July 20th, 2008


Julie Andrews Live

I haven't updated this in awhile, but I had to comment on the show I attended last night at the Hollywood Bowl. It was billed as Rogers & Hammerstein music, sung by a group of 5 people no one's ever heard of and hosted by Julie Andrews.

It opened with a montage of photos, spliced into pictures of the hill from the opening sequence of The Sound of Music, and then the first verse of the song with the video from the movie.

Then she walked onstage in a glittering gold dress. The woman is 72 years old, but didn't look more than maybe 50, and still stops an audience dead in their tracks with her mere presence. She began to discuss the evening, Rogers and Hammerstein, etc, and then talked about the throat surgery she had 12 years ago.

"I don't have the voice or the range you just saw in that video from so many years ago," she said, "but let me assure you, I still sing the HELL out of Old Man River!"

And then she sang. She actually sang!

Well it started as talk-singing through the whole intro of "Getting to Know You" from The King & I. And then sang:

Getting to (drop octave) know you (back up the octave) Getting to (drop octave) know all (back up) about you.

My chest tightened. I began to cry silent tears. And I cried for at least two more songs, until "Nothing Like A Dame" from South Pacific snapped me out of it.

Because Julie Andrews has a musical theatre legacy unlike any other. She is graceful, she is enigmatic... she just... there's no way to find words that do her justice. She had the most beautiful soprano voice - I saw her in Victor Victoria on Broadway 12 years ago, right before her throat surgery. She was 60, but the theatre rung with her voice, her presence.

And now her voice is gone, just like that.

Musical theatre is a safe place. Things like that aren't supposed to happen. Except in Schonberg & Boublil musicals, there are supposed to be happy endings. Julie Andrews being relegated to tenor is NOT a happy ending.

It got better, though - she sang a few more, but they were songs where it wasn't so obvious that she couldn't hit the notes.

Then, at the end, they played the clip from The Sound of Music where they're singing Do Re Mi, and the singers on the stage picked up where the film clip left off. Then, Julie said, "Well, sing along - you know you want to," and the whole Hollywood Bowl burst into song.

And I thought... she asked me to sing, and I sang. But if she had asked me to place my underwear on my head, I probably would have done that too.