looking for love and cookies

In ALL, MUSIC by Stephanie Klein

I cannot, with any accuracy, attach the memory of being bathed in a basin—when the family frog Mildred escaped from her tank and graced my lap with her amphibian presence—beyond knowing I was some type of infant who needed to be bathed in a basin.  Moreover, I don’t even know if the memory is mine.  Over the years, I might have plagiarized the memory as my own.

For as long as I remember, before Lea was born, I’ve been in love with… show tunes.  Oh yes.  Mad crazy, let me marry you and have an Irish Catholic sized family with you, love.  Annie.  Early morning, before grammar school, when the grass was still wet and the air still heavy, I’d stand on our front lawn and sing, “Betcha they’re young, betcha they’re smart.  Bet they collect things like ashtrays and art.  Betcha they’re good; why shouldn’t they be?  Their one mistake was giving up meeeee!” I belted it, at the top of my kindergarten lungs. I was in love with the lyrics, of someone making a mistake because they didn’t choose me.  I was, at most, 6 years old.  Talk about foreshadowing.

Now, at 29 years old, I still listen to show tunes on repeat.  I’m moved by their drama, the storytelling, the intensity and conviction.  In high school, I starred in Oklahoma! with Kevin Reed playing my opposite to Ado Annie (the girl who can’t say no)–more foreshadowing.  Ahem.  And, the other night, I found my way back to him at the Encore theatre.

Rick Wilson stroked the ivories with the passion of a toddler who has just learned to walk.  Each rhythmic gesture exuded passion: his head bowing in servitude to the keys as he played, lifting his head, straining his neck to Kevin’s ascending voice.    Kevin is a stack of spiked hair, wild eyes, and an open heart.  Shit, he’s all heart.   Kevin Reed is stage presence. He’s raw red emotion in a white spotlight on a black stage. He sings a stack of show tunes spanning an extraordinary range… of voice, emotion, and talent.

I can’t make me love you, if you don’t.  You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t…. I will lay down my heart, and I’ll feel the power, but you won’t.  No, you won’t…

Then, I cried.  Kevin bookended “I Can’t Make You Love Me” with “You Just Don’t Love Me No More.” And I thought, oh my God, those two songs combined are so my life.  Shit, they’re everyone’s lives.  It was Family Ties meets Jones Beach Concert Series.

Seeing my friend on stage got me to thinking about theatre rules.  Whenever you’re half-naked, backstage, you’ll hear someone cough up something about “We’re all family,” insinuating you should rip off your panties and lean over your thespian peer without regard for personal space or modesty.  You become family when you share criticism, make-up, and too much direction from a frustrated director.  You’re family because of dinners and Sunday afternoon rehearsals.  Way too much relationship scandal happens in theatre productions… it’s very tambourine, shaven head, come eat our free vegetarian food.  Everyone feels like they’re part of something bigger.  You’re a team.  It’s the only family I’ve ever known, beyond blood and marriage.  Mostly because I can’t throw a ball…bonding behind the ball is never going to be my thing, but my lungs, well, let’s just say I’ve still got a nice set.  Rack, set, same diff.

See Kevin Reed:
Friday, April 22 at 7pm
Encore Theatre

266 West 47th Street b/w Broadway & 8th Avenue (under The China Club)
Call after 4pm to reserve seats now as they sell out. 212.221.3960 or Get there early!
Tickets are $14