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Vive la révolution in the Speirs household

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I am not ashamed to admit I am a huge fan of musicals.

In contrast, my father couldn't stand them.

"Normal people do not randomly burst into song while walking down the street," he would mutter back in the day when we would force him to eat Sunday-night dinner in front of the TV and watch something like My Fair Lady, wherein Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl portrayed by Audrey Hepburn, is transformed into a proper English lady by Henry Higgins, a snotty phonetics professor portrayed by Rex Harrison.

Still, despite being a guy the size of a major kitchen appliance and completely tone-deaf, I am a sucker for glitzy movies and plays in which cheesy actors convey important plot points via the technique of belting out showstopping tunes.

For reasons I do not understand, I am especially partial to Les Misérables, a hugely popular musical that tells the story of ex-convict Jean Valjean's quest for redemption in early 19th-century France, where a group of rebellious young idealists make their last stand at a street barricade in an effort to change society for the better by singing songs that are difficult to get out of your brain once you leave the theatre.

I like this epic show so much it is not unusual for me to slap the soundtrack into my car's CD player as I drive and, with my windows and sunroof wide open, sing along with the original Broadway cast as, in unison, we shriek heartfelt lyrics such as: "Do you hear the people sing? / Singing the song of angry men? / It is the music of the people / Who will not be slaves again!"

I can tell other motorists are in awe of the power and majesty of my voice because when they pass my car, shaking their fists, they will give me the sort of look you would give to a naked man wandering through the frozen-food aisle at Safeway wielding a machete and singing obscure show tunes.

I mention this so you will understand how (bad word) excited I was Saturday night as my wife and I were getting ready to head downtown for a touring company's evening performance of Les Miz.

"You might want to hurry up a little bit, Honey!" is what I helpfully advised my wife as I headed out to the car.

My wife did not respond. Moments later, I heard a cry of sorrow mixed with anguish drifting out of the living room. "OH NOOOOOOOOOO!!!" is what my wife howled.

Being a sensitive, modern husband, I sensed something was wrong. "Is something wrong?" I asked, relying on years as a hard-hitting journalist to get straight to the heart of the matter.

In reply, my wife made the sort of pathetic face a puppy would make after peeing on the carpet, then thrust out one shaking hand, displaying our tickets the way a terrified high school student would hand over a truly terrible report card.

"I made a tiny mistake," she croaked. "Our tickets aren't for tonight's show. They were for the afternoon matinee!"

Thinking quickly, I adopted a pained expression. "You mean we have tickets for a show that ENDED several hours ago?" I asked in a slightly frosty tone.

In the end, however, I took the news like a brave little soldier. What with being a modern husband, I tucked this tragedy away in my long-term memory bank, ready to pull it out the next time we have a minor marital disagreement, such as my wife suggesting it is my turn to do the dishes.

"I would love to do the dishes," I will be able to tell her with righteous indignation, "but if you listen closely, sweetheart, I believe you will hear the people singing... singing the song of angry men? Unless I miss my guess, that is the music of the people who will not be slaves again!"

Then I will make a dramatic bow and march out of the kitchen as quickly as humanly possible, because every Broadway star knows you should always leave your audience hungry for more.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 29, 2013 A2


Updated on Monday, July 29, 2013 at 6:20 AM CDT: corrects typo in headline

7:43 AM: Fix bad character.

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