Friday, July 27, 2007

Pickup Lines you may not have heard

"That tattoo around your (extremely impressive) bicep -- it's in Kufic script, isn't it?"
Okay, I did not actually say that to the extremely impressive torso with tattoo, sculpted beard, plucked eyelashes and broken, Arab nose on the E train tonight while heading home from "The Day Before Spring" (Lerner & Loewe's first musical, 1945, flopped -- NO SIGN that these guys would come up with "My Fair Lady") at the York Musicals in Mufti series.
But it was what I would have said if he had given me so much as a glance. He was giving glances only to much younger men. Well, if THAT'S what you're into, I thought (sour grapes, sour grapes)....
But you do agree with me, don't you, that it would have been a most original, however unsuccessful, pickup line, had I had the balls to attempt it?
He got off at 23rd Street in deepest Chelsea. Well, if THAT'S what you're into, I thought.
Nice view of wasp-waisted, big-chested torso in one of those fashionable square-cut undershirts, as he strolled down the platform.
Too tall for me anyway. (Like you believe I mean that.)

"The Day Before Spring" was not a good show (you could easily understand why it failed), but Lerner & Loewe recycled quite a lot of it over the years -- one recit turned up in the movie "Gigi." Others (a guy told me as we left the theater) are in the stage version of "Gigi," which I do not know. There are several very pretty songs in DBS worthy of cabaret recycling: The title tune, and "My Love Is a Married Man" (the somewhat well-known one), "A Jug of Wine," "This Is My Holiday." (I'd heard the second and third of these at Broadway-By-the-Year's Musicals of 1945 at Town Hall.) There's a splendid little scene in which Plato, Voltaire and Freud sing different advice (in different pastiche styles -- did young Stephen Sondheim see this show?) to a wife considering whether to leave her husband for her lover -- this is the sort of thing that could be excerpted for variety performance very well indeed, and it brought down the house tonight.

Not to change the subject, in "No Man of Her Own" (not to be confused with the Stanwyck weepie of the same title), Carole Lombard plays a small-town librarian and Clark Gable (this was years before they married) is a gangster from the city who is lying low in the small town. She is affronted by his appraising look -- or at any rate, it makes her kind of breathless. But he seems to have vanished, and she's turning out the lights, row by row, in the dark library -- when out of the stacks he emerges, looming over her with THAT smile. She falls back, and he says,
"What do you DO with all the hearts you break?" --
whereupon she gives a great big Carole Lombard gasp. And falls for the lug.
I loved that scene when I saw it at an impressionable age (I'm still impressionable, actually), and I have often used the line. Well, not often, because the first five or six times it did not get anything like Carole Lombard's reaction ... in fact guys tended to edge to the other side of the bar. So I cooled it. I only use it now on guys so hot I know they're not going to respond no matter what I say. It breaks the ice. Sometimes it's even worked.
You never know. But that's a Cole Porter show, come to think of it.
What would you say to a really stunning muscular Arab with a tattoo in Kufic script around his bicep on the E train on a Friday night?
("It's Friday night. Shouldn't you be in the medrasa?")

DBS was not the best thing I've seen at Musicals in Mufti by a long chalk (it was the opening night, true) -- I think that title goes to Rebecca Luker in "Darling of the Day" -- but the show would be infinitely more likable if the cast -- especially the ladies -- would project their lyrics, sing them louder and e-nun-ci-ate. (Like, say, Rebecca Luker.) Todd Adams, who had the best voice, had nothing to sing; Robyn Kramer, who was the funniest performer, did not project her songs. Daniel Levine was amusing as Voltaire, Hunter Bell as a valet, Tia Speros as a confidante (the Eve Arden role), Mark York got laughs where there weren't jokes and played piano good. Pleasant show to finally see. (Next in the series: Zorba.)

P.S. In the Barbara Stanwyck "No Man of Her Own," which is mercifully rare, Ruby is knocked up by a lout, Lyle Bettger, who gives her a train ticket to get rid of her. Naturally, as so often happens in real life, she's just trying on the wedding ring of another pregnant woman when the train crashes. The other woman and husband are killed, and his family mistakes Ruby for their unknown pregnant daughter-in-law. For the sake of the baby, she goes along. But Lyle Bettger turns up and blackmails her into marrying him. The whole flick's deadly dull until the moment the Justice of the Peace says, "until death do you part," and then the famous Stanwyck eyes light up. All the while, on the drive home, she is staring at oblivious Lyle, and it's perfectly obvious what she's thinking: "I'm Barbara Stanwyck. I'm married to a man I despise. I know how to handle THIS." Those five minutes are the only reason to watch the picture.
Truth to tell, I don't recommend either movie. Or "The Day Before Spring." Or musclemen with plucked eyebrows and tattoos in Kufic around their biceps.
York Theater Company, however, I approve.

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