Steven recently posted The Mirror on SoundCloud, a song he wrote with his friend, Ted Dykstra, for their yet-to-be produced musical, Dorian, based on Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.
While the recording is a bit sketchy from a wobbly old cassette, the performers are straight up Canadian music royalty. Stratford Festival star Lucy Peacock is on lead vocals, Paul Hoffert from the band Lighthouse is on organ, Creighton Doane on drums and Kevin Breit on guitar. Steven’s not sure of backup vocals, but I would guess Melanie Doane and Damhnait Doyle are likely in there, maybe Terry Hatty, no doubt Ted, definitely not Steven.
Speaking of Ted, it’s 25 years since he and Richard Greenblatt premiered their play 2 Pianos, 4 Hands at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto. Mirvish Productions just released a podcast interview with Ted and Richard and their devoted stage manager, Beatrice Campbell, my pal and classmate from the National Theatre School of Canada. Stage managers are NEVER included in such things, so it’s lovely to see Bea tell her stories.
Steven and Ted are working on a new show based on the Greek myth of Dionysus (no, it’s not contractual that they only work on subjects starting with D!), so poor old Dorian must be feeling a bit left out, like a forgotten painting in an attic or something.
I was listening to KJazz 88.1, a jazz and blues station broadcasting from California State University Long Beach, a couple of weeks ago and heard a great upbeat version All I Do Is Dream Of You. At first I thought it was Blossom Dearie, but turns out it’s a fantastic young woman named Kat Edmonson. Originally from Texas, she calls her style of music vintage pop. I hear touches of her fellow Texan Nanci Griffith and a little Doris Day in her voice, but her sound is unique and difficult to categorize.
She covers lots of jazz classics and some pop songs too, including a gentle rendering of The Cardigan’s Lovefool. Edmonson’s also a solid songwriter, and her most recent single, If You’re Scared (Call On Me), was commissioned for the COVID-19 Song Project on NPR’s Morning Edition, and has been floating through my head most days, especially when we had a few scary moments this week. It seems like a song that has always existed, a beautifully crafted perfect thing.
Edmonson was half way through a tour last year that was cancelled when COVID-19 struck, so she has been streaming live concerts from her New York living room most Sunday evenings at 7:00 EDT. Pay what you will to join the party, and I’ll be there on YouTube.
I played the Artful Dodger in a high school production because there weren’t enough males to play all the parts. Our show was pretty good because our school, Westisle, has a large, professional theatre, and as the principal’s wife was the drama teacher, we had a very generous budget!
My first year of university was a disaster, so I took a year off and went to London to work, becoming an usher at Theatre Royal Drury Lane in the fall of 1985. The musical 42nd Street was playing and it was a big hit. When I started, the older female role of Dorothy Brock was played by Georgia Brown, who had originated the role of Nancy in the original production of Oliver!, and when Georgia left the show, Shani Wallis took over, and she had played Nancy in the 1968 movie.
I had a nodding acquaintance with both of these women, and they were lovely. I worked for a while at the main souvenir stand in the Drury Lane rotunda, and Shani would come through just to get out of the rather dismal backstage area during a long break, and she always said hello. I would sometimes see Georgia walking through Covent Garden in the afternoon before a show, no big deal.
During rehearsals for that year’s Royal Variety Performance, which was held at Drury Lane, I snuck into the theatre during a break to watch from the back of the stalls. A small woman with dark hair walked past and stood in front of me, dressed in sort of a safari-style pant suit and hat (remember, mid-80s), and I thought, oh, there’s Georgia, she must be in the show, too, lovely.
The woman left and there was a bit of a pause in the rehearsal. I was talking to another usher when someone announced “Ladies and Gentlemen, Miss Joan Collins!” and there she was, the lady in the safari pant suit minus the hat, appearing for a publicity photo call. She was one of the biggest stars in the world at that time because of her role on the prime time soap Dynasty, and was one of themanystars appearing on that year’s show. Every time Joan would move and strike another pose, the 35 mm cameras would all go off, volleys of shutter bursts chukachuakachuakachauka shshshshshhshsh, like someone squishing cellophane in their hands. It was transfixing, and a little scary.
I should have been far more impressed with having a nodding acquaintance with Georgia Brown than I did when I was 19, but I wasn’t, and that’s the silliness of youth. Her theatre and film credentials were solid, but perhaps most famously she performed with her Oliver! co-star Davy Jones (later of The Monkees) on the same 1964 Ed Sullivan show that featured the US live television debut of The Beatles. Ho hum.
As for Joan Collins, she never blocked my sight line with her big safari hat again, but her sister, Jackie, cursed at me and another usher at the end of the Royal Variety Performance when we wouldn’t let her leave the auditorium to join Joan backstage right after the curtain fell. That story involves the Queen, Andrew Lloyd Weber, the IRA, and a dust pan, but that will have to wait for another time because I just pulled something trying to pick up all those names I just dropped.
Everyone is at home right now, including all the famous and should-be-famous from Broadway, so they are going to do a Judy and Mickey and raise some money!
Rosie O’Donnell is hosting an online fundraiser tonight for The Actors Fund. The fantastic lineup includes musical royalty like Patti LuPone, Ben Vereen, Chita Rivera, Audra MacDonald and Kristin Chenoweth. And it also happens to be Stephen Sondhiem’s 90th birthday today, so expect a nod or two to the great one.
Great new tune and video from Tame Impala. I was so busy trying to follow how each person and scene changed over time that I didn’t notice the video aspect ratios also changed to match the decades (see, there is a benefit to sometimes peeking at YouTube comments!). Run Kevin Parker Run!