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Present Without Warning

The first time I saw Betty Buckley, she held my hand and sang,

I'm considering the lap of a most engaging chap
And I'll let him do exactly as I please.

That was back in 1987, during the opening number of Edwin Drood, the first show I ever saw on Broadway. I was a late bloomer to the Great White Way, but Iíve tried to catch up since.

I had the pleasure of seeing her again last night, and I am pleased to report that I have aged better than she. Fortunately, she did not repeat her offer, as I donít think she would have fit in my lap at this stage of the game. Iím not saying sheís big like Barbara Cook, Iím just saying sheís not going anywear near the petite section anytime soon.

However, Madame can still warble a tune.

Last night, self-stated show-tune sissy Just Jack MAK asked me to be his Karen walker at a William Finn review up near Lincoln Center.

For those of you not keeping score, MAK has regained his theater widow status as K has renewed his subscription to Working Woman magazine and is now off the dole gainfully re-employed, leaving our bovine-biased buddy to wander the streets in search of stray underwear and PSQN. And, in the case of last night, reasonably obscure theater songs.

Since my recent poll takers (as it were) have thoughtfully steered me clear of any misguided rehabilitation (blessings to each of you, and a pox on those who voted for Betty Ford and Hazelden), I was only too happy to wash down a couple of dolls helpers vitamins with some distilled potato wheat grass juice and keep the little nipper out of trouble.

It was really a lovely show. I laughed. I wept, I longed for an open bar. Each of Mr. Finnsí songs are stories, and the performers made them their own last night. Some tales I knew, others Iíll track down (already did in a couple instances) and listen to again and again.

I wanted to hug Jesse Tyler Ferguson after each of his numbers. So funny and sweet and adorable. And then when he held his own next to the Buckster in her tearful rendition of 14 Dwight Street ..., only to take his solo turn in When the World Stopped Turning, well Ö he wins.

The ladies were wonderful as well. Ms. Buckley was ever the gracious diva (looking like she was putting a master class through its paces most of the time. Janet Metz was also moving (but her Iím breaking down paled to Randi Graffís when I saw it in the real show).

Jerry Dixon, forever Daniel, could charm me to any island. Not just once. Stephen DeRosa was pretty and witty and gay. Sir William himself croaked out a few numbers and that was ... hey he writes 'em, he can sings 'em. Mr. Esparza, while perhaps teetering on the brink of overexposure (hmm, where was that Taboo credit in the program bios?), made me want to stick out my thumb and Hitchhike across America. He finished the show with a What More Can I Say that was so simple and moving that, well, it moved. What can I say. I always was a proponent of the "talent is an aphrodesdiac" theory. Or maybe I invented it.

Bottom line, it was one of those great New York nights that make me really glad to be here. I sometimes forget that there are all these little gems of experience to hunt down and relish. A one-night stand (and I was home by 11:30 and didnít even have to shower) by some of the best musical theater performers around, and so many of my friends who would have loved it werenít there. But I was. Sucks for them. Yay for me.

So thanks for the invite cow-boy. Iíd go again. Anytime.

So who's taking me out next?