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Time for a Holiday!

Pining for an August holiday, Filichia has a suggestion. logo

January has New Year's Day and Martin Luther King Day. February has Valentine's Day and Presidents' Day. March has St. Patrick's Day. April has April Fools' Day -- and, more often than not, Easter and Passover. May has Memorial Day. June has Arbor Day, and July has Independence Day.

But what about poor August? And what about poor us, who must get through an entire month without any type of holiday, be it an official one like the Fourth of July or a casual one like St. Patrick's Day that still functions as a cause for celebration? September has Labor Day. October has Columbus Day and Halloween. November has both Veterans' Day and Thanksgiving. December has Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. August has nothing. Some may say that we're not meant to celebrate in August because we're expected to act august, but I don't buy that.

I say we fill the holiday void with a Broadway Musicals Day. All right, if the rest of the nation isn't behind this (and the annual ratings for the Tonys would suggest that it is not), maybe we should consider making this a legal holiday only in New York City. After all, Mardi Gras is a state holiday in Louisiana and Arbor Day is one in Nebraska. Hell, even Casimir Pulaski's birthday -- March 2 -- is a close-the-banks holiday in Illinois. Nothin' against ol' Casimir, but if he can be remembered in one state, why can't the Broadway musical be cited in one city?

No, on second thought, one city is not enough. Musical theater is widely considered to be America's greatest contribution to the arts, so I'm settling for nothing less than a national holiday where everyone gets off from work and uses the time in the most satisfying way possible: seeing a Broadway Musical.

But what day in August should Broadway Musicals Day be? Well, what famous musical theater personalities have August birthdays? There's Richard Adler (3), Lucille Ball (6), Hugh Martin (11), Michael Kidd (12), Lee Adams (14), Gene Kelly (23), Leonard Bernstein (25). Alas, as wonderful as their contributions have been, none of their careers in musical theater was consistent or long enough to warrant a national holiday in their honor. It's unfortunate that Ethel Merman was born in January, Tommy Tune in February, Stephen Sondheim in March, Michael Bennett in April, Irving Berlin in May, Richard Rodgers in June, George M. Cohan in July, George Gershwin in September, Angela Lansbury in October, Arthur Schwartz in November, and Mary Martin in December. If any of them had made their "world premieres" in August, I would have suggested that one of their birthdays could warrant a Broadway Musicals Day.

"Happy birthday, dear Lenny..."
Should Broadway Musicals Day be August 25 in
honor of the legendary Leonard Bernstein?
Naming such a holiday after a hit show that opened in August isn't the answer, either, for damned few good musicals have opened in August. La Cage aux Folles comes to mind but it wasn't fine enough to warrant a holiday in its name. The original production of 42nd Street opened August 25, 1980, but that would be too sad a date to commemorate because it was also the day that Gower Champion died. It's too bad that Sunday in the Park With George didn't open in August, for it has a song called "The Day Off." Too bad, also, that the Teahouse of the August Moon musical Lovely Ladies, Kind Gentlemen didn't open in August, 1971 instead of December -- and, more to the point, too bad it wasn't a better show.

Maybe August 15 should be Broadway Musicals Day, since that's the date when Hairspray will open and, from virtually all accounts, take the town. (Interesting, isn't it, how it took a mere 16 months for The Producers to go from white-hot to the third-hottest ticket in town? First it took a hit from the hit Mamma Mia! and now it's descending further down the food chain thanks to the new show at the Simon.)

Wait a minute; I've got an idea! Just as Labor Day is never on one specific date but instead is the first Monday in September, Broadway Musicals Day needn't be a specific date in August but can be the first Wednesday of the month. That would give people in New York and many other major cities the chance to see two musicals in one day. This concept means that Broadway Musicals Day could alternatively be the first Saturday in August, as Saturday is another day that always offers two performances. But most people have Saturday off from work, anyway, and I do want this to be a national holiday where everyone needn't set his alarm. Besides, the first Wednesday in August is nicely spaced between Independence Day and Labor Day, just around the time when we could all use another day off.

So on Tuesday, approach your boss and matter-of-factly say, "I won't be in tomorrow. It's Broadway Musicals Day! See you Thursday -- or tomorrow, if you decide to go to one or both of the same two shows I'm planning to see."


[To contact Peter Filichia directly, e-mail him at [email protected]]

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