Thursday, April 22, 2010

Show Me the Glee

It probably doesn't surprise people who know us that we are Glee watchers.  The Tuesday evening TV show has singing and dancing, it skews high school stereotypes, it has the amazing Jane Lynch  – what's not to like?  Well, I could digress and grouse about the inconsistent writing, the recent emphasis on songs at the expense of advancing plausible storylines, but even with those flaws, it's been fun to watch it together as a family.

It's certainly not what some people might consider family friendly – unlike, say, Disney's High School Musical, where the two leads don't even kiss.  But I've found that it gives Steve and me the chance as parents to emphasize what our values are, as it touches on issues like teen pregnancy, bullying and sexual orientation.  And it exposes the kids to music that has become an important part of pop culture, as in this week's Madonna-centric episode.

It's also fun to watch it with Steve, a former high school show choir member, and hear his commentary about how unrealistic and over-the-top it is, compared to his own experience (It reminds me of what it was like to watch ER with him, years ago, when he was a medical resident).  We didn't have a show choir at my high school, in Alexandria, Minn., and I hadn't really heard of them or at least paid attention to them until I met Steve in college.

 Steve performs a solo, "Heartlight," during a concert and spaghetti dinner on April 19, 1986.

 Steve, center, and his sister Beth, right, perform with the Twelfth Street Connection Show Choir.

Steve attended Eldora-New Providence High School, a small school in central Iowa, and was in almost everything – including show choir, band, jazz band, plays and musicals, golf, cross country, and student government.  This was in the early to mid-80s, when Madonna was consistently putting out No. 1 singles like "Live to Tell," and "Papa Don't Preach."  But unlike the Glee cast in this week's episode, Steve's choir was not Madonna-focused; at least, not during the 1986 concert pictured in the above photos.  That night, Steve performed the solo "Heartlight," the Neil Diamond song inspired by the 1982 Steven Spielberg movie E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial.  Steve's sister Beth also had a solo, with "The Music and the Mirror" from A Chorus Line.  The group opened and closed the two-hour concert with "Magic to Do" from Pippin.

I can't talk about Steve's high school choir experiences without mentioning one of the highlights.  In the summer of 1985, he was selected for the highly competitive Iowa State Fair Singers.  He and 20 other students from around the state spent 10 days rehearsing at Luther College and then two weeks performing at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines.  The organization still exists in a slightly different form and is now known as Celebration Iowa

Steve, top center, performs at the Iowa State Fair in August 1985. 

Tonight, instead of watching actors pretend to be high school students who sing and dance, we will attend a live performance by actual high school students.  Steve's sister Beth, who grew up to be a high school English teacher, is directing the stage version of Disney's High School Musical at Farmington High School.  Beth is one of those wonderful teachers who has a real gift for inspiring and motivating high school students.  Steve, the boys and I are looking forward to seeing the show.  Performances are at 7 p.m. tonight, Friday and Saturday at the Boeckman Middle School auditorium, 800 Denmark Ave.

(Louisa, sadly, will miss the show because she has rehearsals this evening for not just one but two shows of her own: the Northfield Arts Guild's upcoming production of The Phantom Tollbooth, and her Very Short Play, "The Acting Class," which will be performed Friday night at the NAG theater.)

Follow the Blog!

I wanted to thank all of you who have become followers of my blog since I put out my blog challenge in a recent post.  I am now at 19 followers and would love to get at least six more by Friday, the 30th.  Remember, if I acquire at least 25 followers total (through Google Friend Connect or Networked blogs on Facebook) by month's end, I will draw the name of one follower, and that person will receive a pin ($25 value) that will give its bearer a free pass into this summer's Vintage Band Festival, Aug. 5-8 in Northfield.  And if I get 40 followers, I will donate $40 to the Save the Northfield Depot committee.

You can join anonymously, but if you do that and want to be included in the drawing, please send me an email ( so I can put your name into the hat.


  1. Hi, Joy,

    I was Steve's high school choir teacher for his sophomore, junior and senior years! I had forgotten about his solo but I remembered how much we all loved "Magic to Do."

    Steve was the GREATEST performer!!! Did he ever tell you he was chosen at Solo & Ensemble Contest as the Most Outstanding Vocalist by his judge? Each judge could choose one vocalist, IF they thought someone was worthy...I knew Steve was!

    Steve's right...Glee is over-the-top in its stereotypes but it's FABULOUS!!!!

  2. Hi Joy, I was Steve's middle school and 9th grade high school vocal music teacher (Hi Theresa!) and started the Cabaret Dinner Theater as well as naming the "12th Street Connection". I really enjoyed my 7 years there and the entire Lawler bunch was a big part of it.

    Thank you for posting these memories. I too enjoy GLEE but still being involved in the Show Choir as a judge and director and free-lance consultant, it's not as over-the-top as you might think! Directors spy on other schools and tightly guard their own shows, the drama of being chosen "lead", the inter-personal warfare, it's all there along with all the usual angst.

  3. Thanks so much to both of you for reading! It's fun to hear your comments about Steve, and your thoughts on Glee.