Singin' in Pain

Were those Yale boys drunk on the magical elixir of musical theater?

So the district attorney finally charged two teenage toughs for the alleged beating they and their sissy-phobic pals dished out to the Yale a cappella group, the Baker's Dozen, on New Year's Eve. Prosecutors are calling it "a group attack on innocent victims," but defense lawyers and Examiner super-columnist Ken Garcia are hinting that both sides may have been itching for a fight.

Some of you may wonder: Why would vocalists partial to show tunes decide to take on all comers, including a few Marines? Well, it's easy to get carried away when the champagne's a flowin' and your head's a buzzin' with the inspiring melodies of genuine musical theatre. Is there anyone out there who can ever forget the braggadocio of the multicultural Sharks as they got ready to rumble with the Jets in West Side Story? "We said "OK, no rumpus, no tricks.'/ But just in case they jump us, we're ready to mix/ Tonight!"

God, just typing those lyrics makes me want to go out and kick some Jet ass and bitch-slap them with jazz hands. Think how fired up you'd be if you'd actually sung them four-part harmony! And there's little doubt their uncultured adversaries impugned their aural acumen after an inspired rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" at midnight.

Plus, back at Yale, the Baker's Dozen sings in the long shadow of the Whiffenpoofs, the world's oldest and best-known collegiate a cappella group. Can you blame them for having a short fuse?

At first, these Whiffenpoofs wannabes outnumbered the burly boo-birds, but when reinforcements arrived, the songsters must have known they were in for a real dust-up. As they hitched up their khakis and straightened their rep ties in preparation for battle, I pray they invoked the memory of Tony Award nominee Douglas Sills fearlessly singing "Into the Fire" from The Scarlet Pimpernel: "You can tremble, you can fear it/ But keep your fighting spirit alive, boys. Let the shiver of it sting you/ Fling into battle, spring to your feet, boys."

Whether you believe the district attorney or the defense attorneys, one thing is clear: A song in your heart and a spring in your step do not trump boot camp.

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