Friday, July 03, 2009

The End of the Rainbow

(originally written last week)

I should be in bed. I had a performance today and I have another one tomorrow. But one of the songs I sing on stage in this current production is “Look to the Rainbow” from the musical Finian’s Rainbow. And whenever I sing it, I can’t help thinking about Dr. B.

Dr. B. was a physician in the town where I grew up. While he wasn't our family doctor, from what I heard later, he was good and caring. He was also an actor in his spare time, and a very talented one at that. When my sister and I were in grade school, my sister acted the part of a leprechaun in a production of Finian’s Rainbow in which Dr. B. appeared in a leading role. Later on, when I was in high school, I played the part of the timid Catholic nurse, Miss Flinn, in a production of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest in which Dr. B. played McMurphy. There are hardly two more different roles in theater than Og the leprechaun and Randle Patrick McMurphy, but Dr. B. played them both superbly.

Something seems to have happened as Dr. B. got older. His obituary stated that he had been murdered.

I can’t know what Dr. B.’s life was like, what struggles he had, or what pushed him so close to the edge that last day. When I read the story of how he was murdered, I found myself wondering whether, having gotten into as much trouble as he had and lost so much, he had perhaps courted death, even unconsciously.

Today, when I sing “Look to the Rainbow,” I can’t help remembering Dr. B. as he was years ago, when I was a little girl: onstage as Og (one obituary even mentioned that performance, even so many years later), with his Irish accent and the little staging trick that he used so that he would be able to sing the reprise of “Something Sort of Grandish” from a written text, since he had trouble memorizing the lyrics.

I remember Dr. B. as he was then, and I hope that he is at peace at last.

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