Musings: Life Is Good

By Dick Flavin

Boston Red Sox Poet Laureate

and New York Times Best Selling Author


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

his arm.

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

saying something.

The documentary is terrific, and getting to see it at the Emerson Colonial was a

memorable experience.

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.