Monday, January 28, 2008

My Mame - Back Where She Belongs

And speaking of the great Angela Lansbury, I found this draft that I had forgotten about in the archives.

My friend Blake was in New York a few weeks ago and managed to get tickets for the opening night of Deuce, the new Terrance McNally play starring Angela Lansbury and Marion Seldes. He took this great shot of the incredible Angela as she was leaving for the opening night party. She wasn't signing autographs but she turned to the crowd and called out: This is my night to howl! Blake says the cheers at that point where almost as loud as the applause at the curtain calls.
Angela Lansbury leaves the Music Box TheaterAt 82 she still looks great and Blake says that both woman were wonderful but Lansbury has that magic on stage that says "Star."

I remember the first time I saw her on stage - Mame during the Boston try-out in 1966. It had be a disastrous few days. I headed for Boston and a drama school audition at MIT - I was all set to become the Michael Redgrave of my generation - notice not the Olivier or Gielgud, I knew my limitations.

I was eighteen and terribly naive. It was my first time flying and I honestly believed they brought a new airplane out for each flight - duh well 33 years in the airline business taught me better than that. I won't go into the gruesome details but that three days involved lying to my boss about where I was going; getting stacked up over JFK and missing my flight to Boston; losing my ticket in the transfer terminal; buying a new one on North East Airlines; having just enough money for a cab to my hotel in Cambridge and to get into Boston the next day; gave a horrible audition where I blew the test piece to hell; a call to my bank in Toronto for a draft; their call to my boss that cost me my job.

Angela Lansbury - MameAs I said it was a disastrous few days. Except my wanders through Boston took me past the Schubert Theater and a brilliant yellow poster announcing: Angela Lansbury as Mame, a New Musical. I had really loved Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame and really hated Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate (one of the greatest portrayals of evil in the cinema.) How could that horrid woman be the aunt that we all knew we were meant to have? I bought a ticket in the balcony - what would it have been $1.50 maybe $2.00 and strangely, considering it became the hardest ticket to get in New York, I don't remember it being a full house.

- Overture!
- Voice over reading of Patrick's father's will.
- First scene - Patrick and Gooch (Jane Connell) outside Beeckman Place.
- Party scene with Vera Charles (Bea Arthur) centre stage and then...

And then this woman appeared at the top of a spiral staircase in a backless gold lame jump suit, a trumpet in her hand and as she descended began singing, radiating love, joy and that magic that says "star." And for the next three hours every disaster disappeared.

28 gennaio - San Tommasso d'Aquina


evilganome said...

Hurray for Angela and hurray for Will. Wonderful story. I have to say that if I am feeling down, there is nothing like listening to the cast recording of Mame to cheer me up.

She's always been a chameleon, early in her career she was the maid in Gaslight and then Elizabeth Taylor's sister in National Velvet. 2 roles that couldn't have been more different.

Let's hope she continues to wow us!

sageweb said...

Great Story. It is lovely to start my Monday to a nice story.

more cowbell said...

What a great post!! I could just see you at 18...

Elizabeth said...

Great post, and what an amazing and still gorgeous woman!