Motown Fan Makes Her Broadway Debut

Anne always wanted to sing on Broadway.  She was blessed with a deep, strong voice.  At 6, she performed “There Once Was an Ugly Duckling” on the Auntie Dee children’s TV show.  At 12, she scored her first big gig thanks to Bobby, a family friend in the music biz.  At a teenage dance club in Roseville, MI, Anne opened for Jack Scott (“Goodbye, Baby, Bye Bye”).  As her big sister and fan, I had a role in that performance.  Deciding she needed to look more grown up (read: sexy), I rushed her to the bathroom and stuffed her training bra with toilet paper.  Anne went on to audition for Capitol Records, which was looking for a new young female singer.  She was beaten out by Lesley Gore, who recorded “It’s My Party” at 16.

Life went on.  Anne became a teacher.  She sang at her wedding.  Raised two children.  Moved from Michigan to California.  Got involved in philanthropy. Lost her first husband.  Remarried. (See post on Love Blossoms, September 3.) She sang now and then at parties, but her dream of Broadway faded.

Fast forward to this fall.  Anne and I visited New York City.  Berry Gordy’s Motown the Musical was playing on Broadway.  We native Detroiters saved it for our last night.  The Supremes and Temptations had sung us through some of our best years.  Anne and I knew the lyrics to “Baby Love” and “Stop, in the Name of Love” and dozens of Motown songs.

We dined that night at Milos with friend Mindy Budgor, author of the terrific new memoir Warrior Princess.  We gabbed so that we didn’t notice what was happening outside.  After, through lobby windows, we noticed.  Our flimsy travel umbrellas were no match for thunder, lightning and ark-worthy torrents.  I despaired of finding a taxi on such a night.  A couple joined us in the lobby. They, too, had tickets for Motown.  He spotted a yellow vehicle dropping off diners, raced outside and beckoned us.

They were Andy and Margo from Charleston, W. Va.  They had 4 tickets.  The couple they were expecting couldn’t make it.  (Their flight had been canceled due to weather.)  Our new BFFs had 2 extra seats in the third row, much better than ours.  Anne and I took them, one on the aisle, one beside it.

In Act 2, the Diana Ross character starts to sing “Reach Out and Touch.”  She says, “Why doesn’t someone come up and sing with me?”  I nudge my sister and shoot up my hand, wildly pointing. Because we’re up front, “Diana” sees us and invites Anne on stage.  Together they belt out two refrains.  (Brilliantly, I might add, in total objectivity.)

Anne returns to her seat, beaming.  “Imagine that,” she says.  “My Broadway debut at 66.”

My friend Ginger, who’s working on her Ph.D., tells me there’s a psychological concept called enantiodromia, a term coined by Jung and implied as far back as the writings of Heraclitus–the extreme of one thing becomes its opposite.  I thought the downpour had washed out our evening. But because of it, we met new friends.  Sat in much better seats.  And my sister checked off a big item on her Bucket List.  What a trip finale.

Bravo, little sis.

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10 thoughts on “Motown Fan Makes Her Broadway Debut

  1. angela kimble

    It’s me again sweetie … somehow I missed this post and so glad I found it. Being a native Detroiter, and your age, I could so relate to this post. People never believe me when I tell them Stevie Wonder came and performed in our high school cafeteria – he had just released “Finger Popping – Part One. That was before MoTown really took off.

    I know that Anne was just beside herself to have experienced this opportunity. I remember what a great voice she had when we were growing up and we all sang together for our folks when we were together. So, so , so many great memories and thank you for bringing them all back to me. You are just so “the best”, as is your wonderful sister Anne.. xoxo

  2. Elaine Greenberg

    Oh, Suzy can I relate to that story–Broadway–my dream–so glad your sister got to live out one of her dreams—-great story—–

  3. anne towbes

    such a fun way to end an incredible trip. I love my traditional sister’s trip with the best sister in the world! I am soooo lucky!! Love you

    1. Suzy Farbman Post author

      very impressed. you figured out how to make a comment. way to go! back at you on the best sister in the world action! love you!!

    2. Barbara kurzman

      Wow Anne! Sheri B. posted this on FB – I’d never have known! Wonderful story – wonderful sisters.

    1. Suzy Farbman Post author

      it was really cool. glad you enjoyed the story. thanks for your sweet message.

    1. Suzy Farbman Post author

      I am so glad you are enjoying. I am having a ball writing them. Hope to hear from you with a Godsign story or two.

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