Sunday, May 22, 2011

Little Lamb

"Little Lamb"
by Stephen Sondheim
from Gypsy (1959)

Little lamb, little lamb -
My birthday is here at last.
Little lamb, little lamb -
A birthday goes by so fast.

Little bear, little bear -
You sit on my right right there.

Little hen, little hen -
What game should we play and when?

Little cat, little cat -
Oh, why do you look so blue?
Did somebody paint you like that,
Or is your birthday too?

Little fish, little fish -
Do you think I'll get my wish?
Little lamb, little lamb -
I wonder how old I am ...
I wonder how old I am ...
Little lamb ...

Absolutely one of my top ten favorite musicals ... literally a force of nature with hurricane Rose in the center.  Halfway through the first act, however, is this lovely, quiet little eye of the storm.  Louise, a young adolescent girl all but forgotten by her mother (and everyone else) on her birthday, sits alone in her bedroom and sings this simple plaintive tune.  When she asks her stuffed sad-faced cat if it's his birthday too, my heart never fails to break.  Notice the childlike innocence of the lyrics - mostly monosyllabic - that belie Louise's real age ... genius ...  And what a gentle treatment for a young girl who will eventually grow up to be a burlesque star, the stripper Gypsy Rose Lee. 

I directed this show in the summer of 1995 with a cast of about 50 children ages 10 to 20 ... sounds dreadful, but it was a total joy. And, in my humble opinion, it was a DAMN good show!

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