Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dance of the Golden Crock

Janet Eilber recreates the original Michael Kidd choreography for this stunning solo ballet from the second act of Finian's Rainbow. I never thought a harmonica could make something so entrancing...

High Spirits at "Blithe Spirit"

What can I possibly say about the opening night of Blithe Spirit? I've been to quite a few opening nights in the past couple of years, but none recalled the glamour of the Golden Age of Broadway quite like this one. Everywhere we looked, there were stars dolled up to the nines in their tuxes and evening gowns. Then to witness the sparkling champagne revival of Noel Coward's classic play on top of it? It doesn't get much better than that.

The evening got started as it often does at Angus for our customary opening night toast and chatter. We soon realized that we were surrounded by first nighters as we started seeing bow ties and cummerbunds wherever we looked. The red carpet was mobbed with celebrities and curious onlookers at the Shubert Theatre. The Shubert flagship had long been resident house of the recently closed Spamalot and housing its first straight play since the 1975 revival of The Constant Wife with Ingrid Bergman. After taking in some of the scenery in and around the lobby, we trekked up to the balcony where we found ourselves dispersed among the crowds. The woman to my left was clearly a regular theatregoer who was attending her very first opening night (and I instructed her to visit the lobby at intermission so as to take in the stars).

The play is a beautiful throwback to the parlor comedies of the 1930s and 40s, with enough wit and class in the staging and design that even the usually snippy Coward couldn't help but approve. (Snippy you say? Read his diaries and compilation of letters. They're incredibly opinionated, bitchy and often always hilarious). Christine Ebersole, Rupert Everett, Jayne Atkinson and the irrepressible Angela Lansbury star in this first-rate revival of one of Coward's most amusing and enduring comedies. Ebersole is a bit out of her element as Elvira and has to work harder than the rest, but nevertheless turns in a fun performance as the troublemaking solipcist of a dead wife. Everett could play a role like Charles in his sleep, and in his Broadway debut as the acerbic, put-upon Charles; a game straight man to the three women at the center of the play. Atkinson is comic marvel as the living wife, Ruth, who on page is a considerable wet-blanket, turning her into the more impressionable of the wives. Susan Louise O'Connor, also making her Main Stem bow, takes the small role of Edith and turns it into a physical comedy highlight (her business involving the serving tray and the chair is quite memorable). Simon Jones and Deborah Rush add some color to the listless roles of the skeptic doctor and his awkwardly verbose wife.

However, the evening belongs to Angela Lansbury as the eccentric medium Madame Arcati. Lansbury has some hefty shoes to fill. The role was created in London and onscreen by Margaret Rutherford (best known for essaying Miss Marple in a series of 1960s films and an Oscar winner for a scene-stealing performance in The VIPs), Mildred Natwick in the original Broadway production as well as a 1950s television version and Geraldine Page in the 1987 revival. Bea Lillie had her final stage triumph starring as Arcati in High Spirits, the 1964 musical adaptation of the play.

When Lansbury made her first entrance she received lengthy applause from an audience grateful at seeing an icon on her latest icon, a hand completely deserved. Decked out in delightfully garish garb with a red wig knotted in double braids, Lansbury delivers a fresh performance that ranks with the best of them. Watching her command of the stage in a physical role such as this is nothing short of a marvel. She's lean, she's lithe and delightfully blithe (to borrow from Timothy Gray and Hugh Martin) in all facets of her performance, with enough energy to light up Times Square. Her look, her voice, her delivery, her timing (that delicious Bette Davis glare she gives Deborah Rush!) are all beyond compare. However, the highlight of her performance could very well be the bizarre interpretive dance Arcati does to Irving Berlin's standard "Always." It's the stuff of theatrical legend, I look forward to repeat visits and I can't wait to see her win a fifth Tony this June.

After the opening, we stargazed as the glamorous throng made it's way across the street for the opening night party. Sarah asked Donna Murphy, looking like a Grecian goddess, when she was going to be back on Broadway. And when Elizabeth Ashley left Sardi's and was getting into her car, we decided to give her a big round of applause because, well, she's Elizabeth Ashley. She shouted to us "But I wasn't in the play!" to which we replied "We know!" and just continued cheering. The evening reached it's climax as our gathering in front of the Shubert lasted longer than the official party across the street, looking at our stars get into their cars and head home for the night. Before the night was over, we were reviving the revival complete with sock puppets. A night for the ages and one to remember.

Before I go... here's an idea that I've been very vocal about: for the inevitable Actor's Fund benefit performance present a performance of High Spirits in concert style staging at the Shubert. You've got two musical theatre divas reigning supreme in the choice leads. From the business they do onstage in the play, it's clear that Atkinson and Everett have at least a passing sense of musicality and voice. Besides, who wouldn't love to hear a full orchestra knock that sensational overture out of the ballpark? Or have Angela Lansbury crooning a love song to her ouija board? Or have Christine Ebersole fly around faster than sound? I'd be there. Just a thought... In the meanwhile, get your tickets to Blithe Spirit!!

Monday, March 30, 2009

The City Center Encores! 2009-2010 Season

Girl Crazy
Music: George Gershwin
Lyrics: Ira Gershwin
Book: Guy Bolton
November 19-22, 2009

Music & Lyrics: Harold Rome
Book: Joshua Logan & S. N. Behrman
February 4-7, 2010

Anyone Can Whistle
Music & Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim (who incidentally turns 80 next year...)
Book: Arthur Laurents
April 8-11, 2010

Whatever happened to the renovation of the City Center that was supposed to be taking place?

Vintage Cast Albums Released on CD

There is a glut of older cast albums coming out on CD. Many are reissues of deleted items from RCA and Sony. But there are also a slew of obscure titles being released for the first time ever in a digital format.

DRG is reissuing the 1962 Irving Berlin flop Mr. President with Robert Ryan and Nanette Fabray, Harold Rome's 1952 hit about life at an adult summer camp Wish You Were Here, Bob Merrill's Take Me Along, the 1959 adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's Ah, Wilderness! with a Tony-winning star turn by Jackie Gleason and starring Walter Pidgeon, Eileen Herlie and Robert Morse, and the 1960 failure Wildcat starring Lucille Ball, with a score from Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh. They've also released for the first time the obscure flop Maggie Flynn, a short-lived Broadway vehicle for Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy. Even more obscure is To Broadway, With Love, a celebration of musical theatre presented at the World's Fair in 1964 featuring classic Broadway material, but also six new songs by Bock & Harnick.

Sony and RCA continue their association with ArkivMusic with the impending releases and reissues of the following: The Lincoln Center revival of Carousel starring John Raitt and Eileen Christy supported by a radiant Susan Watson as Carrie, Reid Shelton (the original Oliver Warbucks in Annie) as Enoch and Jerry Orbach as Jigger. There is also the studio cast album of Oklahoma! with Nelson Eddy, Portia Nelson and Kaye Ballard. The 1953 Hazel Flagg, an adaptation of the classic film Nothing Sacred is having its North American release on CD, featuring a remastering not available on the the London disc. The show starred Helen Gallagher and famed character actor Thomas Mitchell, who is the only winner of the Best Actor in a Musical Tony for a non-singing performance. Making their digital debuts are the studio cast of DisinHAIRited featuring the cast and creators of Hair, the 1969 flop Jimmy starring Frank Gorshin about New York Mayor Jimmy Walker and the 1961 musical adaptation of George Abbott's farce Three Men on a Horse called Let it Ride starring George Gobel and Sam Levene (that folded after 68 performances). They are also releasing Leonard Sillman's revue New Faces of 1952 that helped jumpstart the careers of Eartha Kitt, Alice Ghostley, Carol Lawrence and Paul Lynde as well as the follow-up New Faces of 1956 that presented Jane Connell, Bill McCutcheon, Inga Swenson, John Reardon and Maggie Smith in her Broadway debut. The rather obscure off-Broadway musical The Last Sweet Days of Isaac with Austin Pendleton is also coming out on CD, as is the 1976 NY Shakespeare Festival-Lincoln Center revival of The Threepenny Opera starring Raul Julia as Mack the Knife, with Ellen Greene as Jenny, Blair Brown as Lucy and Elizabeth Wilson as Mrs. Peachum.

Finally, from Kritzerland we have two of the more interesting items. They have arranged for online-only limited edition CD premieres of two lost '60s shows, the floperetta Anya (by Wright and Forrest, by way of Rachmaninoff) starring Constance Towers, Michael Kermoyan, Irra Petina and Lillian Gish. The musical was an adaptation of play Anastasia by Guy Bolton and Maurcelle Maurette, best known in its Oscar-winning film adaptation starring Ingrid Bergman, Yul Brynner and Helen Hayes. The show was met with extremely tepid response by critics in 1965, branded as outdated and dull, and shuttered after a mere 16 performances. However, the cast album was recorded and as is the case with many failed shows, developed a following based on the record. It is now remastered and CD (and as I've already listened to mine, it sounds wonderful). The other title is the bouzouki flavored Illya Darling, the 1967 musical adaptation of the hit international film Never on Sunday (and featuring much of the film's creative team). The show went through out-of-town troubles, opened at the Mark Hellinger to scathing reviews, but stayed open for 320 performances on the star power of Melina Mercouri recreating her Oscar-nominated performance for Broadway. The CD is adding two numbers not included on the original (including the opening number) and putting the score back into it's official show order. However it's been arranged with the original record labels and the estates involved, Kritzerland is only pressing 1,000 copies of each, so you best gets yours today.

Kitty Sets Her Terms

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Quote of the Day, Critical Edition

"Ella Logan was written out of Kelly before it reached the Broadhurst Theatre Saturday night. Congratulations, Ms. Logan."

Howard Taubman, chief critic of the New York Times, leading off his opening night review of the one performance disaster Kelly on February 7, 1965.

For an informative and fascinating look at the creation of this musical, check out Lewis Lapham's article "Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?" for the Saturday Evening Post. The article is reprinted as the final chapter "The Nadir" in Second Act Trouble: Behind the Scenes at Broadway's Big Musical Bombs, a compilation of first hand accounts of various troubled musicals with annotation by Steven Suskin.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Angela Lansbury as Mame

This was how she was billed when she took on her second Broadway musical in 1966. She fought very hard to even be seen for it, as the powers that be felt she was always playing "somebody's mother." It took a lot of hard work and effort on her part, but with the help of composer Jerry Herman, she won the role. It's a well-known fact that Angela Lansbury didn't get to make the film version of Mame in Hollywood. Lansbury, who won her first of an unprecedented four Tonys for Best Actress in a Musical, gave a star turn for the ages and she reached a new level of stardom in her career. But her performance, seen for two years on Broadway and later on national tour, wasn't enough for her to land the part when Warner Bros. got the film up and running. She didn't go down without a fight: some say her showstopping production number of "Thoroughly Modern Millie" on the '68 Oscar telecast was an audition of sorts for the Hollywood establishment. Lucille Ball made the film, and the rest is unfortunate history (have you seen the film...? yikes).

In 1983, Lansbury revived the show for what proved to be an ill-advised and short-lived flop revival of her signature role. The show, with little fanfare, set up shop in the behemoth Gershwin Theatre for a disappointing run of 41 performances. Anne Francine (Bea Arthur's replacement and a cabaret star), Jane Connell, Willard Waterman, Sab Shimino all reprised their original roles opposite Lansbury. While the response to the revival was tepid, Lansbury was nothing short of sensational. Have a look...

"It's Today"


"That's How Young I Feel"

"If He Walked Into My Life" plus the staged curtain call

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Barbara Walters saw "Dear World"

Angela Lansbury appears on "The View" to promote the fantastic revival of Blithe Spirit (my delayed recount of the opening night is one the way...), discussing much of her career and even recreating the much-discussed interpretive dance that has become one of the highlights of the current theatre season. Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gone With the Wind: 70th Anniversary Festivities Begin!

The year 1939 is considered one of the most outstanding in Hollywood history. There was an unusual amount of critical and audience favorites that have maintained their esteem these 70 years removed. Dark Victory, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Stagecoach, Destry Rides Again, Wuthering Heights, Beau Geste, Ninotchka, Goodbye Mr. Chips, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Of Mice and Men, Only Angels Have Wings, The Women, Young Mr. Lincoln, Drums Along the Mohawk and the perennial favorite, The Wizard of Oz are just some of the films that came out that year. However, with the arguable exception of The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind certainly came out on top as one of the all-time box office champs and the recipient of 10 Oscars (8 competitive, 1 technical and 1 honorary). The film set a box office record that would not be surpassed until The Sound of Music was released in 1965 and was the first film ever broadcast on TCM. Every major anniversary of both The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind have brought about major reissues and home video releases, so it's expected that the same will apply this year. The festivities for Gone with the Wind start next month at the Atlanta Film Festival (a focal setting of the novel and film, and also where the film had its world premiere). I don't know about you, but I would love to see this film on the big screen.

Gone With the Wind: A 70th Anniversary Celebration
With Special Guests Turner Classic Movie's Robert Osborne, Baltimore Sun Critic Michael Sragow and Author/Critic Molly Haskell
April 18-19, 2009

Sunday, April 19 at 12:30pm
70th Anniversary Screening of Gone With the Wind
with Pre-Screening Talk-Back with Robert Osborne

"Gone With the Wind" will be shown at the Fox Theatre. Doors will open to the public at 11:30am. This is a reserved seating event. Tickets are $10 and $15 and will be available at the Fox Theatre Box Office or online at ticketmaster.com and at Ticketmaster outlets beginning February 16, 2009.

TICKETS ARE $10.00 AND $15.00

Support the Atlanta Film Festival at an EXCLUSIVE Fundraiser: A Southern Breakfast
Mint JulepSunday, April 19th at 10:00am: Join the Atlanta Film Festival for an exclusive private brunch at the home of board member Scott Benson (director, The Race to Save 100 Years). Guests will "never be hungry again" as they enjoy a fantastic Southern Breakfast buffet accompanied by mint juleps and sweet tea. Mr. Osborne, Ms. Haskell and Mr. Sragow will be in attendance--and guests will all be treated to gift bag which includes a signed copy of each of their books.

Guests will be conveniently shuttled to the screening, where their VIP reserved seats await. Space for this event is extremely limited--$500 minimum donation required. Proceeds for this fundraiser support the Atlanta Film Festival in its mission to lead the community in creative and cultural discovery through the moving image. To reserve your space and make your pledge to the Atlanta Film Festival, contact Paula Martinez at 404-352-4225.

Coffeehouse: State of Film Criticism
featuring Molly Haskell and Michael Sragow

Saturday, April 18th at 4:00pm: An intimate discussion at the new Starbucks on Monroe at the Midtown Promenade with a host of critics and bloggers from all over the U.S.

The Gone With the Wind Legacy:
A discussion with Robert Osborne, Michael Sragow and Molly Haskell

Gone With the Wind, Saturday, April 18th at 8:00pm: Atlanta History Center's The Literary Center at Margaret Mitchell House will host a very special author program for film lovers. Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne will lead a discussion with Michael Sragow, movie critic of The Baltimore Sun, and Molly Haskell, critic and author. Turner Classic Movies presents these film experts in a discussion about the legacy of "Gone With the Wind," its director Victor Fleming, and the Hollywood heyday of 1939.

The event will showcase new books from all three experts: "80 Years of the Oscar: The Official History of the Academy Awards" by Robert Osborne, "Victor Fleming," a biography by Michael Sragow, and "Frankly, My Dear: "Gone with the Wind" Revisited," by Molly Haskell.

Doors open at 7:00pm; program begins at 8:00pm. Tickets are $5 for members of the Atlanta History Center and Margaret Mitchell House; $10 for nonmembers. Reservations required at 404.814.4150. For more information, visit www.gwtw.org.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009

Non-Sequitur: Science Edition

Totally unrelated to anything we usually have to discuss, but I thought I'd share because it's one of the coolest things I've seen lately. Here is an underwater volcanic eruption off the coast of Tonga.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, Patricia Morison!

The actress who found her greatest success as Lilli Vanessi in the original production of Kiss Me, Kate turns 94 today. Her other big credit was a replacement Mrs. Anna in The King and I, which she took on tour and revived regionally over the years. Morison was signed to motion pictures as a rival to Dorothy Lamour, but found herself underused and returned to the stage. She lives in retirement in California and from what I hear, is in excellent health and spirits.
Here's a clip of Morison and co-star Alfred Drake singing "Wunderbar" in the 1958 telecast of Kiss Me, Kate.

And here is Morison with Yul Brynner performing "Shall We Dance?" on the 1971 Tony Awards.

Happy Birthday, Patricia Routledge (again...?)

Yes, yes. I posted about it a month ago. But in my travels, I managed to miss this: Richard and Judy brought Pat Routledge on for the occasion of her 80th birthday.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Natasha Richardson (1963-2009)

The family has released a statement that Ms. Richardson has passed away:

"Liam Neeson, his sons, and the entire family are shocked and devastated by the tragic death of their beloved Natasha. They are profoundly grateful for the support, love and prayers of everyone, and ask for privacy during this very difficult time."

The past two days have kept the world gripped as they awaited word on the condition of the actress. Unfortunately, the world was subject to some of the worst journalism that has been seen in recent memory. Instead of reporting facts, news outlets such as Time Out New York, the New York Post and the New York Daily News took to reporting prematurely of her health condition, from a premature obituary to editorializing what little facts were known. Instead of waiting for confirmation, these reporters took it upon themselves to print a headline and then immediately refute it with "sources say."

Though many of the reports proved to be accurate, it does not excuse the unabashed lack of journalistic integrity and utter insensitivity in the reporting. The Redgraves are a world renown acting dynasty and in a higher profile. They are also a family of class that has managed to carry themselves above the ranks of tabloid fodder. It is discomforting to see paparazzi snapshots of family members, especially the incredible forlorn shot of Richardson's mother, Vanessa Redgrave, at their most emotionally exposed as they merely try to enter a hospital. Inasmuch, the respect for the memory of the late Ms. Richardson and privacy for her surviving family is mandated.

The true journalistic nadir came in this morning's edition of the NY Daily News. In an article compiled by Joe Dziemianowicz, George Rush and Corky Siemaszko, and I quote:

"Neeson, 56, who starred in 'Schindler's List,' knows a little about what it's like to be a widower. He played one in the cult romance 'Love Actually.'"

The line was cut from the online edition, but you would believe it, made it into the print edition, in perhaps the most tasteless display I've seen in quite some time.

My heartfelt condolences go out to Ms. Richardson's entire family during this unthinkable tragedy. I only hope that the family was spared as much of the media circus as possible.

"Words, Words, Words"

Maria Friedman and Ian McShane on a British talk show during the original run of The Witches of Eastwick" in 2000.

This one's for Roxie.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Opening Night!

I have returned! To celebrate, I will be taking in the opening night of Blithe Spirit at the Shubert Theatre this evening with Sarah, Roxie and friends. The revival of the famed Noel Coward farce stars Christine Ebersole, Rupert Everett and our beloved Angela Lansbury with Jayne Atkinson and Simon Jones under the direction of Michael Blakemore. I am looking forward to this production moreso than any other this season. Angie is taking on the role of the eccentric medium Madame Arcati, a role originated by Margaret Rutherford in London (who preserved it in the film adaptation) and Mildred Natwick on Broadway (who played the part in a 1950s television production that starred Coward, Claudette Colbert and Lauren Bacall). Geraldine Page took on the role in the 1987 revival, with Patricia Conolly taking over after Page's unexpected death during the run. The 1964 musical version of the piece, High Spirits starred Beatrice Lillie in her final stage appearance as Arcati, with Tammy Grimes and Edward Woodward. The musical, which received a reading with Roundabout last year, isn't as strong as the original play. However, it's score is quite enjoyable; containing one of my favorite overtures and favorite eleven o'clock numbers (the bluesy, showstopping "Home Sweet Heaven").

Monday, March 9, 2009

Notes from the Other Side of the World

My time here in Baguio City is coming to an end. I would have updated more but I had some considerable trouble logging into Blogger.com and at one point found the site translated into various languages including German. We've taken several day trips. The first of which was a week ago. We traveled several hours north along the coastline to the city of Vigan, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site as it maintains one of the only Mestizo cities in the Philippines to evade total devastation from Japanese bombers during the Second World War. As enticing as it sounds, the city is in total disrepair. Most of the buildings that are considered ancient are in great need of repair and maintenance, looking more as if it were recently uncovered than an actual heritage site. In fact, the best looking building in town is the McDonald's which is housed in a converted Spanish style villa.

The next day we stopped up at the beach down the hill, though that was short-lived. However things were much better when we traveled to a water park complete with natural hot springs. I learned soon afterward the joy of country club living as my brother's took me up to the club house to partake in the jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, etc. Whatever it did, I don't think I've ever felt as clean in my entire life.

The piece d'resistance came on Saturday when we went to the Bolotoc mines, just outside of the town. It was about 10 miles, but given the twists and turns of the mountain roads (occasionally lacking asphalt at that), it took us a good half our to get there. It is an active gold and silver mine that employs several hundred Filipinos who live and work on site. Part of the hour long tour included a 400 meter trek inside one of the inactive tunnels. In an attempt to give us the most realistic experience possible, we are forced to wear mining helmets and knee high rubber boots. Quite possible the high point of our excursions this entire trip was the moment they detonated half a stick of dynamite 150 meters away from us while were inside the mine. We sat in a protected alcove called the miner's lunchroom where the miner's take their midday meal in total darkness as they blast. The concussion of the blast is one of those adrenaline inducing experiences that help preserve the memory of the trip. My brothers and I recounted that you could not do anything like that in the US.

As we wrap up here, my brothers and father golf while I get sent bowling with my mother and my sister-in-law's mother and sister. There are none of the mechanics you find in the US. There is one man behind the alley, who sets up the pins after each set and sends the balls back up the lane. There is another man who sits and keeps score. There are no bowling shoes (trust me, something you never want to do in sandals) and you get three tries. Things got off to a great start when Mom-in-law hit the pin-man with the bowling ball on the first time out.

We leave for the area near the airport tomorrow morning. We say goodbye to my nephew and my sister-in-law's gracious and hospitable family. We go around to Subic Bay, where my father was once stationed in the Marines back from '59-61 and then I get to do the reverse of my first trip. Let's hear it for another 15 hours in the Seoul-Incheon airport.

So much has gone on in the theatre world since I have left. We've had openings, deaths, announcements; life goes on, as it always does. Phylicia Rashad will be donning the teal pajamas of Violet Weston in August: Osage County starting on May 26. I am curious as to whether it's going to be colorblind casting or if they will pull a David Merrick/Hello, Dolly! casting coup and recast the entire show with an all-African American cast. It will be interesting to see how it all turns out: either way I think it will be interesting. (Though improbable there is a part of me that just wants to see James Earl Jones deliver Beverly Weston's opening monologue to Kim Guerrero). Speaking of August, I had the privilege to go to the theatre with my good friend Steve on Broadway for the first time prior to leaving and see A:OC for the fifth time. Unexpectedly we found ourselves seeing the understudies for both Violet and Barbara. Susanne Marley was angrily acerbic as the pill-poppin' matron, molded very much in the vitriolic mold of Deanna Dunagan. Dee Pelletier gave a strong performance as Barbara, if less a force of nature than Amy Morton. The real draw to see the show again was the inclusion of that stage legend Elizabeth Ashley stepping into the gaudy (new!) shoes of Mattie Fae. She was everything you would hope she'd be in the part. Though we bloggers have seen the original cast and have our impressions tempered by that unstoppable energy, the play remains a vibrant piece for first-timers who were wholly engrosssed in the experience. (On a side note: as I predicted British legend Margaret Tyzack won the Best Actress Olivier award for her performance in The Chalk Garden, besting Ms. Dunagan).

Horton Foote is nothing short of a national treasure. Though his list of credits goes on and on - I did have the privilege of seeing Mr. Foote at the opening night of Dividing the Estate this past November - for me, his most impressionable work is his Oscar-winning screenplay for the film adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird. His work is paramount to the success of the film, which is one of the most faithful film adaptations I've ever seen of any novel (which is one of my all-time favorite books). My high school drama teacher always made it a point to stop the movie in his English classes after Atticus Finch delivers his courtroom summation and announce to every class "That speech alone is enough to win any actor the Academy award." A testament to Foote's humanity and ingenuity as a writer. One of the most devastating scenes in film history is that moment when a silent yet dignified Finch slowly packs up his briefcase and exits the courtroom as the black community in the balcony rise in tribute. (I get chills just thinking about it). Foote passed away last week at the age of 92, living a full and rich life as America's most prolific writers right up until the very end. We are blessed to have had him around to enrich us with his wisdom and pathos for so many years.

On a final note. My aforementioned pal Steve on Broadway has decided to hang up his blogger's pen and go into semi-retirement. Instead of mourning the loss of his enriching columns, I will celebrate the insight he has given us for three years now. I am glad I am able to consider him a friend and look forward to meeting up with him when he comes to town to share in our usual brunches and theatre-going adventures.

I look forward to getting back to NY and getting back to the theatre. I hope to see you there!