2009-07-03 / Columnists

Notes from the High C's

Rockaway Music and Arts Council
By Sharon Gabriel

Happy Fourth of July. I hope everyone has a wonderful day, that the sun is shining and that we all enjoy our "birthday".

Next Sunday, July 12 is our first concert at Riis Park and I'm very excited. We are looking forward to seeing everyone again...it's been a long time. As you know, the first concert is The Rockaway Theatre Company Orchestra with a wonderful selection of music from their current show "Oklahoma" and many other well known musical pieces. I'm going to see the show this week and can't wait. "Oklahoma" is one of my favorite musicals. I still remember the film with Gordon Macrae and Shirley Jones riding along in their surrey in the opening number. Of course, what could be bad in any Rogers & Hammerstein show, they were all so stunning, whether on the stage or on film. As a matter of fact, I remembered that I had the soundtrack of the film and looked for it in my record collection (remember those?) to be sure I spelled Macrae's name properly and I had to laugh at the small records and think about how far we have come today with our music.

Speaking about Rogers and Hammerstein, I remember that the first Broadway show I ever saw was "The King and I" with Yul Brynner. Little did I know that many years later I would meet Brynner in my office. He and the executive to whom I worked were good friends and shortly after one of Brynner's last chemo treatments, he came to the office to have lunch. He was dressed in his usual outfit, black shoes, black pants, black shirt and bald head. My boss wasn't quite ready to meet so I had to "entertain" Brynner and I told him about my first seeing him at a performance of "The King and I" when I was a teenager. He was very touched by my story and we had a lovely conversation. Then the two men went to lunch and very shortly after that Brynner died. I remember him as being very charming.

Speaking of Brynner, I think of the fact that we have lost three very different performers in the last couple of days: Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. Each an individual with different talents but each very important to our enjoyment. I loved Ed McMahon as second banana to Johnny Carson, Michael for his individuality and hated Farrah Fawcett for her gorgeous hair (which mine isn't).

Each in his own way entertained us for many years and will be missed. Having worked in the entertainment business for many years and knowing a little it, it's not all fun and games. It's hard work, especially being a star and I don't think I would want it for anyone I know. They call it "show business" for a reason, it is a business above and beyond anything and the final word is money. I can't say I didn't have a ball for all those years, but all the perks were the result of many long hours at the office.

More about my life "behind the footlights" in another column.

I would like to remind everyone that we are always looking for volunteer to help out at the Fall Festival. If you can give us at least four hours either day, September 12 or 13, let us know at the concert. We will take your name and number and one of our members will call you. Additionally, do you demonstrate, whether it is something like quilting, knitting, flower decorating or whatever, let us know and you can be a part of our demonstration tent at the festival if you pass the "test".

Just to remind everyone, our concerts begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Riis Park Bathhouse and parking is across the street in the parking lot where, if you come in after 6:00 p.m. there is no charge.

See you at the concert.

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