So last night we took a little break from the normal evening shuffle and headed into my son’s elementary school for the school musical.
Now if you’re someone of my age bracket(older than 41, but younger than 43), you might remember the elementary school musicals like I do, which is to say they were
sort of a big deal. Sure, you had the Christmas program where everyone stood on risers nervously sweating in their best wool holiday sweater in front of a balmy gym filled with tired, resentful parents and grandparents losing the feeling in their legs from sitting on those pine bleachers. The children moving their lips pretending to sing “Oh Holy Night” and “Jingle Bell Rock” as the music teacher angrily conducted the lip syncing that went on in front of him/her. The musical though, at least for my school, was the big number. It was the the music teachers moment to live out those Broadway dreams that never came true for them and instill some of their crushed aspirations in a group of talentless little brats that would rather be home watching The A-Team.
This was that music teachers “Fosse” moment.
I can only remember two of the big shows we put on in elementary school. The first had something to do with Davy Crockett. Crockett was played by a 6th grader that was about as tall as a kindergartner, while his nemesis was as big as a Freshmen in college. One of the big numbers was “Y’aller Gold!” I still, to this day, have no idea what that meant. The other big show was about Jumbo The Elephant. The only song I recall from that show had a line in it that went “Over Here, Jumbo/ Stay won’t you please/Stay with us in London, with crumpets and tea”. It was a massive affair, but I can’t remember if there was a cardboard elephant or not. Our music teacher was Mr. Dillon. He took his job very seriously. He worked us in those half hour music classes. I can remember the music room was in the center of the school, with concrete blocks surrounding us. He had full size speakers installed in the ceiling which I thought was pretty cool. But just a year later we were moved to another room in the school for music and the music room became the computer lab. I’d walk in to computer lab and stare at those speakers in the ceiling with a heavy heart. I have a feeling Mr. Dillon might have, too.
So anyways, last night was the big musical at my son’s elementary school. Apparently the musical was a themed affair. Each classroom had a different era they were supposed to be representing and they sang a song from that era. And the kids had to dress from that era, too. But unlike Mr. Dillon(and Fosse for that matter), there were no costumes provided. The kids had to go through their home and put some ramshackle representation of the bygone era of the 80s, 90s, and 00s. My son was representing the 90s, so of course he wore sweatpants, a t-shirt with a button up shirt over it(unbuttoned of course) and a hat on sideways. There was also a necklace worn for the “bling” factor. He did this on his own and I think he actually pulled it off. Honestly, most of the kids did a great job of hobbling together some long gone look of yesteryear. So kudos to you, kids.
The musical was held in the gym and we sat at the very top of the bleachers. Within seconds of sitting my ass was numb from the hardwood sitting arrangement. The smell of people mingling in stale air took over my nostrils. A scent of Grecian Formula, cheap perfume, stale cigarettes, and body heat put me in a state of silent terror; like a deer caught in the headlights of a vehicle that never makes impact.
At 7pm the show began. The show was basically lip syncing and whispering into a mic that was 6 feet away from the mouth of any nervous child. The music was at times so loud I thought I was having flashbacks to a Primus concert from 1994. Then, just as things would get going the guy running the laptop that was pumping out the hits of yesteryear started having issues with the connection and the music would kick off. There were attempted dance moves, experimental theater, and live instruments played interspersed between moments of panic.
My son’s class performed the theme to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Well, I should say Will Smith performed it as the kids sat in chairs backwards, plinked on tambourines, and tried their best to rap the words. Other songs performed were “Sing, Sing, Sing”, “Eye Of The Tiger”, “Beautiful Day”, “Immortals”, and…I can’t remember the rest. All of the kids did their best to perform what they were taught(well, except for the ones that just stood their not moving their lips.) And maybe the fact that the music teacher is shared in-between three or four other schools makes it so she doesn’t have the proper time allowed to give it the old “Fosse” pizzazz. I just figure that a musical should have some sort of narrative, real costumes, real showstopping numbers, a cardboard elephant, and a midget Davy Crockett(the last two are negotiable I suppose.)
All in all, my son seemed to get into it somewhat. He did the moves like he was supposed to. He didn’t stand motionless like his older sister always did. He tapped the tambourine like a boss, and wore that had at just the right side angle. He was a real song and dance man.
I give him two Fosse jazz hands.