Do you watch Glee?
It's one of my guilty pleasures these days. It's a little soap opera of a show built around a school show choir. The characters are pretty stock, although not always predictable--the athletes, the cheerleaders, the drama kids, the gay kid, the black girl, etc., etc., but over the past few months, I've gotten to know and love them (and/or enjoy watching them because WHO in their right might could 'love' Sue or Terri?). It works pretty hard to be both politically correct and edgy--the multi-cultural cast, and then some of the things they say to each other. My RAR (Responsible Adult Reaction) to its depiction of high school, the irresponsible teachers, the glib attitude towards sex/drugs would be a parents' nightmare, but...it's been really fun to watch. I LOL all the time. And I think it's gotten better over the run of the first season. The acting has gotten better, the drama has increased. A lot of my DramaTeens watch it so it's a fun connection between us, and I love sitting down to watch it on FaceBook with all the musical theatre people out there. I think what I enjoy the most about it, however, is the absolute joy the cast seems to get out of performing the numerous show choir numbers interspersed throughout the hour-long program. Their song choices have been eclectic and wonderful, ranging from 70s and 80s rock songs to Broadway, to ballads, to even a little C&W. I downloaded the CD from iTunes and have thoroughly enjoyed singing along with the songs I know, and learning the ones I didn't. I know the show is a hit in my corner of the world, and I hope it's a hit everywhere....
So...last night was the season finale. The show choir went to Sectionals, up against the Deaf School and a reform school for girls. On the surface, this doesn't seem like real stiff competition, but that bitch Sue leaked their set list, so the other schools did all the songs OUR show choir had planned to sing. True to form, however, New Directions (the name of their choir) pulled a trick out of their pocket and agreed to allow their 'star' (Rachel) to sing, pretty much solo, while they did some rudimentary choreography. They handed her the sheet music in the green room; she looked at it and said, "I've been preparing for this since I was four years old." They took the stage, more or less without rehearsing and she belted out "Don't Rain on My Parade".
I spent the entire number alternately jumping up and down and wiping tears from my eyes. Although I'm not known as a singer (no comments from the peanut gallery please), I--like Rachel in the show--spent many, many growing up hours re-enacting scenes, dancing and belting out Barbra songs--including this one--in the refuge of my basement bedroom. I have a composite CD in my car called "Chris's Joy Music" that contains this song about marching forth, and refusing to take no for an answer, about getting what you want and hanging on to happiness. Everyone should have a 'Joy Music' CD to pop in when the going gets especially tough. And of course, I thought of her--my auntie, Betsy, who died several years ago after a three-year battle with ALS. She was the consummate Barbra fan, who so revered Streisand that she named her first child after one of her songs ("Jennie-Rebecca"). My aunt, who was such a role model in my life, a guiding force, an encourager, and the model of how to walk through this world--would have loved "Glee". Sappy soap opera that it is, I can totally see her sitting down every Wednesday night, logging on to FaceBook with the rest of the Gleeks, watching it and loving it. She'd have hated Sue and loved Mr. Shuester, cried over 'the gay kid' and 'the wheel chair kid' and sung right along with--if not ALL the songs--then at least the showtunes. My auntie, who sent me my one and only telegram on the opening night of my high school musical, who used to call me on Saturday mornings during a showtune program on her local public radio station, who introduced me to books (Narnia and Lord of the Rings), and music (folk, Broadway, and classical), and shared love and wisdom with me until she no longer could. Aunt, I miss you and think of you often. The world is a little colder for want of the warmth you gave. And, because I know you're watching, I hope there's Hulu in heaven.