I’m not really certain how it happened, but I sort of accidentally heard a song from Wicked the other day. Despite, or in fact, because of my checkered past involvement with the madness that is musical theater, I have very little fondness for musicals themselves. Oh sure, I’ve had my fun being in the chorus of one obsolete clunker after another, but actually watching a musical stage production is about as enjoyable to me as chewing on tinfoil. Musicals are formulaic, contrived, and unforgivably sentimental and I don’t forgive easily.
Yet I am compelled toward them, like some freaked out, completely stoned moth to a flame. I must hear the music and absorb the vocal performances, testing them like I would a fine Gewürztraminer; first the visual inspection, a little swirl in the glass, a tentative sip, then gulping it down until I can’t remember where I live. So, stumbling across that kicky little song on YouTube the other day sent me into a musical theater binge, the likes of which I haven’t seen in some time. I couldn’t get the lilting, silly thing out of my head. I don’t know any of the words so I couldn’t sing it in the shower, thereby purging it from my head by way of my mouth. It was stuck. Or rather, one single word was stuck: popular.
Or rather, Pop-yoooooooooo-oo-LAR. If you’ve heard it, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, you are a fortunate soul indeed.
I had to get it out. Drowning this demonic thing was going to take a serious tool, something like a Dremel for the mind. I knew at once what I had to do. Evita.
Walking the dogs Friday, I consumed so much Evita that the pop-yoooooooooo-oo-LAR problem was solved, but an entire textbook of tics and compulsions marched in to take its place. Patti Lupone had possessed me. I was like some horribly scored madwoman, full of rock opera (ropera?) crescendos and unceasingly repeated musical themes.
In the parallel universe where all of my wishes are instantly and recklessly fulfilled, I am starring nightly in Evita. It didn’t matter that it was actually 105 degrees outside as I hunted for greyhound poop along a busy highway. In my mind I was striding the boards at some majestically crumbling theater, portraying Argentina’s first lady with a pathos and, well, sentimentality as none have before.
But who is my Che, the all important narrator who brings show together? I stopped to ponder this dilemma, for there is no Evita without a Che. If you know anything about the show, you know that Che is integral and that Evita herself simply cannot exist without him. She needs a fantastic Che, an incredible stage presence, an outsized personality and the only voice big enough to question the Spiritual Leader of Argentina.
Then in comes to me in a flash. El Santo.
It would be divine. Me and El Santo, in a revival of Evita that makes critics hardened by years of Les Mis-es and Titanics weep with relief and joy. The return of true musical theater!
But then I remember – El Santo is dead. Long dead.
Wait, WAIT! That’s perfect. Zombie El Santo!
Tell me that just the mere idea of Zombie El Santo and me doing Evita doesn’t make you want to scalp as many tickets as you can. What does it matter that he may lose an odd finger or chunk of arm on stage during a vigorous production number? The man was a luchador! He can take it.
His crumbling body will be the perfect metaphor for the impermanence of life and the cruelty of time. And he’ll wear his mask, so the kids won’t be too scared.
Waltz with me, Zombie El Santo.