"[I]f I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week…The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature." --Charles Darwin

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Actually, I do like piña coladas

I just completed a long but very satisfying stint as music director of a production of the murder mystery musical comedy Curtains with the Bergen County Players in Oradell. That saga really deserves its own post, which perhaps I will get to now that I have a little more time.

The "book" of Curtains (the book of a musical is the story, characters, dialogue, critical business--everything that is not a song or a dance) was written by Rupert Holmes, who first entered show business as a songwriter, arranger and producer, most notably for a number of projects with Barbra Streisand and writer of the mega-hit from 30 years ago, "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)". Later he wrote book, music and lyrics The Mystery of Edwin Drood for the Public Theater and Broadway (winning Tonys in all those categories) and since that time has become primarily a mystery writer, both for the theater and in novels.

Mr. Holmes, who grew up in Nanuet and lived in Tenafly for a long time has had a relationship with the BC Players for over 15 years, and even wrote a thriller for them. For our production of Curtains, he made some adjustments and adaptations for the theater's unusual configuration and generally advised and assisted our director, Steve Bell.

On Saturday, October 10, Mr. Holmes came to see a matinee performance and stayed afterward for a very generous Q&A session. Then he stayed even longer for pictures and autographs. He was effusive and attentive to everyone, and lavish with his praise for our production.

I have been a fan of Holmes since I was introduced to his first album (in those days they were on LP records), Widescreen, which was designed to be an audio analog to the filmgoing experience. There even was a Maltese Falcon-style radio play at the end of the record. This is one of those albums you carry in your head for a lifetime and I have to admit that I was thrilled to have him autograph the CD booklet from my current copy.

Mr. Holmes and I began a dialogue which may have positive ramifications for New Milford High, but it is too early and tentative to say anything more. Let me just say that I have always been a fan of writers--I find them to be more genuinely interested in other people than most people in the entertainment business--and I confess a little hero worship, since I aspire to be thought of that way myself. It is so gratifying when you meet someone like Mr. Holmes, whose work you admire and who comes up to your expectations of decency and thoughtfulness. A genuine pleasure.

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