1964: I get my Equity card, compliments of Michael Bennett, who hires me for No Strings on the Lenny-Debin circuit. Two more shows for Michael follow: West Side Story in 1965 and Coco in 1969.
...Flash Forward to April, 2010: an email and a postcard from DO40 announcing the May 17th tribute to Michael: MICHAEL BENNETT, A JOYFUL NOISE. Hmmm, do I want to go? It was a lifetime ago, I’ve lost touch with all those people (except for a few), I’ve moved on to other things. Then again, it was an important part of my life – an important part of theatre history. And I was lucky enough to be a part of it. Why not!Putting wheels in motion – Rita O’Connor is coming in from Rhode Island to be on the panel and needs a place to stay. We make plans for her to stay in my apartment.
Dinner plans taking shape – Diane Phillips is coming in from Connecticut – Bill Guske suggests we all meet at Joe Allen’s (another blast from the past!). Bick Goss joins us too. May 17th arrives. My husband and I arrive at dinner first, and who’s the first person I see? Bob Avian! OMG – I haven’t seen him since 1970! This night is gonna be good. Then Diane and Bill and Bick arrive. Rita joins us for a little while before she has to go to get ready. Then who sits at the table next to ours – Steve Boockvor and Denise Pence with one of their gorgeous daughters! OMG, this is getting really good! And then the event – what can I say?
Johnny Sefakis and Company did such a wonderful job planning and setting up. Harvey Evans is such a perfect moderator. And everyone on the panel did such a great job. And everyone looked so fabulous! My goodness, gypsies age well, don’t they! It was such a delight to hear everyone’s reminiscences, like just sitting in someone’s living room schmoozing. Hearing old familiar stories, and lots of new ones too. And maybe a little exaggeration here and there… but so what? And the film clips – what a treat! Best of all was seeing people I haven’t seen in ages, maybe 40 (or more) years – people both on and off the panel: Carolyn Kirsch, Sal Angelica, Larry Fuller, Bella Malinka (my ballet teacher from PA) – the list goes on and on.
So, in mulling over the evening, I’m thinking that, although we may be a little grayer, we’re all really exactly the same. And then I think… well, not exactly: in the old days, the event would have been just the beginning of the evening; everyone would have gone off together for drinks and food afterward til the wee hours of the morning. But now, after some meeting and greeting immediately after, people had to catch trains or buses, or get up in the morning for work, or whatever - I guess all the Peter Pans have grown up… And to tell you the truth, I usually don’t make it past 10:00 PM! Anyhow, I looked around after awhile, the crowd had thinned out, and I hadn’t had a chance to hug everyone I wanted, and catch up on years of news.
So, to those I missed, please accept my virtual hug and know of my delight to see you, even if only briefly. So, could a perfect evening have been any more perfect? Only if absolutely everyone had been there! And if we could have stayed awake long enough to catch up with a few more folks afterward.
So, here’s to you, Michael – and here’s to DO40, for bringing us all together again!
by Marianne Selbert