how to raise yourself on a diet of broadway

car stephanie klein2
On the mornings I drive the beans to school, Wednesday & Thursdays, we listen to showtunes. Except, of course, during November, when we’re getting a head start on holiday music. We have time for three songs, and they usually request, "The Girl." No songs about zooming cars or bumble bees anymore. Instead, at their insistence, it’s big musical numbers about Gays & Europeans. Well, not quite.

By "The Girl" they mean the one who sounds blond. Not Legally Blonde: The Musical, but close. They adore the young popular Glinda (Kristin Chenoweth) from the Original Broadway soundtrack of Wicked. This is in no small part due to my adoration of said song, along with another favorite standby: Bernadette Peters and Tom Wopat singing "Anything You Can Do."

The other day they chimed in singing "Loathing," and I thought, this is good for their vocabulary. "Unadulterated loathing," not to mention "detestation," "fervid as a flame." Way better lyrics, than say, "Baby Got Back."

Their, my, our favorite is still "Defying Gravity." It’s not just the music, it’s the message: that we’re stronger when we work in tandem, that dreams change, that sometimes we get what we always wanted, then don’t want it anymore, not in the same way. People put limits on us, and more importantly we put limits on ourselves, and we need to strive to break through them, defying gravity. And there are my sweet beans, their faces pink, noses cold, strapped into their car seats, singing:

It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes, and leap!

Okay, they sing "instincts" and "leap!" Then I cry a little. Just a slip of tear, into my mouth as I hug a curve and merge. There’s something magical about those moments, and I want so much for them to live those lyrics. And continue to live them for myself.

car stephanie klein

Today, we had time for an extra song. I was singing along to the music, then felt overwhelmed, hot in the face. I was singing "Nothing" from A Chorus Line, driving down a hill, taking the back roads to school, and it crept up on me: a choking sob. I sang through the tears, overcome, angry.

The kids yelled, "Nothing!"

They called me "Nothing"
And Karp allowed it,
Which really makes me burn.

I could tell you that in that moment, I knew what it was to be a parent, but that’s a line. We all want to protect and save the ones we love. The truth is, it made me feel the importance of teaching them gravity, that the weight of their own emotions about themselves has to be heavier, must outweigh the external–that they can’t ever feed off "can’t." They need to know, need to dig right down to the bottom of their souls and KNOW that they’re capable, no matter what anyone tells them. That’s one hell of a job in front of me.



  1. So nice to hear other people choke up when singing songs in the car. My kids (7 and 9) always get a little concerned, but recognize that Mommy just gets caught up in the lyrics. Broadway songs , oh yes, but also Taylor Swift’s “The Best Day” – can’t get through that with kids in the backseat to boot, and young Michael Jackson when he died. Floodgates and tight throats.

  2. That Nothing song is my favorite song ever in my entire life. I often reach right down to the bottom of my heart, to see what I can feel.

  3. This is fantastic. I’m always sad when I run into people that don’t know Broadway show tunes. They’re so expressive, dynamic, and full of life and love and sadness and death. Exposure to different kinds of music makes a well-rounded person. I need to remember this idea when I have kids.

  4. Two words: Channel 75. That’s XM Sirius Satellite Radio. Showtunes 24/7. You’ll love it!

  5. You’re doing just fine as a mama, and Phil’s doing great as a dad. Your babies are healthy and happy. You cant ask for much more.

    My kid gets pumped up when I put on the song Black Betty by Spiderbait. Man, he feels that song down to his toes and goes nuts. Gotta pass on the showtunes though ;)

  6. Such a lovely post.

    I just had to say that your highlights look fantastic and your curls are to die for.

  7. It is, indeed, a hell of a hard job to raise babies to happy, healthy, strong, whole people. We’re in the throes of nearly 16, 18 and 19, and whereas when they were babies and a hug, kiss, cup of hot chocolate and a bedtime story may have ensured sweet dreams and a better day tomorrow, now it is much more complicated. Now the darlings are facing decisions that will impact their entire lives. It is both exhausting and exhilarating to be involved.

    I think it all comes down to consistency, decency, and setting the example through actions, not just words. One of my dear friends is going through a divorce that we never imagined would happen, and when he asked for some advice, this is what I wrote, and I think it applies to this post:

    Rebuild your world with you and [your babies] safe and protected in the center. Keep their best interests at the forefront – and that includes you finding peace, contentment and direction. Become the role model you want for them and become the embodiment of the behavior of the men you want them to become.

    Anyway – I remember all four of us singing along to the radio – full throttle…Aladdin’s Prince Ali and Ariel’s Under the Sea and my favorite, Mulan’s Look at Me – then Back Street Boys – then Gangsta’s Paradise – now – they all like Eminem? God help us.

  8. When did you do the blond streaks? They are not flattering at all. It looks very JWoww. For someone who strives to be a young Martha Stewart and a purveyor of class, those blond streaks are very dated and cheap looking. If you still lived in NY a reputable hairdresser wouldn’t do that to you.

    1. BTW, I just googled “JWoww”… you must be a pretty classy lady yourself to be watching that smut. And for the record, Martha has had some pretty unfortunate coifs.

  9. “And if you want to find me/look toward the western sky…” I howl, pointing in general direction of west (unless I’m heading west on 84 toward Newburgh, in which case I emphatically point toward the windshield). Yeah, been singing Wicked and Phantom sountracks w/the kid for years. Now that the kid’s in college, I sing alone. Except when she’s home. Then once again, we appear together, for one ride only, in the front seat of my Civic…

  10. “And if you want to find me/look toward the western sky…” I howl, pointing in general direction of west (unless I’m heading west on 84 toward Newburgh, in which case I emphatically point toward the windshield). Yeah, been singing Wicked and Phantom sountracks w/the kid for years. Now that the kid’s in college, I sing alone. Except when she’s home. Then once again, we appear together, for one ride only, in the front seat of my Civic…

    Also, I like your hair.

  11. You look fabulous and so early in the morning! You must tell me where you get your brows done in Austin, they look fantastic.

  12. Giverney and Jhone – what total douchebags you are. What kind of person gets pleasure being anonymously cruel on the internet? Stephanie doesn’t deserve to be put down when all she is trying to do is entertain her fans with her honesty and insight. Why don’t you post a picture of yourselves, so we can judge you?

  13. I’m a self proclaimed bitch, 3 teens mom, sometimes gets on my nerves, o.k we get it lady, now shut up, fucking great mom, ya ya.

    I will not even mention the other regulars on here, Julie, another great mom, fuck me ya, o.k. BARBARA E, borderline I don’t like you, see what I mean, a bitch, that is me..

    Right Brained Gal-I give you the finger, too bad you can’t see it..

    Giverney… you haven’t seen Jersey highlights hun, then we’ll tooooalllk..she looks good, like keep her away from my boyfriends, yes, plural, away.

    The curly hair, should be straightened too ‘lambchoppy’ but she looks good. Excellent make up and application, if she hasn’t done Botox, then she looks amazing in this particular post.

    Giverney, I KNOW LOW CLASS, I am LOW CLASS, and this is not low class..


  14. i cannot believe that people would take such a sweet, heartfelt post and use it as an opportunity to insult your great hair and complexion!!!

    for what it’s worth, i live in NEW YORK and i have naturally dark blond hair, and my stylist isn’t afraid to give me brighter blonde highlights. i’m sick and tired of people associating “blonde” with trashy. i think people who make assumptions like that tend to be those that could never carry off a look like that, and stephanie i think you do it just too well for them!

    i too get choked up while singing in the car, and it’s these moments that make me eager to become a mother one day. i can remember my younger sister (15 years younger) singing the lyrics to some hilary duff song when she was tiny and it made me cry every time… not because it was a great song, but the way she sang it and obviously loved it, the words she actually knew at least :P

  15. I grew up on old school musicals, myself. “Why can’t a woman” from My Fair Lady, “Getting to know you” from The kind and I, “How lovely to be a woman” from Bye by birdie, “Then you may take me to the fair” from Camelot… it’s a wonder I’m in grad school and not at home starching my husband’s boxers. I don’t think my mom thought too much about that kind of thing (she did also teach me the words to “I am woman hear me roar” when I was still in my car seat).

  16. I found that when I was trying to sing along I was either 3 beats ahead or behind….could you post a version with the lyrics and the little bouncing ball plz?

  17. I love musical soundtracks…no kids yet, but when that happens they will grow up with Broadway. One of my favorite recent memories was listening to Wicked on a road trip with two girl friends. Stuck in traffic, we belted out Defying Gravity with the windows down…I remember that moment more than the actual destination we were on our way to.

    Going to Austin for vacation next week…so excited! Any suggestions on where you might go if you were still single and in need of some post-breakup Cute Texas Cowboy attention?

  18. My girls love “Popular”. I adore when my husband sings along with them. :)

    Lots of fun music on that soundtrack! And I think I’ve looked that good maybe 3 times when dropping off my kids at school. Typically when I’m off to work immediately after dropping them off. Looking great!


  19. This is certainly a different string of comments than I usually read on this site. I don’t recall Stephanie doing photos like these either. Real close ups. Looks happy, though!

  20. Well, I like the post… and the hair, and I’m wondering what you are using on the curls these days to keep them looking so fab and so unfrizzy? Many moons ago you posted about a product that you later posted wasn’t so great after all. So I’m wondering what you’re using now, cuz they look great!

  21. You should chop your hair just past the shoulders Steph. Think of all the body and bounce you would have! Just me, not trying to be nasty or anything.. You look wonderful in the pics, and happy!

  22. A couple of Broadway knockouts: Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin belt out a crowd-pleasing night of showtunes

  23. I agree, screw the haters. Stephanie I would get choked up too, if I had those two cuties singing showtunes in the car! They are adorable and you do look great.

  24. Hi Stephanie – I am going to start introducing my kiddos to Broadway tunes too! Great idea! The pics of you look like you are a very thoughtful person, kind, and happy! Also, what is your cocktail for your curls? I have twins too (12 years old) – one has really curly hair, and she is asking for ways to tame her tresses. Thanks…Hey, btw, I get verklempt at their art work, don’t even get me started on the emotions music evokes! Take care!


  25. A couple of Broadway knockouts: Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin belt out a crowd-pleasing night of showtunes

  26. Hello,
    to continue the shallowness thread, could you please describe how you get that blue/violet/pink color around your eyes?

  27. A few years ago, we were listening to the Chicago soundtrack quite a bit in the car. It’s quite something when you hear the chorus of “Cell Block Tango” coming from the carseats in the back of the minivan… “He had it comin’!…” Or even better, when they know the verses: “So I fired two warning shots. Into. His. Head….”

  28. Can I just say my 4 year old LOVES defying gravity. We rewind the last 5 seconds when Elphaba belts out uh, ahhh ahhh uhhhh…. over and over again! I’m so happy to hear there’s more of us :)

  29. Interesting how you’re showing yourself off in a post that’s (theoretically) about your children. Egotistical, much?

    1. She thought she looked fab so she took a picture – she knows EXACTLY what she’s doing –

  30. Sometimes I’m really surprised at the posts that inspire the haters. I wonder, Stephanie, can you usually predict the responses you’ll get to a particular post? Does it affect what you post, or when? I’d like to hear more from you on that.

  31. It’s too funny, because I read your blog on my google reader, and my first thought after I saw the photos was, “Oh my god! Her hair looks so awesome! I have to post a comment and ask her to pretty please, share the secrets!”

    And then several days went by [I can’t post a comment directly from my google reader mobile] and now I finally have a moment to log into your site and I see all this bile in the comments…

    I fell in love with Lorac after reading your makeup post – could you be so darling as to do a hair post? And let us know your secrets? As a girl with curly-often-goes-frizzy-hard-to-look-good-unless-I-blowdry-it-straight hair, who has a pile of barely used sticky gooey experimental hair products in the cabinet under my sink, I’d love to find out how you look so amazing – especially first thing in the morning!

    And if you don’t want to post it, could you at least email me =)?

    I love your blog, btw.


  32. and you’re doing a hell of a job (and looking great while you’re doing it)! I’m all for a little 42nd Street sing along…and it might just need to happen at my desk today. It’s the feel good memories that get you through and thinking back on a childhood of singing…that’s a feel great memory!

  33. Ah Defying Gravity is an eternal favorite of mine…heartwrenching.

    A new few musicals for you, if you haven’t yet heard of them…Parade and The Last Five Years, both by Jason Robert Brown. Not all songs are kid-friendly but both are absolutely enchanting.

  34. Oh, I’m so glad Florinda sent me your link! Sounds like we’re raising our girls in similar fashions. I’ve taken my daughters to both Wicked and Legally Blonde, and we saw In the Heights on Broadway at Xmas. You might like my post today, entitled I Believe in Musicals.

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