Young at heart…

“Want to go to Theater 150 to hear the old folks sing?”  Bert, in her usual efficient way had spotted the publicity, ably developed by our neighbor Shed Behar.  “We better hurry because it will probably sell out.”  I mumbled something only heard by my inner self.

Our neighbor, Joan Rush, four other women and two men…all grandparents…were exposing themselves to the community in a way that most of us only dream of.  Get up in front of friends and relatives.  Stare into bright lights.  Hope that you don’t forget the words, miss a high note or have a heart attack.  Risk some polite applause. Go home to a stiff drink.  Then do it three more times.

We drove to the Makows, exited the car and as they appeared in the doorway I said “Quick, we don’t want to miss a minute of this.”  As usual, I mentally slapped myself for the sarcasm and promised to be a good boy for the rest of the evening.

We made all the lights coming into town, turned right on Montgomery, left on Matilija and grumbled when all the parking spots immediately in front of the former funeral parlor, now Theater 150, were full.  I drove a hundred feet down the street, parked and mentally calculated how long it would take to get to the car once the performance ended.  The four of us began the two minute trek to the theater entrance.  We were not alone.

The billboard in front of the theater proudly announced This weekend’s performances are sold out—Sorry.  A fourth performance had been added to accommodate the demand.  I wondered “how many friends and relatives can these seven people possibly have?”  Aryna, an ever present and supportive figure at our local events had similar thoughts when she asked me “Who is it that brings you here this evening?”

The lobby, more of a wide aisle than a lobby, was filled with people who looked like they were still celebrating New Year’s Eve.  Probably because two glasses of free wine were included in the ticket price.  I wondered if they would be refreshing drinks during the performance.  Maybe delivered through the same kind of device that Jack Nicholson conjured up for that poor, bedridden guy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

There are no bad seats at Theater 150.  Unless you count the half dozen or so straight backed, hard wood Torquemada seats along the east wall that, after thirty minutes, bring new meaning to the word posture.  Like most other community theaters, you are close enough to count the pores in the performer’s face.  So close that you cannot risk being discovered in sleep mode.

We settled into our seats, the lights dimmed and The Nanas and The Papas appeared.  As usual I had counted the number of songs listed in the playbill’s first act, fully intending to begin a countdown as a way of making the time pass.  I only managed to get to number one.

They were a delight.  Sharing funny and poignant experiences as grandmas and grandpas, they mesmerized the crowd.  It didn’t matter whether they squeaked during songs and creaked a bit as they moved about.  It was all part of an endearing performance.  I was reminded of the time Sweetie and I saw Carol Channing in her eighties in Hello Dolly.  Needing help across the stage, she managed to captivate us.

Okay, so I’m an old guy with memories.  And these songs were all about memories, youth and time.  I Remember It Well, When I’m 64, Children Will Listen and Young at Heart made me smile and remember what it was like and what is yet to be.  Even though my only French expression, omelette du fromage, was learned from a Steve Martin comedy album, I was seduced by Carol Kornhaber’s rendition of La Vie En Rose.  The finale, Forever Young, stayed with us all the way up the Dennison Grade.

Surprises help make life worthwhile.

7 Responses to “Young at heart…”

  1. 1 Sally January 9, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Sounds like great fun! Maybe they should take it on the road. I’d go!


  2. 2 Grand PA George January 9, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Very nice Fred, you started out knowing you were not going to like it, came out smelling like a Rose. GrandMa, has 3 year old,(Alex) at Magic Mountain today, she has been staying over, to give Daughter a break, with the Twins. Boy does she need it.Happy New Year, keep writing.


  3. 3 Nomi Morris January 9, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    I’m in Oregon and really sorry I’m missing it. I could tell that it would come together as a moving show in the end. Thanks for what you wrote. Nomi.


  4. 4 Aryna January 9, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Glad to see you blogging again! Our row was brought to tears many times and really enjoyed the evening.


  5. 5 judie January 9, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    There are a lot of people like you who pre-decide they will not like something and are pleasantly surprised. Glad you had an enjoyable evening.
    I’m glad I’m not the only one who seems to wander into thinking about the past, and, think it was wonderful. I tell my grandkids all about the “old” days. They love to hear it.


  6. 6 Anne Shrage January 9, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    I just got back from tonight’s show..I agree! It was wonderful and I am still singing.


  7. 7 Shed January 10, 2010 at 9:34 am

    I tried to get the cast to dedicate “My Yiddisha Moma” to you, but they feared an over abundance of nostalgic tears. Thanks for your kind remarks. As usual, very well written.


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