18 September, 2007

Meeting Sheldon Harnick

Tonight a 8.
No, not really.
Tonight at about 10:45.

What an incredible blessing to meet a man whose words have come to mean so much. Words that have literally orchestrated my entire life. I don't know how to describe the feeling and do it justice, but it was something like simultaneously thrilling and ...right. Like it was meant to happen. And it was moving and significantly meaningful.

He told us remarkable stories. Imagine being there at the beginning! Imagine. He told us they had no idea they had created such a global phenomenon. He told us when it opened for the very first time (previewing in Detroit at The Fisher Theatre!) It was very long and reviews were very mixed. The night before they were set to move the show to Washington DC he was awakened by a violent crash. Startled, he instantly rose and checked his apartment for intruders. The crash was caused by a picture on the wall that had fallen down and the glass had shattered into a million pieces. The picture was of Sholom Aleichem talking to Tevye. Utterly afraid, he got chills. He phoned a friend in New York:

"I don't know if we should take this is Washington, I think we should abandon this project, this is a very bad omen."
"Are you kidding?" said his friend, "It's a SMASH!"

This man is like a sculptor.
The sculptor can see that somewhere deep within a slab of marble, lies an incredible work of art. The sculptor is the only one who can see it, recognize it, bring it out, reveal it to the rest of us.

For a lyricist like Sheldon Harnick, it is exactly the same. The songs are out there, they need to exist. He discovers how to share them.

"Will wonders never cease...?"

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