Sunday, April 17, 2011

the sound of music in the dark

If you ever get the chance to attend a Sing-a-Long Sound of Music, say yes. Say yes quickly. And prepare to be delighted.

I first heard about the show a few years ago from a friend of mine. I always thought it sounded like a riot.  Imagine my glee when I found out that the show was coming to Vancouver. I was slightly less gleeful when I realized that the one and only show was the night before the Sun Run, a 10km trek I had already committed to but someone pointed out that it would probably be worth it.  He was right.  It seems that my year of proving that "sometimes it is absolutely necessary to do the thing that makes no sense" continues.

So Saturday night found me back at the RiverRock casino, full of memories of the last time I was there to see Adam Lambert and missing my Boston girls something crazy. It wouldn't take long for this night to kick up such a party of its own that there was no time left for reminiscing.

The show started with a costume competition, a hilarious hodge podge of Marias, nuns, goat herders and a very memorable group of ladies draped in a green cloth who turned out to be the hills, alive with the sound of music.  We received our instructions: hiss when the Baroness is on screen, bark for Rolf, salute the captain, say Awww for Gretal. They showed us how to use the cards for "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" and told us what the little piece of cloth was for.  Then they dimmed the lights and from the very first note the entire room broke out into song.

There is something truly magical about a group of strangers singing together. You can see it in the way people respond to flash mobs, and it is stunningly illustrated in California composer Eric Whitacre's magnificent Virtual Choir. There is a freedom in singing with strangers, a joy that is uncommon.  You can see it in karaoke bars the world over and it was fully on display at Sing-a-Long Sound of Music.  

This is, above all, a participatory show.  You can't just show up, you sing.  You agree to be silly, you wave your cards in the air, literally and figuratively, and there in dark you admit that you are definitely NOT too cool to sing out loud.  I hope that we are all able to remember that come Monday morning.

Lou Holtz said, "A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song." At Sing-a-Long Sound of Music we all had a song and we sang it, with vigor. The day after my throat is sore from laughing so much and singing so loudly. Proof of a very good evening in my book.   We speak of play as the serious work of childhood, so why do we so often forget the importance of playing as grown-ups?

I was reading something the other day where one character asks the other, "What do you want from me?" and the reply comes, "I want your song. I want you to sing for me."  The idea is a request for knowledge, I want to know the real you, I want to know what comes out when you can't stop it.  I wonder sometimes how well I know the words to my own song and how willing I am to sing it. It can be so tempting to be quiet, or to sing someone else's song or sing what we think the moment needs. I think that honesty is serious work of adults, figuring out who we are in the dark and what, in this whole wide world we plan to do with it.  I think if we could figure that out, the hills really would be alive with the sound of our music.

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