Laurent has often said that everything is a Broadway song cue for me – a statement I take exception to vehemently. Not everything is a Broadway song cue – just most things.
Take for example a recent posting my blog buddy JP over at My Husband and I where the eponymous “I” lays in bed with his husband Guido and muses on life. Or I am assuming he was in bed as that seems to be JP’s favourite place for amusing and musing. But I digress – back to the song cue: his musings on life, french toast, their new business venture, and their relationship cued a song in the vast catalogue of Broadway songs stored in the Dewey decimal system that I call my mind: Life Is! It’s the introduction to Zorba, an 1968 Kander and Ebb musical version of the Nikos Kazantzakis novel and Michael Cacoyannis film.
There was a time when hit (and not so hit) Broadway shows toured often with, if not the original stars, stars of equal renowned. When they showed up at the Royal Alexandra or the O’Keefe Centre in Toronto my friend Charlie and I would head down to see them – in the case of Juliet Prowse in Sweet Charity at least twice as I recall. And I have a feeling we may have seen Zorba more than once. When we liked a show we liked a show.
Though when it premiered the show had been referred to more than once as “the poor man’s Fiddler on the Roof” it was reworked and recast for the road – John Raitt was the Zorba and the great Chita Rivera sang and danced the Chorus Leader. Some of the darkness of the original had been erased but the wry acceptance of events good and bad remained in many of the songs. Particularly in Life Is!
The show opens in a taverna where a group of people are drinking, playing music, dancing, and talking. Someone suggests they tell a story – another suggests the story of Zorba. When ask what it’s about the Chorus Leader (Lorraine Serabian of the original cast) says that it’s about that passage from birth to death – LIFE!
So here’s to JP, Guido, the old cafe, the new cafe, french toast in bed, and LIFE.