My classmate, Jon Di Savino, shared this image of himself in costume in the 1976 production of She Stoops to Conquer at Carnegie Mellon. Today’s post is the last of three selections from the music I composed for that production; check out the first and second ones if you haven’t heard them already.
This production of She Stoops concluded with a dance choreographed by Paul Draper. Go ahead, click the link if you don’t know who Paul Draper was. I guarantee that I didn’t know, other than my classmates seemed to think he was a big deal. This is a perfect example of the cluelessness of college students; not only did I not know who Paul Draper was, I didn’t think it was important to find out. Nowadays, I teach the history of the musical, and I’m old enough to have a sense of the importance of history — AND I have the Internet, so there’s no excuse for being stupid about this sort of thing. Later on, Paul choreographed the tap dancing in a production of Follies that we did at CMU; my directing teacher, Larry Carra, was the director, and I was in a very small role as a waiter and chorister, with no dancing responsibilities, but I recall the cast sweating and cursing their way through Paul’s wickedly complicated routine.
One other memory from She Stoops comes from tech rehearsal, where I recall the director, John Ulmer, teasing me in a voice loud enough to be heard throughout the Kresge Theater, proclaiming “I hear Charlie Gilbert is hung like a horse!” Now mind you, in 1976 I was a scrawny 21-year-old, cerebral and shy, and I had absolutely no idea of how to respond to his statement, so I laughed it off and steered clear of Ulmer as much as I could in the months ahead. Now, I’m a college professor myself, and I’ve had the experience of directing many productions with my students, but though I’ve enjoyed a friendly rapport with a number of my student collaborators, I still can’t envision a moment when I would have found it appropriate to make a comment like that. What do you think, dear readers? Should I have marched off to the dean and complained of sexual harassment? Am I making a mountain out of a 40-year-old molehill?