Last week, I took the family to see the Maine State Music Theatre’s production of “Annie” in Brunswick.

It was a fantastic production. If you haven’t yet seen it, there’s still a few more days before the show closes.

But while waiting for the curtain to rise, I was reading the director’s notes by Marc Robin in the MSMT program. And it brought back a pet peeve of mine.

“When I told folks I was about to start a production of ‘Annie’ they usually rolled their eyes or groaned or made a snide comment,” Robin wrote. ” ‘Oh, that old play’ ‘They’re doing it again??’ ‘Aren’t you tired of that show?’ ‘Why do we need another production of that?’ “

Robin justifies presenting “Annie” because its message of staying optimistic during hard times resonates with a recession-weary audience today.

That’s a valid reason. But if the play is good, shouldn’t that be reason enough?

I’ve never been one to slap an expiration date on entertainment. My CD collection contains everything from World War I-era jazz to the new album by Adele. My home video collection includes “Citizen Kane,” “Casablanca,” “Un Chien Andalou,” “On the Waterfront” and the latest “Star Trek” movie and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Anyone can enjoy art on a surface level. But to truly appreciate art — whether it be a painting, a play, a novel, a song or a film — it’s essential to have at least a passing knowledge of the genre’s history. Every artist has been influenced by another, and to be able to see those ties makes it all the more enjoyable.

Anyway, saying you don’t like something because it’s old smacks of elitism and, frankly, ignorance. It’s like saying an art museum isn’t worth visiting unless it exhibits only modern works, or that going to Shakespeare in the park is boring because of the 16th-century language.

You’re not being cool because you think The Rolling Stones are dinosaurs and that plays like “Annie” are shopworn. You’re being ignorant. (On the flip side, those who think good entertainment ended with their generation are being just as ignorant.)

So instead of trying to be hip and oh-so-cutting-edge, try to enjoy things for what they are. Sure, there was a lot of stuff that was popular in its time that doesn’t hold up today. But the same holds true for what’s popular right now.

Who knows? You might like those old movies, songs and plays. And you’ll no longer have to worry about looking cool.

Deputy Managing Editor Rod Harmon may be contacted at 791-6450 or at:

[email protected]


filed under: