The first Broadway musical I attended as a child was Do Re Mi starring Phil Silvers and Nancy Walker. My dad had won 2 orchestra seat tickets from work for he and mom but traded them in for balcony seats so he could take the whole family. I remember seeing Phil Silvers looking up at the balcony and thinking that he was looking directly at me. After that, I was hooked on Broadway musicals.
The Theater lost a giant last week when Stephen Sondheim passed away at 91. His work spanned from the back stage of theaters (Gypsy) to the forests of ancient lands (Into the Woods) to the streets of Paris (Sunday in the Park with George).
Music is a healing resilient strategy. Whatever your favorite genre, the sounds of harmonies and melodies help our brain release pleasure neurotransmitters. While I appreciate many genres from classical to hip-hop, I find that Broadway musicals evokes my emotions more than any other form, and I like feeling all those feelings.
Perhaps, it is an unfair comparison as musicals tell a heroic tale with all the twists and turns of our own most adventurous dreams. The excitement that comes from the Jets vs the Sharks, or the disappointments of broken love in Send in the Clowns, or the reassurance that come with ensuring that no one is going to hurt you Not While I’m Around all help us make a connection to ourselves and each other.
That is the power of the Broadway musical. I know about that connection because that night Phil Silvers was looking right into my eyes.
Thank you, Stephen Sondheim.