Recording “The Ladies Who Lunch”

When the original Broadway cast of Company went into the Columbia recording studios to lay down the revolutionary Sondheim score, theatre fans were afforded an incredible opportunity as documentary filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker was on hand to tape the marathon 18 hour session. It was to be the first in a series, but the full project never materialized. But this one session became the legendary Original Cast Album: Company. Before present union regulations, the tradition was that a cast album was recorded on the first day off after opening night. In that one day. It was a marathon session which started early in the morning and would usually take up the entire day and often go well past midnight.

Sitting like lords in the sound booth, Sondheim and 12 time Grammy winning record producer Thomas Z. Shepard give input and feedback regarding individual performances. Producer-director Harold Prince is also on hand to observe. But it’s mostly Sondheim and Shepard running things, conferring with conductor Harold Hastings, orchestra and performers. It’s quite clear that the original cast album is the definitive performance and everyone and everything must be perfect, down to the last note. Therefore, Sondheim asks Beth Howland that she sing rather than speak more of the patter of “Getting Married Today” and they re-do “You Could Drive a Person Crazy” when a wrong note is heard in the tight three part harmony. Dean Jones, whose singing on the album has always sounded impassioned to me, stands at the microphone like an automaton throughout most of the session.

But the most memorable segment was the notorious attempt to record Elaine Stritch‘s “The Ladies Who Lunch.” Coming at the end of the session, Stritch tries her hardest to get out her showstopper. She’s in her trademark tights and long button-down shirt. No make-up and her hair askew. However, for a variety of reasons  – physical exhaustion, vocal fatigue included – she just can’t nail it. She gives it her all, but to the disappointment of those in the booth her takes are lackluster. Sondheim suggests taking it down a half tone, Stritch’s response is that she can do it if she takes her hat off (among similar signs of nerves and exhaustion). It doesn’t go well, and in fact each take gets progressively worse as the session progresses. Tensions arise with an impatient record producer and a perfectionist composer struggling to figure out how to fix the problem. Eventually we cut to Stritch screaming at her own performance on the playback.

It’s decided to have the orchestra lay down the track and to have Elaine come in and record over it another day. When she returns to the studio several days later, it’s like night and day – Stritch coiffed in full hair and makeup for the show – hits the home run heard on the cast album. A triumph for all. In the DVD commentary, Hal Prince suggests that Stritch might have been playing to the cameras in the room – even down to the hair and makeup. Stritch denies it outright – that she was at her worst and quite humiliated and insecure and that she doesn’t even remember where she ended up that night. The star also talks about how hurt she was to hear Shepard say, “Once more from the top. Sung.”

Pennebaker, using just three hand held cameras captured the entire day of recording and whittled it down into this hour-long documentary showcasing the hard work that goes into the creation of a cast album. It’s a shame he wasn’t able to do his full series (I can’t imagine what the Follies session must have been like with all the devastating cuts Capitol insisted upon for the record) Who knew making a cast album could be so riveting? (And yes, one of those 12 Grammys was for Company).



Invited Dress: New York Pops’ Sondheim Birthday Bash

A week ago, I wasn’t even sure I was going to be attending the New York Pops‘ celebration of Stephen Sondheim‘s 80th birthday. There was a possibility that I might be attending with my blog/twitter friend Kelly Cameron, who was covering the show for Broadway World. Then as the week progressed, I received an invite to the dress rehearsal the afternoon of the performance, an opportunity on which I pounced. I figured, if I couldn’t see the actual concert, I could at least have a chance to hear the selections. Kate Baldwin and Christiane Noll, in my estimation the two best actresses in a musical last season, were singing as well as Alexander Gemignani and Aaron Lazar. Singing legend Marilyn Maye was a very special guest artist, on hand to sing “I’m Still Here.” The NY Pops musical director and conductor is Steven Reineke. Choral support was provided by Essential Voices USA (under the direction of Judith Clurman).

There are few performing spaces that I would consider “pure” and Carnegie Hall is one of them. Every time I enter Stern Auditorium my breath is taken away. It’s so pristine and majestic, yet intimate. The acoustics are stunning, some of the best I’ve ever heard (I could clearly hear every instruction Reineke gave the orchestra while facing the stage wall). Since I was a guest and not a patron of the hall, I entered through the stage door and checked in with security. I was then let into the hall by way of the side entrance. The first ten or twelve rows were taped off, but we were allowed to sit anywhere behind that.

Unlike most dress rehearsals, this was not a formal run-through but a working rehearsal in mufti. The singers and players were in jeans and comfortable clothes. Reineke took to the podium and got things off to a start with the Overture from Merrily We Roll Along. While the sound man and stage manager worked out kinks with microphones, placing and monitor issues, Reineke stayed at his podium and led the rehearsal with patience and poise. He ran a smooth rehearsal; there was time for the orchestra to review its parts as well as the singers to fine tune their lyrics and minimalist staging. Songs were stopped and started and refinements were made.

My friend Lauren and I sat in awe as the actors, seemingly stress free, polished their material. It was a lot of work and I’m sure a lot of pressure to pull it all together for the evening show. Lauren is an actress and told me that the experience was beneficial for her to witness, almost like a master class in performance preparation.The invited dress audience was made up of friends of the performers and Carnegie Hall and we were all quite taken with them. The work session was obvious longer than the actual concert, but I was enraptured hearing many of the original arrangements and a plethora of selections from Company, Follies, Sunday in the Park with George, Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music and Into the Woods. It was also lovely hearing “I Remember” from Evening Primrose as well as selections from Saturday Night. I was a little bummed there was nothing from Assassins or my beloved Pacific Overtures (the latter has been painfully overlooked in every one of these birthday concerts).

For me, it was really a joy to hear the orchestrations. Many of the original arrangements were used (from Jonathan Tunick and Michael Starobin). There were some points where the orchestra ran through sections without the singer: I got to hear the final section of “Another Hundred People” and Reineke had the horn practice the final run for “A Weekend in the Country.” I got chills when when “Weekend” started. It was my first time hearing it live with those charts. It culminated gloriously when the Essential Voices stood in for the Liebslieders in the final section. I sat there in awe, silently screaming “Encore!” in my head. Another musical moment that has always stopped me in my tracks: the release toward the end of “Move On” – when I was in a production of Sunday, I made it a point to be backstage when that moment happened; it’s utterly thrilling every single time.

What I found out just before the rehearsal started was that I was also going to be at the sold out concert that evening (good thing I was well-dressed), so for me it was going to be interesting to see how it would turn out in actual performance. Kelly arranged it so that I would cover for her. Suddenly I was seated on the aisle in the parquet with lots of glorious Broadwayites and concertogers. In a matter of hours, here I was covering the event for Broadway World. There was a bit of deja vu, as I basically retraced my entire afternoon. It was theme and variation in the best tradition of Sondheim. It struck me as surreal and amusing at the same time. I also had a lovely chat with the woman next to me, whose son was singing with the Essential Voices and come down from Boston. (One of her fondest recollections was of the legendary Wall to Wall Sondheim Event in 2005; she and her son spent the entire day basking in Sondheim!) I’ll have more on the actual concert later…

Hat’s Off! Additional Kennedy Center “Follies” casting announced

Whenever a major production of Follies is announced, it immediately becomes an event. The casting news, the production team, the venue – everything about the show is manna for the most die hard Sondheim fanatics. When the show was announced for Encores! four years ago, I remember there were some who felt it wasn’t an appropriate choice for the venue, but that didn’t curb audience enthusiasm. The production sold out its entire weekend run, with such a demand that they added an extra performance. Talk about a Broadway transfer came about, but it wasn’t to be.

Now rumors of this 2011 Kennedy Center revival have been stirring for about a year now, with various names being tossed about as possible contenders for the wide range of available roles. Those same folks who busted down the doors to get into the City Center are now gearing up to take on DC next spring. Already, the production has been extended and will be running at the Eisenhower Theatre from May 7 – June 9, 2011.

The first name to be officially announced sent ripples of excitement through the theatre world: Bernadette Peters will be playing Sally. BroadwayWorld announced that joining her would be John Dossett as Ben, Danny Burstein as Buddy and Kim Cattrall as Phyllis. Casting for those two leading man roles is still yet to be made public, however, Cattrall will not be a part of the production. Instead, the formidable Jan Maxwell – who is one of the great theatre actresses of our time – will be playing the aloof Phyllis, who cuts loose in “The Story of Lucy and Jessie.”

Additional cast members include Elaine Paige, making her first stateside appearance in a musical since her acclaimed 2004 run in NYCO’s Sweeney Todd, will be Carlotta and will belt out the showstopper of showstoppers, “I’m Still Here.” Tony winner Linda Lavin takes on Hattie Walker and “Broadway Baby” in the montage. Terri White, who stopped the show nightly in the all-too-brief revival of Finian’s Rainbow last season, is Stella Deems and will lead the ladies in “Who’s That Woman?”

Susan Watson, one of the foremost ingenues of the 1960s, will be playing Emily Whitman. Watson made her Broadway debut fifty years ago as the teenage Kim McAfee in the original company of Bye Bye Birdie. She also appeared on Broadway in Carnival, Ben Franklin in Paris and No No Nanette. Florence Lacey, whose thrilling belt graced Broadway in Hello, Dolly! and The Grand Tour, will be Sandra Crane. Régine will be Solange La Fitte. Also joining the cast will be opera singer Rosalind Elias as Heidi, Terrence Currier as Theodore Whitman and David Sabin as Dimitri Weissman. Additional casting is pending.

Eric Schaeffer is directing. Warren Carlyle will choreograph. James Moore (of my beloved Ragtime revival) will serve as musical director, conducting the Kennedy Center’s 28 piece orchestra using Jonathan Tunick‘s original orchestrations. Derek McLane will design the set, Gregg Barnes will design the costumes and Natasha Katz will design the lighting.

Tickets go on sale to Kennedy Center members on January 24 and to the general public on January 30. It appears I may just have to clear my entire schedule for the lusty month of May. If you want me, you can find me at the Kennedy Center. And I can tell you I won’t be alone…

Revisiting “A Little Night Music”

I didn’t have plans to revisit the revival of A Little Night Music before Angela Lansbury and Catherine Zeta-Jones’ departures, but much to my surprise I won a contest on BroadwaySpace for a pair of tickets to their final matinee on June 20. I’ve done a lot of final performances, from Bernadette’s Gypsy to The Norman Conquests, so it’s something with which I’m familiar. There is a huge fan base, the cheers are a little louder and longer and the general feeling in the theatre is that of good will. I met up with SarahB and Byrne at Sosa Borella before the show where we dubbed it “Angie Day – Summer Edition” and drank a toast to the star and her day. We headed down to the Walter Kerr, where we met up with fellow ITBA blogger (and Prettybelle enthusiast) Donald from Me2ism. We also had the opportunity to meet our delightful Twitter friend and fellow theatre fan Shari Zeck, who had flown in to see Ms. Lansbury.

Full disclosure: it was a pleasure to be in attendance on this particular performance and in spite of quibbles found myself enjoying the production more the second time, managing to focus on the text and action and mostly forgetting the bland sets, costumes and anemic orchestrations. Getting those quibbles out of the way: Trevor Nunn’s direction is hamfisted, lacking in nuance and full of far too much indicating. Act 1 and Act 2 feel like they were directed by two entirely different people, the former feels like a Lutheran penance, while things pick up considerably in the latter. Erin Davie is still humorless and ineffectual as Charlotte while Leigh Ann Larkin’s accent is still circling the airports of the world.

Catherine Zeta-Jones, fresh off a now notorious Tony performance, is much better than you’d remember based on that telecast but she also never, in my estimation, reached greatness in the part. There are moments when it seems that she’s playing the character of Desiree Armfeldt as the world’s greatest lush, with the idiosyncratic mannerisms of someone secretly taking a nip when no one is looking. Her “Send in the Clowns” stopped the show, but I wasn’t entirely convinced by it (those pregnant pauses – Trevor, how could you?); however, she really shone in the final scene, earning applause when Fredrik and Desiree finally connect (myself included). I think Night Music has one of the most flawless endings in musical theatre history, up there with She Loves Me. Now, mind you I mention these criticisms about her performance, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy her this time. At this point, I can only fault the director for the things that didn’t work.

Now onto the good: Hunter Ryan Herdlicka and especially Ramona Mallory have grown in their parts, with more nuance and understanding. Aaron Lazar and Alexander Hanson are still excellent as ever. The Liebeslieders are in excellent voice, and make an impression in spite of the walkography thrust upon them. (What a shame they don’t get to sing the full overture, a glorious piece of music). Keaton Whittaker is still a welcome presence as Fredrika.

And then there’s Angela Lansbury. Lansbury has been the toast of Broadway for so many years and has rightfully earned the status of legend, from Hotel Paradiso onward (to say nothing of her five Tony Awards). I’ve been so fortunate to see her in Deuce and Blithe Spirit, each time amazed that she was returning to Broadway. With her stage renaissance, I had hoped she would play the role of Madame Armfeldt and I am so glad this production made that pipe dream a reality. Out of the three productions, this one outshone the other two. On this last performance, Ms. Lansbury gave the greatest performance I’ve seen from her. On her entrance, which is timed with the applause button for the overture, the ovation grew and grew and lasted what I think must have been between 45 seconds and a full minute. Adulation from everyone in the house; the mere sight of Lansbury in the wheelchair made my heart leap. Her final rendition of “Liaisons” was the most devastating I’ve ever heard in my life, with all respect to Hermione Gingold, Regina Resnik, etc. In the final section of the song, there was unexpected emotion from Ms. Lansbury, as tears came to her eyes. A testament to her unrelenting brilliance: it came from a personal place for her last show, but was also an exceptionally valid acting choice . “Send in the Clowns” got the ovation; but it was “Liaisons” that was the pinnacle of this afternoon’s performance.

At the curtain call, there was a huge ovation as Zeta-Jones and Lansbury stepped forward. It took a couple minutes for Catherine to get the audience to quiet down, finally getting the audience to shut up and sit down. In a moment of pure class, the star dedicated virtually the entire speech to Angela. It was unexpected, honest and a beautiful tribute as those in the house and onstage hopelessly fought back tears. Zeta-Jones got down her knees and bowed down to Angela, who in turn gave a sophisticated curtsy to her co-star. It was a beautiful moment, chock full of emotion. Suffice it to say, I think it was in the back everyone’s minds that this could potentially be the last time Ms. Lansbury, the Queen of Broadway, appears on stage. But the first thing I said to SarahB was “So what do you think Angie will appear in next season?”

"Company" turns 40

Tonight there is the latest in a long line of festivities celebrating the 80th birthday of composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim at the City Center. It seems quite fitting to me as today is the anniversary of the musical that established Sondheim as the voice of new musical theatre: Company. On this day half a lifetime ago, his brittle, sophisticated portrait of marriage in NYC opened at the Alvin Theatre, dividing critics, surprising audiences and taking home awards left and right.

A series of vignettes based on plays by George Furth, the musical was directed by Harold Prince and starred Dean Jones as Bobby. What separated Company from other book musicals up to that point was its virtual lack of plot. The show was a series of vignettes – glimpses into Bobby’s lack of commitment and the relationship he has with other couples as well as his series of girlfriends. The setting and time? “New York City. Now.” Aside from that piece of information in the Playbill, there is no sense of chronology to what’s seen onstage. Characters step out of scenes to sing, commenting rather than continuing the action. It was daring, it was bold and it was pretty much unlike anything that had been seen up to that point.

Jones headlined the original production, but left after opening because of personal reasons (Larry Kert replaced him). The cast also included Charles Kimbrough, Beth Howland, Pamela Myers, Barbara Barrie, Susan Browning, Donna McKechnie and of course Elaine Stritch as Joanne. Boris Aronson’s set and Michael Bennett’s choreography are still often discussed in theatre circles; the show has been revived twice, including a Tony-winning turn in 2006 but none have come close to this production, whose original cast album remains the definitive reading of the score.

The songs of the score are well known to musical theatre fans. Bobby’s girlfriends singing “You Could Drive a Person Crazy” with its Andrews sisters style vocal arrangements; Marta’s “Another Hundred People,” Amy’s borderline insanity in the rapid fire patter song “Getting Married Today.” Bobby’s summation in “Being Alive” and Joanne’s condemnation of her peers and herself in “The Ladies who Lunch.” Jonathan Tunick charted the orchestrations, capturing the frenetic energy of 1970 in his superlative arrangements, foreshadowed in his work on Promises, Promises a couple years earlier (I think his charts for “Another Hundred People” captures the pace of NY better than any other I’ve heard).

It was the start of an unbelievably productive decade for Sondheim and Prince: Follies, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd and Merrily We Roll Along (which is. Prince and Sondheim became the face of contemporary musical theatre. Jonathan Tunick, with chameleon brilliance, smartly orchestrated each one of these scores so thrillingly that any other charts pale in comparison.

In Sondheim on Sondheim, the composer has written a self-deprecating song called “God!” taking aim at his own revered position in the world of music theatre. But looking at Mr. Sondheim’s contribution to the art form from Company to the present, it’s hard not to agree with the people’s assessment.

"Anyone Can Whistle" at Encores

I would like to call for a coronation in New York City. I don’t know if there are any statutes in the NY government that allow for such activity, or even whether her colleagues would appreciate my hubris, but if there is anyone who deserves to be crowned the Queen of Musical Comedy (at least this year) it is Donna Murphy, who experienced another in a series of career triumphs in this weekend’s Encores! revival of Anyone Can Whistle. If you missed her performance, I am legitimately sorry for you because it was the most scrumptious, delectable, laugh-out-loud hilarious musical comedy performance I’ve seen in the last several years.

Lusty, shallow, greedy, neurotic and deliriously oblivious, Murphy sashays through the evening like a Vegas nightclub diva, complete with a quartet of male dancers who follow her everywhere she goes. Her voice is in exceptional form and each one of her numbers was a pure knockout. Every nuance in her delivery, her physical movement, even the way she pronounces her own last name is enough to bust a gut. Her physicality is fearless, brash and just about the greatest thing since sliced bread. Every moment she is onstage you can’t help but watch her – she’s not only funny, but fascinating.

Murphy, coiffed by Gregg Barnes in an homage to the role’s originator Angela Lansbury (who insisted she play the part), is so winning that she would win every theatre award in sight were she eligible. It’s even more impressive when you think of her career trajectory: the bleak, depressive Fosca in Passion, the prim Mrs. Anna in The King and I, Ruth Sherwood in Wonderful Town and Phyllis in Follies. There are not many actresses with such extensive range and ability.

It bears mentioning that Ms. Murphy is not onstage alone. Sutton Foster is lots of fun as a Fay Apple, the uptight pragmatic nurse who can only let down her guard when dolled up like a French tart. She brings that now trademark belt to “There Won’t Be Trumpets” and offered a touching rendition of the title song. Raul Esparza flits around wildly as Hapgood, the would-be doctor who is actually a patient running the asylum. Edward Hibbert, Jeff Blumenkrantz and John Ellison Conlee provide enormous comic support as ‘Hoovah-Hoopah’s’ sidekicks, partners in crime (and possibly some more unmentionable extra-curricular activities).

This legendary flop played nine performances at the Majestic in 1964, an overreaching satire about a bankrupt city whose corrupt mayoress (and minions) concoct a phony miracle in order to capitalize on it. I won’t get too far into the plot as, well, with this show it doesn’t particularly matter. Laurents’ libretto is a meandering mess that tries too hard to lampoon everything imaginable. It seems that by trying to make the show all about everything that the creators inadvertently made it about nothing. David Ives made judicious cuts to the book, but to little avail: the piece as a whole is still unworkable and unsalvageable.

But there is still that score. Goddard Lieberson had the foresight to record the score in spite of the show’s closing. Sondheim, at this point, was primarily known as a lyricist and whose only Broadway composing credit was the smash hit A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. It was in Anyone Can Whistle that Broadway had its first taste of the Sondheim style and sound, which would revolutionize the genre in 1970’s Company. The album turned the show into a cult favorite, keeping Sondheim’s music and lyrics alive.

In honor of the composer’s 80th birthday, Encores! offers the rare NY revival and it is highly doubtful this production could be bettered. Director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw, also responsible for the memorable Encores! concert of Follies three years ago, has staged the piece with winning originality, especially in the subtitled bedroom scene. His dances are especially polished. They culminate in a showstopping climax with the “Cookie Chase,” a comic ballet complete with butterfly nets and tumbles. It’s a zany, absurd piece that simultaneous recalls the Keystone Cops and Tchaikowsky and is utterly ingenious, and an homage to the work of Herbert Ross, the original choreographer.

This is one of the best I’ve seen at the City Center. However, if producers are thinking of transferring this one, I don’t think that would be a wise move. It’s unlikely that we’ll ever see a commercial production that could make the show work or make it as fun as this one. But this is the ideal Encores! experience: a show that wouldn’t ordinarily be revived. This one will be best remembered for its triumphant weekend. Let’s hope next season can produce such a winner. Now I just wonder who’ll we have to see about getting Donna Murphy onstage in that other Lansbury star vehicle, Mame.

Good Thing Going

Today is Stephen Sondheim’s 80th birthday. Celebrations, concerts, jubilees have been underway for days and will continue through next month (if not longer). Last week it was the NY Philharmonic, next month the City Center delivers a double on the rocks with Anyone Can Whistle and a gala concert. There are major celebrations planned for Chicago, London and all around the world.

His career spans well over fifty years and his name is attached to some of the most important musicals of all time. The impact of Sondheim on the American musical theater has been well documented by practically everyone in Christendom and I won’t rehash it all here. However, in honor of his birthday (which is coincidentally Andrew Lloyd Webber’s birthday, but we can’t blame SJS for that), I would stop and take a brief moment to talk about some of my Sondheim related favorites:

Favorite show/score. Sweeney Todd. It’s a tough call between this and A Little Night Music, but this masterpiece edges out every time. I can still recall the first time I watched the Grand Guignol “black operetta” (as the composer himself has termed it) late at night in my parents’ house on break from school. Halfway through the first act I said aloud “I can’t believe they got this to work!” and it was just pure respect and admiration from then on out. It took me two days to watch as I found myself rewinding the last 10 minutes of the first act over and over again for about two hours. The joy of discovery!

Favorite orchestrator. Jonathan Tunick, the foremost orchestrator of the last forty years and one whose genius knows few limits. From his contemporary sound in Company (whose original cast album presents the definitive arrangement and sound for the score) to capturing the essence of pastiche in Follies, the cynical romanticism Night Music, the ominously operatic in Sweeney or the brash Broadway of Merrily, the man knows how to deliver and serve the composer, the song and the production simultaneously.

Favorite Librettist. Hugh Wheeler did the honors on both A Little Night Music and Sweeney Todd. The former is a masterful farce, with brittle lines and fascinating characters of another era. In the latter, he helped shape the overall arc of the musical, whose touch is subtle but profound in successfully finding the balance between Christopher Bond’s original play and Sondheim’s near operatic score.

Favorite Director. Hal Prince. The combination of the two revolutionized the genre forever. Lapine was an excellence choice to follow-up the combination, but the impact of their three shows together doesn’t come near the glory days of 1970-1981.

Favorite Song. This is the really hard one. I thought about lyric, but realized I’d need to write a book, and frankly, Sondheim is doing that himself. I don’t know that I could nail it down to one particular song as it could shift regularly.

Here are a few finalists in the category: “A Little Priest,” “Please Hello,” “Send in the Clowns,” “Liaisons,” “A Weekend in the Country,” “Could I Leave You?,” “The Ladies Who Lunch,” “Another Hundred People,” “Getting Married Today,” “Move On,” “Sunday,” “Last Midnight,” “Everybody Ought to Have a Maid,” “There Won’t Be Trumpets,” “How I Saved Roosevelt,” “Now You Know,” “I’m Still Here,” and… well, you catch my drift. I’m sure in a day or so another great one I’ve left out will pop into my head as well.

So, Happy Birthday, Mr. Sondheim! Though you’re turning 80, I hope that doesn’t keep you from giving us another new show. It was far too long between Passion and Road Show, and New Yorkers hate to wait – especially for excellence.

‘A Little Night Music’ goes to Paris

Here is a brief video clip containing scenes from the production of A Little Night Music that is playing a strictly limited engagement this week at the Théâtre du Châtelet. This marks the Paris debut of the Sondheim-Wheeler classic, which is also currently a sell-out in a new Broadway revival (by way of London). Gretta Sacchi is Desiree; Leslie Caron her mother Madame Armfeldt. It’s a full-scale production with sets, costumes, 31 piece orchestra and it’s being performed in English. The theatre’s youtube channel has a lot of other clips, including interviews with the cast and clips from other productions they have done.

Our very own KariG is currently in Paris and will be seeing this production tomorrow evening; looking forward to what she has to say about it (she’s a tough cookie on this one – it’s her favorite musical).