I was turning 50 in a few days, and I wasn't sure how to celebrate it. I wasn't particularly pleased to be a half-century old. But if I could come up with something fun - something noteworthy - it might help me feel better about being so old.
A revival of the musical Fiddler on the Roof happened to be in Auckland this month, starring Topol, its original Broadway star 40 years ago. I'm a sucker for musicals. I know the storylines in musicals are corny, but I still enjoy the songs and the costumes and the spectacle of it all. One of my favourites has always been The Music Man, in which the love interest is Marian the Librarian - little did I know that I would grow up to be a librarian! Plus it's about a marching band and has some good old-fashioned John Philip Sousa-type music in it. I love it.
So. Fiddler on the Roof sounded like a perfect birthday activity, except for one thing: I was worried that the star might be over the hill. Honestly, Topol must be at least 70-something now! One of the worst musical productions I ever saw was when an older, washed-up Broadway star agreed to reprise his role in Annie Get Your Gun. He was 60 or 70 at the time, and he wore a girdle/corset to cinch his belly, which was only partially reduced. The leading lady was played by a young woman in her twenties, and it was impossible to accept this pathetic old geezer as her paramour. Ew.
Because of this, I was sceptical of going to see an old star like Topol. I waited for the reviews - excellent. Word-of-mouth - glowing. One friend pointed out that since Topol was an old man playing an old man, it wouldn't be as bad as an old man playing a young man. OK. I'll go. The next step was to convince Nolan and Erica to come.
me: I was thinking of getting tickets for Fiddler on the Roof for my birthday.
Erica: Oooh! I'll go! (with glee)
Nolan: I've already seen it. (with dread)
Erica: Oh, come on, Nolan. I've never been to a play or musical. This will be great. (with excitement)
Nolan: Mom dragged us to plays and musicals every summer. (with disgust)
Erica: Really! What did you get to see? (with envy)
Nolan: EVERYTHING. Music Man. King and I. Man of LaMancha. Grease. Little Shop of Horrors. Sound of Music. Godspell. Good lord, I've seen them all. (with woe)
Erica: You're so lucky!
Nolan: Lucky? When you're a 10-year-old boy, you don't like to go to musicals, especially when your mom sings along. She sings along! (with embarrassment)
me: It's settled, then. I'll buy 4 tickets. (with a smile)
Maybe I should have a party. It might make the event of turning 50 more palatable. Plus our friends would get to see Nolan and Erica one more time before they go back to America. The only thing wrong with parties is that they're always so much darn work. I only wanted to have a party if I didn't have to do any of the work. Presto. Erica would shop and cook and cater the whole thing. Nolan would be her driver and sous-chef. Curt would order a fancy CHOCOLATE cake (or two). I would eat the cake and enjoy the party. Perfect.
I decided to go with both Plan A and Plan B. Maybe turning 50 wouldn't be so bad after all.