I was getting ready to "get ready" for my radio program "Let's Visit Broadway" which I will tape tomorrow. Looking over the CD's on hand, I chose "Call Me Madame." There are fourteen songs, written by Irving Berlin. the "book'' was written by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. It was produced on Broadway in 1950 and earned a Tony Award for Best Original Score.*
The story, if you aren't familiar with it, is of a Washington D.C. Hostess and Democratic Party fundraiser, Perle Mesta, who was appointed the Ambassador to Luxembourg in 1949. (The playbill noted with tongue-in-cheek humor "neither the character of Mrs. Sally Adams nor Miss Ethel Merman resemble any person living or dead." The story is a satire on the politics and foreign affairs tht spoofs America's willingness to loan millions (with an M) dollars to needy countries (hence the title of this blog!). America now is borrowing billions (with a B) from other countries.
I find it interesting that so many Broadway musicals are based on the politics of the times, the state of the nation, its growth and its people. Perhaps the talented writers and composers could separate themselves from the day to day trials to see the overall picture more clearly. I think if one had the will to do it, many musicals could be arranged in order of their creation and provide a nice history of the country. Then, of course, there are always those "just for fun" productions like Peter Pan and Lion King which provide wonderful music even if the message is aimed at the juvenile population. And looking at those musicals, I make note - they were movies before they were Broadway productions.
In the book "This Is Your Brain on Music" there are studies cited that indicate music has both short and long term affects on the brain. One of the long term affects is that certain parts of the brain, both left and right sides, enlarge with musical training. I certainly can't verify that from any experience I have had, but I can vouch for the fact that music provides amazing enjoyment, especially when it is enjoyed with friends. If you are blessed to be able to play an instrument, or have a vocal talent, share it with your "friends" at a nursing home, adult residential facility or nursery school. I have never met a kid who didn't love music; and I can honestly say I have only ever met one man who told me he hated all music and wished he could push me and my organ over a cliff. Fortunately he was in a nursing facility and the opportunity to carry out that wish never presented itself. I would hate to see my beautiful organ in a heap of kindling at the foot of a cliff.
*Songs from "Call Me Madame":
Mrs. Sally Adams The Hostess With The Mostest on the Ball
Washing Square Dance Lichtenburg
Can You Use Any Money Today Marrying for Love
The Ocarina It's a Lovely Day Today
The Best Thing For You Something to Dance About
Once Upon A Time Today They Like Ike
You're Just In Love
Keep a song in your heart and keep the music playing.