What’s My Theme?

July 9, 2024

There’s a running gag in our Rehoboth Summer Children’s Theatre production of Cinderella that has always been a hit with our young audiences. The Prince periodically instructs Miles the Town Crier to “Play my theme!” before his grand entrances. Miles then delivers a jazzy kazoo rendition of Aaron Copland’s "Fanfare for the Common Man" (a little inside joke for music-savvy grownups). 

Kidding aside, though, wouldn’t having your own theme song be COOL? Not only would it tunefully herald your arrival in a room, thus giving you extra importance, but just hearing it played anywhere would remind the listener of your fabulous self! In music, this idea of an identifying theme that recurs, expressing a character, setting or action, is called a “leitmotif.” 

A perfect example is the John Williams score to the movie Jaws. Those ominous, accelerating two notes during the film always meant a shark attack was imminent (which warning I personally appreciated, because it would give me time to cover my eyes and ears). Disney movie musicals, from Aladdin to Lion King to Encanto, also frequently utilized the leitmotif. Other, more highbrow leitmotifs include those of Richard Wagner (whose 19th century operas were chock full of them), Puccini and Stravinsky.

So…what kind of tune would evoke YOU? Would you stride into view with dramatic, sweeping tones? How about drifting in with a sweet, lilting violin solo? 1812 Overture-style cannon booms? Or “You Are My Sunshine” played on a toy xylophone? The possibilities are endless!

Panning out a bit, is there music that would represent a part your life journey itself? When Steve and I were on the road in the late 1970s touring in children’s theare, we had a cassette player in the car, but could only afford a handful of tapes (yes, our $15 per show salary didn’t go far!) So we tended to play certain ones overandoverandover, prominently Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto (“Theme from Tour” as we still call it). Even now, almost 45 years later, that piece of music brings me right back to the highways and byways of upstate New York, tooling along in a prop-and-costume laden Chevette.

I’m in a contemplative state of mind these days, looking back over my lengthy time on the planet, and plotting a course for my undoubtedly briefer future. In fact, I am hoping to purchase a nifty poster called “My Life in Weeks," a chart with 4,000 marks on it, each mark representing a week of the average life span. You send the company your birth date, and your poster arrives with the weeks you’ve already lived crossed off.  I know some might find this product horrifying, but I’m excited about it. Mortality reminder, yes, but also a challenge to make the very most of each week ahead.

I see myself strolling confidently onto the world stage in the however-many weeks to come, accompanied always by The Theme that defines me.

While I’m deciding exactly what that Theme will be, for now I think I’ll go with Jaws.

Watch out, everybody!



    I am an author (of five books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a retired director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: or email me at



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