I'm directing anyone who wonders why I have been swept away by musical theatre to find a clip of Bernadette Peters singing "Children and Art," from Sunday in the Park With George. Preferably the whole show, available on DVD, but if only one song, make it this one.
There is no turning back from work this good.
I'm afraid to play the thing again for fear I'll vanish into a puddle of tears or forget who I am or something.
At first, when asked to explain what moves me about musical theatre, I would babble about the necessary suspension of disbelief being so freeing, so open, so powerful. Something about "it must be the fact of music, which in some form every human being knows."
"Children and Art" gets beyond all that. To see and hear Peters, playing a ninety-eight-year-old grandmother in a wheel chair, singing of what came before in the world and what will be left, as her grand-son kneels, holding her hand . . . in Peters' gorgeous soprano that has aged so well . . . and with her comic genius always at hand . . .
And I haven't mentioned Mandy Patinkin, the grand-son, who is superb, or the first act of the play, in which MP plays the painter Georges Seurat, and BP a figure in Seurat's famous A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte.
Give this song a listen somehow. And while you're at it, catch a clip of Patinkin doing "The Day Off (Dog Song)" from the same show.