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.