“It's so hard to fight a battle
When you cannot see your foe
And hard to start a marathon
When you have so far to go
And I wonder if I'm strong enough
Or if I have the heart
Cause some days I want to walk away
And quit before I start" - Jill Santoriello
Who is Rebecca Robbins, you ask? You will learn that shortly, but rest assured, like the meetings of Davy Jones and Marcia Brady, James Carville and Mary Matalin, or that accidental stumble that leads to the Hershey bar being mushed into your Jif, her acquaintance, through story and song, is one you will be exceedingly pleased to make.
Why a Saturday Song Selection on a Wednesday? So anxious am I to share this beautiful new ballad and expose the eloquent and significant voices of both the composer and performer for the enjoyment and appreciation of the resplendent readers who browse this blog that, like an anticipatory toddler on Christmas morn, I have not the patience for the next Saturday to make its appointed arrival.
One hundred and fifty years ago, in the era when computers were either hand cranked or powered by kerosene and the internet was a literal net physically connecting log cabin to log cabin, we launched “… and several butcher’s aprons” as a politically progressive publication whose initial installment expressed dissatisfaction with the Congressional passage of the Coinage Act of 1864 mandating the inscription "In God We Trust" on all U.S. coins. In the many subsequent successful decades, descriptives from A to Z have been penned in opinion of the off-times controversial dissertations presented – arrogant, bilious, Communistic, derisive, egotistical, fractious (I shall assume that you have grasped the alphabetical gist) but rarely has this page received such superlatives as gallant, heartening, inspirational, joyous, kind, loving, moving (again, one must assume you have gotten the general intention. See “Sesame Street” for the sequential conclusion) but that’s all about to change.
“… I hear a gentle voice
I feel a hand in mine
And then that mountain in my way
Is not too high to climb”
In November, in Philadelphia P.A., home of our Liberty Bell, the marvelous marching Mummers and creepy movie kids who see dead people, the lovely Rebecca Robbins, singer, actress, musical theatre veteran and friend, will be playing the role of Mrs. Winifred Banks in the Walnut Street Theatre’s production of “Mary Poppins.” Today, her voice and video graces “… and several butcher’s aprons” telling the poignant and personal musical tale of her battle with and ultimate triumph over a frightening malady. A few months after the wonderful experience of making her Broadway debut, Rebecca was diagnosed with stage II Hodgkin's Lymphoma, which was followed by many months of challenging treatments. At this point, allow me to momentarily stifle my self-indulgent exercise in verbosity and lexicon abuse to let Rebecca properly and artfully continue her story.
“It is with overwhelming joy and a tremendous sense of relief that I can finally announce that as of today, October 16, 2014, my cancer is officially CURED. This is the first day of my new life and I can finally put all this behind me and move forward. I will forever be changed by this experience and am grateful for the valuable lessons it has taught me. As frightening, painful and inconvenient as it was to live through, I wouldn't change a thing. I am a better person for having gone through it… I hope my story can inspire others who are in treatment, recovering or still waiting for a cure. Never, ever lose hope. Miracles do happen and one day that word ‘cancer’ will forever be erased from every language in the world. – A five year journey from cancer to cured. My story. My voice.”
“You've shown me there's a light that shines
From deep inside the pain
You've taught me I can laugh at clouds
And revel in the rain”
Art, like life, is often most fulfilling when realized as a cooperative concern. “As Long As I Have You” was created in collaboration with composer, the also lovely, Jill Santoriello and orchestrator, arguably the loveliest of all, Edward B. Kessel. This terrifically talented trio first joined forces working on the magnificent and memorable 2008 Broadway premiere of “A Tale of Two Cities: the Musical,” book, music and lyrics by Ms. Santoriello.
“I think of all we had before
And all that's left to do
I'll never quit or walk away
And no price is too high to pay
I'll count my blessings every day
As long as I have you”