Came across 2001 profile of Richard Ouzounian, “Richard’s Party”, by Michael Posner (Globe and Mail, January 6, 2001, p. R7). Just before the opening of Larry’s Party, a musical Ouzounian had co-written, as lyricist, with musical collaborator Marek Norman, based on the 1997 Carol Shields novel of the same name.
Knew Richard Ouzounian by name, but didn’t know his background. His childhood makeup not so much shaping as dictating a destiny:
Here’s the scene. Sunday morning in the late 1950s, the Astoria neighbourhood of Queen’s N.Y. In the modest, strictly blue-collar home, the Finnish mother is cooking. The father, half Armenian, half Italian, is at work, a working man’s tavern he owns down the street. Neither has a complete high scfhool education. The youngest son, not yet 10, and adopted child and an A student, is on the floor of the living room. As he does every Sunday, he’s reading the Arts section of The New York Times, poring over the latest theatre reviews, stage gossip, announcements of new openings. “Look,” he says, boyish enthusiasm in full flight, “There’s a new Bob Fosse musical. Can we get tickets?”
…He was 40 before he learned the identity of his birth parents, both Irish-Scottish musicians…
By the time Ouzounian was 10, he was taking the subway alone into Manhattan to attend Broadway shows, afterwards lingering by the stage door to collect autographs. Among his vast collection today (is) the pencilled signature of 19 year-old Barbra Steisand… In those days, you could get a Broadway ticket for $3 and on Fridays, his father’s one night off, they would often dine out (always on fish) and then take in a show. On Saturdays, Ouzounian returned for matinees, using pennies saved from lunch money. Later, at Regis High School, a Jesuit institution for scholarship students, he wrote reviews for the school paper and remounted productions he had seen, directing his classmates.
So much hardwired essence of a person, independent of environment, and referenced directly to parentage. The essential nature of a child being supported by those who may or may not understand, but value.
Seems that one key to understanding where one has gone, or where one could and should have gone, is to reflect on what were the particular drivers, when very young. Shaping who one is now, and was then.