What is that unforgettable line? – Samuel Beckett
I love lines. Theater has some of the best lines, and I’ve had the privilege of being able to deliver many of them. One of the best things about lines is you can use them again in real life. Theater often reflects life, or better yet, says things that can’t be or aren’t said in real life. For fun, I thought I might revisit some of my favorite lines….
There are many lines that I’ve used frequently in everyday conversations, such as “I forgot” (Nunsense) – and as time goes on, I use this more and more J. Others are “I’m gettin’ it” (Oklahoma), and “that’s not it at all…. (Horace)” (Hello Dolly!). Sometimes I’ll say something and I can tell I’ve said it before, but am not sure where. Like “it’s just a little doo-dad”. Well, actually I don’t use the word “doo-dad” all that often, but it is a handy little line to have around just in case.
Here are some lines that I am able to pull up in conversations, but a little less often… and they usually come with some kind of a character voice so I get a “look” when using them… “Ahhhhhhhhhhh ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaaaaa!” (Wizard of Oz), or “not fun not fun not fun not fun not fun” (sung to the tune from Queen of the night aria – Nunsense), or “(s)he likes you… quite a lot” (Oklahoma).
I have some absolutely favorite lines that I’ve said in shows, but nowhere to use them. For example, one of my favorite lines was “I have a bunion there that bothers” (Music Man). Actually, I do have a bunion that sometimes bothers, so perhaps could use it, but who talks like that in real life? Another favorite was “Miss Starlett, Miss Starlett, Miss Starlett, Miss Starlett…..” (Went with the Wind, Carol Burnett sketch) – but frankly, my dear, there are very few uses for this. Or for this line, “At Fontana de Luna there are waters fed by springs coming from somewhere deep deep down” (Nine). And if only I could find a use for this line - “My cousin is in ladies underwear” (You Can’t Take It With You) - but alas, it doesn’t come up often.
Sometimes lines are just plain wise….For example a line from The Sound of Music – “These walls were not meant to shut out problems. You have to face them. You have to find the life you were born to live” Or, a line from Hello, Dolly! – “Then one night an oak leaf fell out of my Bible….. a perfectly good oak leaf but without color and without life. And I suddenly realized that I was like that leaf… for years I had not shed one tear nor had I been filled with the wonderful hope that something or other would turn out well. And so I’ve decided to rejoin the human race…” Or from Aunt Eller (wise woman) in Oklahoma – “If you cain’t fergit, jist don’t try to, honey. Oh, lots of things happen to folks. Sickness, er bein’ pore and hungry even – bein’ old and afeared to die. That’s the way it is – cradle to grave. And you can stand it. They’s one way. You gotta be hearty, you got to be. You cain’t deserve the sweet and tender in life less’n you’re tough.” If only I were as wise or gritty in real life as the characters I played.
Finally, there are other lines that are extremely funny… in context, that is. My favorites:
“I think he means ‘peep’” (Music Man)
“Trickle, trickle, trickle…” (Music Man)
“I think that’s when we conceived Ralph…. our stepson” (I Can’t Hear you When the Water is Running)
“And carry my bust with pride” (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum)
This is the tip of the iceberg, because most lines are forgotten eventually, especially when onto another show. I suspect that my theater friends have their favorites, or perhaps audience members as well. If so, please comment and share them.