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Friday, November 18, 2011

holoblomo day 18: shipoopi

note: “holoblomo” stands for Horribly Local Blogging Month, my response to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) that happens every November. The NaNoWriMo challenge asks writers to compose 50,000 words in a month; I chose 10,000 as my goal. Enjoy.

So here we are.
I remember the first time I saw a video recording of a musical I did in high school. Someone’s mom had a high-end VHS camera (wow!) and shot the show for her kid. At the cast party, someone decided we should all watch it.
It was amazing and horrifying all at the same time. Even in the post-performance glow, even in my youthful naivete, I saw my flaws. 
But I was comforted by the fact that relatively few people would see it. If it got copied, the quality would diminish with each generation. And in time, no one would remember or care.
Cut to 1998. 

You know who I felt sorriest for during the Monica Lewinsky scandal? That poor kid whose unfortunate performance of “Shipoopi” from a high school production of The Music Man was broadcast on network television because Ms. Lewinsky happened to be playing Ethel Toffelmier in it, and there was a desperation to find video -- any video -- of her to air. That kid, who was no longer a kid, had to have been mortified that not only was he unwillingly dragged into a major political story, but also that heartless viewers were probably sitting on their sofas muttering, He ain’t no Buddy Hackett, that’s for sure.
It scared the crap out of me. All I could do was pray that no one I’d ever shared the high school stage with would become a politician or politician’s paramour. Granted, my performances were a little more confident than that of Shipoopi Boy, but they would never hold up under the microscope. 
Cut to YouTube.
It’s hideous enough to be in high school, but imagine how nerve-wracking it must be for a kid today on opening night of that 3-performance run of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, knowing that an hour after the curtain comes down, the whole world will be able to watch and criticize his puberty-flavored rendition of “Suppertime.” How can any self-respecting member of the Thespian Society possibly manage to perform a role, have fun, flirt with fellow cast-members, organize pranks, and play the other ridiculous political backstabbing games associated with high school theatre when he is distracted by the threat of YouTube?
Suppose there’s a sophomore out there whose dreams include running for President. Even if he lacks singing or acting chops, the stage would be a great place for him to learn and grow. The kid is smart, and knows that if he auditions, he’ll probably get a role, because the school is doing Guys and Dolls with a startling lack of guys. But he also knows that all it takes to distract and maybe even derail a campaign is 30 million hits of a botched “Sit Down You’re Rocking The Boat.” So he decides to work on lighting instead, where, surrounded by Dolls who are turned on by the offer of a trip to the catwalk, he gives in to his basest carnal urges and knocks up Miss Adelaide, effectively ruining everything.
It’s a tale as old as 2005, friends. So sad, so true.
And that’s 7742 words.
Yes indeed. Welcome to me. 

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