Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Manhattan Transfer and the Lovely Luawana Ladies

When my older sisters were around ten and twelve (they are now, cough, in their sixties) they saw a Cecil B. DeMille movie called The Greatest Show on Earth. This film about a circus featured many stars of the time including Dorothy Lamour in a sarong singing Lovely Luawana Lady
as she did a sort of hula. My mother somehow got the sheet music for this song and it eventually became part of our family lore. As adults, my sisters and I would sing the song and do the hula whenever we got together and could use this "act" to appall or embarrass our children. I believe that my own children feel that it is time to put this routine to rest for good.

The HH*, knowing that I have long been a fan of The Manhattan Transfer, kindly bought (fairly expensive) tickets for us to see them perform last night at The Egg in Albany, NY. The singing got better as the evening went on. But during the first two or three songs, I felt like my children watching another family reunion performance by their mother and aunts as Lovely Luawana Ladies. I was at first appalled, then embarrassed that it was because of me that we were at this show. I do not wish to be unkind or thought of as ageist, but these folks need to either retire or rethink their act. Ladies of a certain age cannot pull off the same shimmies and wiggles that looked good forty years ago. And the men: between them, an odd-looking toupee, Sansabelt slacks overhung by a paunch, and voices that couldn't quite do what they once could.

Is it a crime to be older and broader than you once were? Lord, I hope not, because I can certainly be described that way. But at least the act and the clothes need to reflect what is now and not what once was.

Last night's show was far from a sell-out and I fear that if The Manhattan Transfer come around this way again, the audience will likely be even thinner. You hate to be discouraging to folks who are trying to keep on keepin' on, but I think it's time for them to rest on their laurels and go spend some quality time with the grandchildren.


*HH = Handsome Husband