Pina Coladas And Staples

Say “Pina Colada” to people of a certain age, and they instantly think:  Rupert Holmes.

Actually — thanks to movies like “Shrek,” “Bewitched” and “Grown Ups” — a new generation of young people also knows the iconic 1979-80 song about a bored relationship, personal ads, “a bar called O’Malley’s” and “the dunes of the Cape.”

Rupert Holmes has called “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” the success that ruined his career.  It took attention away from his more serious musical work.  He’s the 1st person in Broadway history to singly win Tony Awards for Best Book, Best Music and Best Lyrics (“Mystery of Edwin Drood”).

There are supposedly only 4 “whodunit musicals” — and he’s responsible for half of them.  Besides “Drood,” he wrote the book and lyrics for “Curtains.”

The other day Holmes described his multi-faceted career to a fascinated group of Staples Players.  This was not just a visit from a famous Broadway figure:  The award-winning troupe is presenting “Curtains” as their fall production.

Rupert Holmes addresses Staples Players. (Photo by Kerry Long)

Gina Rattan — a 2004 grad who worked with Holmes as assistant director on “The First Wives Club” — arranged his Staples visit.

He talked about his career in general, and his experience with “Curtains.”  (He rewrote the book after the original writer died; when Fred Ebb also passed away, Holmes contributed additional lyrics as well.)

Holmes weaved plot and character development in “Curtains” with his own love of musical theater.  “Curtains” epitomizes that love:  the main detective is infatuated with musical theater.

It is, Holmes told Players, “the only art form that cannot be digitized.”  Musical theater, he said, must be performed in front of a live audience.

Rupert Holmes hopes to see a live performance of “Curtains” in Westport.

Sounds like a great escape.

(“Curtains” will be performed Nov. 12, 13, 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m., and Nov. 14 at 2 p.m.  Click here for ticket information.)

One response to “Pina Coladas And Staples

  1. I remember it well and I have always liked the song.
    Could you imagine if it really did happen?

    Here’s another interesting bit of musical trivia –

    Partners in Crime an album by Rupert Holmes, includes the hit, “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)”, which was the Billboard #1 hit of December 1979 and January 1980; it was the only single to hold the #1 position in both years and in different decades.