That strange crunching noise you may have heard a week ago Friday night was just me, eating my words.
See, several years ago, I said that if any local theater decided to produce the musical The Sound of Music, I'd retire permanently.
Over the years, I've previewed and/or reviewed that show at least a dozen times. I sort of felt that if it came around again, it would be a signal that I'd hung around long enough.
Then during the intermission of Little Shop of Horrors at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre recently, Show Palace co-owner Nick Sessa told me the theater had just won performance rights for The Sound of Music and scheduled it for Sept. 28 through Nov. 17, 2012.
Would that mean I'd have to pack up by Sept. 27, 2012, a mere 15 months off and long before I had planned to take off for good? Or could I honorably stick around a while longer?
Then I thought about others who accept that their careers feature repeats are something like the Bill Murray comedy Groundhog Day, in which he lived and re-lived the same day over and over. What about the dance critic who writes about several Nutcrackers every year? The opera critic who has opined about La Boheme scores of times? The symphony writer who has listened to at least 50 versions of Beethoven's Ninth? Or even the sports writer who thinks he's seen "50 Ways to Lose a Ballgame" (forgive me Paul Simon) in one season? Or the schoolteacher who has taught second-graders for 28 years?
Let's face it. We all do reruns.
In truth, though I get giddy when a new show pops up on my beat, there are many old shows I could see 100 times and never grow tired of them: A Chorus Line, Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods, Hairspray, any well-executed episode of the Greater Tuna series, La Cage aux Folles (mainly for the song Look Over There, which I wanted sung at my son's wedding and is probably one reason he and his fiancee eloped), Cats, Evita, Smokey Joe's Cafe, Follies (for my life's theme song, I'm Still Here, and the priceless marital comment, Could I Leave You?), 1776 (talk about tears!), Company (okay, anything by Stephen Sondheim), and the quirkiest, most adorable show in town, and, admittedly, certainly an acquired taste, A Pasco Christmas at Richey Suncoast Theatre.
And to be even more truthful, once those house lights go down, the curtains part and a whole new cast begins showing a new side to an oft-done show, almost any show you can name becomes magic again, including The Sound of Music.
As my second-grade teacher once said, "Each new class is 25 altogether new experiences."
So even though it may put back on some of those pounds I've lost in the last couple of years, I'm willing to eat my words. And, come The Sound of Music's opening night, I hope to be in my usual seat, getting all blubbery when the Von Trapp family sings Edelweiss and goosebumpy when the Mother Abbess sings Climb Ev'ry Mountain.
Hey, that's showbiz.
SPEAKING OF THE SHOW PALACE: Those of us who miss Kevin Howe's unique brand of cooking at the County Line Cafe and Grille he sold last year can take heart.
Kevin went to work for the Show Palace consortium some time ago and is now concocting a whole new menu for the dinner theater, available with the next show, on July 22, according to Sessa.
"He'll create pastas, a white fish with crab stuffing, do some really exciting stuff," Sessa said. And, never fear, executive chef Dinah Teaford will still be there with her incomparable bread pudding and bourbon sauce and other goodies.
By popular demand, the Show Palace is also bringing back the eggplant parmigiana served a couple of shows ago.
And, also by popular demand, they won't be bringing back the meatloaf (which I loved) served during the 1940s nostalgia show, Sentimental Journey.
"People said they would rather have ham or pork roast or something," Sessa said.
I guess a lot of people have their own special meatloaf recipe, and nobody else's tastes or seems as good as their own.
SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES: As my friend in Jacksonville answered my telephone call to her on Tuesday, she was coughing like a Tin Lizzie on drip gas.
She had dug out her old asthma paraphernalia and was doing her best to deal with a 235 Air Quality Index, which is 235 particles per million, or "very unhealthy," just one small step above "hazardous."
At the time, the local newspaper was reporting 240 wildfires within a 50-mile radius of Jacksonville, from the swamps of Georgia down to Daytona and all points west. The smoke was so thick in the online photos, you couldn't see the end of the street or the downtown buildings from the 19th floor of the Baptist building.
Our NPR radio station was saying that 93 percent of Florida was under some sort of smoky haze at the time, with a small smokeless area around Tampa Bay.
That's why I cringe when I see all those fireworks stands along the roadsides. Yeah, yeah, I know it's legal to sell fireworks; I know it's legal to set them off to protect those vast farmlands on the area's apartment balconies and in swimming pool cages from marauding birds; I know there's a ban on burning in unincorporated areas of Pasco County (wink-wink, nudge-nudge), with Hernando considering a similar ban next week.
So, why all the fireworks stands? Do we really have that many farmers shooing off birds?