As a basssoonist, I am a band and orchestra geek. I have a trained soprano voice — my teacher, Berthe Townsend, sang with the Paris Opera — but it cracks now and my range is shot, although that doesn’t stop me when my heart is filled with joy. And, thanks to Mrs. Townsend, I can fill an auditorium with my speaking voice without a microphone.
Show choirs like the one on “Glee” didn’t exist when I was in high school (1967-71). But the program shows why school music programs instill in teen-agers a work ethic and professionalism that give the kids who participate in them an edge for the rest of their lives.
I enjoy watching “Glee” for four characters: “Sue Sylvester,” the girls cheerleading squad coach, played by Jane Lynch; “Kurt Hummel,” the gay male soprano, played by Chris Colfer; “Artie Abrams,” an electric guitar player and paraplegic, played by Kevin McHale, who is able-bodied; and “Rachel Berry,” played by Lea Michele, whose singing talent is on a par with Barbra Streisand’s, judging from her grand slam performance of, “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” from the mid-season finale episode that aired on Dec. 9, 2009.
Both Jane Lynch and Chris Colfer are openly gay, which I experience as a wonderful affirmation. I wish straight people could fathom how healing and uplifting and inspiring it is JUST KNOWING THEY ARE GAY. Colfer’s character is openly gay, while Lynch’s character is in an odd place that positions her to come out sometime during the series: she shows up for a date with a man in swing dance zoot suit male drag — so very, very, VERY “We’ve all figured out you’re a lesbian — when will you?”
As for Artie Abrams, of course for all the battles I had to get wheelchair access for Margaret and all the places I pushed her in her wheelchair, I LOVE seeing a character in a wheelchair getting full inclusion in dance routines. I also was glad the show’s producers worked out that it is NOT access and NOT OK to carry someone in a wheelchair (it’s scary and dangerous and requires dependence on others) and stopped having their characters do that in an episode where they got the money to renovate the auditorium to be wheelchair accessible.
And, Rachel — well, God bless Rachel — the girl who is clear about her goals at an early age and has the talent and discipline to reach them, but gets constantly carped at by the lazy, foggy people around her. Think for a second and see if you can figure out what I love so much about Rachel.
Post-show bonus, the “Sue Sylvester” cover of Madonna’s “Vogue”:
The blonde Afro wig in the music video is an homage to Marlene Dietrich singing “Hot Voodoo” in the 1932 film, “Blonde Venus”: