Last Year’s Concert

Jenny was concerned.

“It’s sleazy nightclub music! It’s sleazy nightclub music and I don’t like it. I like Bach and madrigals. Not this sleazy nightclub music.”

I wasn’t sure that “Gotta Lotta Livin To Do” from Bye Bye Birdie was going to give R. Kelly a run for his money any time soon, but that was beside the point. Jenny didn’t like it. I spent the rest of the break placating her before we got back into rehearsals.

Two things needed to be discussed. The name of the upcoming concert and costuming.

“The Reject Shop are selling these for two bucks!” exclaimed Kate, waving a sequinned cowboy hat around the room. We were doing a concert of music theatre tunes, including a selection from Oklahoma. Mr Dickens was wanting to perform the whole show in its entirety, recreating his triumphant 1954 performance at the local Town Hall but I had vetoed it, imagining Hal Leonard special ops abseiling their way through the church ceiling.

Vicky pursed her lips. “We will need time to change into our outfits for Oklahoma.” Right. I’d been under strict instructions to plan an hour long concert with appropriate solos slotted in so that the choir would be able to sit down and have a rest between numbers. A full costume change was news to me. I asked how much time was needed.

“At least ten minutes” pursed Vicky again. “I’ll need longer than that to tie me neck scarf, it’s a bloody nuisance” said Robbie. Jane agreed. I asked Jane what she was planning on wearing. “Well. I’ve decorated a cowboy hat, hemmed a scarf to wear around my neck, and I’ve made a full circle skirt. You know, the skirt that’s got all the fabric. In a full circle.”

“No”, I said. “No. I said you could wear some form of costume, but just hints or suggestions. We’re not stopping the whole concert for a costume change for just three songs. You can wear the skirt as long as you put elastic in the waist so you can just pull it on and off.” Jane glared at me and her mouth went white. I’d gotten used to the Jane glare and finally I didn’t find it frightening. It had taken six months.

We moved on to talking about naming the concert. Mr Dickens slowly got to his feet. At 85 he was the elder statesman of the choir. “Mr President,” he said to Bill, “I’m not sure about any of these names that Amanda has suggested.” Bill asked me to again say my title suggestions. Broadway Babies and Back To Broadway.

“Now, Mr President, I’m not sure that either of those suggestions are good enough.” I wasn’t sure if I rolled my eyes or not. I had hoped I’d done an imaginary eye roll, but I wasn’t sure of anything anymore. They were doing my head in.

“I suggest, Mr President, that we have a title that really shows the audience that we are in Australia. I think we should call the concert Broadway Down Under.” He waved his hbd through the air. There was a chorus of oooohs and aaaahs and general murmurings of approval at Mr Dickens’ suggestion. “Righto” said Bill. “Let’s have a vote. All in favour of Back To Broadway.” Zero hands. “All in favour of Broadway Babies.” Vicky and Dee shot their hands up, Dee giving me a hopeful smile. “All in favour of Broadway Down Under.” Twenty five hands shot up, an instant Mexican wave of approval. Mr Dickens grimaced with relief.

The poster was black and white, photocopied, A4 with a picture of a massive Australian flag and BACK TO BROADWAY written below it.

The concert went well. Greg waggled his eyebrows at me more than usual and Jane’s elasticised waist was a huge hit.

Afternoon tea highlight – Dee’s chocolate scones with homemade raspberry jam and double cream.

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