Monday, December 31, 2018

"Christmas Chestnuts - My One-Time Brush With Royalty"

As the days grew closer to Christmas, Harrods was unable to insure their delivery trucks (for local deliveries) or Her Majesty’s Royal Mail Service (for deliveries to “The Continent” or perhaps even America) would get the gifts to their destinations on time.  What use would they be if after that?

“Remember that big holiday we just had?  Well these are for then.” 

Not good. 

“I got my Christmas gifts after Christmas!”

Certain fodder for therapy.

Harrods“Trauma-Preventing Policy” was to cut off deliveries and mailings five days before Christmas, requiring all last-minute shopping to be carried away by their purchasers.  

After December the 20th, packages, professionally wrapped by unsavory scalawags like myself, would be delivered by their wrappers to the Ground Floor “Purchase Collection Kiosk”, where customers, showing the appropriate “ticket”, would collect them, for personal transport to their intended destinations.  

So there I am, carting packages to the “Collection Kiosk”, in plain sight of the Harrods customers, which was unusual, as “My kind” were kept strategically “in the back.”  

Now I am out in the open, wearing less-than-recently-laundered brown corduroy pants, a faded Canadian flannel shirt and a pair of high-topped suede “desert boots.”  The actual salespeople dressed differently.  Something similar to “Wedding Attire.”

Before I reach my destination, I can already hear the cacophonous clamoring of an irate customer, standing at the “Collection Kiosk”, screaming her head off.  

Note:  I do not remember this experience verbatim, but I specifically recall my initial words, which were these:

“Lady, you are giving me a headache.”

The irate customer looked demonstrably taken aback.  Not merely by my response, but by the fact, it seemed, that I was speaking to her at all.  

She appeared to be in her mid-twenties, not that much older than me.  Fashionable, floor-length winter coat, bordered in pristine white fur trim.  Her radiant dark hair, exquisitely coiffed, was pulled back, revealing a face that was marble, not in the sense of “cold and impenetrable” but in the sense of “milky white and microscopically flawless.”  (Or am I talking about porcelain.  Anyway…) 

She was the most beautiful Gentile woman I had ever seen in my life.

Sensing her relax her guard, I asked her to tell me – calmly – what exactly was going on.  Still visibly upset, she explained that her gifts had been unacceptably packaged for overseas travel, and that there was a car waiting outside to take her to the airport so the “terrible snafu” must be corrected immediately.  

“Come with me,” I instructed.  Firmly. But with a conspiratorial twinkle.

I then escorted her to the toy-wrapping room, talking to her like she was a regular person, because that’s the only way I know how to talk.

Our arrival elicited spontaneous excitement – Queen Elizabeth, visiting a coal mine.  I immediately told them to behave, and my assumed “authoritative tone” caused them to listen.  Since there were no chairs to sit on, I offered my guest a spot on a large roll of corrugated cardboard.  Which, lacking an available alternative, she accepted.  

Jabbering endlessly as I worked – to distract her from the urgently “ticking clock” and from the fact I had delivered her to a hellhole – I rewrapped her purchases for overseas travel. 

The ameliorating procedure involved increased protective insulation, corrugated cardboard which I procured elsewhere so she would not have to get up.  The parcels were then rewrapped in signature “Harrods Green” paper, followed by the final step – the heavy twine, tied crescendoingly in a bow.  For that crowning maneuver, I solicited – and received – the customer’s personal assistance.  Arising elegantly from her cardboard settee, at my expert direction, she magnanimously pressed her finger onto the knot.

Problem solved, I returned Milady back to the Ground Floor, where she thanked me sincerely for my assistance, and presented me a five pound (nearly fourteen dollar) tip, which I adamantly rejected because “We’re just two people” but she insisted I take, understanding we weren’t.

“Give it to your favorite charity,” she proposed, trying to soften the blow.  I said, “Sure”, appreciating the effort, if not the suggestion. 

And then she was gone.

As I trudged back to my dingy workstation, I was accosted by a posse of agitated… I don’t know who they were, people in “Management”, I suppose… who bombarded me with questions. 

What was the problem?  Where had I taken her?  Was she terribly upset?  Had she mentioned the word, “lawsuit”?  What had I done to her?

“She’s fine,” I assured them.  “She had a problem with her parcels and I fixed it.”  

Before returning to the waiting refuge of obscurity, I took a moment to inquire,

“Who was she?”

To which I was huffily informed,

“That was the Princess of Luxembourg.”

And that’s the story.

I still think about her sometimes, especially around Christmas.  She probably doesn’t think about me.  Which, of course, makes impeccable sense.  

Only one of us was the Princess of Luxembourg.

Friday, December 28, 2018

"Christmas Chestnuts - Christmas At Harrods (Conclusion)"

I am not a troublemaker. 

I am not a leader.

But I did have a cough.

And I am definitely a complainer.

It wasn’t just pampered sissies like myself.  My redundant longshoremen co-workers were coughing their guts up.  A raspy “sandpaper” cough, that said,

“Our lungs are not happy.”

You could see it in the air. The room was filled flying flecks of cello-tape, accumulated dust, latent pockets of mold, going, 

“Let’s join the cello-tape and dust!”  

Whatever it was, it made us all really sick.

Breathing it in all day while wrapping toys for exalted Blue Bloods and “Mucky-mucks”?  This was proverbial “Dickens Country.”  Charlie D. could have popularized our plight.

The Old Toy-Wrapping Shoppe.  

Serialized for the multitudes, chronicling our unnoticed demise.
“Open a window” you say?

There was no window.  

No air ducts to carry the hovering detritus away.

Not even a floor fan, blowing the stuff out of our eyes, and, more importantly, away from going up our noses. Or, for mouth breathers, into our mouths.

Our entire workplace was a cubicular “Asthma with walls.”

Something needed to be done. Everybody was sick, and we were coughing on the presents.  Somebody had to speak up.

And somehow, I do not know how, that protesting “firebrand” turned out to be me.

And one other guy. Though it sounds better if it’s just me.

I quickly organized the men – I like the way that sounds.  Emboldened by the innate justness of our cause, we proceeded en masse to our Glaswegian overseer, demanding that our collective grievances be heard.  “Mr. I-Never-Understood-A-Word-He-Was-Saying”, grumbled “Ech-mech-g’hewww”, which, it turned out, was his version of “Okay.”  

The man knew we meant business.  If we didn’t get heard,

The Harrods “Elves” were going on strike!

Shortly thereafter, my fellow “labor rep” and I were headed down the hall towards the “Personnel Director’s” office for our face-to-face meeting with “Management.”  We were like inmates, fighting the warden for “more time in the yard.”  That was exactly how I felt.  Wondering if my attacking “The System” would earn me a perilous “night in the box.”

As I walked down the hall, I thought of the “pro-labor” camp songs we’d been taught, decrying the gaping disparity between “The Company” and “The Workers.”

“I see the weary miner
Brushing coal dust from his back
And I hear the children crying
Ain’t got no coal to heat the shack.”


“The banks are made of marble
With a guard at every door
And the vaults are stuffed with silver
That the miners sweated for.”

That song had become a practical reality.

I was now “The weary miner.”

And I was scared.

There were no songs about what they did to the weary miners if they complained.  I am pretty sure it wasn’t good.

Like all traumatic experiences, the actual meeting with Harrods’ “Personnel Director” is a tape, thoroughly erased from my memory.  I am sure my voice quavered nervously as I explained how everyone in the toy-wrapping room was sick and we needed their immediate help, getting rid of the nonsense in the air, so we could breathe. I knew they could not build us a window. But at least give us a fan.

Though the “particulars” are gone, I recall the ultimate outcome of that encounter.

We were fired.

Which was shocking, but not serious.  Our historic encounter took place on December the 23rd.  And, the Christmas “Holiday Rush” being completed, we’d have been let go the following day.

Meaning, in reality, we were sacked one day before were out.

But still…


How would that look on my “Permanent Record”?

“I have an unblemished work record.”

“That’s not what thissays.”

After our premature dismissal, it took two weeks, baking my chest in Torremolinos in Southern Spain to recover my original breathing capacities.  Though to this day, I retain a residual “tickle.”

Postscript:  Years later, visiting London, I made a pilgrimage to Harrods, heading upstairs to the “Toy Departure”, where I inquired where the toy-wrapping room was.  

Pointed the way, I walked over, quietly cracking open the door.

It looked the same.

Except for one thing.

They had a window.

Adding a verse to the old song:

“I see the weary wrapper
Who no longer has to choke
And I hear them calling to me
‘You are one rebellious bloke.’”

Thursday, December 27, 2018

"Christmas Chestnuts - Christmas At Harrods (Continued)"

A succession of large, carrier baskets rumbled into the room on a connecting (from the adjacent “retail” area) conveyor belt, some of them filled to overflowing, others containing as few as one toy, each basket reflecting the accumulated purchases of individual customers. 

And they all had to be wrapped.

The “General Procedure” was essentially the following:

Having completed his previous assignment, the available toy wrapper proceeds back to the conveyor belt, where he is expected to appropriate the carrier basket closest to the end. However, if he spots one with fewer presents further back, he immediately grabs that one, carrying it surreptitiously back to his workstation.  

Here’s why he does that.

No matter how many toys are piled in the carrier basket, when the toy wrapper finishes wrapping them, he takes the receipt from that completed order and jabs it onto a protruding nail, embedded in a small, supporting block of wood, sitting on top of his work table.

The fewer the number of toys in the carrier basket, the fewer the packages needed to be wrapped, meaning the sooner the can “nail register” his now completed customer’s order. The more receipts on his nail, the more the wrapper is successfully doing his job.

That’s why you took the carrier basket with the fewest number of toys – to pad your overall “Receipts Accumulation.” That is also why you sought out packages with “squared-off” edges, like books, board games, rulers and decks of cards. 

Faster to wrap.  

More receipts on your nail.

Unfortunately, despite his most scrupulous efforts, the toy wrapper was sometimes confronted with wrapping a tricycle.  

Wrapping a tricycle poses challenging problems.  There are the handlebars to encase, the three wheels, the little step in the back, the bell. 

It took forever, wrapping a tricycle.

And in the meantime – no receipt.

Wait!  You gotta hear this.

I was informed by someone “in the know” that those tricycles originally arrived inside appropriately-sized cardboard boxes.  Which would have been relatively easy to wrap, as cardboard boxes have corners.  (And unboxed tricycles do not.)  

You know what that “high end” fancy department store did?  They took out the tricycles and threw the boxes into the furnace to heat the building!

“Why burn up valuable petrol when we have perfectly good cardboard?”

Leaving the toy wrapper to deal with the tricycle.

And no receipt on his nail until he’s finished!

Truth be told, despite my best efforts, I was a terrible toy wrapper.  What I lacked in skill I made up in ineptitude.  I used way too much signature “Harrods­ Green” wrapping paper, my applied cello-tape was inevitably twisted, and my “finishing touch” twine-tying was truly abominable.  You could pick up one of my parcels by its loosely tied strings and it would immediately slip out and fall on the floor.  

Oh!  Wait’ll you hear this!

Presents wrapped for overseas shipping were sent downstairs to the “Mailing Room”, where they were then unwrapped and immediately re-wrapped before being dispatched.  Still, we were instructed to wrap them as assiduously carefully as if they wouldn’t be.

When I was criticized for my demonstrably flaccid twine-tying for such packages, my truculent response was,

“It’s good enough for ‘downstairs.’

You can imagine how exuberantly that was received.

Which brings me, reluctantly, to my boss.

Imagine a squat, red-faced fireplug from Glasgow and that’s who I’m talking about.  I dreaded every time he came near me, partly because my future employment was hanging by a loosely-tied thread, partly because I invariably had the fewest number of receipts skewered onto my nail, but mostly because he was from Glasgow, and all that “dialectically” entails.

The man would, already angrily, sidle up to my “work station” – I’m wrapping a Hula Hoop, and it’s taking forever.  Fingering the flimsy stack of receipts on my nail – because on top of everything else I was slow – my thickly-accented boss went into a guttural tirade I was totally unable to decipher:

“Erroll!  Yuh got ta pee de heh de lech de mech de heenya hoh!”


“Yer ware de hoch de hoonya hay, and you got ta wech de hech da heenya hyewww!”


“If ya doon’t hech de pech de heenya hyewww, you won’t brech de mech de hoonya hay!”


And then he was gone – a Glaswegian tornado, moving, thankfully, offshore. 

And there you have it. For ten weeks of employment, I had a job I could not perform and a boss I could not understand.

And then things got bad.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

"Christmas Chestnuts - Christmas At Harrods"

Over the years, I have related a number of Christmas stories. One of my favorites involves my experiences at Harrods Department Store in London, where I lived for a time in the late 1960’s.  Not in the store, but in London.

Here is a reprised rendition of that experience, with the usual “revisiting adjustments.”   Retelling this memorable anecdote, I feel like an old uncle:  “Tell us the ‘Harrods’ story!”  Except nobody asked me to.   

Anyway, here we go.

After a month’s vacation in Canada, I returned to London to resume my extended departure, highlighted by three classes a week at the Actors’ Workshop and a full-time job as a substitute teacher at Saint John’s Church of England Infants and Juniors School.  (Clarifying Note:  I’d started off as a substitute teacher. But the school’s headmaster, Mr. Kinsman, taking an inexplicable shine to me, engendered my full-time employment.) 

Two days after the school year started, caught in a brutal dispute with the Teachers’ Union, the British government announced that all the substitute teachers in England were fired. Including me.  Though I now technically held full-time employment, the British government, lacking the requisite sensitivity for the “Gray Area”, summarily sacked me as well.

Having returned to England with expectations of year-long employment, I was now suddenly out of work, in dire danger of floating into oblivion or back to Toronto, neither prospect offering inordinate appeal.

What do I do in a crisis? 

I endlessly whine and complain.  And, invariably, it works.  Someone around me comes up with a solution.  Mainly to stop my whining and complaining.

In this case, however, innate kindness was a definite contributor.

There was a beautiful (groomed and coifed, as well as structurally assembled) woman in my acting class named Belinda Rokeby-Johnson.  I was instantly entranced, having known no one with a “hyphenate surname.”  I knew Liebowitzes, Friedmans and Devors.  I knew no Liebowitz-Devors.

Without a whisper of condescension, high-born Belinda Rokey-Johnson behaved in a manner commonly characterized as “Noblesse Oblige”towards “The Little People.”  Which most assuredly, meant me.  

(Illuminating Side Note:  Once after dinner at Belinda Rokeby Johnson’s (upscale) Eton Square  townhouse, her husband Ralph (pronounced “Rafe”) drove me back to my hovelly hostel in a red Aston Martin convertible, where, before dropping me off, he gave me a crisp ten-pound note.  Although I strongly objected to this charity, in the end, the proffered “Tenner” wound up in my pocket.)



Mid-October.  Having been workless for over a month, my Pomerantzian “Complain-O-Meter” pointing excruciatingly towards “Stop it!”, Belinda Rokeby-Johnson proffered an ameliorating suggestion:

“Why don’t you get a job at Harrodsfor the ‘Holiday Rush’? A lot of my friends do that and they love it.  Because they can get seventeen percent discounts on their chinchilla coats.”

(Note:  I can attest to the fact that, during the “Holiday Rush”, there were dozens of super-wealthy young women working at Harrods, their chauffeured Rollses and Bentleys delivering them outside the building, where their jobs as “Sales Personnel” paid approximately fifty dollars a week, before taxes.  (Though they saved “a packet” on fur coats.) 

“Upper Crust” seasonal “help” proved a mixed blessing for their employers.  Though having the requisite “manners” for fancy-store “Sales”, they were awkwardly unable to make change.  (As they had never seenany before.)

I have no recollection of applying for the job, or the subsequent interview.   But somehow, I got hired, assigned to Harrods bustling (during the holidays) toy wrapping department.

What I do recall is my First Day – arriving at the Harrods “Employee’s Entrance”, located across the street from the actual store.  “Punching in” (after being shown how to do that), I was directed downstairs, where I followed the trail of Harrods employees through a dimly-lit tunnel, passing under the road, before emerging, blinkingly, inside the brightly-lit building.  

Harrodsemployees were forbidden to use actual store entrances.

I then took the stairs – Harrods employees being forbidden to use the store’s elevators or escalators – to Harrods’ sumptuous “Toy Department”, where I was escorted to a dank and windowless (more on that later) back room.  There, I would wrap toys for the wealthy through the “Holiday Rush.” 

I felt nervous but ready to begin.  

A ten-week adventure, for which I was dangerosly unsuited.

Coming Up:  My toy wrapping troubles and travails, including an overseer from Glasgow, whose accent was so thick I had no idea what he was talking about.    

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

"My Christmas Present To You"

My Christmas present to all my readers:

More time with your family and loved ones.  As there will be nothing here to keep you away.

Have the happiest of once-a-year celebrations!

And remember The Weavers who sang,

"Why can't there be Christmas the whole year around
Why can't there be Christmas the whole year around?"

Merry Christmas to everyone!

And by the way,

Why can't there?

Monday, December 24, 2018

"Christmas Chestnuts 1"

Announcement:  We are away for a week, vacationing in Hawaii.  I may write there, I may sit outside, risking skin cancer.  I have not decided yet.  In case I don't, I am leaving some traditional holiday "chestnuts."  With inevitable minor alterations.  Regular Readers:  See if you can spot the scattered improvements.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas and happy holidays.

And I shall see you in 2019.

Okay, first up?  The always appreciated

                                                     "Your Presents Are Welcome"

Ext.  Holy Land – Night  

(Note:  In the Jewish tradition, which was in force on this first day of Christianity, all holidays begin on the night before.  I don’t know why.  Maybe they just couldn’t wait.)


(Note:  Because I have no idea of their actual names, the Wise Men will herein be designated by the gifts they are delivering:  Gold, frankincense and myrrh.  Sorry for all the Notes.) 


FRANKINCENSE:  I could use some reassurance here.

GOLD:  What about?



F:  I’m concerned about its appropriateness.

G:  What is it you’re giving them again?

F:  Frankincense.

G:  And remind me what that is?

F:  An aromatic gum resin.

G:  Uh-huh. And you thought that was an appropriate present because…?

F:  Frankincense is known to have soothing properties.  I thought after the turbulence of childbirth, the participants might enjoy its calming effect.  

G:  I suppose.  But have you noticed how quiet it’s been? –  a starlit firmament, the absence of a breeze, not a peep out of anything?  If I were a Weather Man – or a songwriter – I’d say, “All is calm, all is bright.”

F:  You’re saying they won’t needmy gift’s calming effect.

G:  It seems somewhat redundant.

F:  They’re going to hate it!  I know exactly what’s going to happen.  They’ll be all nice about it and everything.  “Look, Joseph – frankincense!  What a beautiful present!”  And then, angling for reassurance, I’ll say, “Are you sure you like it?  I could take it back.”  And they’ll say, “Oh, no, it’s perfect!  We were just talking about how we were really low on frankincense and my husband said, ‘Maybe I should pick some up’, and I said, ‘Hold off a little.  We might get some as a present’, and here we are! It’s like a miracle.  I mean, it’s no ‘Virgin Birth’ or anything, but it’s still amazingly timely.”  I despise that excruciating charade.  I wishI had brought something else.  

MYRRH:  Youwish.

F:  Oh, yeah, I forgot.  With you around, I am sure of no worse than “Second Most Terrible Gift.”

M:  Well that’s not very supportive.

F:  Your gift makes no sense.

G:  What was your present again?

M:  Myrrh.

F:  Terrible!

M:  It’s not that bad.

F:  Oh, really?  First of all, myrrh is alsoa gum resin.  I mean, three gifts, and two of them are gum resins? These guys are going to have to be really good actors.  “You can never have enough gum resin.”   This is a train wreck!

G:  A what?

F:  It’s bad.

M:  You know, there is actually a difference between my gum resin and your gum resin.  Yours in an aromatic gum resin.  Mine is a bitter gum resin.

F:  (TO G)  You know what bitter gum resins are used for?

G:  What?

F:  Embalming.  He’s bringing a “burial spice.”  (TO M) I hope you kept the receipt.  

M:  It’s attached to the “Myrrh” pouch.  But the store’s in Mesopotamia.

G:  You know, you Wise Men – and your behavior puts that name in serious doubt – you are making too much of this.  Remember:  “It’s the thought that counts.”

F:  Spoken like a man who is giving them gold.

G:  It was simply what came to my mind.

M:  Oh, sure.  “Let’s see. What gift should I bring them?  I know.  Something that makes everyone else’s gift look terrible and cheap!”

G:  It’s not a lotof gold.

F:  (To M) Did you see the cool pouch it's in?

M:  That pouch is better than my present.  

G:  Look, if you two are so unhappy with your presents, you should have given them something else.

M:  Like what?

G:  I don’t know.  Booties.

M:  “Gold, frankincense and socks.”  That’s much better.

F:  Why didn’t you bring booties?

G:  Because I brought gold!  Dear Lord!... who was recently just born.  Do I have to apologize for being the only one bringing a good gift?  


F:  He put zero thought into it, you know.  ‘Gold.’  Done!’”

G:  I think we should stop talking for a while.

F:  You’re the boss, Mr. Moneybags.


F:  Are you sure we’re going the right way?

M:  Yeah.  Maybe we should stop and ask directions.

G:  That is not necessary.

F:  Oooh, Mr. “Gold Giver.”  Too good to ask directions.

G:  There is one direction!  “Follow the star.”  I am following the star!

M:  Okay!  Take it easy! You are turning all red.

F:  (TO G) Would you like a little frankincense to calm you down? 

M:  I’dlike slip him some myrrh.

F:  Oh.  For “embalming.”  Iget it.

G:  (DRYLY)  Hilarious. A funny Bedouin.  


F:  You know, all this bickering?  It’s because of the presents.  

M:  You’re right.  If only we could honor special occasions in a less competitive manner. 

G:  A celebratory song, perhaps.

F:  Says the man who won the encampment songwriting contest. The guy never quits.

M:  Look, we are stuck with the presents, and that’s that.  Let’s just hope they are big resin gum fans.

F:  That’s gum resin.

M:  Yeah. That makes a difference. 


G:  Everybody likes gold.

M:  There he goes again.

G:  I was talking to my camel.


Friday, December 21, 2018

"A Show About Home"

Okay.  So I cried at a musical about Canada.

I thought I’d get that out of the way “up front.”  There was a musical about Canada.  And I’m wiping away the tears.  Imagine.  “Losing it” over a really cold country.

The show’s called Come From Away.  We saw the touring company production, currently playing in L.A.  Despite my aversion to weathering the traffic from our home to downtown (where the Ahmanson Theater is located), well…

It’s a show about Canada.  How many of them are there?

Who knows?  Maybe it’s not about Canada.  Maybe it’s about this anomalous event that once happened in Canada.  Still, it’s the Canada I like to imagine, which, the longer I’m gone, the better it looks.

Here’s the thing.  Oh wait.  The plot summary.  Yuck.

I don’t like writing plot summaries.  Okay, the fast version, that leaves out the complaining. 

38 U.S.-bound planes land in Gander, Newfoundland, unable to return home because the September 11th attack’s closed the American “air space.”  The Gander (and vicinity) citizenry take the 6700 stranded passengers and crew in for five days. 

That’s what the show is about – a dramatized version of an actual event.

But mostly…

Have you ever seen a musical about kindness?

Because that’s what Come From Away is really about.

Why were they so heroically hospitable?  The explaining response from one of the show’s resident characters:

“You’d do the same thing.”

That’s the prevailing sentiment. 

It was simply the right thing to do.

And the fact that we need to be reminded about that in a musical…or anywhere… well, you can finish that sentence yourselves.

On a much smaller scale, I personally experienced that Canadian kindness.  Visiting the Ontario Science Centre, my daughter needed a penny to try a demonstration.  I did not have a penny.  And then a man behind us spontaneously handed me one.

That’s Come From Away.

Performed with small change.

I found myself “plugged in” to the show’s ambiance right from the get-go.  It’s extremely rare that I notice the wardrobe.  But from the show’s opening moments, I recognized “familiar attire.” 

And it made me feel home.

Untucked sports shirts.  Hoodless sweatshirts, zipped up the front.  And I bet, though I could not see them from our seats, “Hush Puppies” on their feet.  Unless Canadians don’t wear them anymore, in which case, the modern equivalent of “Hush Puppies.”

That’s the “attention” to detail there was.  Simple but accurate.  Although, it’s not like I ever visited Newfoundland.  I just imagined that’s what they’d wear.

The entire production reflects that appropriate “No frills” approach.  Which I am not sure was sufficiently appreciated.  The L.A. Times theater reviewer observed,

“… the opening number… is performed with all the outsized bustle one might expect from a solid community theater group.”

If that sounds condescending – and it me it snootily does – then the guy didn’t get it.

“Solid community theater group” was exactly what they were shooting for.

And that’s why I liked it.  Just like the actual story, where “regular people” pitched in to do what was required, Come From Away depicts “regular people” putting on a show, describing what happened.

Except they’re professionals.  And the understatement is deliberate.

Deservedly, for its resonating restraint, Come From Away’s director, Christopher Ashley won the 2017 Tony Award for “Best Director of a Musical.”  No Bob Fosse “razzle-dazzle.”  Just scaled-down “meat and potatoes.”  Which is exactly what fits.

I just sighed, because I see myself heading towards the inevitable “Comparison.”

Canada and the States. 

Using two recently seen musicals to make the point, because… why not?

American-made Dear Evan Hanson (which earned nine 2017 Tony Award nominations and won six) is a story of one person and the consequences of his lie. 
In other words, it’s a “Me” musical.

Come From Away (which received seven Tony nominations and won one – typical, eh?) is a quintessential – maybe the quintessentialist of all time – “Us” musical.

No stars.

No glitz.

Just a show about people helping people (from other places) who, in a moment of crisis, needed their help.

The actual citizens who participated in that open-hearted event?

I wonder how they feel about this musicalized “to-do.”  (by Canadian husband-and-wife team, Irene Sankoff and David Hein.)

Are they proud?

Or are they embarrassed?

A bit of the two, I imagine.

Come From Away.

I used to be from there.

And now I’m from here.

Aw, there I go, crying again.

(Note:  It’s interesting.  I write a post about Canada, and I am suddenly less “fancy.”)