At last: New friendships reveal ties to Chicago musical theater

I have been one-upped.

A few weeks back, I wanted to surprise a couple of new mom friends with a mysterious rendezvous. It really was nothing, just a classic Hen Party (all hens, no cocks) at my sister-in-law’s. I didn’t tell them where we were going, so they naturally thought we were joining a cult. I even picked up a sacrificial chicken to keep the ruse going (a bucket of wings from KFC, original recipe).

Not to be outdone, one of the moms advised we would be attending another surprise outing the very next week. Let’s call this friend “No-Relation” (we have the same last name). No-Relation tried to work me into a frenzy of intrigue and anticipation with veiled clues and dark hints of secret underworld happenings.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I’d be happy heading to 7-11 as long as it didn’t involve children.

My other mom friend (we’ll call her “Brazil” because she’s from Columbia and I forget things) was in on the secret. We were going to opening night of the new Sting musical, “The Last Ship.”

Once I realized our ultimate destination, my mind tried to grasp several astonishing facts simultaneously, including:

Sting does musicals now?

Sting is no longer with “The Police” then?

Chicago has a new show and I didn’t even know??

Yet these revelations paled in comparison to the biggest shocker of them all:

I now have a friend with THEATER TIES??

I have loved musical theater since I first saw the television commercial for “Evita” featuring Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin in the early 1980s. I practiced my balcony arms. I pulled my hair back in a bun. I wanted to be Evita so badly that it broke my heart when it finally dawned on me I couldn’t sing.

For the record, my tone deafness has never stopped me from belting out every Journey song EVER in the minivan.

Through the years, I have seen Doogie Howser in “Cabaret” and Meadow Soprano in “Beauty and the Beast.” My love for Donny Osmond was solidified in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” and I will always think of Idina Menzel not as Adele Dezeem or even Elsa from “Frozen.”

She is, and will always be, Maureen Johnson from “Rent.”

I refuse to disclose how many times I have seen “Les Miserables” simply out of fear of being institutionalized.

Despite this, I never bonded with a single person with theater ties. There was nobody to get me tickets for a sold-out performance or provide the behind-the-scenes story of real life Broadway stars.

That was until I tripped on No-Relation.

When my boys transitioned to a new school this past year, No-Relation made it a point to bring us into the fold. Brazil was right there with her. They had sons the same age and at first I was suspicious:

Were they just trying to get me to take over Market Day?

Nope. They were just being nice.

And a few months later, we all found ourselves hanging out at the same after-party as Sting courtesy of No-Relation’s amazing husband, Brian, who works countless hours and weekends as a behind-the-scenes guy in Chicago theater.

Brazil and Sting

I have never attended an opening night of anything, and I will remember it forever.

Many New Age thinkers believe that all you have to do in life is to put your secret most wishes out there into the universe and they will be granted. It only took The Cosmos thirty years of blasting “Man of La Mancha” to finally be heard.

In my neighborhood, it is not unusual for groups of friends to date back decades. There is sometimes an understandable vibe of “Not Accepting Applications for New Friends.” As busy moms, it is hard to maintain existing friendships, let alone foster new ones. And this is why I need to remember to always have an open heart and mind for new friends.

Especially ones with cottages in Michigan.

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