Starting Here, Starting Now
(Music by David Shire: Lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr.)
Barbarann Off-Broadway - 19 June, 1977 (120 perfs)
The excitement of young love and the confusion of growing up (or is it the other way around?) are explored in this intimate revue from one of the most respected teams in the contemporary musical theatre, Richard Maltby, Jr. and David Shire (Baby, big).
Using songs from their various early musicals (produced or otherwise), this bold, extroverted journey takes a winsome cast of three through the maze of modern relationships with its heart firmly on its sleeve. As with all of Maltby and Shire’s work, each song is an impeccably crafted story, original, engaging, bursting with character, and showcasing the versatility and charisma of its performer.
From tender ballads to hysterical husband-hunting laments, from wry comments on trendy marriages to ecstatic shouting-from-the-rooftop celebration, Starting Here, Starting Now has an appealing freshness that has made it a perennial favourite throughout the world.
STARTING HERE, STARTING NOW is a musical revue by Richard Maltby and David Shire. The authors, however, make it very clear in their notes to actors and directors that the show is not just an evening of songs. As the actors perform the songs described below, it is the authors’ hope that each number be played out as its own dramatic event; unfolding for the first time in front of the audience. It is this sense of emotional urgency and spontaneity that sets this revue apart from others. STARTING HERE, STARTING NOW is about feelings…warmth, contact, the kind of glow that comes over audiences when they are in the presence of genuine emotions they can relate to — these are more important to the success of STARTING HERE, STARTING NOW than laughs.
While the show runs continuously from song to song without dialogue, there are subtle mini-plots provided by the authors to maintain a feeling of forward motion throughout the evening.
THE WORD IS LOVE (Cast)
In this number, there is no sense of contact among the three singers. They are three independent people, separately coming to the realization that they are in love.
I’M A LITTLE BIT OFF (Woman #1)
A woman is totally overwhelmed by her feelings for a man, but is trying to convince herself that she is in control. She knows that she is A Little Bit Off, but at the beginning of the song is not willing to give in to her emotions. By the end of the song, however, her resistance vanishes and she is all over him.
I MAY WANT TO REMEMBER TODAY (Woman #1, #2)
Both women have now met the same man and are hopelessly falling for him. In this song, they both rationally describe how they feel (unaware, of course, of each other) and gradually become more excited and less in control.
BEAUTIFUL (Man, Woman #1, #2)
Realising that he now has two women in love with him, the man tries to get away with exploring both relationships. He begins by singing a duet with the first woman, in which they reveal their perfect love for one another. He gradually makes his way to woman #2 and sings the same duet with her. It is not until the very end of the song that both women meet, face to face, and the gig is up.
WE CAN TALK TO EACH OTHER (Man)
Focusing all of his attention on Woman #1, in hopes of winning her back, he tells her that the thing he loves most about their relationship is that they can talk to one another. The joke, however, is that as he goes on and on about how they talk to each other, she cannot get a word in edgewise.
JUST ACROSS THE RIVER (Cast)
The three characters have realized that they are not made for each other and now look across the river and into the future for the person that they will spend the rest of their lives with.
CROSSWORD PUZZLE (Woman #2)
A woman holding a NY Times’s reveals that ever since her Hecky left her, she has been unable to focus on the crossword puzzle. As she tries to answer some clues, she is continually distracted by thoughts of him. Slowly, it is understood that the reason Hecky left her was because, being the intelligent woman that she is, when they did the crossword together, she always got all of the answers before him. This lead to much frustration and arguing and eventually Hecky couldn’t handle it anymore. As she stumbles through each clue, she becomes more upset and less in control of her emotions.
AUTUMN (Woman #1)
In this painful song, Woman #1 sings that although the hills are green, she feels a frost in the air and an emptiness in her heart as if it were autumn. As she explores her feelings and opens her memory, she reveals that the man she loved left her in autumn and it has been autumn ever since.
I DON’T REMEMBER CHRISTMAS (Man)
In an equally emotional song, a man tries to convince himself that he is free from all of his memories of an ex-lover. As he looks around his home, however, every object reminds him of all the painful things he doesn’t remember (rainy days, Easter, Thanksgiving, good times, her touch, Christmas). It is clear that no matter how much he convinces himself, she will always live in his memory.
I DON’T BELIEVE IT (Cast)
In this song, the characters rotate as commentators and couples. Each couple is trying a little too hard to make the audience believe that they are really happy. The commentators point out the signs or distress signals that give each couple’s discontentment away, deciding in the end that they just don’t believe it!
I HEAR BELLS (Man + women back-up)
In this song, a man shares with the audience the beautiful world of bells and music that exists only in his head. He reaches out to the audience for them to join him, but realizes that he is alone in his world. He knows that people will think him mad, but it seems that there is no other world he would rather live in.
I’M GOING TO MAKE YOU BEAUTIFUL (Woman #1)
The woman here is a Bloomingdale’s cosmetics salesperson. As she makes up an imaginary customer, she becomes increasingly offensive, obsessed and neurotic. The authors describe this number as a sort of musical nervous breakdown.
PLEASED WITH MYSELF (Cast)
In this number, the three characters are head-in-the-clouds in love (not with each other, though). They are full of optimism and energy and remind the audience what it is like to simply feel happy to be alive.
HEY THERE, FANS (Man)
This vaudeville-style song energetically welcomes the audience back for act two. The man should be working very hard to be the ultimate entertainer, and, at the end of the song, welcomes the women back from the break.
THE GIRL OF THE MINUTE (Man, Woman #1)
In this number Man and Woman #1 flash a picture of Woman #2, praising her beauty and style, calling her Cover Girl and the Million Dollar Face! She eventually gets used to the attention and begins to strike outrageous fashion poses.
A GIRL YOU SHOULD KNOW (Woman #2)
As she slowly drops the ridiculous pose she is holding, Woamn #2 becomes very real and vulnerable, singing right out at the audience. In this song, she wonders if anyone is out there—if anyone really knows her. She admits that on first glance, one might not see all of her inner beauty, but wishes that soon someone might give her a chance. She is ready.
This number opens with a bit of informal dialogue with the audience. The dialogue describes how the song works: every time that the Man says the word travel the key of the song modulates up a step. This is a big, open-throated song about life and adventure.
WATCHING THE BIG PARADE GO BY (Woman #1)
The woman in this number watches an invisible parade pass her by. Her vision is full of so much energy and descriptive language that the audience should actually see it. By the end of the song, however, the singer realizes that as much as she loved the parade, she was not a part of it, and it came and went. She admits to herself that she is not a participant in life, but only someone who watches from the sidelines.
This song is about the extraordinary inner desires of an otherwise ordinary man. The man’s movements as he sings should fluctuates back and forth between his everyday mannerisms and his secret desire to be dashing and dapper like Fred Astaire.
WHAT ABOUT TODAY (Woman #2)
In this passionate, fiery number, a woman recovering from a break up urgently points out that while everyone tells her she will feel better soon, such advice is not helping her get through today.
ONE STEP (Cast)
Each person enters this number nervously with much trepidation. Gradually, they discover that with every step they take, they gain more confidence and presence. The number continues to build before the eyes of the audience into an unbeatable showstopper, complete with top hats and canes.
SONG OF ME (Woman #1)
This song for a young girl is all about one’s need to establish a personal identity while waiting for life to start.
TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY (Woman #1, #2)
Now, the future is just within reach for the two women, and in this song they physically grasp for it. Though they are not without fear, they are so full of anticipation that their words come out hushed and breathless. Ready or not, they are diving into life head first.
A NEW LIFE COMING (Cast)
This song is based upon the Doppler effect, the scientific phenomenon that makes you hear a change in pitch when you pass a source of a sound, like a train whistle or a station bell. Crouched in train-like positions, the cast sings this song about riding towards whatever is waiting around the corner. They see life as a joy ride waiting to be explored.
CAST MEMBERS Use their own names
- Crossword Puzzle
- I Don't Believe It Is
- I Don't Remember Christmas
- I Hear Bells
- I Think I May Want To Remember Today
- I'm A Girl You Should Know
- Just Across the River
- A Little Bit Off
- A New Life Coming
- One Step
- Pleased With Myself
- Song Of Me
- Starting Here, Starting Now
- Today Is the First Day Of the Rest Of My Life
- Watching the Big Parade Go By
- We Can Talk To Each Other
- What About Today?
- The Word Is Love