A Night of Comedy,
Tears and Great Adoration
for a multi-talented, and multi-faceted man:
CURTAIN CALL: DO40 Prez John Sefakis, Barbara Dare Thomas, Nicole Barth, Marianne Tatum,
Wakefield Poole, Patti Mariano, Susan Lowrance, Bruce Vilanch, James Dybas, Lynn Summerall,
Jill O’Hara, Walter Willison, Lawrence Leritz, Loni Ackerman, Bob Becker, Jane Coleman,
Shirley Nelson Holst, Bob Fitch, Edie Cowan (not shown: Grover Dale, Mary Zahn, Roger Puckett,
Terrence Mann, Carolyn Kirsch, Sondra Lee, Lillian Colon)
People flew in from coast to coast to coast to be there! Jacksonville, San Diego, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Connecticut (well by train for that one!) all to honor their “leader,” Joe Layton. Host Bruce Vilanch opened the festivities with a monologue – a Joe Layton monologue, filled with drama and as we say now, “shade” about many, many performers. Noel Coward was the best at it, Bruce said. Especially the story about the horse on stage and the ingénue. Bruce worked with Joe on Bette Midler’s Clams on a Half Shell and then on the Alexis Smith/Lisa Mordente classic, Platinum.
Wakefield Poole, Bob Fitch, Lynn Summerall, Susan Lowrance, Grover Dale, Sondra Lee, Bruce Vilanch
Joe’s career was traced from his first show, Oklahoma, where he met Richard Rogers, to The Life and Radio City Music Hall, in 1994 when he succumbed to AIDS. Friends, assistants, dancers, singers were all in attendance. There were special moments of heartfelt song, with Walter Willison, Marianne Tatum, Loni Ackerman and Jill O’Hara singing songs from their respective shows.
The show ran a bit long. As a matter of fact, we are about to submit the DVD to the Guiness Book of Records as longest panel/performance in DO40 History! Three and one half hours, not counting intermission! Our first panel ran 2 hours (including Mr. Vilanch’s opening monologue!)
Lillian Colon, Roger Puckett, Barbara Dare Thomas, Walter Willison, Lawrence Leritz,
Terrance Mann, Marianne Tatum, Mary Zahn
|If awards were to be given for most enthusiastic, it would be a three way tie, with Sondra Lee, Grover Dale and Bob Fitch, neck and neck at the finishing line! We threw up pictures on the back cyc of relevant shows while the panelists were talking, and it worked quite nicely, like here, with Grover Dale, 50 years apart, yet both exuding enthusiasm and commitment!
Grover Dale talking to Bruce Vilanch
Lawrence Merritt, Nicole Barth, Wakefield Poole,
Lynn Summerall, Carolyn Kirsch, Jane Coleman
Celebrities Lesley Ann Warren, Lisa Mordente and Angela Lansbury sent video clips in their absence, and Susan Guthrie Lowrances audio tapes of Joel Grey, Elliott Gould, Joe Tremaine and Florence Henderson tied in nicely with a Streisand “Happy Days are Here Again.”
Act II concentrated on Dear World and George M! panelists, with clips, songs and many stories about how Joe worked with the material to make it better – especially in the case of Dear World.
The George M! gang took their places right after the Dear World kids.
James Dybas, Wakefield Poole, Jill O’Hara, Lynn Summerall, Patti Mariano, Loni Ackerman
Although the show ran long, there wasn’t a boring story to be told. Maybe a little off topic when Carol Channing came up (Bruce Vilanch offered to host a separate Channing panel to expand upon Carol’s work in Lorelei!).
Moderator Walter Willison, DO40 President John Sefakis and Host Bruce Vilanch
This was one of the most difficult events to produce, as many panelists and moderators were not from the area. But put a few dancers on stage to talk about a show, well, you can’t go wrong. You can go long, but not wrong!