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How I'm letting Broadway help me make 2020 a success
"What will this day be like?
What will my future be?
Like Maria in The Sound of Music, who sings those lines in "I Have Confidence," I spend a lot of time wondering what tomorrow has in store. Every New Year's, my pondering goes into overdrive as I set my resolutions for the next 12 months. I realize others often use numbers for inspiration: goal weight or revenue or blood pressure. Me? I use Broadway lyrics as I've discovered that I'm more likely to remember and stick to a resolution if it's associated with a show tune I cherish. Plus, it makes for a fun playlist.
In years past, I've been able to "Seize the Day" à la Newsies, and I marched on Pride because, like Dolly Levi, I wanted to "get in step while there's still time left" just "Before the Parade Passes By." In 2020, I'll continue to let Broadway guide me as I tackle these ten resolutions.
1. "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" from The Sound of Music
"Climb every mountain
Ford every stream
Follow every rainbow
Till you find your dream."
I've always wanted to take rock-climbing lessons (I love a sport that demands accessories!), and 2020 will be the year I put on a helmet, strap on some cleats and head to one of New York City's many indoors rock-climbing facilities. The uplifting beauty of Rodgers and Hammerstein's song will help propel me skyward.
2. "The Blob" from Merrily We Roll Along
"Meet the blob,
The bodies you read about.
The ones who know everyone
That everyone knows."
There's no way "The Blob" isn't about Twitter, right? This year, I will limit the amount of time and energy I spend on tweeting, and only engage in online relationships that foster friendly curiosity, joy and wonder. In the words of another famous song (although not from a musical): "beware of the blob!"
3. "Good Morning" from Singin' in the Rain
"Good morning, good morning
Sunbeams will soon smile through
Good morning, good morning
Good morning, my darling, to you.
I have always struggled with terrible insomnia—the getting into bed at 11 p.m. and rolling around until 4 a.m. kind. This year, I will renew my efforts to trick my mind into going to sleep at a decent hour. I'll try everything: lavender baths, warm milk and honey, mindful meditation, even an exhausting workout just before I retire. I want to be able to wake up rested so it actually is a "Good Morning!"
4. "A New Argentina" from Evita
"A new Argentina, the chains of the masses untied
A new Argentina, the voice of the people
Cannot be denied."
It's a kickass number that's going to get me back on the treadmill (seriously, it's a great workout song) and back on the streets marching for change.
5. "To Build a Home" from The Bridges of Madison County
"I'm proud I came
And built myself a home."
2020 marks my eighth year of living in New York. I grew up in Honduras, but I visited NYC many times in my youth, and it was the only place that ever felt like home. My soul craved the culture, the art, the excitement. Late last year, I moved into my first apartment without a roommate. While setting up my new kitchen, I listened to Kelli O'Hara as Italian immigrant Francesca sing about her cultural heritage and how she forged a life for herself in a strange land. May O'Hara's glorious voice continue to inspire me as I finish settling into my new home.
6. "When the Money's Gone/All or Nothing" from The Cher Show
"Baby, it's all or nothing now."
This year, I'm going to gamble more—not with money (I really do need to save more of that) but with my career. As a freelance writer, I'm going to go after the artists I really want to interview… maybe even Cher.
7. "Omar Sharif" from The Band's Visit
"Came floating on the jasmine wind
From the west, from the south
Honey in my ears
Spice in my mouth
Dark and thrilling
Strange and sweet"
Like Katrina Lenk's Israeli character Dina, who fell in love with Egyptian culture through art, I want to discover new-to-me artists who stir my soul. Recently, a close friend introduced me to contemporary Egyptian music, and as I've immersed myself in its thrilling soundscapes, I've thought of how Omar Sharif helped expand Dina's horizons. If there's an amazing artist or artwork you'd like to introduce me to, please reach out on Twitter: @josesolismayen!
8. "You Learn to Live Without" from If/Then
"You learn to count the quiet wins
An hour with no unprompted tears
And not to count the deadly days
As they fade into years."
In the show, Idina Menzel's Elizabeth is coping with grief, yet the lyrics allow for a more existential interpretation. Too often we begin a new year filled with the regrets of what we didn't accomplish the year before. Instead of performing an exorcism, we allow those ghosts to haunt us. This song reminds me to take it one day at a time, but to make every day count.
9. "Paciencia Y Fe" from In the Heights
"Ay, Mama, so many stars in Cuba
En Nueva York we can't see beyond our streetlights
To reach the roof you gotta bribe the supa
Ain't no cassiopia in Washington Heights
But ain't no food in La Vibora."
I'm counting down the days until the film adaptation of the Tony-winning musical comes out this summer, and I'm particularly excited to see Olga Merediz reprise her Broadway role as Abuela Claudia. This wistful song is her character's anthem and contains some of Lin-Manuel Miranda's most soulful lyrics. It tells a parallel story to West Side Story's "America." As I seek to embrace even more of my Latinidad heritage, this song will serve as the prayer that carries me through.
10. "I Don't Need Your Love" from Six
"I wrote books and psalms and meditations
Fought for female education
So all my women could independently
I even got a woman to paint my picture
Why can't I tell that story?"
The penultimate number in Six (arriving on Broadway next month!) features Catherine Parr, Henry VIII's final wife before he died, singing about how important it is to reframe her life and be in charge of her own narrative. May this song remind me to stay true to myself, get rid of toxic relationships and maximize the good I do. Also, to attend Six at least that many times on Broadway.
Jose Solís is a NY-based writer and editor who's been covering theatre and film professionally since 2003. He is a member of the Drama Desk. Follow him at @josesolismayen. Follow TDF at @TDFNYC.
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