Wedding song

Wedding anniversary today. Which means it’s also the anniversary of my best-loved musical, Our Wedding.

Yes, Our Wedding was a musical comedy, performed in a New York theatre, with songs for the bride and groom, preacher (with his gospel choir), best man, bridesmaids, four-year-old flower girl, and our parents. “Your parents?” I hear you ask, for this, indeed, is the most frequently asked question; “How’d you get them to do that?” 

Our folks are not performers; they don’t crave the spotlight. So, getting them to appear in Our Wedding – The Musical was something of a stretch.  Divorced decades ago, they were not in regular communication with each other, which we used to our advantage. The first conversation may have gone something like this:

“We want you, Mom, and Joy’s parents to perform on stage in the wedding, doing numbers I’ll tailor specifically for you and what you can do.”

“But I can’t possibly stand up in front of all those people, and sing: I don’t sing! You’ll have to do it without me.”

“You’ll be conspicuous in your absence, because Mom, and Joy’s parents have already said ‘yes.'”

“They have? Oh, well, I guess I can try.”

It was a little white lie we had to repeat:

“We want you, Daddy and Noel’s parents to perform on stage in the wedding, doing numbers tailored specifically for you and what you can do.”

“But I can’t possibly stand up in front of all those people, and sing: I don’t sing! You’ll have to do it without me.”

“You’ll be conspicuous in your absence, because Daddy, and Noel’s parents have already said ‘yes.'”

“They have? Oh, well, I guess I can try.”

And so on, till all had agreed.

They soon discovered I wasn’t lying about the specific tailoring to their strengths.  Or, as they saw it, their weaknesses.  I’m reminded of the legendary story of how Rosalind Russell told Comden and Green she had a vocal range that goes from A to B and needed a number that goes “Duh-da, duh-da, duh-da joke; duh-da, duh-da, duh-da joke” so they wrote her one of the great comedy songs of all time, 100 Easy Ways To Lose a Man from Wonderful Town.

It’s at 9:20 in this video.

So, I wrote my father a sentimental waltz with limited range, our mothers a comedy duet that capitalized on their physical differences, and my father-in-law – well, I knew he was a big fan of The Moody Blues, so I set out to use a classic rock style.

One of the challenges of Our Wedding: The Musical was the fact that so many cast members (of the wedding) lived in far-off locales.  One bridesmaid, and the preacher, lived in New York, like us, but everyone else flew in a couple of days before the wedding from all parts of the country.  So, we could only rehearse, together, the day before and the day of the big show.  Everybody was sent a recording of their music, and all went about learning it in different ways.  In Phoenix, Arizona, Joy’s father went the extra mile and actually hired a vocal coach.  It was that important to him, that he sound good in front of a New York audience.  And he found that he enjoyed singing lessons so much, he said he’d continue them after the wedding, maybe record a few songs.

You might not believe it, but his newly-kindled interest in singing moved me more than any other aspect of our wedding.  It revealed an unintended consequence of forcing friends and family to perform in a musical: they had to walk in our shoes, for a while, and everybody learned more about the process of putting on a show.  Sometimes it seems to me that my wife and I both have careers in musical theatre that few outsiders can comprehend.  Those close relatives who performed on stage with us grew closer to us by sharing an experience that isn’t often shared.  And Randy Dewing’s desire to continue with singing communicated his appreciation of the process better than the words “That was fun; I’m glad you forced me to participate.”

Speaking of outsiders not understanding, I’m often surprised when people ask if the show will ever be performed again.  Do people have a second wedding to each other, repeating everything that happened in the first ceremony?  What an odd question, but I guess it often comes from those who wished they were there to see it.  (You can content yourself with the live original cast album, just $20, free shipping in the USA.)  And how could we ever assemble that cast again?  Force them to fly from all over?  And is a 12-year-old Flower Girl ever as cute as a 4-year-old Flower Girl?

The wedding musical, like any marriage ceremony, is frozen in time, a wonderful memory.  Years go by, and, inevitably, people grow old and die.  This is the first year in which our anniversary is celebrated with one original cast member gone.  And I keep seeing his adorable performance of that Moody Blues-ish song, endearing and funny, and hope he’s pursuing great voice lessons in the sky.

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