Growing up viewing my world -- the San Joaquin Valley -- through black, horn-rimmed glasses, I got my weekly doses of sophistication at 8 p.m. Sundays on the "Ed Sullivan Show."
There'd be a mouse from Milan, ballet dancers, something for us youngsters out there, and, best of all, hip as a snapping finger, Johnny Something-or-Other in the middle of a run at Mr. Kelly's in Chicago.
He pops up, dead-center in the spotlight, all narrow lapels and thumb-wide tie, singing, direct from Broadway, filtered through a mob-approved arrangement, "She Loves Me."
But I'm dumb, dumb as that rich valley dirt that grows tomatoes good enough to be displayed on a fine Manhattan salad bar, dumb enough to believe if something is billed as a Broadway tune, it had to sound exactly like in the show that featured it.
Throughout my entire adolescence, in fact, I believed "She Loves Me," which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, was the title track of some kind of hipster musical about the rich and famous, rather than a sweet, tender little love story set in a perfume store -- much more heartwarming than most of the musicals on Broadway during the early '60s.
The blockbusters of those years between 1960 and '65 included "Bye, Bye Birdie," "Camelot," "How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying," "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," "Oliver," "Hello. Dolly!" "Funny Girl" and "Fiddler on the Roof."
But, "She Loves Me," opening at Pleasanton's Firehouse Arts Center April 19," made a nice splash on Broadway and continues to be a popular show for revivals and regional productions. The show was based on several stage and film variations and has seen many adaptations, including the movie "You've Got Mail," since its 1963 Broadway debut. Its popularity continues because the show has such heart.
"It's small and sweet, as opposed to a brassy show," said Lois Grandi, who is directing the Pacific Coast Repertory Company production in Pleasanton. "The show really is one of the sweetest stories. "You're really pulling for those two characters."
Grandi, a self-confessed romantic, said she fell in love with the piece the first time she saw it.
"I tend to judge a show a lot on how it makes me feel viscerally," she said. "I felt the same way about 'Chicago' (the first play she directed for PCRC)."
Grandi will also serve as choreographer for the show; Pat Parr serves as musical director. The show will be performed at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through April 28 in the Firehouse at 4444 Railroad Ave., Pleasanton. Tickets, at $19 to $35, may be reserved at 925-931-4848 or www.firehousearts.org.
VILLAGE THEATRE: "Forever Plaid" is a revue based on the tragic exploits of The Plaids, a '50s harmony group killed in a tragic automobile accident as they are driving to their first big concert.
The show, as you might note if you are a student of trivia from the era, also has the plotline of a teen tragedy tune of the decade. But this time, there's a twist. The group is resurrected and given the chance to perform the fabulous concert that never was.
So the young singers are allowed to take the stage one more time to perform tunes ranging from "Moments to Remember" and "Sixteen Tons" to "Three Coins in a Fountain" and "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing."
The show is performed by Tri-Valley Repertory Company in the Village Theatre, 233 Front St., Danville. Performances are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets, at $20 to $25, are available at 925-314-3400 or https://www.vendini.com/ticket-software.html?e=fa121f2184265700dc3eafb4dac7e0bf&t.
Contact Pat Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org.