Wednesday, May 11, 2011

New York, New York

Cole Porter, a great musical songwriter
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I am a musical theater junkie. This is presumably no secret to anyone who reads these posts, and it is definitely no secret to those who know me with any modicum of familiarity. In my life, I don't hide it. I relish it, truly, in the form of jazz hands, occasional high-kicks, and belting (albeit flat or off-key). I was always perfectly content to keep my work self and my home self mostly separate, so I had not been too bothered that the world of corporate America rendered a dwindling quota of coworkers who knew theater. I get it, trust me, theater is not everyone's bag. Especially not musicals. I was content that this would be my lot in life, to nod and smile at those who, upon hearing that one of my favorite hobbies was theater, would launch into the fact that they just loved "Phantom" and owned the soundtrack to "Le Miz." Don't get me wrong, I love those shows too - they became huge hits for a reason, after all. They're just rarely the favorites of those who could engage in discussions of "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" or "The Wild Party" - two of my favorite shows. Or go bezerk over the chance to see Elaine Stritch live onstage. But they worked with me in our shared cubicles, enjoyed eating sushi, and had kids' dentist appointments, husband's softball games, and personal hair appointments to contend with. This was just who they were, these were their work selves, and we all got along famously.

However, all my (mis)perceptions regarding those who work outside of theater changed when I moved to New York. It was not a lack of interest for my previous home and its worker bees, I realized, it was a lack of options. Theater, and cultural pursuits in general, are readily available here. You have to actively ignore them to remain oblivious. So people have a basic comprehension. Why, one of the heads of our department hums classical music, operas, symphonies, and show tunes as he passes our maze of cubicles. One coworker of mine is preparing to sing Cole Porter hits for a family party and I can hum any portion of the chorus of any movie or stage musical and she can finish it up. My boss knows theater better than anyone I've yet met - and I know people whose jobs require them to stay up on the industry - and she can chat about it just as easily as she can answer my questions about a work-related deliverable. Even my just-out-of-college coworkers - boys with libation-heavy weekends, rotating girlfriends, and long days in the office - can throw out a just-revived show, ask if its worth getting tickets to.

It has been so eye-opening, and so fabulous, for me. Because this is just the way it is. No one is making extra efforts, no one is trying to impress. They're just being their workplace selves, and for the first time, my home self and my work self don't have to stay quite so separate.
Stephen Sondheim, another great musical composer
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Rodgers & Hammerstein, I think you know these greats
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Andrew Lippa, the composer of "The Wild Party"
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Rupert Holmes, the composer of "The Mystery of Edwin Drood"
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