At Tony Pastor’s

Tony PastorWhen Cornelius Hackl tries to convince Barnaby Tucker, his fellow employee at Horace Vandergelder’s shop in Yonkers, to go to New York City with him, he sings “Put On Your Sunday Clothes”, one of the great ensemble numbers in Hello, Dolly!

Alas, Cornelius really doesn’t know much about the upper classes in NYC of the Gilded Age because he includes the line “We’ll join the Astors / At Tony Pastor’s”. And frankly I doubt that any member of the Astor family would have been caught dead at Tony Pastor’s Theatre, as it presented relatively low brow entertainment.

I’ve known Hello, Dolly! since 1964 when my parents gave me the Original Cast Recording for my birthday, and so I’ve known the lyrics to that song for nearly 60 years, but I never had a clue as to who Tony Pastor was. I had a vague idea of the Astors (overly rich society folks in New York City of the 19th century), but if I thought about Tony Pastor’s at all, I assumed it was perhaps a high class restaurant. Or maybe Jerry Herman just made it up for the rhyme.

Nope. He used it to signal how clueless Cornelius was. Oh, well, that one went right over my head for decades.

Anyway, I’m still greatly enjoying Julian Fellowes’s The Gilded Age. Actually the show that it most reminds me of is Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City.

Both shows feature a young woman who becomes a fish out of water by traveling to an unfamiliar city and becoming embroiled in a society of which she previously knew nothing.

Mary Ann Singleton, meet Marian Brook.

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