Longtime patrons of the Show Palace Dinner Theatre will probably remember a truly magical moment during that venue's 2004 production of the musical Showboat.
It happened a few moments into the show, when Phillip Lamar Boykin, in the role of Joe, the stevedore on the riverboat Cotton Blossom, stepped forward and sang a powerful Ol' Man River.
The audience became quiet as this opera-trained performer nearly stopped the show, his rich voice ringing through the air, causing goose bumps on every arm.
People later told me that they went back to see the show again, just to hear Boykin sing. (He was also terrific in the Show Palace's Ain't Misbehavin' and Smokey Joe's Cafe.)
Now Boykin has been nominated for the 2012 Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical and the 2012 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of the villainous Crown in the revival of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess.
It's his Broadway debut role and a Really Big Thing.
Winners will be announced at 8 p.m. June 10 on CBS.
It's that puzzling time of the year again
Do you open the doors and windows to let in the cool morning breeze? Or would that nice breeze also let in the moisture that makes the air conditioner work so hard once it's cranked up?
Do you roll up the dark window shades to let in natural light? Or do you roll them down to keep out the heat and then switch on a light when you go into that room?
Do you sprinkle your lawn on your appointed day? Or do you trust those gray clouds hovering overhead to dump some natural water on your limp grass? More challenging, do you trust the weather forecaster who says it will rain tomorrow?
As if all that isn't enough to cause creases in my forehead, I just read in The Week magazine that beach sand can make you sick. "The same fecal bacteria, from sewage and runoff, that can close beaches to swimmers are actually more prevalent — and live longer — in the sand near the waterline," the item said. Getting buried in the sand is even more dangerous, according to researcher Tim Wade, who advises hand sanitizer after any beach trip.
How about body sanitizer? Or just staying at home and splashing around in the bathtub or under the water hose in the back yard, as we did as kids?
On another note …
As an avowed "what if" person who always worries about the pitfalls of any situation, I've been called "Debbie Downer" by more than one person.
Now three different articles assure me that I'm okay.
An 80-year study of 1,500 people by Stanford University says that "worrying can be helpful" and can expand your life span. It seems that nonworriers take risks that can shorten life. Worriers are more cautious and self-protective. And we live longer.
Just as reassuring, psychologist Joseph Forgas says that "feeling down sharpens your attention and makes you less gullible." It seems that sad people take fewer mental shortcuts and make stronger written arguments and are less likely to fall for urban myths, he said. Besides, they remember stuff better.
To take it one step further, psychologist Joanne Wood says that positive thinking can make depressed people feel worse. It turns out that all those Stuart Smalley-style self-affirmation tricks on Saturday Night Live ("I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!") just make depressed people feel even more inadequate. "Positive self-statements, despite their widespread endorsement, may backfire for the very people who need them the most," Wood wrote.
So go ahead — worry, be sad and be negative. Perhaps you'll live long.
Or maybe it will just seem that way.