Pollyanna and the Spontaneous Opera of Life

Lyda here. I read another book for Pollyanna’s Reading in Wonderland Challenge. I was trying to squeeze this one into this:

Challenge #3. “How doth the little crocodile”:  Read a biography or autobiography about someone whose life is/was vastly different than yours. Or, read a history book or historical fiction about a completely different time or place.

But as you will see, it does not really meet the “vastly different” criteria for me. So instead, for me, it will count for this:

Challenge #13. “Curiouser and curiouser!”:  Read another book, any kind, any genre, anything.

The book is “What Would Barbara Do? How Musicals Changed My Life” by Emma Brockes . I haven’t read any of her articles or anything else she’s written, although I did stumble across her WordPress blog. She only posted three things in 2007, when the book came out.

I love this book! It’s fun and thoughtful at the same time. I laughed out loud while reading it, and I don’t do that often. And there are passages that are incredibly moving. It’s a very personal and opinionated tour of musical theater, and also a memoir. It’s well-written, and a quick read. I devoured it almost in one sitting. Highly recommended, especially for the theater geeks out there.

I can really relate to her stories about her mother singing musical numbers – my mom did that a lot too. We all did; it seemed normal to me growing up to spontaneously burst into song, just as it seemed normal to suddenly recite entire scenes from plays and movies from memory.

And yes, my son has grown up with a mom who does that too. When he was little, he used to put his hand on my mouth when I started to sing. He still rolls his eyes. And the cat goes nuts and makes a lot of noise when I sing. Everyone is a critic. In my defense, I don’t sing when his friends are around, or when I’m with him in public.  So far, he hates musicals, but the seed has been planted… Bwahahaha!

But I digress…

Mom loved to make up her own words and tunes. She played with her voice all the time, doing accents and voices and just being silly.

One time, Dad was casting a musical, and he told the musical director, “What do we do about this part? No one who tried out can sing those songs.” The musical director suggested Mom for the role. Dad said, “Oh, she can’t really sing.” The musical director had to explain to Dad that Mom had a powerful and beautiful voice of incredible range, and could sing any part in any show. When Dad told me this story, he said, “Your mom plays with her voice so much, I hadn’t realized she could really sing.”

One of Mom’s stories was about one of my older brothers bringing a girl home for dinner. “Your brothers were always dating girls who were only children; I don’t know why.”  When my brother and his date arrived, Mom was in the kitchen singing her own words to an Italian aria – what else would one sing while cooking spaghetti? Some of us were singing with her.

Mom swore the girl turned around and left right then.

I have to say, the brother in question denies this categorically, but Mom’s version is funnier. 

Obviously, that girl wouldn’t have fit into the family anyway.

But I digress…


2 thoughts on “Pollyanna and the Spontaneous Opera of Life

  1. annaliza

    With us, it’s more Monty Python stuff than musicals, although I frequently think of appropriate songs for various incidents during the day. Did I tell you about the time that my officemate and I started singing “Mr. Sandman” spontaneously one day? (This was quite a long time ago, when I worked at Ona Drapery.) I can’t remember what triggered it, but we both had the same musical response to … whatever it was. We did get some looks, I tell you what.

  2. lyda Post author

    “Mr. Sandman” – funny. I sort of have a musical thread running through my day – sometimes I start singing at my computer, which is weird for coworkers. Especially since it’s usually an obscure song…


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