What?s Oklahoma! corn worth on the open market?
What?s Oklahoma! corn worth on the open market?
When I came across a February 2002 issue of Reader's Digest in a doctor's waiting room, I flipped through to skim those space-fillers that the magazine often puts at the end of its stories. One said, "In the stock market, a company's ticker symbol is its identity. Most are quite straightforward; for example, General Electric's ticker symbol is GE, and International Business Machines uses IBM. Some companies, however, prefer a more creative twist, such as Anheuser-Busch (BUD), ML Macadamia Orchards (NUT), Vail Resorts (MTN), Cannondale Bicycles (BIKE), Anchor Gaming (SLOT), Concord Camera (LENS), and Schlotsky's Delicatessens (BUNZ)."

It started me thinking: What would the colorful abbreviations be for musicals if they traded on the stock market? (And I wish they would!) Given that all of the ones cited in the Digest had two-, three-, or four-letter designations, musicals with an equal number of letters could stick to those, making it easy for JO (the 1964 off-Broadway musical version of Little Women), BIG, or CATS. But some shows could have more fanciful appellations. Oklahoma! would be of course be O.K. with OK, given that it's the state's official abbreviation. But we could use another official state abbreviation--Mississippi's MS--for Big River, right?

The Full Monty could be BARE. Fortune's Fool could be DOLT, and Cabaret should be CLUB. But should Elaine Stritch: At Liberty be STAR or TONY? (TONY. Definitely TONY). That British musical The Card could be ACE--but only if we're talking about the original 1973 London production (what a wonderful cast album!) and not the revival (what a lousy cast album!). That revival Card is at best a TREY.

A Christmas Carol? BAH. Dames at Sea? WACS. Fosse: BOB. Grand Hotel: INN. Fiorello! could be LAG, for that's the official abbreviation of the airport out in Queens that is named, like the musical, after the former mayor of New York. Mayor, though, should be KOCH, so people would know what mayor the show was celebrating. (Back when it was produced in 1985, that wasn't a problem; both the mayor of the city and the show were one and the same.)

WED for I Do! I Do! LEO for The Lion King. SPY for Mata Hari and HOT for 110 in the Shade. Woman of the Year? SHE. Promises, Promises? VOWS. The Sound of Music? HUM. Celebration? YAY. The Me Nobody Knows? WHO. On a Clear Day You Can See Forever? ESP. Personals--the 1985 tuner that starred two unknowns named Jason Alexander and Dee Hoty--could be SWM, GBF, or any of the other permutations we find in the back pages of those weekly tabloids. And while DON would seem to be a natural for Man of La Mancha, may I suggest that the best term for this highly overrated show would be UGH? (I know I'm in the minority here.)

Naturally, there would be a conundrum or two. Should EAT be used for Eating Raoul or for How to Be a Jewish Mother? Should NYC be On the Town, Wonderful Town, Inner City--or should it reserved for Annie? Should How Now, Dow Jones be HOW, NOW, or DOW? (Or maybe WOW, in honor of Walter Winchell's famous endorsement, "How Now, Dow Wow!") Should Cry for Us All be SOB or should SOB be saved for Sweet Smell of Success, given that there is many an S.O.B. in that show? And there are so many good choices for Hair: LBJ, IRT, USA, LSD, FBI, CIA. (Actually, HAIR would be a good ticker symbol for An Almost Holy Picture, wouldn't it?)

Urinetown would, naturally, be PEE, and Fanny would be ASS--or should ASS be reserved for The Donkey Show? Anyway, that's as base as I'm going to get here. Rather than coming up with a four-letter word to represent Puppetry of the Penis or The Vagina Monologues, I'll quit while I'm behind.

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[To contact Peter Filichia directly, e-mail him at pfilichia@aol.com]