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Thalia Book Club Camp offers up-close interaction with renowned children's book authors and illustrators, book discussions, and book-related field trips around the city. This blog follows the camp's activities.

Taking Selected Shorts on the Road

Published on May 8, 2008

FIVE different Selected Shorts programs on two coasts within six days! Whew!

When the Jet Blue red-eye overnight flight from Long Beach, California deposited a bleary, sleepy Shorts team of Sheffer and Minton at JFK airport on Monday morning after a week in L.A. rehearsing and presenting three different story programs on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, focusing on mysteries, detective tales, and violence and mayhem at our 17th annual season of literary programs at the beautiful J.Paul Getty Museum atop a high hill in Bel Air, it was only to plunge us immediately into preparation for Tuesday morning’s climactic All Write! adult literacy program event, with readings of dozens and dozens of stories and poems by this year’s students, and then to take a quick breath and prepare for last night’s next-to-the-last Shorts program of the Symphony Space series, our Eudora Welty tribute, which will also be broadcast in its entirety on Misssissippi Public Radio, thereby adding the Gulf Coast to this Pacific and Atlantic week. (If the previous long sentence leaves you feeling winded, it’s my deliberate attempt to share with you the way I feel.)

I’m a New Yorker through and through, but it’s always fun each year to visit LaLaLand for one limited week (I could never live there, even if I starred in a TV series). It’s good to see old friends and enjoy valet parking and the Luxe Hotel in Belair where The Getty People put me up and where the walk up to the pool is filled with the aroma of the jacaranda trees. I don’t mind valet parking either, especially if it’s on the Getty, but I continue to dread being trapped in the right hand lane of a fast-moving twelve lane Los Angeles Freeway, only to discover very suddenly that I am in an Exit Only lane, exiting into a place I don’t want to go to, and no fierce Angeleno driver will even THINK of letting me move one lane over to my left to avoid this fate.

Our terrific Getty readers this year included Fionnula Flanagan (who will soon be back east on June 16 to read the complete Molly Bloom again on Bloomsday on Broadway XXVII); Robert Sean Leonard, heartthrob of all the Symphony Space interns who keep asking me why I don’t have him read here at home (He’s doing a series out there. He used to read here when he lived in the Village.); the incomparable Rene Auberjonois; and the ever-amazing Hattie Winston. Driving out to Hattie’s house in Encino to rehearse with her, I finally discovered how to get on the Ventura Freeway in Hollywood and take it all the way to the San Fernando Valley without having to retrace my path from my hotel through every stop light on Sunset Boulevard. You live and you learn. The stories we recorded at The Getty will be folded into next year’s Selected Shorts radio series, so New Yorkers can hear them, too.

Did I mention that just after the literacy program on Tuesday, the gang of merry pranksters who make up The Thalia Follies cast convened around Lanny Meyers’ piano in the Thalia Studio to start rehearsing for the final Follies of the season on Monday night, at 6:30 and 8:30? This month, it’s the Digital Follies, with songs and sketches on a variety of cyber subjects. Come hear Ivy Austin sing about ordering food from Fresh Direct when your heart is breaking, or yours truly singing about that most essential digit, the thumb. See you there, I hope.

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