You may have missed it - - or you may not. The subject matter is as old as civilization but timely, new, and refreshing. And there’s talk of a revival….
Piqued your curiosity? Mystified yet?
“Why on earth is the windbag (which so many curiously choose to call me, to my surprise and dismay) blathering about politics?” you may justifiably ask. “How about sticking to music?”
I’m talking about politics, my friends, in music. Politics as seen through the inventive, charming, witting, brilliant talent of Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock, who, as you probably know, created Fiddler on the Roof. But this is not about the famous family politics of a shtetl in Eastern Europe, but about our own backyard, New York City, and its homespun, big-hearted, charismatic character, Fiorello! and his cronies. With Sheldon Harnick narrating and singing in a memorable performance for a man in his 80’s or any age. An incredible “New York” evening with an educational twist….
Something to bring joy to the hearts of those wishing for more arts education: The event was a concert version on Monday night at the New York Historical Society as part of the Broadway Musicals of the American Musicals Project, a teacher-training program that uses musical theater masterworks to teach 7th and 8th grade students social studies and English language arts. AMP is reaching over 50,000 students in 800 schools.
Insider information # 1: A Deep-Throat-like Informer told me that the Roundabout is considering a new production, if they can find a star.
My recommendation: Do it immediately, if not sooner! A little merriment about governing, corruption, love, and tragedy should be a great success with our world-weary contemporaries.
Little known political fact: When Fiorello was accused of anti-Semitism, he dared his opponent to debate him in Yiddish, the language his mother taught him. The opponent declined!
Our New York, so beloved in the world, is an ageless topic. Remember Charles Dickens’ Martin Chuzzlewit, who arrives in New York on a boat from England, and is greeted by newsboys vying for sales at the dock:
“ ‘Here’s this morning’s New York Sewer!’ cried one. ‘Here’s this morning’s New York Stabber! Here’s the New York Family Spy! Here’s the New York Private Listener! Here’s the New York Peeper! ‘Here’s the New York Plunderer!. . . .‘Here’s the New York Sewer!’ cried another. . . . ‘Here’s the Sewer’s exposure of the Wall Street Gang, and the Sewer’s exposure of the Washington Gang, and the Sewer’s exclusive account of a flagrant act of dishonesty committed by the Secretary of State when he was eight years old; now communicated, at a great expense, by his own nurse….’ ” (And more in Chapter 16….)
Since the world needs a little - - or a lot - - of levity, bring it on. Fiorello! is a no-brainer, a natural for our time.
Insider information #2: Another informer told me that Sheldon Harnick is a supporter of the Lyric Chamber Music Society of New York, which so kinds allows me to post my thoughts.