No, I didn’t walk into a chapel on Saturday to get happily hysterical at my own wedding; instead, as I said in my Short Shorts blog on Friday, my partner and I walked into a park instead — Central Park, to be precise, to tie the knot at a beautiful spot called (don’t laugh) the Ladies’ Pavilion, a little outdoor steel frame gazebo near the water’s edge of the rowing lake that’s a short walk down from the park’s 75th street entrance, with the skyline beyond Central Park South rising above the trees and water.
New York, New York is a city, of course, that you could define and understand through the songs written about it including, naturally, ‘New York, New York’ itself — ‘Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today, I want to be a part of it, New York, New York’ — and on Saturday I truly felt part of it.
Not just that the city itself became the backdrop to the most important day of my life since my birth, but that — surrounded by the love and goodwill of family who had flown from London to be with us (my mother, brother and sister-in-law), plus three friends who had done the same, four more who happened to be in New York at the time, and another 20 who live in the city already — we became a tourist attraction in ourselves, as strangers came down to the pavilion and watched the event and congratulated us afterwards.
“How the world can change, It can change like that -
Due to one little word: ‘Married’.
See a palace rise
From a two room flat
Due to one little word: ‘Married’.”
Those are Fred Ebb’s lyrics from another Kander/Ebb song from Cabaret (They also wrote ‘New York, New York’). We’ve actually got a small one-roomed flat — or rather apartment — in New York ourselves now, three blocks from Broadway, so, naturally, I’m now a Broadway Baby, too: “At my tiny flat, there’s just my cat, a bed and a chair”.
We don’t have the cat, actually, nor it is my ambition to stick it till/I’m on a bill/All over Times Square.” (I’ve already had my name outside Broadway theatres — no, not on the acting bill, but on the quotes panels; and I’ve also appeared, briefly, on a Broadway stage, when I was co-opted for a show called Fool Moon some years ago, as I wrote about here
‘Broadway Baby’, of course, is from Sondheim’s Follies; Sondheim has a lyric for most occasions, and on Saturday I opened my vow to my partner with a personal favourite from Anyone Can Whistle:
“With so little to be sure of,
If there’s anything at all,
I’m sure of here and now and us together.”
Lyrics from musicals also provided two of our inspirational readings on Saturday. From Stephen Schwartz’s Pippin, my friend Bert Fink read:
“Rivers belong where they can ramble
Eagles belong where they can fly
I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free
Got to find my corner of the sky
Every man has his daydreams
Every man has his goal
People like the way dreams have
Of sticking to the soul
Thunderclouds have their lightning
Nightingales have their song
And don’t you see I want my life to be
Something more than long….
So many men seem destined
To settle for something small
But I won’t rest until I know I’ll have it all.”
And on Saturday, that’s just how I finally felt. Or, to quote Frank Loesser’s Guys and Dolls, my friend Dana P Rowe read the following:
Ask me how do I feel
Ask me now that we’re cosy and clinging
Well sir, all I can say, is if I were a bell I’d be ringing!
Ask me how do I feel, little me with my quiet upbringing
Well sir, all I can say is if gate I’d be swinging!
And if I were a watch I’d start popping my springs!
Or if I were a bell I’d go ding dong, ding dong ding!
Yes, I knew my moral would crack
From the wonderful way that you looked!
Boy, if I were a duck I’d quack!
Or if I were a goose I’d be cooked!
Ask me how do I feel, ask me now that we’re fondly caressing
Well, if I were a salad I know I’d be splashing my dressing
Ask me how to describe this whole beautiful thing
Well, if I were a bell I’d go ding dong, ding dong ding!”
Finally, as a theatre critic I could hardly not have Shakespeare, and Henry V’s speech to Katharine, as he woos her for marriage, was my last reading, performed by my friend Mike Dvorchak: ”If thou canst love a fellow of this temper, whose face is not worth sun-burning, that never looks in his glass for love of any thing he sees there, let thine eye be thy cook. I speak to thee plain soldier: If thou canst love me for this, take me… A good leg will fall; a straight back will stoop; a black beard will turn white; a curled pate will grow bald; a fair face will wither; a full eye will wax hollow: but a good heart is the sun and the moon; or, rather, the sun, and not the moon; for it shines bright and never changes, but keeps his course truly. If thou would have such a one, take me; and take me… And what sayest thou then to my love? `Speak, my fair, and fairly, I pray thee.”
I’m delighted to say that Mark has taken me.”