The goofy — and strangely satisfactory — thing is that when I play Henry Mancini’s elegant arrangement of the “Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet” on the piano, I’m transported not to Shakespearean Verona but instead to early 1970s Los Angeles, into a not-so-tragic, admittedly corny tale of two households combined. You might even recognize those households: one lovely, widowed lady (with three very lovely girls) who cheerfully remarries, her new love a busy, widowed father of three sons. You know: the Brady family.
I did watch the Franco Zeffirelli film adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet” at some point many years ago. But I’m a child of the Seventies, and I spent more than a few afternoons getting entirely too familiar with the earnest domestic misadventures and life lessons of the Bradys.
At least two episodes of “The Brady Bunch” invoke Nino Rota’s iconic and sweepingly romantic music for the original “star-cross’d lovers.” There’s the one in which a reluctant Marcia Brady gets cast as Juliet in the school play (at least until all the attention goes to her head and she tragically finds herself demoted to understudy).
But I’m partial to the episode when Bobby Brady gets his first kiss — from a pre-“Little House on the Prairie” Melissa Sue Anderson, no less. That innocent backyard smooch triggers visions of skyrockets for Bobby, along with swoony fantasies that play out to — of course! — our old friend, the “Romeo and Juliet” love theme.
Montague, Capulet, Brady… whatever visions that might get stirred up when you hear this music, I daresay that this piano solo is a pleasure to play.