Thursday, April 30, 2020

Happy Birthday Sheldon Harnick

I starred in my first show in the eighth grade. Now even though my love for the theatre started years before, it grew even stronger now that I was behind the footlights. That production was Bye Bye Birdie. For the next few years, I had roles in Play It Again Sam, Oliver, You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown, and Peter Pan. However it wasn't until the Summer between my sophomore and junior year, that I did my first show outside the walls of my high school auditorium. The show? Fiddler on the Roof? The lyricist? Why none other than today's blog subject, the one and only Sheldon Harnick.

Since I was in the chorus, I spent a lot of time back stage. Thankfully, that gave me plenty of time to hear his exquisite and touching lyrics night after night. Now while that was my last Sheldon Harnick show that I was in, I have had the chance over the years to see several of his shows on the big stage. My first was Fiorello,which launched the Encores! Series in 1994. Then there was the 2006 Broadway revival of The Apple Tree, starring Kristin Chenoweth, Brian D'Arcy James, and Marc Kudisch. Oh and of course two revivals of Fiddler on the Roof in between.

But my most memorable of all of them, was the 1993 Broadway revival of She Loves Me. Prior to moving to New York, I had never heard of the show. Then my first semester at college, I was assigned the show's title song. From then on, it became one of my favorite shows. For those of you that are not familiar with this amazing show, it takes place in Budapest at a local Parfumerie, and is based on 1940 award winning film Shop Around The Corner starring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan. That film, was then remade in 1998, in the romantic classic You've Got Mail, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

So, now that you know a little bit about the show's background, I'll get back to the reason the show is so special to me. For starters, I saw the show on Christmas Day, which for those of you who know the show, is when the last part of the show takes place. It was also my first Christmas that I would not be spending with my family. Oh and to top it all off, Santa Claus came out for the curtain call. Which I found out later was just a one time thing for that performance. Regardless, it topped off a magical evening in the theatre that I will never forget. Happy Birthday Sheldon Harnick. Broadway would not have been the same without you. Until next time theatre fans.

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