As I write this, August is now half over. It is still summer, but there are unmistakable signs that the new fall season is not that far off. School supplies are featured in the Duane-Reade windows. Back-to-School clothes are in the ads. The Yankees are slowly creeping up from their summer’s malaise and breathing down the necks of the Red Sox. Soon it will be fall.
Which was always, since childhood, my favorite time of year. Crisp days, new shoes, new teacher if not a new school, new theatre season, new hopes and dreams.
I have returned from Cape Cod vacationing, with a stopover in western Massachusetts for our annual set of SELECTED SHORTS programs in Lenox, at The Mount, the beautiful home of Edith Wharton. Alec Baldwin was our reader at the performance at which the air conditioning in the lovely little carriage house of the Wharton estate broke down as he was in the midst of a rather long Edith Wharton mystery story. The narrative tension kept growing, and so did the readings on the thermometer. The crowd was intent on the mystery, but I was intent on the bead of perspiration I saw materializing just below Alec’s left sideburn and slowly beginning to trickle down his cheek. “If that little droplet keeps coming,” I thought to myself, “I will definitely have to get up from my seat on the left of the podium, and walk over and mop Alec’s chin rather than leave that droplet dangling!” But he managed it himself with a deft sweep of his chin with his sleeve.
That was the Friday show. The other big star scheduled for the Sunday matinee closing performance was the wonderful Joanne Woodward. On Saturday morning we heard from Joanne that she had fallen terribly ill with stomach miseries and would have to cancel Sunday. Now, we are very resourceful usually in whipping up a star to replace a star–that’s show business. But it’s one thing to accomplish this with a few phone calls in New York City, but much more difficult a trick to pull off in the country in the middle of a drowsy summer weekend. So that’s what made our producer Kathy Minton point out the clause in my contract which says that I am the general understudy and stand-by for SELECTED SHORTS readers who don’t show up, and after a Saturday night and Sunday morning of studying and working on the rather lengthy Edith Wharton comic tale, “The Velvet Ear Pads”, there I was up on stage doing it! The next day’s headline in The Berkshire Eagle: “Substitute Comes Through With Wonderful Reading”. You could look it up.
Among the first orders of business upon returning to Symphony Space was everyone’s final corrections and proofreading of the gorgeous 64-page booklet you will soon be getting in your mailbox if you’re a Symphony Space member: Our annual Season Overview brochure for the 2007-2008 30th Anniversary Season. I’m very proud of this handsome publication; not only because it’s been so beautifully designed and produced by our Marketing Department, but for its content: the amazing line up of events in every artistic discipline that we are preparing for you from Labor Day until next summer. To tell you the blog’s honest truth, the publication, now at the printer and soon on its way to you, both thrills me and scares me. The scary part is just this, as I tell my colleagues here at the theatre: “Now we have to actually DO all the things described in such promising prose and with such provocative photos.” If we were in the magazine business, we’d be done. It’s beautiful and it’s gone to press. But this is live performing arts and the booklet must now be brought to life. Good luck to us.