Friday, January 06, 2017

Fiddler on the Roof

These days we tend to assume that the readily available treasure trove of information, something we call the internet, right at our fingertips would only make younger people ever more knowledgeable about the world around them. Turns out that's not really true since rather than research whatever random esoteric subject that might interest them, most would rather fiddle their fingers on inconsequential tripe such as Pokemon Go.

Witness Diffident David.

He's readily admitted that half the subject matter we regularly discuss at dinner flies past his oblivious head - and yet I find he has zero interest in finding out more. Even though I routinely bombard him with detailed links and videos on the matter at hand not very long after. No doubt he clicks on the link only to be distracted by the next exhilarating level of Candy Crush.

So when the discussion drifted towards musicals, David found himself at quite a loss. Though for once it wasn't only him at point-non-plus since quite a number had barely heard of the musicals of yore. If the Academy Award winning Fiddler on the Roof doesn't ring much of a bell, I doubt they'd ever have heard of the dazzling Showboat or even the more obscure Brigadoon.

Sadly Tevye, not so much of a tradition these days!

Which is quite a pity if you ask me, since they are missing out on quite a lot. Surely you can't count yourself a true fan of music if you've never even seen Sister Maria come sailing up a mountain top singing to the trees? Or the ravishing Dolly Gallagher Levi charming the men of the band as she greets everyone miraculously by name?

Perhaps I do have a lot to be thankful for in my upbringing and schooling. Not only did my parents inculcate a serious love of old-time MGM movies - which I rabidly devoured every weekend night - but even in school, we received a surprisingly thorough musical education as well.

I must take you away from this place where they know not of Les Miserables!

Back in school, we had an unusual relic left behind from the glorious days when music was still a compulsory subject. Rather than retire as she could easily do - or drift on to other more pertinent subjects, this redoubtable musical madame refused to give in and continued to surreptitiously run music lessons guerrilla-style when no one was watching. Empty classroom periods at the end of the term were the special moments when she would sweep dramatically into the class and shanghai all the reluctant boys into the music room.

And yes, there was a special music room hidden in a corner of the school where there was a raised stage crowded with various musical instruments from the ubiquitous piano to the more unusual bagpipe. There, our formidable matron with her pure high-pitched soprano would try to corral a mismatched group of adolescent boys - with their tweenage voices treacherously breaking - into matching her style of operatic singing.

Not to mention the occasional lessons on deportment, with sitting up ramrod straight without slouching one of the first, since Madame would not brook such loutish behaviour in her music salon.

It was in that sun-dappled music room that we first saw the dashing cowboy Curly McLain greet a beautiful morning with a song. Apparently one of Madame's favourite songs since she made every form start out with that particular refrain.

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