Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Warm Winter's Night

Baby, it’s cold outside – 7 degrees, to be exact.

Seven degrees – that’s hardly even trying! In spite of wearing plenty of clothes, I feel chilly. The floor-to-ceiling windows in the condo seem to have adopted a “share the air” policy, even with the shades closed. Apparently Maggie the Cat is cold too. She has expressed her displeasure by refusing to watch television with me, and has headed off to bed.

I reject a rerun of a Chris Rock special, surf for a bit and come up with the film version of “Carousel.” Starring Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones, the movie was made in 1956, when I was 8. I may not have appreciated it at the time, but in later years I came to love “Carousel.” What’s not to like about “If I Loved You?”

I grab a blanket and settle in. The movie is almost over – Louise has just started her ballet on the beach. The beach! As the waves roll in, young Susan Luckey dances with great exhilaration and delight, expressing everything I feel for the Pacific Ocean. I imagine it’s me, dancing my “Hello, I Finally Moved Here” dance on Ocean Beach when I finally get to San Francisco.

Okay, my ballet is not what it used to be -- especially my tour jetés. And that’s the nice thing about dancing vicariously, isn’t it? So Luckey is dancing away, having a grand old time, and she encounters a young carnival barker with his troupe. This part is a fantasy, of course, but this carnival barker can really dance! Who IS this guy?

I hit “pause,” run down the hall and look him up in the Internet Movie Database. In the old days, I would have looked up the dancer’s name in one of my many books on dance or movies, but the books are long gone, and I know the Internet will know.

It’s Jacques d’Amboise!

Jacques d’Amboise is a man from Massachusetts who took a French name. He danced with the New York City Ballet, and later choreographed for the company. He was 22 when he danced in “Carousel.” Just 20 years later, d’Amboise founded the National Dance Institute in New York City, where he dedicated his life to teaching children to dance. His daughter, Charlotte d’Amboise, is also a dancer. Maybe you saw her in “Every Little Step,” the film about the Broadway revival of “A Chorus Line” – or maybe you saw her play Cassie in that revival.

I zip back to the living room (hey, it’s cold…) and resume watching the movie. Of course, I know exactly what happens, so my mind drifts. I think about how much I love dance, and of course that brings to mind Ross Winter, my dear friend and surrogate family member who died in March of 1994.

Then I remember Hope Wurdack’s production of “Carousel” in her years with Theater Factory. Hope’s Mr. Snow – Kevin Chamberlin -- went on to play Charlie on Broadway in “Dirty Blonde” and Horton on Broadway in “Seussical.”

Then, plain as day, in my mind I hear Edward. He’s saying, “The overture to ‘Carousel’ goes on and on – it must be the longest overture in show business!” The day he actually said that was in 1995, when we were in Arrow Rock, seeing the Lyceum Theatre’s production of “Carousel” and seeing Philip, Edward’s twin brother.

Philip died four years ago today.

At this point in the movie, everyone is at the high school graduation, and they are singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” a teary song if ever there was one, especially as Billy kneels next to Julie’s chair and tells her he did love her – and she smiles and starts to sing along.

Suddenly I’m not cold anymore.


  1. Time spent with people we love is always heartwarming - no matter what dimension it's in!

  2. Hope's "Carousel" — was that performed at the Faust Park carousel? I played in the orchestra for that production!