Practically Perfect

10.9.2006

By Eddie Shapiro

Oh, Mary. For gays everywhere, there have always been Marys. Some of us even used to call each other 'Mary.' But for most of us, you were the first. And now you're coming to Broadway, where you and your parrot umbrella will fly directly over our heads! The excitement is palpable. But, Mary, while we sit here on hold with Ticketmaster, we can't help but reflect on just how gay your show is gonna be. You probably haven't thought of yourself that way, what with all of your tea parties (gay, you know) and trilling with birds (really gay). But, Mary, did you know that Matthew Bourne (he did that all-male Swan Lake and that super-sexy, homoerotic Play Without Words) is doing the choreography? He's pretty gay. And his dances for your show include the re-thought 'Jolly Holiday' number in which the park's nearly nude statuary come to life. That's pretty gay, too. But, Mary, your gay roots go back so much further. Did you know that author P.L. Travers never took credit for having created you? You 'just arrived,' she has said. Gays have been making that argument about their sexuality for years! And look at those Banks children; they spend their childhoods living secret lives because they know their parents don't understand them. We can totally relate! In fact, we relate to so much of your story that the film on which this show is based is practically iconic for some of us. Did you see it? It was full of role models! Dick Van Dyke prancing around in white pants and doing exactly what he wanted to do instead of conforming to society's idea of proper; Ed Wynn as Uncle Albert, a sissy if there ever was one; Glynis Johns as Mrs. Banks, singing all about sisterhood and 'fighting for our rights militantly!' Even the chimney sweeps, all kicking up their legs and dancing together without a woman in sight (yourself excepted, of course), had an impact. And then there was you. You were told that you couldn't be you, that you had to change your ways, that your ideas were inappropriate. You never batted an eyelash. You just did your thing, knowing in your heart that it was right. You were fierce, totally unflappable, and you looked flawless! Of course, it didn't hurt that Julie Andrews played you, cementing her gay-icon status even before she became a drag king/drag queen in Victor/Victoria. So, Mary, while it's true that a lot of us gays are happy seeing any musical, this one in particular means a lot to us. We're rooting for you! But can you just make sure that you've got ample underwear on when you fly overhead? 'Cause that part doesn't interest us so much.

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