Saturday, January 31, 2009

Today is Carol Channing's birthday: the grand dame of Broadway Theatre was born in 1921 or is this day eighty-eight years young. What an amazing performer and singer!
Channing was introduced to the stage while doing church work for her mother. In a 2005 interview with the Austin Chronicle dear Miss Carol recounted this prophetic experience:
"My mother said, 'Carol, would you like to help me distribute
Christian Science Monitors backstage at the live theatres in San Francisco?' And I said, 'All right, I'll help you.' I don't know how old I was. I must have been little. We went through the stage door alley [for the Curran Theatre], and I couldn't get the stage door open. My mother came and opened it very easily. Anyway, my mother went to put the Monitors where they were supposed to go for the actors and the crew and the musicians, and she left me alone. And I stood there and realized – I'll never forget it because it came over me so strongly – that this is a temple. This is a cathedral. It's a mosque. It's a mother church. This is for people who have gotten a glimpse of creation and all they do is recreate it. I stood there and wanted to kiss the floorboards." I think that's the way great theatre comes over people. I remember how it happened to me. I had been cast in a community theatre's production of "The Wizard Of Oz" (for which I subsequently wrote a brandnew libretto, songs and score and the owner of theatre, Mr. Mark Shipley invited me to come to a complimentary performance of the show he was going to do just before Wizard opened. It was "Fiddler On The Roof". Bar none, that was the show that convinced me that I wanted to write for the theatre. Theatre was now my new passion. I remember the performance of actor Duane Thomas as Tevya so clearly! And the dream sequence just about knocked my socks off. Amazing show! Amazing memory! James Kirkwood (the librettist for "A Chorus Line and the play "P.S. Your Cat is Dead" tells a very humorous tale about Carol Channing in his biography. I had heard that actor's egos were mind blowing and this little episode just about takes the cake. Jimmy had written a show called "Legends" which co-starred Mary Martin. All during the rehearsals the production had used the same set they planned on using during the run. At the last moment, a decision was made to replace the comforter that draped the couch with a new one. Great use of it was used by the actress. Regardless, out it went into the garbage and the collectors were right on time on Friday morning to pick it up with everything else being thrown out! OMG. You have never witnessed such a display of emotions. Carol refused to go on that night until that original comforter was recovered and returned to that sofa! Why? Because Carol Channing claimed that all of her karma was in that comforter. The crew had to go searching for every dumping ground in the city. It was finally found just as it was getting dark in NYC. John has begun orchestrations for "Broadway Angels" and we hope to have that done and we've passed another hurdle for The Barter Theatre's production of our "little Bit of Broadway"-- we are keeping all fingers and toes crossed. Praise God for all His help in our pursuits. Today is also Eddie Cantor's birthday who was born in 1892 and Mario Lanza who was born in 1921. In 1985 one of the greatest Broadway flops of all time opened. It was the first show to be developed by the Goodspeed Opera in Chicago and starred Mark Hamill ("Star Wars") It was called "Harrigan And Heart" and lasted only four performances. Broadway can be ruthless!

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