We don’t go to the movies very often but when I stumbled on a story in the New York Times about “La La Land,” I became obsessed with it. I sought out and read everything I could find related to the film and watched the trailer and any other videos that offered interviews with the director, choreographer and stars. I really can’t remember the last, or first time, this happened to me.
You see, I was brought up in New York City where Broadway musicals were as much a part of our family’s life as joining my friends on the corner, or at a bench on the street, quoting “Bye Bye Birdie” or making believe we were Jets or Sharks from “West Side Story.” We didn’t actually attend that many shows, but we certainly owned every cast album and played the grooves off them. To this day I believe I could sing, or at least recite, the words to every song from “Fiddler on the Roof,” to “Cabaret” to “Camelot” to “Funny Girl” and of course, “West Side Story.”
Now there would be a modern musical that takes place in my second favorite town, Los Angeles and tells the story of an aspiring actress getting nowhere fast and a frustrated jazz musician who clings to tradition, but realizes there’s no money in pining for the past. Of course, they sing a little, dance a little and fall in love, all in beautifully shot scenes. They hit a bump in the road, as happens in all romantic comedies, sing about it, of course, But that’s where things diverge from the usual formula. I’ll stop there since I wouldn’t dare spoil it for anyone yet to see the film. What I will say is you will be left instantly thinking about your life’s choices, opportunities missed, chances taken, honesty and unselfishness and relationships.
I’ve certainly had a crazy career in broadcasting, journalism and corporate communications, but I know I survived all these years by taking chances, saying “yes” first and figuring it out later, never losing confidence in myself and above all, having the constant support of my family. I always taught my kids the word “can’t” doesn’t exist and I live by it. When you say “can’t” you’re really saying “I won’t” which means you never will.
The characters played convincingly by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling were at crossroads in their lives and careers and had difficult choices to be made, all while singing and dancing. Sometimes our goals need to be altered to reflect reality and our changing priorities. Sometimes our dreams just lead us to other places.
I’m semi-retired now but I still have dreams and goals because every moment represents the future. Why waste it? I just promise not to muck it up by singing and dancing.