By Dick Flavin
Boston Red Sox Poet Laureate
and New York Times Best Selling Author
LIFE IS GOOD
As the month of December opened, I was reminded of a couple things: first, when the
Red Sox win, the Red Sox rule. They dominate everything else in this town; and second,
Boston has some pretty cool venues in addition to Fenway Park.
On the first Monday of the month I was at the Colonial Theatre (now officially the
Emerson Colonial) for the premier showing of the official 2018 World Series
documentary. It was the first time I’d been in the old theatre since it reopened this past
summer after undergoing extensive renovations, and let me tell you something – the old
girl looks more than pretty good; she looks great!
The oldest continuing operating theater in Boston - and the most beautiful - the Colonial
first opened its doors in December of 1900. That makes it not only twelve years older
than Fenway Park, but it’s even older than the Red Sox themselves. The team wasn’t
born until 1901. The first production at the Colonial was Ben Hur, and it featured eight
horses on stage in the famous horse race scene. One can imagine the sight of them must
have brought the house down, but it’s hard to believe that it got a bigger reaction than the
appearance on-stage of Red Sox manager Alex Cora with the World Series trophy under
Back in 1943 the Colonial was the site of a pre-Broadway try-out of a new musical called
Away We Go, written and composed by two veterans of the stage teaming together for the
first time. Their names were Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hamerstein II, and during the
Boston run of the show they decided to change its name to Oklahoma. The rest, as they
say, is history.
But back to more recent history, the showing of World Series documentary. If you ever
want to have a good time, get 1700 friends together and show the CD. The whooping and
hollering in the theater that night was almost like being at the ballpark; and it’s not like
no one knew how it was going to turn out (spoiler alert: it has a happy ending). The show
even comes with villains for everyone to boo. There is, for example, that staple of
baseball bad guys, Alex Rodriguez. He has become baseball’s Bela Lugosi, the
personification of all that is evil. He’s always sure to raise the hackles of the crowd. And
now he’s joined by a new villain the crowd loves to hate: Manny Machado. He earned as
many boos and catcalls when his image appeared on-screeen as did A-Rod, and that’s
The documentary is terrific, and getting to see it at the Emerson Colonial was a
Two nights after the documentary showing I was at another pretty good Boston venue
that has a little history of its own, Symphony Hall. A National Historic Landmark, it’s
even older than the Colonial, but only by two months.
The occasion was the annual A Company Christmas at Pops, the kick-off to the
orchestra’s annual Christmas concerts which have for many years been a great Boston
tradition. The orchestra and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus never sounded better. And
where better them to hear them at than Symphony Hall, world famous for its acoustics.
Getting to recite Teddy at the Bat there several years ago with the full orchestra in back
of me was the thrill of a lifetime.
But, you may ask, what has all that got to do with the Red Sox? First of all, at one point
conductor Keith Lockhart stepped forward to announce that the next song, Sleigh Ride,
first made popular by a Pops recording in 1949, would be led by a special guest
conductor. And who should appear on stage but Red Sox broadaster Jerry Remy, who has
morphed in recent years from a popular celebrity to a revered folk hero because of the
manner in which he has navigated so many problems, both health and otherwise, with
grit, determination, and good humor. Jerry took the baton in hand, and he did not
disappoint. Never has the orchestra been conducted by anyone with more dance moves.
The crowd roared in approval.
How could you top that? Well, a little later in the program Maestro Lockhart stepped
forward once again. It was time for the traditional recitation of ‘Twas the Night Before
Christmas (actual title, A Visit from St. Nicholas) by Clement Moore. Onto the stage,
bathed in a huge ovation, marched Alex Cora. I’m telling you, the guy is everywhere
these days. Judging from the reception he got from the more than two thousand music
and Red Sox lovers in the hall, I’d venture to say that Marty Walsh is lucky that the
mayoral election was last year and not this. Cora is the most popular guy in town, even
more popular than Jerry Remy. Then he proceeded to recite Moore’s classic poem in
Spanish. The audience loved it even though most of us didn’t know what the devil he was
saying, except for when he recited the names of Santa’s reindeer. Dasher and Dancer and
Prancer and Vixen are the same in any language.
Being in Symphony Hall is like watching a game in Fenway Park. You are surrounded by
history and tradition everywhere you look. The greatest artists of more than a century
have been on that stage, and the greatest ballplayers of all time have played on the field at
Fenway Park. Add the Emerson Colonial Theatre with all of its history to the mix, and
you have the elements of what makes Boston unique. To have had the opportunity to
experience all of it in a period of just forty-eight hours is something special.
The Emerson Colonial is still is back and going strong; Symphony Hall and the Boston
Pops have never been better; and the Red Sox are World Series champions.
Life is good.