Saturday, April 30, 2011

Our Time


"Our Time"
by Stephen Sondheim
from Merrily We Roll Along (1981)

Something is stirring,
Shifting ground,
It's just begun.

Edges are blurring
All around
And yesterday is done.


Feel the flow -
Hear what's happening,
We're what's happening.

Don't ya know -
We're the movers and
We're the shapers.
We're the names in tomorrow's papers.
Up to us, man, to show 'em.


It's our time,
Breathe it in,
Worlds to change and worlds to win.

Our turn coming through.
Me and you, man, me and you.


Feel how it quivers 
On the brink ...
Everything.

Gives you the shivers,
Makes ya think
There's so much stuff to sing.


And, you and me,
We'll be singing it
Like the birds -
Me with music and you the words.
Tell 'em things they don't know.
Up to us, pal, to show 'em.


It's our time,
Breathe it in,
Worlds to change and worlds to win.
Our turn - we're what's new.
Me and you, pal, me and you.


Feel the flow -
Hear what's happening,
We're what's happening.

Long ago,
All we had was that funny feeling
Saying someday we'd set them reeling.
Now it looks like we can.
Someday just began.


Something is stirring,
Shifting ground,
It's just begun.

Edges are blurring
all around,
and yesterday is done.


Feel the flow -
Hear what's happening,
We're what's happening.

Don't ya know -
We're the movers and
We're the shapers.
We're the names in tomorrow's papers.
Up to us, man, to show 'em.


It's our time,
Breathe it in,
Worlds to change and worlds to win.

Our turn coming through.
Me and you, pal, me and you.


Years from now,
We'll remember and we'll come back.
Buy the rooftop and hang a plaque.
This is where we began ...
Being what we can.


It's our heads on the block,
Give us room and start the clock.
Our dreams coming true.
Me and you, pal, me and you ...

It's that time of year ... graduation.  Tonight is "Grad Nite" - an all-night affair for graduating high school seniors at Walt Disney World - and my Facebook news feed has been flooded with announcements from former students who are graduating from college.  There's only ONE musical that comes to mind at graduation time - Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's Merrily We Roll Along.

The musical is based loosely on the famous Kaufman and Hart play of the same name.  Although many praise the score as one of Sondheim's best (with some of his most popular songs - "Not a Day Goes By," "Old Friends," "Good Thing Going"), it and the book have undergone numerous revisions since the musical's first disastrous Broadway run of only 16 performances.  The play centers on the lives of three characters, Frank (a composer), Mary, and Charley (a lyricist and Frank's songwriting partner), from high school graduation through the dissolution of their friendship. However, like the play on which it is based, the musical moves BACKWARDS in time.  It ends with the beautiful lyrics of "Our Time" above as the three watch in wonder at a fly-over of Sputnik and are filled with hope for the future.  It is a bittersweet ending, however, since the backwards chronology has already informed us that their lives will be filled with betrayal, unrequited loves, divorces, and business and artistic failures.

I had the good fortune to direct a high school production of the ORIGINAL version of the show in the late 80's at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts.  The show reminds me of graduation because, in its original version, it begins and ends with the now famous high school graduation bookend scenes that no longer exist in the current version ... along with a glorious graduation anthem, "The Hills of Tomorrow." 

Despite the show's inherent flaws, it will be one that is always near and dear to my heart, thanks to its soaring score and marvelous songs. 

1 comment:

  1. I remember that show fondly and only now, 20 years later, have I began to appreciate and understand Frank whom I had the honor of playing. Wish I could do it again knowing all I know now. Thanks for a lesson in HS that continues to teach me long since I have forgotten physics lessons!

    Gary Webber

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