Monday, February 6, 2012

Wonderful Town / Part One

  After graduating from high school, Bill Leet, Lynn Kipp, and I drive straight from Baton Rouge to New York City, some 30 or more hours, stopping only for gas and quickly grabbing snacks and taking bathroom breaks. And that one time, late at night, being stopped for speeding and being asked for the registration papers we don’t have for the borrowed ’57 yellow Plymouth with the transmission push-buttons on the dashboard. A late night call to Joe, Lynn’s friend who owns the car, and the cop sends us on our way with a warning. Arriving so early in the morning, trying to sleep in the car in the parking lot of some business on Staten Island, we still call too early and wake up Dee Wood’s family. Crashing a few days with Dee before renting a two-bedroom flop-suite at the Rex Hotel right off Times Square, it is easy remembering that first night in Manhattan, giddy from lack of sleep, seeing our first Broadway show, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, being amazed at the laughter during this deadly serious play. Two shows a day for two weeks. There’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum with Zero Mostel who is a big man and floats around the stage; Tovarich without Vivien Leigh, ill or drunk that night, and her understudy getting a standing ovation from a group of her friends close to the stage; Best Foot Forward without Liza Minnelli who at a young age is following in the tradition of Vivien; Enter Laughing, on its last legs with a young and funny Alan Arkin, Bill securing us tickets in the balcony for 95 cents each; Oliver! with sets that moved and catwalks that meet just in time as the characters run from pursuers high above; How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, an impish Robert Morse who gets into his VW in front of the theatre after the show, him thinking we are muggers when we are approaching and knocking on his window and telling him how good he was; Anthony Newley doing his Chaplin routine in Stop the World—I Want to Get Off and me liking it a lot; Bill and Lynn seeing Paul Ford in Never Too Late, me maybe hanging around the city with Dee Wood, no doubt talking about the on-again/off-again romance with the other Dee. 

1 comment:

  1. The Rex Hotel, a street over from the Eddie Jaffe office where our friend from Port Allen played publicist and told New York stories with the assurance of a longtime resident.