The title of our show came, of course, from the immortal Rodgers & Hart classic: Falling in love with love is falling for make-believe.
Falling in love with love is playing the fool.
Caring too much is such a juvenile fancy.
Learning to trust is just for children in school.
It's Valentine's Day at The Manhattan Psychoanalytical Institute for the Romantically Challenged.
First patient of the day: Evan Smith
Where do you go When you feel that your brain is on fire?
Where do you go when you don't even know
What it is you desire?
The wise counsel of "Dr. Richard Rodgers" (in a song written by Lerner and Lowe): On a clear day, rise and look around you
And you'll see who you are...
On a clear day you can see forever."
Nikki Yarnell unburdens to "Dr. Lorenz Hart":
I married many men,
A ton of them, And yet I was untrue to none of them
because I bumped off ev'ry one of them
to keep my love alive.
Marc Blitzstein wrote the score for "Juno," the musical adaptation of Sean O'Casey's "Juno and the Paycock." Far ahead of its time with its sane treatment of the Irish Revolution, it was not generally regarded as a success. But the score is fascinating and contains this exquisite song, sung in our show by Carly Vernon: For I wish it so!
What I wish I still don’t know,
But it’s bound to come,
Though so long to wait.
Renee Barnett portrayed the ex-wife of Dr. Rodgers, ruefully ruminating, in one of those gently melancholy Rodgers and Hart ballads: Life is not so sweet alone.
The man who came to dinner
lets me eat alone.
I confess it, I didn't guess it,
That I would sit and mope again
And all the while I'd hope again
To see my darling dope again.
It never entered my mind.
Family issues are very much on Dr. Rodgers' mind this Valentine's day. His brother comes to visit, bringing his daughter, offspring of his late wife, the woman Dr. Rodgers himself once loved. The child reminds both men of their loss. A situation derived from "The Secret Garden," the musical based on the children's classic and a song that proved a revelation to many in our audience.
She has her eyes
The girl has Lily's hazel eyes
Those eyes that closed and left me all alone...
Stephen: Those eyes that loved my brother - never me...
Those eyes that never saw me
Never knew I longed
To hold her close
To live at last in Lily's eyes
Marcus Smith is brought in by Alesia Anne Lawson to see "Dr. Lorenz Hart" (Maxim Gukhman), with encouraging words (originally sung by Carol Burnett imitating Shirley Temple in "Fade Out/Fade In": When you think you've hit the bottom
And you're feeling mighty low,
You mustn't feel discouraged --
There's always one step further down you can go.
Marcus sings the heartbreaking song from "Chess":
Pity the child who knew his parents
Saw their faults, saw their love die before his eyes
Pity the child that wise.
He never asked
"Did I cause your distress?"
Just in case they said "Yes."
The sage "Dr. Hart" picks him up with
Charlie Chaplin's classic advice: Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile...
I want men that I can squeeze,
That I can please,
That I can tease
Nobody comes knocking at my front door.
What do they think my knocker's for?
(Any complaints, forward them to the late Harold Rome)
He’s just a man I’ve always known
Yet somehow from afar.
Now that I’m by his side
Will he reach out to me?
A lovely lament from the British musical, The Card. Nurse Jessica Luck has more than professional feelings towards Dr. Rodgers. Perhaps she's been watching too much Gray's Anatomy?
Meghan Picerno has a less starry-eyed approach to the male species, courtesy of Cole Porter:
Most gentlemen don't like love,
they just like to kick it around.
Most gentlemen don't like love,
'cause most gentlemen can't be profound.
So just remember when you get that glance,
A romp and a quickie is all little Dickie
Means when he mentions Romance.
Half past midnight
At the bridge
Stir the embers.
One more frigid night
Served your country
No one hears you cry:
I need a friend.
Bryan William, Occupation Dragonslayer
It's a city of strangers,
Some come to work, some to play.
A city of strangers,
Some come to stare,
some to stay.
And every day
Some go away
Stephen Sondheim, Company
Lonely house, lonely me
Funny, with so many neighbors
How lonely it can be.
Kurt Weill & Langston Hughes, Street Scene
A new town is a blue town
A "who do you know" and "show me what you can do" town
There's no red carpet at your feet.
If you're not tough they'll try to beat you down.
Richard Adler & Jerry Ross, Pajama Game
All the lonely people... The first act finale of Falling in Love with Love was a stirring ensemble that brought together 6 songs reflecting the isolation of strangers in a city. And why we need a Manhattan Psychoanalytical Institute for the Romantically Challenged!
In Act II, Staff of the Institute peformed an Intervention on one of their own, Evan White (courtesy once again of Rodgers and Hart):
It's got to be love,
It isn't the morning after
That makes ev'ry rafter
Go spinning around above. EVAN:
I'm sure that it's fatal, or why do I get
that sinking feeling? THE DIAGNOSIS:
He thinks that he's dead,
But nevertheless it's only love.
One of the Institute's success stories (of a sort):
Who'd think this Miss Prim would have opened a window
As far as her whim would allow;
And who would suppose it was so hard to close it,
Oh, what do I do now?
(Gooch's song from Jerry Herman's Mame)
One of the revelations of the show, for audiences and creators alike, was the magnificent dream sequence from Kurt Weill & Ira Gershwin's Lady in the Dark -- appropriately enough, a musical play about a woman, Liza Elliot, in need of psychological help. The beautiful love ballad, "This is New," sung by Max Gukhman to Meghan Picerno, erupts into fears over her upcoming marriage, sung in magnificent counterpoint by fearsome nightmare visitations (in equally fearsome musical intervals of seconds):
This is new
I was merely existing.
This is new
And I’m living at last.
Head to toe you’ve got me so I’m spellbound
I don’t know if I am heav’n or hell bound.
This woman at the altar
is not the true Liza Elliot.
Tell them about yourself,
Tell them the woman you really want to be
Longing to be beautiful
And yet rejecting beauty.
Tell them the truth
But in a happy ending cribbed from the British musical Robert and Elizabeth, about the romance of the poets Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett, our heroine vanquishes her fears and sings along rapturously:
I know now
Why there are ripples on a stream,
And why it’s wonderful to dream,
As dreamers do.
If there are ripples on a stream,
And when it’s wonderful to dream
The dream is you.
But in the end he needs
A little bit more than me --
I know him so well.
Lyrics by Tim (Evita) Rice. From the musical Chess by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus...
Two Women ~ One Man
He needs his fantasy
I know him so well.
It's hard to beleve that the same composer-lyricist wrote the slick urban fable Guys and Dolls, the operetta The Most Happy Fella, and the edgy How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying. But perhaps Frank Loesser's most evocative score is his least known, for Greenwillow, a small town, rustic coming-of-age musical that starred a very wholesome Tony Perkins (pre-Psycho).
For still I love
my Summertime Love
Still I love
the kissing and the courting.
Still I love
my Summertime Love.
With a heart still
Evan White, clutching a box of chocolates send to him by his small-town sweetheart to celebrate Valentine's Day.
By the time the staff of the Institute is through sampling the gift, the chocolates will be only one more sweet Valentine's Day memory.
One of IOS's goals is to keep alive and expand awareness of America's magnificent musical theatre heritage. In October we will be presenting Autumn Leaves, a musical celebration of the "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness." Once again, we will draw from the vast repertoire of music from stage and screen to create what we hope will be a worthy evocation of the season and a fulfilling evening in the theatre.