DO40 Tops Itself Again
– with an Utterly Amazing Night
Celebrating the Life and Times of
Broadway Producer David Merrick
FINALE! – OVER 4O (!!) PARTICIPANTS!
We don’t know how many other ways to say it – you can’t read about this stuff in dance and theater books! An SRO audience listened, laughed hysterically to the point of tears, and roared with approval for our panelists AND performers Monday, April 29th at St. Luke’s Theater honoring – yes, honoring – prolific Broadway producer David Merrick (88 Broadway shows – over 30 of them musicals).
The evening opened with 22 cast members from the original 42nd Street (and a few replacements!) tapping to the show’s opening number. DO40 member and former Gower Champion assistant Karin Baker helmed the show, guiding the dancers through not only this number, but a little of “Dames” and the finale of the evening, “Lullaby of Broadway.” Also, performing, co-host Anita Gillette, singing from Carnival, and Ernestine Jackson, singing from Hello, Dolly! And in between - stories, videos, panels, videos, stories, and another panel!
Side-splitting tales from director/choreographer Dan Siretta, actor Tony Roberts, America’s all-time heart throb John Davidson and lyricist Tom Jones (The Fantastics, as well as 110 in the Shade and I Do! I Do! with Merrick) were other highlights. America’s first Tiger Lily (1956’s Peter Pan with Mary Martin), Sondra Lee, had chain rattling stories about Merrick, and Karin Baker quipped that he hired and fired her 5 times, often calling her 3 days later asking, “Karin, where are you?”
END OF THE 42ND STREET NUMBER BY THE ORIGINAL CAST
DO40 member Allyson Tucker-Mitchell and husband Brian Stokes-Mitchell sent a video cheering on Dan Siretta, their choreographer for Merrick’s Oh, Kay! – the show where they first met in 1990!Virgina Seidel reminisced about her time in Very Good Eddie and Leni Anders in Carnival and Do Re Mi.
There was a very special panel of the “toreadorables” from Gypsy, all from the original cast (Merrick’s third Broadway show at the time) – Marilyn D’honau, Marie Wallace and replacements Lucky Donovan and Lane Bradbury. Co-host and moderator Anita Gillette was a replacement and the Merm allowed her to stay in the cast while she was pregnant – as long as she could still do the splits!
AFTER THE SHOW CAST PHOTO
Act II’s panel included Teak Lewis (Breakfast at Tiffanys), Ann Johnson (Do Re Mi) Bob Fitch (Promises, Promises, Mack and Mabel, How Now, Dow Jones), John Davidson (Merrick’s last show, State Fair) and Karin Baker and PR maven Josh Ellis from 42nd Street.
42nd Street alumni and tap dancers extraordinaire included Doreen Alderman, Carol Banninger, Joel Blum, Mary Cadorette, Ron DeVito, Denise DiRenzo, Jeri Kansas, Ginny King, Terri Ann Kundrat, Maureen Mellon, Sandra Menheart, Bill Nabel, Tony Parise, Jean Preece, Vicki Regan, Lars Rosager, Linda Sabatelli, Nikki Sahagen, Mary Ellen Scilla, Alison Sherve and David Storey. And note, 42nd Street had ONE PRODUCER, David Merrick, not 20 or 30, as you can see from the size of the TONY-winning plays and musicals when they come to the stage to pick up their award. DO40 showed the tape of Merrick picking up his TONY for 42nd Street alone – thanking everyone, yet getting in a dig to the community by saying “where would you be this season without 42nd Street?”
DO40 MEMBER AND GOWER ASSISTANT KARIN BAKER TOOK THESE KIDS THROUGH THEIR PACES!
It was a sold out show, standing-room-only crowd that spilled from the back of the house to down the sides. DO40 President John Sefakis had videographer Manny Santiago come to the front of the stage and shoot THEM, as many stood and mentioned the Broadway shows in which they performed. DO40 tapes these events for the Jerome Robbins Dance Collection at the Library of the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, so EVERY dancer counts!
BACKSTAGE WITH TONY ROBERTS, DO40 PREZ JOHN SEFAKIS,
JOEL BLUM(BACK) BOB FITCH AND DAN SIRETTA
Tales of Merrick’s generosity (scholarships for dancers, raises for cast members) and frugalness (the 42nd Street commercial! Unpaid for years! Finally resolved!) abounded. We’re just saying – you HAD to be there. OR be a member of Dancers over 40, since one of the big perks is the member-only page of our great website, www.dancersover40.org, where members can view ALL of our panels, performances, socials and more by putting in their user name and password! So spread the word to friends on ANY coast – even the south of France – or Switzerland (where DO40 board member Catarina Valente resides!). We are here for you – to promote your History, your Legacy and your Lives – and pass it on to the next generation.
CO-HOSTS LEE ROY REAMS AND ANITA GILLETTE