Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A breakfast with Cy Bliskin.

Yesterday, while most of you were sleeping in for President's Day, I was up at the crack of dawn (Dawn doesn't like it when I admit that) for a breakfast meeting with Broadway impresario, Cy Bliskin.

Bliskin, you may or may not know, was the Broadway mind behind "North Dakota," a show that opened and closed in just weeks after it was overshadowed by Rogers & Hammerstein's more popular and critically-acclaimed "Oklahoma." Bliskin also produced "Irked," which foreshadowed "Wicked" by some months and "A Mohel in the Soil," based on the stories of Yitzhak Bashevis Singer, Isaac's brother.

Bliskin has expressed some interest in a musical I am writing: Moby! It's based, as you might have discerned on Melville's classic Moby Dick, and while I'm struggling with the script, I've already penned a couple songs: "Call Me Ishmael," and "Where There's a Whale There's a Way." I was ready for Bliskin. I had just about finished a third song: "Chowder, Louder."

I’m hungry.
I’m cold and I’m wet and alone,
And I’m hungry.
Got an ache once again
in my tumry
 ‘Cause I’m hungry.

Look, up ahead, down the street,
Is it somewhere to eat.
Look a sign of an Inn,
Where do I begin?
It’s called the Try Pots,
They have food and some cots,
And I’m hungry, why not?

Hosea Hussey,
Who’s he?
Well, he runs the Try Pots
And he couldn’t be prouder,
Of his famous chowder,
I’ll say it now louder.

The Try Pots’ chowder!

"Enough with the songwriting," Bliskin said, scooping up a big mouthful of eggs. "Let me tell you what I've got planned for the grand finale."

The waitress stopped by.

"More jamoke, boys?" she asked, wielding a steaming pitcher of the stuff.

We nodded silently, dutifully and she refilled us our joe. 

"The stage fills with mist. You can barely see the dory with Quequeg, or the dory manned by Ahab himself."

I sipped at my black.

"Then all at once," Blisken said, scraping up the remainder of his eggs with a piece of lightly buttered rye toast, "the very stage itself opens up."

"Intermission?" I cracked.

Blisken ignored me.

"Think Miss Saigon. But it's not a helicopter swooping down. No. Been done. A giant whiteness emerges. Up and up. His behemoth jaws chomping open and shut. All at once, down goes Quequeg's skiff. Then, Ahab's."

The waitress filled us again, and handed me the check. Blisken was breathing heavily. The stage direction had worked him up.

"Then the lights go dark. Moby descends back into the stage. The orchestra is silent. Then just as the audience is getting up to leave in stunned silence, Moby re-emerges, opens his tremendous maw and belches out Ishmael clinging to his coffin! He slowly, plaintively sings, 'call me, Ishmael.' The curtain falls. Exeunt."

"Fabulous," I said, leaving a $20 for the eggs.

Bliskin left our booth, humming "Chowder, Louder" under his breath.

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