A couple days ago, I wrote an appreciation of lyricist Dorothy Fields. That got me thinking about one of her songs and a video related to it.
The song, "It's Not Where You Start," was from her last show, Seesaw, written with composer Cy Coleman. It came near the end of the musical and was sung by a minor character. But it was such a show-stopping production that it won the performer, Tommy Tune, the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. This is one of those numbers I wish I'd seen live or that there was video of, because from all accounts it was a major extravaganza. You can at least get a sense of that from the audio recording, which is a rare thing to pull off. But it had to be huge, since it did win Tune the Tony Award, and ultimately was the first step to making the 6'-6" unlikely-dancer a star, winning nine Tony Awards for acting, director and choreography.
"It's Not Where You Start," is not one of Dorothy Fields's greatest songs, given the legendary status of so many of the others, but it's a wonderful lyric (with joyful music), and one of her most fun, lesser-known numbers. And it makes a thoughtful point at the same time, under all the folderol, balloons and banners.
But much as I like the song, even though I never got to see it performed, that's not really the reason for embedding it here. The reason is because it reminded me of a video I came across last year. It's a short, nine-minute commencement address that Tommy Tune gave in 2011 at the Boston Conservancy. What he says is terrific and valuable, but that's only part of the reason for posting it here. Stick with it to the very end.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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