Monday, February 7, 2011

The Strangeness of Memory...

It's amazing the things we remember. And even more amazing is when you stumble upon memories you didn't even realize you had until something triggers your recall.

I'm not talking suppression of painful memories or embarrassing incidents, or even long-forgotten memories of childhood. What I'm referring to is when hearing a person's name or seeing their picture evokes the memory of a moment you shared, or when a song reminds you of exactly where you where the first time you heard it.

Over the weekend, I saw on Facebook that one of my closest college friends would be attending an event to celebrate the life of local theater legend Jane Pesci-Townsend. After some internet research, I learned that Jane passed away in August after a long battle with cancer.

While this fact seems somewhat random, let me explain:

My friend Helene's sister was a phenomenal singer and actress. While we were in college, she performed in a local musical revue called Mrs. Foggybottom and Friends, which poked fun at political figures and other issues of the day. We were able to catch a few performances while Brenda was in the show, and strangely enough, I still remember a few of the songs, even 20+ years later.

But the thing I remember most about that show was a song sung by an amazing performer named Jane Pesci-Townsend. She sang a song called "Pheromones" (can you guess what the song is about?), which were a fairly recent discovery in the late 1980s. During the song, Jane flirts with a number of men in the audience, and during one of the performances I attended, she sat on my lap during the song, much to my mortification about being the center of attention.

Throughout the years I would see Jane's name connected with a number of local theater productions, and I remember the amazing press coverage she received when she stepped in for Christine Baranski at the last minute and played Mrs. Lovett in a production of Sweeney Todd with Brian Stokes Mitchell. But it has been years since I've thought about "Pheromones" and how much fun she was when I met her after the show and she thanked me for being a good sport.

It's strange how you can feel the loss of someone you never really knew, but reading a few articles that cropped up just before and after her death, clearly she touched so many lives with her talent, sense of humor and inspiration as a theater instructor at the Catholic University of America.

I'd like to thank Jane for the little memory I have. Here she is performing "Pheromones" in 1988. You'll probably agree that hers was a memorable gift.

No comments:

Post a Comment