02 July 2009

Crying at a Crappy Gay Musical

I went to a musical tonight called Zanna, Don't! at the Seattle Center with several friends. I'd been wanting to see some quirky theater for a while, and I went skeptically looking forward to it, and it pleasantly surprised me. Yes, it was a small, low-budget production, and no, the singers were not Broadway stars nor were the set or props particularly impressive, but it was very fun, very whimsical, and very, very gay. Most of it is ribbing cultural prejudices and stereotypes, and some of it is fairly thought-provoking, usually in a fun way, not taking itself too seriously. Yet, as I sat there half laughing at myself, I teared up during one of the more serious songs, Do You Know What It's Like?, because it was so close to home.

Background story: The story takes place in a high school in a world where gay is the norm, and a somewhat self-sacrificing guy named Zanna uses magic to help everyone find and fall in love with their perfect match. Since the guys' story is what I identified with, I'll ignore the girls (I know, what's new, right?). Mike (in this case an adorable, thin blond boy) found his perfect match in Steve, the quarterback and star in the school's musical which Mike wrote about a controversial topic: heterosexuals in the military. (Spoilers ahead) As part of his role, Steve has to kiss the girl lead, Kate, which he almost refuses to do because it's gross and contrary to his conservative upbringing, but he does, and by the time they finish performing, Steve and Kate discover that they've fallen for each other and are confused about their heterosexuality and struggling to know how to deal with it in a society which frowns upon people of opposite genders being romantically involved. When Kate's girlfriend and Mike find out about it, they have to deal with being in love with people who don't love them back like they thought they did, and Steve and Kate are trying to understand their love for each other and for the ones they've realized they aren't in love with.

When Mike sang, a line particularly stood out: "Do you know what it's like...to have my heart still love you when my mind knows it's not true?" I knew exactly what that was like. I've felt it, and it bothered me at the time, that my heart wouldn't listen to my head. I wouldn't have quite identified or fully understood that a couple of years ago, but I get it now, and in an odd way, maybe, I'm glad I do.

That kinda got the ball rolling, but what really brought the tears was Steve's part, and it surprised me how much I felt as he sang the lines. I thought of one female friend in particular, and I smiled sadly as I wept remembering what that was like and how I couldn't fully explain to her what I was feeling. I've been on both sides of Mike and Steve's story, and they both were hard in different ways.

MIKE: Do you know what it's like
To be in love with you,
To have my heart still love you
When my mind knows it's not true?
Do you know what it's like
To be in love with you,
Not to remember what my life was like
Before I first met you?
Do you know what it's like when I lie in bed
And I think of you and the things you've said,
How they're almost exactly all the things that I've said, too?
But there's one word missing and it comes before "love"?
And I think it doesn't matter, what we have is enough,
But what we have isn't "in" so I don't know what to do?
Oh, do you know?

STEVE: Do you know what it's like
Not to be in love with you,
Not to have my heart obey
What my mind wants to be true?
Do you know what it's like
Not to be in love with you,
But to like you, love you, cherish you,
idolize you and protect you?
Do you know what it's like to look into your eyes
And see what I know you don't see in mine
Though I pray it might be so the whole night through.
Do you know what it's like
to have to let go of your hand
and to start another life, a life I don't understand,
and live the rest of my life knowing how much I've hurt you?
Oh, do you know?

...Then things got light and fun again, and I wiped my eyes dry and resumed laughing out loud.


Philip said...

Thank you for printing the words to that song.

Who would have thought that one word "in" could make all the difference in the world.

I just don't know what happens after you have been "in love" for a while?

It must change but how? Does it become more and more like "love" or is it different?


Clint said...

I actually went and saw Zanna Don't! a couple of weeks ago (my first musical in, like 10 years). Yeah, there were totally a moment or two where a got a little teary eyed and I was like, I'm getting emotional to this? Still it had its moments and yes, was the gayest thing I've ever seen.

MoHoHawaii said...

I saw this production tonight. I thought it was cute.