One evening my wife arrived home and held them up in the air for me to see. They were tickets for musicals that would be showing at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.
“Ah, that’s great,” I said. “You and the girls are going?” I asked assuming that the tickets were for her and my daughters.
“No,” she said. “You and I are going.” I didn’t sigh. I didn’t roll my eyes. I didn’t protest. I have been married long enough to identify a losing battle when I see one.
I just smiled, resigned, certain there was no extricating myself from the inevitable reality that I would soon find my rear end planted in a seat at the PAC having my ears and eyes over-stimulated by the deranged exuberance that is a musical.
First, we saw Gypsy.
Called "the greatest American musical" by numerous critics and writers, GYPSY is loosely based on the 1957 memoirs of the famous striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee. The show focuses on the artist's domineering mother, Rose, as she pushes her daughters, Louise and June, to perform their vaudeville act across the United States during the 1920s ...
An hour after intermission, the production showed no signs of coming to a much needed conclusion. My thoughts turned slightly suicidal and homicidal in equal proportions. The performers did eventually take a bow and the curtain came down. It was 11 P.M. and I felt that I had been robbed of my Friday evening.
It wasn’t the fault of the performers, though. It’s just that Gypsy left me numb, uninspired and fatigued, like all long and dull stories do.
I spent the last week with a mild sense of dread knowing that we would be going to another Friday night musical. I made subtle suggestions to my wife that maybe she ought to go with one of her friends—someone with a greater appreciation for the performing arts, not a troglodyte like me. Any mention of me getting out of it was quickly rebuffed.
On the eve of our outing to see grown adults jumping, shouting, and singing across the stage—generally behaving the way people do who have serious psychological disorders—I was at the bank making a deposit.
“How are you today?” the teller asked.
“I’m tired,” I said. “And my wife is making me go to a musical tonight.”
“What musical?” he inquired.
“Avenue Q,” I said.
His eyes lit up. “Oh, you are going to like it. There’s puppets that have sex, and they sing songs called The internet is for Porn, Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist, and It Sucks to be Me.”
“No shit,” I said. “Puppets having sex?” I was willing to keep an open mind.
Avenue Q is a laugh-out-loud musical about a recent college grad (and puppet) named Princeton who moves into a shabby New York apartment all the way out on Avenue Q. There, he meets colorful types who help him finally discover his purpose in life. The show addresses, with humor, the anxiety today's young adults face when they realize that, in spite of what they've been told all their lives, their options are limited and they really aren't that special. ... [T]his show is intended FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY. But any adult who isn’t offended by brief, tasteful puppet nudity and brilliant satire must not miss the LOOK production of this 2004 Tony Triple Crown winner ...
Avenue Q turned out to be two of my favorite things—weird and hilarious. It was certainly worth the price of admission.
What I learned is, not all musicals are created equally. Like all varieties of things, some musicals suck beyond belief, but some are great. I’m sure there are plenty of musicals to fill all the space between, too.