Soon after arriving in Toronto a friend of mine asked me to help him accompany a modern dance recital. That was 40 years ago when all things were exciting and new. I said yes, and asked, “what do you want me to do?”
“I want you to sing When You Wish Upon a Star”, he answered.
I hadn’t sung a solo in public since my preteen days when I was a soprano in St. Mark’s Methodist Church on Liberty Heights Avenue in Baltimore, Maryland. But that didn’t put me off. I knew the tune well. I’d heard it sung in Pinocchio by Jiminy Cricket. I could fake the tunes difficulties and I still had it in my head. My goodness I could still hear Cliff Edwards’s yearningly beautiful falsetto, though I knew I’d never sing the last note. All of this is to say I said yes.
Once I had memorized the words the gig was a “no-brainer”. In fact , we didn’t even have a rehearsal with the dancer. I was told she wanted me to be surprised, but that I shouldn’t worry. Everything was going to be all right. We ran through the tune a couple of times so I could get my vocal cords warbling. My friend’s arrangement for Marimba twas right in the pocket. No sweat.
As with almost all dance modern or not, there was no budget. It was a freebie for everyone and the venue, as I recall, was in a converted warehouse. I remember the rectangular room had chairs for about 40 people. There was a jerryrigged stage with a single curtain hanging from stage left which acted as a mask for the audience.
My friend began the introduction and I entered singing,
” When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are, Anything your heart desires will come to you.
If your heart is in your dreams, no request is too extreme, When you wish upon a star as dreamers do.
Fate is kind, she brings to those who love The sweet fulfillment of their secret longing”.
I thought I sounded great. Everything was going well and I was “groovin”.
When I began to sing, “Like a bolt out of the blue”, the dancer who had been perched on a ladder behind the curtain jumped into sight clutching a baby doll in one hand. She began viciously beating the doll against the stage floor. One maniacal hammer stroke after another. Again and again. The baby doll began to disintegrate, pieces large and small flying off in all directions. Stunning blow after stunning blow as I sang, “fate steps in and sees you thru –
I was okay. In fact, during this absurdly sadistic Pas de Deux, my singing became more passionate. Unperturbed, my lovely Jiminy cricket voice sang on as more and more of the baby doll disappeared from its body.
When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true”.
Then the baby doll’s head flew off.
Exhausted, the dancer remained crouched with the stump of a leg in her hand.
On its foot, a cute pink bootie.