Posted on May 9, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Wonderful news just announced: Parade will return to New York City for the first time since 1999, in a concert version with full orchestra and 200-voice choir at Avery Fisher Hall, on February 16, 2015. (And I’ll be conducting!)

Once the news came out this morning, my Facebook exploded with reminiscences of the original production and tour, and I was reminded of the following story, which is an illustration of the dangers of hiring one of your best friends to go on tour with you.

Andrea Burns and David Pittu in the tour of PARADE.

Parade went on a brief but wonderful national tour in 2000.  I conducted and I had the unbelievable pleasure of conducting one of my best friends, Andrea Burns, who gave the performance of a lifetime as Lucille Frank.

One night, we got really into “You Don’t Know This Man.”  Some beautiful musical connection happened, and we lingered a little longer than usual on the climax of the song, which happens right when she sings “He is a decent man.”  We both remarked to each other afterwards how special that moment was, and like the professional artists we were, we set out to recreate it every night, AT ANY COST.

Over the next five weeks, a fermata grew and grew over the word “a”, until what had been a beautiful artistic response turned into a game of chicken.  Who was going to get off the note first, me or her?  Everyone who knows me at all knows that I have a tendency to turn into Bugs Bunny the minute you put a baton in my hand, and Burnsy loved it.

Finally one night in Seattle, I came to my senses and pushed through the phrase the way the composer (whoever he was) had presumably intended.  After the show, Burnsy said, “Hey, what happened to our moment?” I said, “I know, I know.  But Burnsy… it’s just ‘a.'” And she cracked up, and we have shared that for fourteen years, the way old friends do.

I promise not to do anything like this at Avery Fisher Hall.  Maybe.

This recording is from Denver, about midway through the game – suffice to say that as ludicrous as this is, it got worse.