One of the advantages of living in San Diego, aside from the fantastic weather, is that we have two theaters that stage Broadway-bound shows, both to test how they fare with audiences and to get out the kinks before hitting the Great White Way. In the last few years I've seen several of these big productions, some winners (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) and others not (The Full Monty).
A few years ago, my husband, Rich, and I zipped over to the Old Globe Theatre to take in A Catered Affair. We agreed the musical had its plusses and minuses, but one of the standouts was Tom Wopat (yes, that guy from the Dukes of Hazzard) singing a lump-in-the-throat-inducing number, "I Stayed."
To understand the impact of this song, you have to know that Wopat plays a 1950s middle-aged husband whose wife, among other issues, is accusing Wopat's character of having never really loved her. They married because she was pregnant, so she always suspected he rather would have been anywhere but with her. Now that their daughter is marrying and moving out of their home, she frets over what kind of life she will have with this man who only tolerates her.
In response to her anxiety, Wopat angrily belts out, "I stayed." The song goes on to explain how perhaps she wasn't his first choice, but he is confident he did the right thing by marrying her. And most importantly—he stayed. In other words, his loyalty to her, he felt, was his way of showing he loved her. It might not have been a storybook romance, but theirs was a solid, faithful marriage that produced two children and, one would assume, a lot of family memories.1