COLUMN: Paying homage to a great storyteller

Published 6:24 pm Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Understanding what journalists do for a living is pretty simple, really.

We tell stories. We use our words to paint pictures of things that happen over here, so that others may come to understand somewhere else.

This is also why I’m a huge fan of musical theatre, where stories are told with vibrancy and vigor. It’s why I woke up broken hearted because of the death of acting extraordinaire Carol Channing.

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Now, to those who are unfamiliar, Channing was revolutionary for her time. She owned the marquee role in the musical “Hello Dolly,” which other actresses have tried to emulate as best as they can. And not just any actresses mind you.

Stars like Barbara Streisand, Bette Midler, Ethel Merman, Bernadette Peters and Martha Raye all put their hand in at playing a scheming matchmaker. Why? Because Channing made a legacy out of her role, cementing it as an all-time classic.

The Washington Post even called Channing the “the ninth wonder of the world,” to put her accomplishments in perspective.

I say all of this because there’s not much difference in what I aspire to do, and what Channing did on stage. Obviously, the biggest difference is most theatrical stories are fiction, and journalism is dealing with fact.

I want to tell a captivating story. I want to be able to tell stories based on fact, but telling in a way where it’s dripping in drama. People like Channing help writers like myself learn how to do so.

Actors and actresses nowadays are difficult to compare. But you can just as easily equate their impact by their roles left behind. Channing was part of a “Hello Dolly” original show that won 10 Tony Awards. Think “Return of the King” or “Hamilton” before their time.

Channing found a way to make a widowed, scheming matchmaker a beloved stage character. That’s an impact most writers can only dream of.

Besides, where do you think Channing learned some of her craft? Her father was a newspaper editor, after all.