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Cancer The Musical

Updated on April 13, 2007

Cancer...The Musical - Don't Get Me Started!

Having been in theatre for years I know a lot of people who are still doing theater. They're doing everything from touring children's theater to Broadway and the stories that evolve as you're putting together a show are some of the best in the world to me. In talking with one of my best pals in the world yesterday, she was telling me about a new musical that she had done some readings for as the writer and director shape the show. These readings are not full blown productions but rather where they get some actors to have a few rehearsals and then read the show on a stage so that the production team and some invited guests can give their feedback on the show. Sometimes they are partially staged and some times they are not. So we start talking about this show that she is now doing the second reading for and I was stunned to learn that the show is all about breast cancer. And all I could think was Cancer...The Musical - Don't Get Me Started!

Now not being very literate I had never read the book Les Miz so when I heard that they were going to make a musical of it I was at a complete loss as to why as Broadway musicals always meant the flashiest of the crashiest experiences (unless of course it was A Chorus Line) up to that point. The Broadway "opera" had not been born yet. I knew there was something about someone stealing a loaf of bread in Les Miz and my roommate and I used to walk around our apartment singing, "You, you stole that loaf of bread!" (A song we made up but were sure would be in the musical). Of course when I saw the show I thought it was fabulous (although I do have to admit that where he steals the bread the song "You stole that loaf of bread" went through my head and I chuckled out loud.)

So that's my sort of disclaimer that perhaps doing musicals about disease are the next big wave and I just don't know it yet. But the more my friend was telling me about this particular show I couldn't help but have images of choreographed numbers running through my head. (Taste Disclaimer: almost everyone in my family has died of cancer and I'm pretty sure that if I was to only drink green tea and eat bark from now until the end of my life I'm going to be struck down by cancer too so this means I can make fun of it.)

Imagine if you will the diagnosis scene...there would be a large microscope that comes out onto the stage while men dressed in black unitards to represent the cancer cells and women dressed as the "good" cells would come out dancing wildly on a large Petri dish. Next up would be the treatment number - think lots of people dancing with IV poles like Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain. The finale of Act One would be the "What's in a wig?" number where wigs drop down from the flies as the dancers (with their bald heads) spin to pose with one wig then move on to the next wig until they all have wigs on and are dancing with wild abandon. The number finishing with all the wigs in a pile in the center of the stage as the characters discover their inner strength and show their determination to not wear a wig through their treatment. Act two would open with everyone wearing schmatas on their heads looking a little like Valerie Harper as Rhoda. Sure there are I'm sure plenty of dramatic scenes in between but everyone's spirits will be lifted in the finale number "Gotta Get A Boob" where they actually put taps on the prosthetic boobs and do a complete 42nd street number by holding the boobs and tapping on rolling examining tables as the doctor sings, "You're Cancer Free! Wow wee Wow Wee!"

I know I may be one of the only people in the world who hear about someone doing a musical about breast cancer and have the entire show mapped out in my head in a ridiculous fashion moments after but hey, we all need a skill and this is mine. But I have always been the type of person that chooses to laugh at adversity. If I didn't have the sense of humor I have, I know I would have killed myself long ago. And who knows, maybe this is the future of the Broadway musical. I'll wait to make my performing comeback until they come out with Tay-Sachs The Musical but for now we'll have to go support the breast cancer musical (if it ever makes it to Broadway) but can you imagine what the t-shirts and the rest of the merchandise will look like? No surprise, I can. Cancer...The Musical - Don't Get Me Started!

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