One of the part-time jobs I most enjoy is co-teaching a musical theater writing class at NYU. Every semester, we take another group of undergrads through the basic principles of constructing musicals and watch them blossom and grow. Every semester there are wonderful surprises as they bring in songs that delight and amaze with their freshness of voice and maturity of perspective.
We also occasionally give them listening or viewing assignments so that they can pillage techniques used by the masters of the form. This semester we told them, as we often do, to watch The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Jacques Demy’s 1964 French movie musical featuring one of the greatest love songs of all time, “Je Ne Pourrai Jamais Vivre Sans Toi” (known in English as “I Will Wait For You”), and, even more importantly, starring your favorite gay icon and mine, Catherine Deneuve, in the role that first shot her to stardom. Since then, she has appeared in over 100 movies, apparently growing more beautiful by the hour, and even inspired a lesbian magazine (which has since, alas, had to change its name).
So last night in class, as we were discussing the movie and what it had to offer us as writers, one of our homosexual students, making the point that each character seemed to have his or her own music, said, “like, there was the blonde girl’s ‘I’m sad’ song.”
I like this student a great deal, but the blonde girl’s ‘I’m sad’ song?
I’m going to kill myself.
O brave new world, that has such people in’t!