We are in New York City as we write this week’s column, and we spent last night at the new Broadway show “Newsies.”
It had the perfect storm of energy, good acting, great songs and a wonderfully worded script — and the story and the lead performers were strong enough that we were moved.
Think about really being moved. It is an interesting concept — an interesting word. It’s an emotional notion that something can touch us deeply enough to move us from one state to another, to cause us to feel something that moves us to another place.
We are fans of musicals, and with the amount of time we have spent in New York and London, we have seen a lot of them; not to mention the very high-quality Broadway shows that go on the road and show up periodically at Salt Lake’s great old Capitol Theatre and the exceptionally classy local and university theaters that this and other communities are blessed to have.
But not very many shows truly move us. There is that wonderful little difference between excellence and something just a little beyond excellence that actually moves us.
It happened twice to us in the mid-'80s while we were living in London. The first year we were there, the incomparable "Les Misérables" opened in The Palace Theater and became (and continues to be) the most moving musical we have ever seen. Less than a year later, "Phantom of the Opera" opened with composer Andrew Lloyd Webber's wife Sarah Brightman singing the lead. It also moved us.
It started me (Richard) thinking about my first mission in New York City in the mid-'60s when I just happened to see the two biggest Broadway productions of the decade: "The Sound of Music" and "My Fair Lady." They both awed me, though I must admit that a 19-year-old kid from Logan was fairly easily awed. But it was more than that — I felt moved by their excellence and their emotional power. I recognized them as exceptional, though I had little to compare them with.
As parents, we should all look for opportunities to expose our children to excellence and we should not underestimate their ability to appreciate it.
When something is good — really, truly, exceptionally good — it takes on a spirit or a feeling that humans of all ages can sense, and it moves us.
It doesn’t have to be music. We also felt moved in a different way when we saw a remarkable five-set quarterfinal at the U.S. Open tennis tournament: David Ferrer and Janko Tipsarevic locked in a five-hour battle that pushed both of them beyond their capacity and produced moments of pure amazement.
And like so many of you, we remember the TV coverage of tiny gymnast Nadia Comaneci in the 1976 Olympics performing her unearthly routine on the uneven bars and receiving the first perfect 10 ever given by Olympic judges. The seemingly perfect grace of it moved us.
Perfection seems so far beyond us, yet occasionally when we see someone approach it in performing, in writing, in creating, it touches a deep part of us and makes us more aware of the limitless human potential we all share.
It may not be easy to find perfection to expose our kids to in sports or in the arts, but we can do our best. It is easy to bring the musical masterpieces of the ages into our homes in fidelity that rivals live performances. And the best paintings and sculptures of all time are as close as our bookshelf or our computer or our iPad. And while we are at it, we can try hardest of all to expose them, right in our own homes, to the kind of perfect and unconditional love that always has the power to move us.