Love and Kisses Onstage

In honor of Valentine’s Day, here are 1. 25 photographs of kisses on stage over the past century, and 2. videos of five of Broadway’s most romantic love songs,

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged and read the caption.

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Love and Theater, Love of Theater

Aaron Carter and Addi McDaniel in The Fantasticks

Aaron Carter and Addi McDaniel in The Fantasticks

“No more rejection, rejection, rejection,” the ex-actress tells Ivy and Sam in front of Amy’s Bread in the second season premiere of Smash.
She has left the theater and gone into “stationery,” and “my whole life changed….People actually want what I’m offering.”
Somewhere in the love for performing is a metaphor for love in general in the modern age.

Many recent plays offer love lessons from the stage. The love that comes from the stage and the love for the stage seem endlessly intertwined.
This struck me when I saw “The Fantasticks” this week. The last time I saw it, I was a teenager, and it was already considered a really, really old show. I had just spent a summer at a theater program for high school students at the University of Denver, and I invited one of my classmates to New York City for the first time in her life. Her name was – is? – Trish Shaw, and she was from a Chicago suburb.
(Where are you now Trish? Did you become a corporate attorney or TV sitcom writer or a mother with three kids or did you OD or die young of a heart attack? Are you working in community theater somewhere?)
When we attended “The Fantasticks” there were only two other people in the audience. “This is ‘still running’?” Trish said sarcastically.
Now all these years later, what I remembered of “The Fantasticks” was that it was a love story, and it certainly is that, though nowhere as sappy a one as I had recalled, with sly lyrics like

Love, you are love!

 Better far than a metaphor can ever ever be.

Love, you are love!

 My mystery . . . of love . . . !

Here is Jerry Orbach singing “Try To Remember” from The Fantasticks – in 1960!

But there is also a love in “The Fantasticks” that I had forgotten about – love of the theater.  Henry the old actor and his sidekick Mortimer, who does great death scenes, climb out of one of those old-fashioned theatrical trunks most familiar from shows like “Gypsy.” They are being enlisted by El Gallo (a kind of mc/guru figure in an ascot) to abduct the girl so that the boy will save her and they’ll get married.

EL GALLO For a love scene. Have you done romantic drama, Henry?

HENRY That, sir, is my speciality. Have you never seen my – – – (Creaks down to one knee.) Romeo?

Later, Mortimer has a comic monologue:

It’s not the easiest ‘fing in the business. But I like it. I’ve been dying for forty-nine years. Ever since I was a boy. Oh, you should have seen me in those days. I could die off a twenty foot cliff – – backwards! People used to cry out: “Die again, Mortimer! Die again!” But of course I never did.

When their part is over and they climb back into the trunk, Henry declares:

There’ s  not much left to the old company anymore. Just Mortimer and me. But we make out. I recite Shakespeare. And Mortimer dies. There’s usually an audience – – somewhere.

Maybe the love of the theater is one reason why there is so much love from the theater.

Here are some love songs from shows, curated by New World Stages

Some Enchanted Evening from South Pacific

It Only Takes A Moment from Hello Dolly

Bess You Is My Woman Now from Porgy and Bess

Falling Slowly from Once

As Long As You’re Mine from Wicked

Seasons of Love from Rent

As Long As He Needs Me from Oliver

What’s the Most Romantic Broadway Love Song Ever?”

Barbra Streisand, Whoopi Goldberg,Kelsey Grammer, Joel Grey, Michael Urie,Michael Crawford, Andrew Rannells, Ben Brantley, Jim Dale, Michael McKean, Angela Lansbury, Karien Ziemba,Corey Cott, Chad Kimball, and many more: Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “If I Loved You” from CAROUSEL

What’s the ideal Valentine’s Day show?

Catherine ‏@Ladybirdplane: “West Side Story”
Akemi Tenorio ‏@ATenOreos: “She Loves Me”
Tyler J. Martins ‏@mrtylermartins: “Talley’s Folly”
The Write Teacher(s) ‏@TheWriteTeach 1. Cinderella. 2. Once. 3. Ghost. 4. Wicked. 5. Memphis

Lyrics for If I Loved You  by Rodgers and Hammerstein

Julie
But somehow I can see
Just exactly how I’d be-

If I loved you,
Time and again I would try to say
All I’d want you to know.
If I loved you,
Words wouldn’t come in an easy way
Round in circles I’d go!
Longin’ to tell you,
But afraid and shy,
I’d let my golden chances pass me by!
Soon you’d leave me,
Off you would go in the mist of day,
Never, never to know how I loved you
If I loved you.

Billy
Well, anyway, you mean you don’t love me.
That’s what you said, isn’t it?

Julie
Yes!
I can smell ’em, can you, ah?
The blossoms. The wind brings ’em down!

Billy
There ain’t much wind tonight… Hardly any.
You can’t hear a sound, not the turn of a leaf
Nor the fall of a wave hittin’ the sand.
The tide’s creepin’ up on the beach like a thief,
Afraid to be caught stealin’ the land!
On a night like this I start to wonder
What life is all about.

Julie
And I always say two heads are better than one to
figure it out.

Billy
[spoken]
I don’t need you, I don’t need anybody helpin’ me.
Well, I got it figured out for myself.
We’re not important. What are we?
A couple o’ specks with nothin’
Look up there…

[sung]
There’s a hell of a lotta stars in the sky,
And the sky’s so big the sea looks small,
And two little people, you and I
We don’t count at all.

[spoken]
You’re a funny kid, you know?
I don’t remember meetin’ a girl like you.
Hey, you’re tryin’ to get me to marry you?

Julie
No!

Billy
Then what’s puttin’ into my head, babe?
You’re diff’rent, alright! I know what it is…
You have doped me with that little kid’s face, right?
You’ve adjusted me!
I wonder what it’d be like…

Julie
What?

Billy
Nothin’.
No, I know what it’d be like.
It’d be awful! I can just see myself-

Kinda scrawny, and pale
Picking at my food,
And love-sick like any other guy.
I’d throw away my sweater, and dress up like a dude
In a dicky and a collar and a tie.
If I loved you.

Julie
[spoken]
But you don’t!

Billy
No, I don’t!
[sung]
But somehow I can see
Just exactly how I’d be
If I loved you,
Time and again I would try to say
All I’d want you to know.
If I loved you,
Words wouldn’t come in an easy way
Round in circles I’d go!
Longin’ to tell you,
But afraid and shy
I’d let my golden chances pass me by!
Soon you’d leave me,
Off you would go in the mist of day,
Never, never to know
How I loved you
If I loved you.

[spoken]
Aha…I’m not the kinda fella to marry anybody!
No, even if a girl was foolish enough to want me to,
I wouldn’t!

Julie
Don’t worry about it, Billy!

Billy
Who’s worried?

Julie
You were right about there bein’ no wind.
The blossoms are comin’ down by theirselves.
Just they’re in time to, I reckon.