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Soundtrack of a Lifetime 2023 - Series Challenge - Bonus Post

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One of the nice things about living in the Scottsdale area is the number of local theater companies and small playhouses within an easy drive. A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a local theatre production of a play called Tom Foolery. The show was hosted at the Fountain Hills Theatre in Fountain Hills, AZ. The intimate theater seats 89 patrons, making it a comfortable, setting where the audience and performers are only 10 or 15 feet apart.

Tom Foolery is a musical comedy based on the satire and genius of Tom Lehrer.

Although I never remember listening to Tom Lehrer growing up, his music struck a chord with me as soon as I heard it. Since then, I have spent hours listening to and viewing videos of his performances from the 1950s and 1960s. It seemed appropriate to include him in my Soundtrack of a Lifetime.

Mr. Lehrer is a singer/songwriter/musician who doubled as a respected mathematics professor at Harvard University. Lehrer is a bona fide genius who applied to Harvard at the age of 15 and graduated magna cum laude in 1946. He worked as a research analyst at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory and at the National Security Agency before anyone knew there was such a thing as the NSA (it was classified).

Mr. Lehrer also has laid claim to the invention of the Jello shot as a way of getting around a ban on alcoholic beverages at his naval base.

Tom Lehrer found humor in the absurdity of many of the political ideologies of the late 1950s and 1960s. He wrote, performed, and recorded original songs lampooning the popular viewpoints of the day. Some of his favorite topics included aging, nuclear proliferation, pollution, racism, and war.

At the opening of the show, the performers cautioned the audience that the subject matter may be offensive to some. In reality, they are offensive to everyone, so why not join the fun?

Many of the controversial topics Mr. Lehrer parodied were hot-button items sixty years ago – like believing you can survive a nuclear war by hiding in a backyard fallout shelter. That irony might be lost on a younger audience. Fortunately, I am old enough to remember the absurdity that surrounded the idea at the time.

Sadly, many of the songs Mr. Lehrer wrote about spoofed topics that we are still struggling to deal with today.

In 2020, Lehrer donated all his works to the public domain making them available for performers to use without royalties.

If you ever have a chance to see the play Tom Foolery or any of the local theater productions at the Fountain Hills Theater, don’t pass it up. You will find them both very entertaining.

As part of this article, I included a link to a YouTube video of Tom Lehrer performing one of his most famous songs. In this song, titled The Elements, Mr. Lehrer recites in rapid voice the names of all the elements (discovered up to that time).

It is fun and easy to watch and is unlikely to offend anyone.


Joe Domino is a Realtor® serving the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. Need more information? Or to Search for your next home, visit www.Scottsdale-AZHomes.com

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Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Pasadena And Southern California 818.516.4393

Hello Joseph - thank you for this bonus edition for your challenge entry this month.  I remember his name and his creativity but this post shared much more.  It also led me to additional online searching and found more.  Thank you for adding that rabbit hole experience too.  

Sep 27, 2023 02:07 PM
Leanne Smith
Dirt Road Real Estate - Golden Valley, AZ
The Grit and Gratitude Agent

Thank you and I remember this song. How fascinating he was able to speak these elements so quickly. Very impressive. I did not know of his background.

Sep 27, 2023 02:23 PM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Realtor - Retired

Your soundtrack of a lifetime series is taking me back many years, Joseph.

Sep 27, 2023 06:18 PM