There was a clue in the dirty looks

November 28, 1994|By KEVIN COWHERD

To the man who sat behind me during the recent performance of "Grease!" at the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore:

Dear Sir:

It was wonderful to see you and the (missus, girlfriend, occasional companion, whatever) enjoying yourself the other night. The cast was in fine voice, wasn't it? Or maybe it wasn't. I wouldn't know myself because some idiot in the audience insisted on singing along throughout much of the performance, thereby spoiling it for some of us.

As you may have guessed, that idiot, sir, was you.

On several occasions, the (missus, girlfriend, occasional companion, whatever) addressed you as "Arnold" in that great, booming voice of hers, so we will assume that's your name.

All I can say, Arnold, is that you were singing up a storm.

At one point, I turned to my wife and said: "Help me out here. Did we pay $47.50 a ticket to hear a person named Arnold sing?"

My wife, who has a keen memory for such things, said no. She said it was her understanding that we had paid $47.50 per ticket to see the Broadway musical "Grease!"

To tell you the truth, Arnold, that was my recollection, too.

Sure enough, when I checked my ticket stubs, they did not, in fact, say "Arnold!"

Your name was also not listed in the playbill -- oh, yes, we checked. A man who was singing as much as you, we thought at first you might be a cast member cleverly planted in the audience.

But, no, there was no mention of an Arnold. That's why we were not exactly elated at those times when you felt compelled to burst into song, as this prevented us from enjoying the singing of actual cast members Rex Smith, Trisha M. Gorman, etc.

It pains me to report, Arnold, that not only was your singing loud, but it was also . . . how to put this? . . . bad.

Now, I know what you're thinking.

You're thinking: "Oh, yeah? Like you could do better?"

And the answer is: no.

No, Arnold, I could not. I myself am singing-impaired and when confronted with the urge to lift my thin, weak voice in song, I beat that urge back with the butt end of a rifle, if need be.

But here's the thing, Arnold: Unlike a certain other person I could name, you'll never find me singing along in the audience of a Broadway musical.

In any event, my advice to you, kid, is: Don't quit your day job. And if there is a night job that involves something other than show business, I would stick with that, too.

Perhaps you will recall that throughout much of the performance, lots of folks were turning in your direction and giving you dirty looks.

It's funny, normally a person in such circumstances would think: "Hmmm, these people are giving me dirty looks. Maybe I'm doing something wrong."

But this apparently never occurred to you, leading to the conclusion that you suffered a complete shutdown of the cerebral cortex.

In fact, my guess is you saw all these people giving you dirty looks and thought: "Hmm, they must want me to sing louder!"

Yes, you were a star that night, Arnold.

The brightest star in the heavens.

While your singing certainly added a new dimension -- I'm wondering if you'll be touring now with "The Cast of Grease Plus Arnold!" -- you also felt compelled to narrate much of the play for those of us who were too dim-witted to follow the proceedings.

That was a nice touch, Arnold. Apparently, you had seen this production before -- a few thousand times would be my guess.

I say this because at the appropriate times, you would blurt out: tTC "Oh, this is where Miss Lynch yells at the kids!" or "Now Danny's gonna dance!"

And then the (missus, girlfriend, occasional companion, whatever) would turn to you and say, in that great, booming voice of hers: "WHAT? WHERE, HERE?"

Once again, I searched the playbill furiously for "Narrator: Arnold." Sadly, no mention of you was found in that capacity, either.

This might seem hard to believe, Arnold, but many people enjoy watching a play without a loud guy in a camel-hair sport coat announcing scenes from the audience.

I know . . . go figure.

Sincerely,

A friend

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