I was introduced to live musical theatre at the Valley Forge Music Fair. It was summer stock for New York actors, singers and dancers performed in a tent on the East coast of Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia.
I lived my simple, country boy life about 30 miles to the west. It was at Valley Forge that I saw shows like Pajama Game and Damn Yankees and, for the first time, fell in love with live musical theatre.
Theatre in the round and being so close to the sweat on the dancers’ bodies made me believe that there was a possibility of connecting somehow. As a teenager, these theatrical encounters were a part of my growing-up world of serious sexual awakening. I had put aside my childish desire to be Robin to Batman or follow Flash Gordon around in his lamé hot pants. These new experiences were comprised of all the senses; but mostly, it was the smell of the greasepaint mixed with the dancers’ sweat. I was breathless from the experience.
Every summer I would look forward to these performances under that tent, the actors in such intimate proximity, darting up and down the aisles, making their exits and entrances. The tension of wanting to reach out and touch them was palatable.
I would hang around the parking lot after the shows, hoping that one of the cast would come along and say hello. I lie. Come along and take me away with them. I wanted to join this musical circus; I wanted to fall in love and get laid. I still get these three things mixed up.