Forty-five years ago, I paced a similar stage:
played Harold Hill contemplating Death’s Valley,
breathed through the Overture and chatty train scene,
ready to push “The Think System” uphill to the Finale.
Now “Sincere”, “Lida Rose” and “It’s You”
I baritone behind him, serene in the Quartet;
while his “Seventy-six Trombones” and “Trouble”
cast spells that haunt me yet.
Miked backstage, I sing in the “orphan chorus”,
Yes, we’ve got trouble! — Theatre of the Absurd:
I must resist the sticky reflexive tick that
would simulcast my ghosting of his tricky words.
The air is rare on that spellbinder’s cloud:
Hope overwhelms doubt, sweeps Harold and Marian
and Winthrop and Mama and all the “River
City-zians” up to Boys’ Band Heaven tonight again.
At last I march our Quartet out for the Finale:
we flash the easy smiles and bow in line;
yes I’ve been here before— and again I rally:
this stage is his; the memory is mine.