Today’s song is a perfect fit for my Valentine’s Day-week medley: “Who Wants To Be Married?” from Leading Lady. Though I wasn’t thinking about it at the time, this song shares a similar point of view with a number of the songs in Stephen Sondheim’s score for “Company,” songs like “The Little Things You Do Together,” “Whaddya Wanna Get Married For?” and “Being Alive.” It acknowledges that marriage can be less than ideal – “a constant restraint/a cause for complaint” – while simultaneously celebrating the fact that every day millions of folks fall in love and get married.
This version of the song was performed by Alex Bechtel and Clare O’Malley in a September 2013 reading. These two former students are doing terribly well for themselves, I have to say: she’s currently appearing at the Walnut Street Theater in Private Lives, while he’s in Into The Woods currently at Theater Horizon. Clare and librettist Seth Bauer were both was kind enough to jot down some commentary about the song which you can read further down in the post.
My beloved collaborator, Seth Bauer, provides some context for this number:
When Mary Callahan, an ambitious young performer, meets the rakishly attractive new leading man, Frank Fielder, sparks are bound to fly. From the first moments they laid eyes on one another, they were at each others’ throats. They’re both sharp, ambitious, talented and ready to take on the world as long as they don’t compromise or worse, fall in love. In the dancy duet “Who wants to be married,” Mary and Frank rail happily against any and all marriage as they indulge in flights of fancy about how love would be the ultimate barrier to happiness. They are so opposed to all things marital that it by the end of the dance, they realize as the audience does that these two fiercely independent people are made for one another and that sometimes love catches you completely off guard and was exactly what you needed even if you never knew it.
‘Who wants to be married?’ is a charmingly quirky and comedic piece. A gem of a song for an actor as you get to start in one place and end in a completely different one. I remember I was about to be married myself the summer we worked on this! We found the comedy in the absurd extreme emotions felt by two sparring lovers, their explosive language and amazing ability to change their minds instantly. It also helps that the melody is so bloody catchy!
Marriage, I have found, is a bit like what Clare describes: you start in one place and end in a completely different one. There’s been more than one occasion when me and the missus found ourselves wondering what the hell we were thinking when we decided to get married, but we’re still together after 34 years of marriage and enjoying the adventure. My Valentine’s Day wish for you, Dear Reader, is that you are as lucky in love as I’ve been!
To read the lyric and hear a performance by Shannon Remley and Brendan Dalton recorded in an earlier reading, by visit this earlier Project 194 post.
If you missed them, these are the songs already posted on Project 194; the links on the right are songs chosen at random from previous posts. Want to contribute to my interactive composition, “Hear My Song?” Read more here. Want to receive daily songs delivered direct to your inbox? Sign up here!