YOU'VE GOTTA HAVE HEART...
31 July 2003
Last night we went to Sacramento's Music Circus, our Tuesday night summertime activity.
Music Circus has been running for 53 years and is an area tradition. It brings in
professional performers to do well-known shows, filling in the lesser roles with local
actors. There was a time when bigger names appeared on the marquee (generally once big
names who were now headed toward the "B" list of performers), but now the names
are almost always unfamiliar to me.
For the first 52 years of its existence, Music Circus performed in
a huge tent, with patrons sitting on uncomfortable director's type chairs. It was hot and
stuffy in the valley heat and even the addition of air conditioning prior to the show
didn't make it less uncomfortable on really hot nights. But it's been a very popular
event, made more pleasant this year by the building of a permanent strucure, with
non-canvas walls, air conditioning, bigger bathrooms, and regular theatre seats.
(The graphic is an artist's arial view of the newly redesigned complex.)
We have not, over the years, been Music Circus regulars. Tickets are not cheap. But we
went periodically when we knew someone in the show, when Jeri was working there, or when
it was something we really, really wanted to see.
(There was a year when Jeri was working and Annie was on the bill. While the
show came with a "professional dog" to play Sandy, they also needed a mutt to
appear on stage briefly. Jeri found a dog who belonged to a woman here in Davis, and for
the week of the performances, I was the dog chauffeur, bringing him to the theatre before
the show, and taking him home after his appearance each night!)
When I became a theatre reviewer, Music Circus became my assignment (among other
theatres). So we have now been to all the shows for the past two seasons and are enjoying
this year's season as well, especially now that the place is temperature controlled (very
important this season where we have had, to date, 17 days this month of over 100 degree
Last night's show was the 1950s musical, Damn Yankees, the show that gave us
songs like "Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets," and "Heart."
(You know the song..."you gotta have heart....miles and miles and miles of
The show was excellent, but when the baseball manager began to give his team a pep talk
and launched into "Heart," my mind wandered back in time to my grammar school
and my years as a Girl Scout.
My friend Michelle Ciccerone's mother was our scout leader. She had been a dancer
before she married and her choice of activity for us each year was to put on a variety
In San Francisco, the Girl Scouts have--or had at that time--a cabin that is set in the
middle of all these large apartment buildings, but is on a lot, behind a wooden fence, and
it was like stepping back into a country back yard. The cabin had a crude stage and we
performed our variety shows for the parents there.
The numbers that we did were almost entirely lip synched to records (Michelle and I
each were the exceptions--we did original numbers that we sang ourselves--I'm not sure
why. I've never had a solo quality voice.)
I remember that one number I lip synched was "Hey there," from Pajama
Game. The lyrics include "he's not you dancing on a string...break it and he
won't care..." where I was supposed to break a string, which, of course, did not
But the number I remember most vividly was "Heart." Michelle's mom decided we
would do it as a barbershop quartet number and as I recall we wore straw hats, bow ties
and big paper moustaches as we lip synched to the record.
I was never comfortable on stage. I went through terrible stage fright and shook like I
had palsy whenever I had to actually perform in front of an audience. So you can imagine
how I felt as I continued going through the motions and realized that my moustache was
coming off. As I began to sweat with nervousness about being on stage and embarrassment
about what was happening with my moustache, it made it worse because the sweat made the
moustache behave even more erratically.
I never had the presence of mind to just take the damn thing off and hold it, but
continued gamely and ended the number with the moustache at a rakish angle, hanging over
my mouth. I wanted to sink into the floor and die. It's one reason why,
through all the years of their performing on stage, my admiration for my kids has never
waivered. I remember how awful it was for me--always--to be on stage and I don't
know where these exhibitionists came from!
It's amazing how vivid--and still embarrassing--that memory is today. I am happy to
report that nobody on stage last night had any embarrassing mishaps...and nobody wore a