Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How Shake Shack Reminded Me of One of My Favorite Musicals

The line was unusually short as I passed Shake Shack on 8th Ave. Could it be? I can actually enjoy one of the tastiest cleanest burgers in NYC before catching a 8PM show Off Broadway. 

I jumped on the queue and scoped out the number of opens seats available. I then looked up at the menu on the wall (even though I knew exactly what I wanted - simple burger and fair shake) and noticed a concrete called Jelly's Last Donut, and for a few minutes, I was transported back to the early 1990s when I experienced one of my favorite Broadway musical of all times - Jelly's Last Jam (book by George C. Wolfe and lyrics by Susan Birkenhead), which featured the late and multi-talented Gregory Hines as Jelly Roll Morton who arrogantly claims to be the architect, the originator, the inventor of jazz.

When I think about the 1992 musical, I naturally think of my favorite song from the musical - The Banishment sung by Gran Mimi played by the amazing Ann Duquesnay, who I have not seen on the stage since Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk. The Banishment is not a song that makes Broadway CD compilations. It is neither upbeat nor some longing number about love. It is a harsh song about rejection by one's family with stinging lyrics such as " get away from my door"  "if you spit in the water there is no going back to the well" "you shame the memory of your mother" and "if you lie down with dirt you are going to carry that smell". While raw, this 4-minute song is beautifully and powerfully sung by Ms. Duquesnay and will always be a favorite of mine. 

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