I’m not saying that I was a major contributor of the $753,321 that was raised, but I was responsible for some of it.
This happened on Sunday, October 3 at The 35th annual Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction. It’s produced by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, so all monies go to a worthwhile cause.
I sauntered around 44th and 45th Streets between Seventh and Eighth Avenue, looking to see if I could find items that have been on my want-list now and forever. Along the way, I enjoyed seeing other Broadway fans both young and old going through the bins.
What I notice most, because they measure at 144 square inches, are the long-playing records that the Broadway mavens pull out of the wooden and cardboard boxes.
You’ve probably heard of The Five-Second Rule that states if you drop a piece of food on the floor, it’s fine to eat as long as you fetch it in five seconds or fewer. (It’s a myth, by the way.) Well, I have The Twenty-Second Rule. If a person picks up a record and reads the liner notes for a third-of-a-minute, I feel free to kibitz.
The Oxford Dictionary says that “kibitz” means to “look on and offer unwelcome advice.” But I can’t help it. If a person seems to be even moderately interested in an original cast, revival cast or studio cast album, I put my voice in here, I put my voice in there.
There are hazards to talking to people out of the blue. Sometimes the person gives me a panicked look that says “Why is there never a cop around when you need one?” But if I can get people to buy recordings that offer pleasure after pleasure, well, as Passionella sings in THE APPLE TREE, “That’s what I’m here for.”
In fact, I got someone to purchase THE APPLE TREE, the musical that Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick wrote after FIDDLER ON THE ROOF. It starred Barbara Harris, who won a Best Actress in a Musical Tony, and Alan Alda, whose M*A*S*H fame was yet to be. No less than Mike Nichols directed, too.
The woman whom I approached obviously saw those names on the front cover, which is why she turned the album around to read more. Alas, the reverse side of THE APPLE TREE’s LP of doesn’t offer any words – only pictures – so that’s where I came in.
“The album is worth it just to hear ‘It’s a Fish,’” I opined. “See if you can guess what Adam of Adam and Eve fame is talking about once you hear it.”
“Oh, it’s about Adam and Eve?” she asked, perking up a bit.
I had to admit that “The Diary of Adam and Eve” was just one of three separate stories. “But you’ll want to hear Barbara Harris sing the saucy ‘I’ve Got What You Want’ in the second story and the very funny Bob Dylan parody on the third.”
(Maybe I should go into sales, for I’d just made one.)
Down the street I went. Nearsighted though I am, even from quite a distance I could spot a man holding the cast album of PURLIE, thanks to its cover with that unique shade of green. I was glad to see him intrigued enough to open the gatefold album to read what was inside.
Twenty seconds had come and gone. Waiting was beneficial for another reason. I had been planning to say “Do you know ‘I Got Love’?” but realized that, despite my meaning one of PURLIE’s blue-chip songs, the line could be misinterpreted.
So I got more specific and said “Do you know Melba Moore’s rendition of ‘I Got Love’?” He didn’t, so I told him about attending PURLIE’s penultimate preview. “I Got Love” wasn’t even listed in the Playbill because it had just been added that week. Audience members who like to check their programs after each song to see what the next one will be didn’t see this one coming. Once they heard Moore do the song that cemented her getting the Tony, they wouldn’t forget it. I sure haven’t.
He bought both my opinion and the record.
Down the block, a woman had a copy of NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL GOOD MEN. It prompted me to say “Now’s a good time to get that one.”
“I see Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford wrote this,” she immediately said. “They’re the ones who wrote I’M GETTING MY ACT TOGETHER AND TAKING IT ON THE ROAD, aren’t they?”
“They sure are,” I replied. “NOW IS THE TIME was their first show and it has some marvelous material. A very naïve young woman from Indiana asks a more experienced man about travel. ‘Does London really have a bridge? Does Scotland have a yard?’”
“Oh, that’s very clever,” she said. But she didn’t reach inside her purse for her wallet. That almost made me quote another lyric from the Cryer and Ford score: “Now honey lamb, if you don’t say ‘Yes!’ you’re a j-a-c-k-a-s-s.”
Luckily, it didn’t come to that, for she eventually reached far inside to the bottom of her purse to get out that credit card without which she wouldn’t leave home.
My peregrination to 44th Street soon brought me near a man who was considering THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY.
“You a football fan?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said, wondering why I’d bring that up, before adding “but I’d rather be here today than home watching those lousy Giants.”
(I hope he was pleased when he later heard that they’d won their first game of the season, although they did need overtime to do it.)
“Well, believe it or not,” I said, “a song from WALTER MITTY used to introduce the NFL games each Sunday – the one called ‘Confidence.’ It’s terrific. And if you know the original story, you’ll see how the writers gave Walter a good reason for staying in such a bad marriage.”
The reason is that bookwriter Joe Manchester wisely gave Walter a daughter whom he adores and who adores him too. I didn’t mention this or that her name is Penninah; he might have thought the name so odd that he’d be discouraged from buying the album. Truth to tell, he was still mulling it over when I walked away as Kate had planned to do in HOW NOW, DOW JONES.
And if I’d seen anyone holding that cast album, I would have given it a very hard sell.
As for me, I was thrilled to get a script to SEVENTEEN, the 1951 musical that has one of the most charming eleven o’clock numbers: a soft-shoe called “I Could Get Married Today.” Add to that one of my favorite lyrics in a song called “Ode to Lola.” Teenage girls are nervously jealous of the new girl in town so they sing “She’s taken our boys ‘nd she ought to be poisoned!”
Hope that in 2022 you can attend can attend The 36th Annual Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction. If you do, don’t be surprised if you hear someone with a pronounced Boston accent suddenly start speaking to you.
Peter Filichia can be heard most weeks of the year on www.broadwayradio.com. He’s a contributor to the new magazine Encore Monthly.