Alyssa Sellers

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Life is What Happens to You While You’re Busy Making Other Plans

June 2012 ~ Me, Dragon, Eva

I fell in love with George Gershwin when I fell in love with Mr. Holland.

In high school I adored the movie “Mr. Holland’s Opus”. I watched it incessantly and cried enormously each time. I loved Mr. Holland’s world. It was land filled with the arts taught in public schools. A land where high schools had annual musicals featuring the music of George and Ira Gershwin.  A land with roundabouts and old auditoriums. It was magical and unlike any world I’d ever known.

I never imagined I could possibly visit, let alone live in, that make-believe world of Mr. Holland. I’m sure my parents made mention of it being set in Portland, Oregon,  they lived here for a bit in the 1970s, but from where I stood on the movie theater steps in the coatless warmth of January 1996 in Louisiana, Oregon was a fantasy land on the other side of the Rockies with four distinct seasons-not hot and less hot. The likelihood of me inhabiting that place seemed inconceivable.

It’s funny how life works out. 

In June 2004, while wearing a coat, I stood in a parking garage on SW 10th Avenue avoiding the ever present Portland rain and saw a marching band play “Louie Louie” in my first Grand Floral Parade.  This rather infamous song was recorded by Portland based band The Kingsmen in the 1963 and is played by the high school band Mr. Holland directs as they march ahead of a Portland fire truck in a parade during a pivotal scene in the movie.

June 2012 ~ Grand Floral Parade ~ Portland, Oregon

 “Huh…so I ended up in the Land of Mr. Holland after all,” I thought.  I hadn’t really realized until that moment that I had indeed been an inhabitant of that once magical make-believe place for 9 months and I was certain I would be one for another year, but most likely not any more.

This June, I once again stood in a coat on SW 10th Avenue and I realized that, just as Mr. Holland signed and sang,  John Lennon was right, life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.

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They Say the Neon Lights are Bright on Broadway

Look, Ma, a Tony!

Summer may be officially three days away, but in my world it starts when I view the Tony Awards show. It was live on Sunday night and I missed all but the last 10 minutes, but, thanks to, I don’t have to live lost in a time vortex.

The Tony’s are my most favorite awards show. And I like me some award shows. I suppose, I like qualifying things; putting things in categories and ranking them. Even within an award show. Here are my favorites of the night:

Most Adorable Couple:
Hugh Jackman and his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, when he received a special Tony Award for his extraordinary contributions to the Broadway community. Watch it, it’s precious.

Most Inspiring Moment:
“When I was around 5-years-old running around telling everyone I wanted to write Broadway shows, it didn’t really occur to me that it would take 56 years to actually accomplish that, but it was worth the wait. Look, Ma, a Tony!”
—     Jack Feldman, Lyricist of Newsies, in his Tony acceptance speech for Best Original Score

Most Articulate Explanation of Theater:
“There are those rare people who can look at the world and see things that the rest of us don’t see until they show us: these are the writers. There are those special few who can take that vision and turn it back into a world: these are the directors, designers. There are fearless beings who live in that world and show us who we are: these are our actors. There are dedicated people who know why that world matters so very much: crew, theater staff, producers, investors, managers, marketers. And then there are the people who step forward and say, “Show me this world. Open me. Change me.”: these are our audiences. And when all of these people come together and say, “Yes,” there is theater.”
—     Jordan Roth, Producer of Clybourne Park, in his Tony acceptance speech for Best Play
Best Explanation of My Life:
The Opening Number featuring Neil Patrick Harris
“What if life were more like theater?
What if everywhere you went you heard a band? And then apropos of nothing there were crazy dance routines.”

Let me stop you right here, NPH. I can answer this, because this is the world I inhabit and it’s…wait for it…legendary. On Sunday a friend said to me, “You are the only person I know who comes out of the bathroom singing and dancing.” That’s probably true considering that for most of my childhood I got ridiculed for this involuntary trait. But, friends, as an adult, it is a fairly fabulous way to live. When you think about it, what’s the alternative? Take it away, Neil.

“No, life is bleak and brutal and we carry from the cradle
 the awareness that it is futile and invariably fatal.
We muddle without respite through the sadness and confusion,
or we huddle in the cesspit of our madness and delusion.”

“What if life were more like theater?
Life wouldn’t suck so much.”

Show I’m Most Excited About Seeing When it Comes to Portland in Two Years:
“Once”and not just because it won Best Musical. I will see it because I had been living in Portland for around four years when the original movie came out and felt this town claim it as its anthem, as if it were really about us. Because, I went to the sold-out concert that Glen and Marketa held at the Keller, the largest audience for whom they had ever played. And, yes, in part because Glen said, “Hi, lovely day isn’t it?” in and ADORABLE accent to me and my three friends at the corner of SW 3rd and Clay on his walk to the backstage door with Marketa. Because in that moment, I knew that Portland was becoming something close to home. Oh, yeah, also because the music is wonderful.

Most Interesting Coincidence with My Life:
The multiple musicals featuring the music of brothers George and Ira Gershwin. Recently, I’ve been revisiting my love of this musical duo. (There will be more on this in a later post. Stay tuned.) Turns out, the Broadway Community has too. The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess won for Best Revival of a Musical and the new musical Nice Work If You Can Get It was also a winner.