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51RD56JJ8AL._SY355_While flitting around Youtube tonight I stumbled onto a recording of the original cast of the Broadway musical “On the Twentieth Century”. I haven’t heard this record since the late 70s. I was in a dolorous mood but it instantly cheered me up. There is nothing so comforting as hearing old tunes you haven’t heard in decades, songs that amazingly come right back restoring one’s faith in the power of memory.

In my youth I was crackers for Broadway musicals (shocking I know). I would buy the recordings of the new shows of every season and listen to them over and over getting them memorized long before I saw them at The Fisher Theatre in Detroit. I was well informed by Tony award night and often correctly predicted the winners. Yes, I was a Broadway queen long before I knew there was such as thing.

“On the twentieth century” does not rank as one of my favorites, nor is it of great quality. The tunes are simple, hummable and entertaining. The plot is fluff and the staging was simple. But it is jolly good fun. With Madeline Kahn and Imogen Coca in it, how can it not be?

Alas, they don’t make them like this anymore. I started losing interest in show-tunes somewhere in the 80s. Some of this was I was I got absorbed in medical school and I was discovering opera. But some of it was because Broadway shows were becoming no fun. They were turning into monsters, usually based on movies or dictated by The Mouse. The Tonys became less interesting and the shows held no interest. I think the last one I truly enjoyed was “Wicked” – how old is that one now I wonder?  I guess the musicals I enjoyed are no longer feasible. “On the twentieth century’ as a new show – not the revival – would be laughed off the stage even if got as far as opening night.

Then there is the price. Funny, I will shell out $100 to hear the opera, but not for “Aladdin”.

I guess this is another sign of old age: nostalgia for ‘the good old days when theatre was good not like those today’. Let the newbies buy the all the tickets for “Kinky Boots”. See you kids at the revival of “A funny happened on the way to the forum”.

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