Monday at Bernie’s
Good morning Vietnam. It’s early. 9:30AM. I guess thats not THAT early but I’ve been up since 6:45. I’m filming today (intensely cool) and I had to be here pretty early/I was just so damned excited that I found it hard to sleep. I’ve been having a tough time sleeping for the past week, or rather I have a very very easy time waking up and getting out the door. Excitement greases the fryin’ pan.
I am pretty dorked out excited about seeing Bernadette Peters on Monday night. Its pretty exciting to have her back on Broadway for one night only and I am HOPING she surprises us with some crazy song choices. What if she sang “Achey Breaky Heart”. Why don’t more people sing “Achey Breaky Heart” anymore? It’s a damned good song, you can’t deny that and frankly I feel like anybody can knock it out of the park.
Note to self: next time you sing karaoke, give “Achey Breaky Heart” a test drive.
A lot of my friends have heard me talk about this before… when I was in sixth grade I got the VHS of ‘Into the Woods’ for Christmas. I was obsessed with it. UTTERLY OBSESSED. Rome Little Theater had done a local production of the show a few years before and I was pretty transfixed by that so on the fall afternoon that my mom, my grandmother, and my Aunt Kay drove my cousins and I to Media Play and I made my direct turn over to the Musicals section of the VHS area and scanned the usual suspects hoping for something I’d never seen before and discovered those three words on the dark green binding “INTO THE WOODS” my head almost exploded.
My hand literally trembled as I pulled the tape off the shelf to examine the cover, it was the cover with the six leads on front (in which Tom Aldredge has on a different costume than he wears on the video… have you ever noticed that?! In the show its a contemporary suit and on the VHS cover its this weird period suit. VERY CONFUSING, American Playhouse) and to my surprise I saw her name: Bernadette Peters.
Up until this point I knew nothing about ‘Into the Woods’ except that the Rome Little Theater rented a conveyor belt for their production and that it was really cool…. and that I loved the show. Little did I know that the woman I was currently obsessed with from singing on The Rosie ‘O’ Donnell Show and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was not only in it but also THE WITCH!
It was November at the time so my mom insisted I put it on my Christmas list. I did. With a giant asterisk by it, with a key guide at the bottom of the loose leaf paper list that said ‘*- That means I really really really really want this…. like if I don’t get anything else, get me this.’
I got it.
Christmas morning I immediately tore the plastic wrapping off and popped it into our VHS player and it began. Words cannot describe the intensely vivid memories I have of being on our sofa, watching, all afternoon the first act of ‘Into the Woods’. Moment by moment, still to this day when I see that recording, I can remember seeing it for the first time. As soon as Act One ended I stopped the tape and rewound it. I continued doing so on every viewing for a week or two before I realized there was an entire second act…. and a really really good one too!
It became the only thing I watched. Ever. Before school, I’d get up at 6 or 6:30, and watch from wherever I’d left off the day before. When I came home, I’d watch some more, before bed, as I went to sleep. It was my first genuine addiction.
Finally, when Lent rolled around, at my Catholic school we were supposed to go around the gym and announce the thing we were giving up for forty days and forty nights. We went around a circle: chocolate… soda…. jumping on the trampoline…. kids announced with great Catholic guilt and vigor. When it got to me I trembled, I stuttered…. I knew what I was going to say and I knew I meant it…..
‘I’m giving up watching…. Into the Woods….”
I exhaled like Whitney on Oprah.
I did it though. Forty days and forty nights without Bernadette.
Just the other night I walked into my living room and my roommate was watching the ‘Into the Woods’ recording…. it was right when Bernadette makes her first entrance and I stood there watching it, transfixed for a good ten or fifteen minutes…. and it took directly back to our sofa on Christmas morning.
I hear she might be doing some ‘Into the Woods’ on Monday night.
And I’m pretty excited.