing to worry about. The dancing was great, given the amateur cast, and there was nothing the least bit shocking to this old goat!
An incurable sentimentalist, I found myself crying as the show reached its climax, and the messages of the show came through. In my words, those messages were:
- Let us live, let live, and love one another.
- Let us be ourselves.
- Let us not try to be who we are not!