Updated: October 23, , 2008
Thank You! (Now Get Lost)
You Never Say No
No Micky Hargitay
Body and Mind Games
Birth of a Chorus Gypsy
Not Your Usual Christmas Story
A Short Story
Cunningham and DeMille
I'd Rather be A Sexpot
Anna Sokolow Way
In the Crossfire
Baayork Lee's great book, ON THE LINE: The Creation of A Chorus Line, is a pang-by-pang account of this musical's birth. You can find it at Abebooks
A Hot Link! News of bygone but still high-kicking gypsies at Dancers Over 40
Links to West Side Story dancers Tony Mordente and David Winters, both alive and well and pursuing their careers, plus links to the entire cast at Jets And Sharks 101.
How dancemakers make modern dances, ballets, show-biz and TV numbers, ice dances, water ballets, half-time for bugle and drum corps, and any events where people move in deliberate and eye-catching ways. An Open Sesame to the creative process. Whether you want to make dances or merely look in on the ways it is done, here's your book. $15, Free shipping. Click MAP to order directly from Stuart Hodes.
Link to This!
April 10, 2011. My memoir, "PART REAL-PART DREAM:Dancing With Martha Graham, Agnes deMille, Jack Cole, et al," will be digitally published at the end of this month by Concord Free Press. To read short excerpts, and for links to sellers like AMAZON (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), and others (as soon as it is in stock) click to my new web site: www.PartRealPartDream.com Love to hear your reactions! Stuart
November 30, 2010 "Proud to Pay" buttons should arrive in a few days. They are FREE and I pay postage.
In WW2 I flew a B-17 Flying Fortress, and on every mission, knew the whole USA was in the cockpit with me. That spirit still lives despite screamers who complain about taxes, but gladly grab every chance to make a buck and all the other benefits our USA showers on them.
I believe most people are willing to pay their just taxes. They don't carry on about it but might like to wear a small button that says, "Proud to Pay for The USA." One inch in diameter, a dignified statement. I'd love to send you one. Free, and I'll pay postage.
To get yours, email me your mailing address. Type "Proud To Pay" In the subject line
To the right is the design.
November 27, 2010
PROUD! To Pay for the USA. A Community for those who love the USA
We can't all be in uniform or volunteer to re-build stricken cities, or stop global warming. or clean up oil-soaked beaches. But there is one thing we ALL do, and can be PROUD to do: Pay for the USA!
I flew a bomber in WW2 and felt every civilian back home was in the cockpit with me. They worked their tails off to keep us flying and paid taxes willingly and proudly.
The USA still has enough of that spirit to be greatest country in the world. If it's in you, send me an email and I'll put your name on the list of "PROUD TO PAY for the USA" and send you a button as soon I get them in my hands. - Stuart Hodes
October 29, 2010 When you understand that most politicians are merely scripted actors, you begin to look behind the words and discover what is jerking their strings.
A recent mailer from candidate Ryan Brumberg, proudly claimed endorsment by Peter Thiel, the co-founder and CEO of PayPal. Well, well, so a billionaire likes him. What's that got to do with a thousandaire like me?
Brumberg wants to:
"Slash the deficit by addressing entitlements." He really means "address the deficit by slashing entitlements?" Which? Social security? Unemployment insurance? Medicare? Doesn't say.
Simplify "burdensome regulations." Unregulated banks bought down the U.S. economy. Do we want more of that?
Wants "revenue neutral" tax reform, meaning the same rate for poor and rich.
In World War Two, the day of "the greatest generation," it was patriotic to pay taxes, as much as you could afford. That was when the U.S.A united to save the world from Hitler and Tojo, monsters on opposite side of the globe: Today we can't handle Afganistan
October 20, 2010. Somewhere, the great showman, P.T. Barnum is having a good laugh. The guy who got rich because, "There's a sucker born every minute," will be watching Americans on Election Day to see if they actually bring back the carny barkers who have been cheating them blind with the help of White Houses run by 1) a befuddled actor, 2) a scheming felon, 3) a feckless frat boy.
By sucking blood from the Middle Class, the rich became superrich, and the U.S.A. edges toward having only two classes, very rich, and very poor. Will the P.T Barnum suckers give them another crack, shoving us closer to becoming the newest Third World nation?
Foaming at the mouth against Medicare, Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, etc, trying to slip the same ghouls back in office, they are hoping that the youth vote, black vote, Hispanic vote, etc., has lost interest and will spend Election day Tweeting. Will they? We'll know soon enough.
October 23, 2008. Theater has it heights -- Sophocles, Shakespeare, Beckett, – and its lows – dog fighting, bear baiting, lions eating Christians. The lowest I've personally witnessed was after WWII when touring a Moroccan Medina with a cluster of GIs who'd paid a buck each to watch a naked prostitute undulate with a cigarette in her vagina, at the end to yank it out and thrust it toward the mouth of a gaping GI. He jerked back like he'd had a jolt of electricity, to the roars of the rest.
Sept 22, '08 - The Clique: Opera has had cliques for a couple hundred years, usually a diva’s fans who could be depended upon to scream their heads off after every aria. Divas loved their cliques, getting theater managers to give them free admission, especially if a rival sang in the same production. This venerable tradition was grabbed by the masterminds of Bush’s campaigns, now, John McCain’s.
Sept 19, '08 - What Surge? There is always a mise en scène. An actor delivering lines on a sunlit beach is different from the same actor, same lines, in a dark trash-filled alley. When running for office, a political actor brings a mise en scène to the stump: John McCain, his POW cell, Barack Obama, America’s heartland, Sarah Palin, moose-hunting Alaska, Joe Biden, blue collar Pennsylvania and a Delaware hearth-and-home.
September 18, 2008
March 21, 2008
January 7, 2008.
"Ladies and gentlemen, Lynn Fontanne!" Thunder broke loose in the house, thousands of clapping hands. After a long moment, Lynn rose– without any help from me, or even from the arms of her chair– and stood, tall as tall, and bowed, graciously. The applause grew deeper. She turned then, slowly, and, facing the rear, bowed to the balcony. There was pandemonium, stamping feet, cries of ‘Bravo'. The house went wild– for a full five minutes, Lynn bravely and happily bowing.
November 29, 2007.
A personal note to Chorus Gypsy readers: It is almost two months since my last post. For one, I got caught up in a demanding writing project. For two, I began to feel that Chorus Gypsy was becoming a solo when I really want a chorus! Janet Eilber's story snapped me back to how much Chorus Gypsy means to me, and just maybe to the surprising number of you who kept clicking on it the entire time! Thank you! And please send stories!
October 4, ‘07. Talked into a video camera with Christine Jowers, founder of a new web site: http://www.dance-enthusiast.com. It's online now but Christine says it is still a-borning. Her vision is to show the dance world as seen by dancers, choreographers, and dance lovers. There are reviews, but nothing like the smug blather of self-centered wannabes who mainly review themselves. New to me are live video clips, moments from the recent Martha Graham season, rehearsals, and interviews with choreographers. This is a feature I'd love to put into Chorus Gypsy. One of these days you'll likely see some of the interview I did today. (I'm in no hurry!) Click: Dance Enthusiast.
October 3, 2007 "I rose, turned around and walked serenely out of the door, on air. I had been anointed forever by the great Martha Graham." For Dorothy Berea Silver's story, click Martha Graham.
September 30, 2007. Your story on Chorus Gypsy is protected by Copyright! On the About page, the word copyright and the sign, ©, covers every story, and the paragraph below guarantees that rights belong to the writer. You! Whether you were in a high school production or a Broadway hit, you know at least one good theater story. If a couple of sentences or a couple of pages, write it on your word processor, then cut and paste into an Email to Chorus Gypsy by clicking Contact. Or email your telephone number, I'll call, and you can tell your story into my Nano. Nothing posted without your okay so don't worry about style or grammar. Readers are waiting!
September 26, 2007 Richard Foreman has actors play violins who never had a lesson. Click Avant Garde. Scroll to Poet 12
September 24, 2007 "Today as I crossed in character, Richard said,
September 23, 2007. Another journal entry from The Birth of the Poet.
September 21, ‘07. I'll continue to post From the Horse's Mouth stories about Martha Graham, hoping to have all twenty-eight one day. But today is from The Birth of the Poet and I want to acknowledge guidance from Professor Miriam Burstein of SUNY Brockport, who includes poet/librettist Kathy Acker's Don Quixote in one of her courses, which prompted me to order it from American Book Exchange, now awaited with baited breath. For insights into Richard Foreman's creative process, click Avant Garde
Sept 20, '07. Composer Norman Dello Joio on how he met Martha Graham, told by his granddaughter, Chiara. Click Martha
Sept 17, '07. The Martha Graham page is now on line and the first story is by Barbara Bennion. Click Martha.
September 15, ‘07 2 PM. The Martha Graham edition of From the Horse's Mouth played Manhattan's Joyce Theater. It began with an introduction of Graham alums, from Mary Anthony, who is 91, to 12-year-old Chiara Dello Joio who represented her grandfather, composer Norman Dello Joio, who wrote some of Graham's great scores. Horse's Mouth, invented by Tina Croll and Jamie Cunningham, gathers dancers under a common theme, in this case the Martha Graham troupe. Each enters, sits, tells a story, then joins in a semi-improvised dance. The stories ranged from Barbara Bennion, immobilized by flu on tour, visited bedside by Martha who held her hand and recited The 23rd Psalm, whereupon Barbara rose and performed that night, to David Zorack, who described his ten most unforgettable stage moments, including a run on for his bow, to slip in a puddle of his own sweat and fall flat on his back. My own contribution, Martha's Rap, is posted on Stars. But Martha deserves her own page and shall have it by mid-week where will be posted as many other stories as I can get!
September 10, ‘07. The lull in new posts continues until I complete From the Horse's Mouth on September 15th at the Joyce Theater, NYC, part of the Martha Graham season. Created by Tina Croll and Jamie Cunnigham, Horse's Mouth has been seen coast-to-coast and border-to-border. The theme this time is Martha Graham.
September 7, ‘07. The Feedback Page is not yet ready so here is Dawn Nickerson Fox's comment on "Oops!," (Click Offstage) about wearing microphones on stage:
September 5, ‘07. Chorus Gypsy will soon have a Feedback Page and it needs feedback. Which stories do you find interesting? Do any postings offend? What would you like more of? Less of? What else would you like to see? Feedback will be posted only if you give permission but posted or not, it is greatly valued! Use this (or any) Contact link.
September 3, 07. "When I heard that a world class tennis player was named Anna Smashnova, I couldn't believe it. Even after reading in Wikipedia that she had reached a ranking of fifteenth best in the world, I still can't believe she was born Smashnova. It's pure camp." Click Blog, read Name Tag.
August 29, ‘07 "I first saw a body mike in We Take the Town. The female lead, Kathleen Widdoes, had a sweet but light voice that the director decided needed a boost opposite Robert Preston. But she was furious when he insisted she wear a remote mike in her cleavage.
August 28, ‘07 "After lunch, Foreman began to block from page one and I got a first sample of his process; he suggests a move, sometimes shows it, has us try, makes changes. Often he makes self-deprecating remarks like, "That's just silly," or "Awful."
August 23, ‘07. "Did you hear that?" said Warren to Frank, "She called the director an asshole." Click Avant Garde for other rehearsal moments from The Birth of the Poet, 7.
August 22, ‘07 "Who knows how long I stood there looking absolutely stupid. I remember the white feather hat I was wearing looked like a chicken that had been killed several times and left to be disposed of." Click Auditions. Read Rockettes by Lorraine (Holscher) Sarek.
August 21, '07. "I just want to say something and I'm speaking for everyone here. One thing we have to talk about is ... the glasses, and the head sets, and all this crap on our faces is making it impossible to think of anything except what am I gonna do with all this stuff? And I was crawling around on the floor with Brooke [Myers], I was nearly, I nearly strangled myself on the whistle and the stopwatch [laughter], and the wires, and it's, it's, it's impossible you can't think of anything but, you know, what to do with all this stuff. Uh, I don't know what we can do about it but, you know, everyone seems... I'm not just speaking for myself." Click Avant Garde for more Birth of the Poet rehearsal transcript.
August 19, '07. Director, Richard Foreman, to the cast of The Birth of the Poet, 1985:
August 17, 2007 "Actors told each other to be sure to give Valda Setterfield a wide berth. "If you don't she'll smash right into you!"
August 15, 2007. "... the unheralded leader of the loons, the unsung chairman of our "intensive care unit," was Sandor Gluck who played The Rabbi. Go know that this little old man who bordered on 150 years old would become the one whose memories I cherish most." Click, Backstage, read The Loons of Anatevka, by Larry Ross.
August 14, 2007. "Libraries are filled with so-called theater history, but setting aside scripts, scores, names and dates, most of the rest – reviews and criticism – is opinionizing. What actually happened to bring those live plays and musicals, the life blood of theater, into existence is lost." Click Avant Garde for more about Richard Foreman and The Birth of the Poet.
The O'Tooles Tonight!
Hello ma baby, hello ma honey,
August 10, ‘07. "She was a blue-eyed natural blond, magazine cover face. glistening honey hued skin, a long-legged 5 foot 8. She'd been a ballet major at NYC's Performing Arts high school where I had taught modern dance. She'd never taken my classes but I recalled seeing her there, and that her teachers treated her with the deference reserved for those anointed with intense beauty." Click Heartthrobs, read Angeline.
August 8, ‘07. "Lucas spoke about playing the role of Paris in The Golden Apple in 1954, unconventional casting since the cowardly Paris is traditionally tall and handsome while Lucas was short and dark with a bulbous head. Perhaps choreographer, Hanya Holm, wanted to emphasize the difference between Paris and his warrior brother, Hector, played by Jack Whiting, the star." Click Blog read Jonathan Lucas.
August 7, ‘07. "The O'Tooles Tonight! is a two-person musical written for my wife and me by Gayle Stahlhut of the East Lynne Theater Company, Cape May, NJ. It's an Equity house and we performed it there in 2000 and 2001." Like to see the script? Click Blog.
Aug 6, '07. "Otherwise ... may he rot in hell ... with all the other ... commie nazi bastards ... who ruin the world ... for decent people." Barton looked up, red-faced." Click Offstage for the rest of "Not Your Usual Christmas Story."
August 3, '07. Shangri-La was a musical version of James Hilton's novel, Lost Horizon, made into a movie in 1937 directed by Frank Capra. An airplane of westerners flying over Asia crashes in a hidden valley where everyone is young. All seem blissfully happy except for one beautiful young woman who longs to see the outside world and joins the Westerners when they leave to return home. But soon after they've climbed out of the valley she falls from her horse and before their horrified eyes dies and shrivels into a thousand-year-old mummy.
July 30, ‘07. "Whether a person was straight or gay meant nothing to me one way or the other, and for a female virgin (not rare in the 1950s), I understood that a date with a gay man was "safe." But that women might actually prefer gay men was puzzling." For the rest, click Backstage. read Facts of Life.
July 28, ‘07. Change in format starting today. The Home page will now feature teasers for new stories plus Contents. Basic information about Chorus Gypsy and its mission will be seen at About.
July 27, '07. Ann Miller named a pair of her tap shoes, "Moe" and "Joe." They are now in the Smithsonian, replaced by "Frick" and "Frack," and when those wore out, "Tip" and "Tap."
July 26, 2007. "When Ronald Field and I were in Kismet, as a lark we took an audition together. Ronnie, a lightning study, was first across, every move spot-on, a tricky combination ending with a grand jeté. But he emitted a subtle message: ‘So-what-else-is-new?'" For the rest, click Auditions, read "Attutude."
July 25, ‘07 "Nothing in Manhattan touched Serendipity for elegance of decor or sumptuousness of menu. Calvin himself used to wait tables and when I asked about the gleaming espresso machine, like a towering chromium pipe organ against the shop's northern wall, he said he'd gotten it in Italy and would I like to buy it?" For more about dancer, Calvin Holt, click Offstage
July 24, '07. After Juki Arkin left Milk and Honey and returned to Israel, a rumor, strictly a rumor mind you, returned that he'd gotten into trouble for impregnating a 14-year-old. He'd been such a loose cannon in Milk and Honey it was hard not to believe. Yet most everyone sensed another Juki, one with sweetness and vulnerability. Whatever his escapades and extravagances, that other Juki was impossible not to love. Look at the web site, "My Father, Juki Arkin." http://www.angelfire.com/celeb/jonarkin/Jukiarkin.html Is any love more precious than the love of one's own children? For more on Juki click Heartthrobs
July 21, ‘07 On Thursday, July 19, the number of "hits" on Chorus Gypsy jumped tenfold! I am guessing it was a story by conductor, Larry Blank, who mentioned the names of half a dozen celebrities.
July 20, ‘07 "Alan J. Lerner had learned that gold rush towns often burned to the ground, that mysterious "firebugs," were blamed, and wrote one into the script. It was the first character cut as Paint Your Wagon was readied for its New York City opening." Click OFFSTAGE, read Show Doctor.
July 19, ‘07 "The huge orchestra was on the stage, I was conducting and among the entertainers was Ann Miller, singing Everything's Coming Up Roses. I'd arranged it in her key so she had no vocal problems and sounded great. But she seemed preoccupied with her feather boa and insisted on doing it nine times. Other stars, including David Cassidy, Michael Bolton, Robert Goulet, and Elaine Paige had to wait." Click STARS to read Larry Blanks new Ann Miller anecdote.
July 18, '07. A dancer who came to the Molly Picon Panel has a large dance photo collection and may be willing to share it with Chorus Gypsy. It would need a section all its own. Stories are always improved by photos. How about photos improved by stories? And isn't one picture worth a thousand words? Would appreciate feedback. Click Stuart.
July 17, ‘07 "In addition to bad timing – French, German, and English lovers in the middle of World War I – Zelle was arguably not a spy at all until the French demanded she report back on what her German lovers talked about. Forced to spy by the very ones who executed her, she was a victim of conscienceless evil embodied by LaFarge, who beds Mata Hari before having her shot." A new insight on Mata Hari, a flop that could have been a hit. Click FLOPS.
July 15, ‘07 "When I joined the NYU faculty in 1972, one professor, a well-known avant garde director, came to meetings wearing bib overalls, squatted cross-legged on a chair munching a sandwich, body language reeking disdain for everyone else. I'd seen a book about one of his productions, Dionysus in ‘69, lots of photos of naked actors smeared with what looked like chocolate syrup. Would Richard Foreman be like that?" Click AVANTGARDE, read Birth of the Poet (2).
July 15, ‘07. Avant garde artists are the world's ultimate entrepreneurs. They create a product no one ever heard of for a market that doesn't exist. For the first piece in Chorus Gypsy's new Avant Garde page, click AvantGarde, read Birth of the Poet (1)
July 14, ‘07. (Bastille Day!)
July 13, ‘07 "Jack Cole at Harkness House. Visitors entered a marble lobby where a windowed niche held a pedestal upon which stood a revolving urn whose mechanical butterfly wings slowly opened and closed. Wrought of gold and jewels by Salvadore Dali, it was meant to hold the ashes of Rebekah Harkness. ... Into this menage came Jack Cole, enticed by a chance to make a ballet for the troupe's superb dancers." Click BLOG
Jul 12, '07. A cute bit from Larry Blank added to the piece about Ann Miller. Click STARS
July 11, ‘07 "Working with Jack Cole was like following a brilliant guide up a mountain no one had ever scaled. You stepped exactly where he stepped and hoped you wouldn't fall off." Click BLOG, read Genius at Work.
July 10, '07. "Carnegie Hall Salutes Judy Garland (1999), hosted by Alan King, with Ann Miller, Bobby Morse, Tony Martin, accompanied by Skitch Henderson, was deluged with stars, from Garland's daughter, Lorna Luft, to her childhood co-star, Mickey Rooney, plus hordes from MGM. click OFFSTAGE, read Larry Blank's anecdote, A Short Story.
July 9, ‘07. "...when Chad was on the road, many a show gypsy was eager to comfort him. Chad always declined, equally polite to both females and males, although males were rare since Chad's preference was well established." Click BACKSTAGE, read Flycatcher (Penis Papers #4)
July 7, 07. Mata Hari, 1967. "A show that closes out-of-town never makes it into the Internet Broadway Data Base so to have been in it is like having an intense part of one's life expunged. I asked dancer, Tony De Vecchi, what went wrong with the show." Click FLOPS, read Mata Hari.
July 7, ‘07. "David Burns was the top comic in Ziegfeld Follies, and second banana to Phil Silvers in Do Re Mi. In my personal experience Burns was funnier and much zanier." Click ONSTAGE. read Urintown Live (The Penis Papers #3.)
Like most, I'd read about and seen photos of Josephine Baker, who set Paris aflame in the late 1920s. But recently for the first time, I saw one of her movies, Princess Tam Tam (1935), in French with English sub-titles. Although the camera irritatingly keeps cutting from her to gaping onlookers, it allows one to begin to comprehend her amazing power. I have an extra copy of Princess Tam Tam on DVD and will send it to the first person who clicks Stuart, and sends me a mailing address.
July 4, 2007. A happy result of the Molly Picon panel meeting June 28 was re-connecting with Anthony De Vecchi who performed in (at least) eight musicals after we worked together in Milk and Honey, including Mata Hari, an oot flop (closed Out-Of-Town). While dancing in Tovarich, he met Nora Kaye who convinced him to join American Ballet Theater, which he did after several more musicals including Man of La Mancha. Today Tony lives in Hinsdale, Mass, where he runs his ballet school started more than 3 decades ago. More about Tony and Mata Hari soon.
July 2, ‘07 When I heard that Merce Cunningham once auditioned for Agnes DeMille, I asked David Vaughan if it was true. Well, it is and she hired him! If you ever speculate about alternate universes, imagine that he had kept on doing musicals. Might there have been a Broadway show titled, "How to Pass, Kick, Fall and Run?" David Vaughan doesn't speculate but has interesting details about that episode in the life of a man who changed, and is still changing the art of dance. Click OFFSTAGE, read Cunningham and DeMille.
Jun 30, '07. The story is true and belongs in Chorus Gypsy. But some of the people in it are still around so all the names are changed. Click HEARTTHROBS, read The Tease.
June 29, 2007. A nice crowd was waiting yesterday in Bruno Walter Auditorium (NY Public Library) to hear reminiscences about Molly Picon and Milk and Honey. Donald Saddler told how he became its choreographer. After reading the script about American tourists in Israel, he said to producer, Gerard Oestreicher, "There are choreographers in New York who are much more qualified."
June 28, 2007. She was nine years old. Her voice was a child's but the pitch was true. She took directions like others kids take ice cream cones. When the teacher compared stretching for a high note to stretching a leg at a ballet barre, she grabbed her ankle, extended her leg over her head and said, "Like this?" Lesson over, she asked if she could pet the studio cat.
Jun 26, '07. "Juki Arkin told me about a Paris drag club where he was smitten by one of the dancers.
Jun 25, 2007 Jun 25, 2007 On Thursday the NY Public Library will host a panel show, "Molly Picon in Milk and Honey with as many ex-Milk and Honey cast as they can find, so far, only Donald Saddler and me. I'll bring a blowup of the photo, "Molly Picon, Aloft." It was taken at dress rehearsal by Will Rapport. For more Click Stars. see, Molly Picon.
Jun 24, '07. "Paid theater critics can mistake their opinions for reality. Yet I don't believe stars who say they never read reviews. Take a look at www.talkinbroadway.com It ranges on and off Broadway and in an article from 2006, "What's New on the Rialto?" Nancy Rosati interviews Rick McKay about his documentary, 'The Golden Age of Broadway,' the 40s, 50s, and 60s." from, Golden or Just Olden? Click BLOG.
Jun 23, ‘07. On June 18 (see below), there was a short anecdote featuring Zero Mostel, #1 of what I might call "The Penis Papers." Today you'll find #2. Click OFFSTAGE, read Brief Encounter.
June 22, ‘07. [Back after 36 hours off line and in exile! ]
Jun 20, ‘07. "Boys, stop that! And Ronnie, be nice to Larry. He's the only straight man on this tour and you will ruin his reputation."
Jun 19, 07. Kismet, Ziegfeld Theater. 1955. One day Ronnie told me he'd been to the dentist for the first time in five years. "I have 31 cavities."
June 18, 07 Today's post from a "reliable source" to be identified by and by.
Jun 17, 07. "The Latin Quarter paid about $50 more than a Broadway chorus but it was two shows a night, three on Saturday, and no day off. Dance Captain, Lisa Rose, said if I needed one to call in sick." First of several on this venerable venue. Click, BACKSTAGE see, "The Latin Quarter."
Jun 16 '07. Today begins Chorus Gypsy's Open Blog, promised on June 12th, with the title "Mind Games." But some thought made it clear that if it looks like a blog, sounds like a blog and reads like a blog, it's a Blog. Check it out by clicking BLOG, and add your voice— like now!
Jun 15, 07. "When she was 15, Performing Arts HS sophomore, Chelsey Pinkham, had stood out in my dance classes for the sparkling delight with which she danced. Two years later when I bumped into her on Broadway at 46th, she told me excitedly that she had her first job, a replacement in Do Re Mi. Learning I'd just left that show, she asked if I knew dance captain, Chad Block.
June 14, 0.7. On June 28 at 6 PM the NY Public Library's Bruno Walter Auditorium, will host a panel discussion about Molly Picon with people who worked with her in Milk and Honey. So far there are only two, choreographer, Donald Saddler, and me. Others are being sought.
June 13, 07. "Annie Get Your Gun, NY City Center, 1958. I learned the Wild Horse from Helen Tamiris, who had to describe the aggressive entering leap. On Broadway the original Wild Horse had been danced by Daniel Nagrin, at the time her husband and later her ex. Or maybe he was already her ex because he never came to an Annie rehearsal." For more, click REHEARSALS scroll to Annie Get Your Gun.
June 12, 07. In days of yore wandering minstrels and family troupes were the very first show gypsies. They often sang for no more than their supper, lucky to get that, and were regarded as little more than beggars. A bolder sort played to the king, whose pleasure brought rewards but whose displeasure could elicit, "Off with their heads!"
Jun 11, 07. "Stuart, listen to me. When you want this option, tell me. I'll go to Bashevis and say, ‘Bashevis, give Stuart an option!'" If you liked "One Gypsy's Dream," try another in BACKSTAGE "The Little Shoemakers."
Jun 10, 07. "Everyone knew that Lee Becker Theodore would soon rise out of the chorus. Her show-biz smarts seemed like Mozart's, inborn instead of learned. After she choreographed Kabuki Mambo for TV's Ed Sullivan Show, she was the talk of every gypsy in town." Click OFFSTAGE, scroll to "I'd Rather be A Sexpot."
June 9, 07 "Everyone admired Anthony DeVecchi's physique and so did he, but with such innocent delight he never came off as vain. " Read the rest in BACKSTAGE Scroll to "Whatta Waist!"
June 8, 2007. Each day my "hit counter" says that from ten to two dozen or so click into Chorus Gypsy. But few say, "Hello." A special sign-in form might make it easier and I promise to have one before long. But right now you can click "Contact," open an email link. say "Hi!" or "Go soak your head!" or anything you please, then click, "Send," and I'll be happy to know you stopped by. There's a "Contact" tab top right on every page and a big blue one right here: CONTACT. Go for it!
June 7, 07. "Peer Gynt was an American National Theater and Academy (ANTA) production, a show for "art" in which everybody got the same salary, $75 a week. I didn't ponder how it attracted so big a movie star as John Garfield, assuming he simply wanted to do theater and work with director, Lee Strasberg. For more about John Garfield, clickSTARS.
June 6, 07. "Circa 1955. I was in the hallway of Clarke Center for the Performing Arts when a studio door burst open and a furious dancer emerged: "I never work for that woman again!"and sobbing, ran down the hall. Just another Anna Sokolow rehearsal. Read on, Click OFFSTAGE scroll to Anna Sokolow Way.
June 4, 07. " Chu Chem, the First Chinese-Jewish Musical." "The dancers had a discouraged look before they showed me the wedding dance which I was there to fix. It was a shambles so I started from scratch, working without forethought, letting moves and music and dancers carry it. In two hours it was 'on its feet.'" Click FLOPS scroll to Chu Chem.
June 3, 07. "We weren't paid to rehearse and rehearsed far more than we performed so I was broke most of the time. After a bus tour that ended in February, 1950, I auditioned for Hanya Holm, whose Kiss Me Kate was selling out. Her new show was titled The Liar, and she gave a strange move." Click OFFSTAGE scroll to "In the Crossfire."
Jun 1, 07. "We opened in Seattle and closed in Denver, victim of multifarious missteps, perhaps the least of which was a feline actor named Beethoven who bit a chunk out of Diana Rigg's finger." For more on the fascinating flop titled Colette, click FLOPS.
May 31, 07. An original musical titled Heathen opened and closed at Broadway's Music Box Theater on May 21, 1972. Its IBDB credits include five names I know, choreographer, Sammy Bayes, associate choreographer, Dan Siretta, dancer, Jaclynn Villamil, director, Lucia Victor, and book by Sir Robert Helpmann. The last was a bit of a jolt.
May 30, 07. "Molly was 63 when Milk and Honey opened. During her big dance number she insisted on doing a cartwheel but the producer, terrified she'd get hurt, forbid it, so choreographer, Donald Saddler, had me pick her up at the waist and spin her, propellor-style, one complete circle." There's more about Molly Picon & Yonkel and a photo at STARS.
May 29, 2007. Feeling stage fright always annoyed me because it's so irrational. No matter how bad you are, the audience can't actually harm you and you always wake up alive the next morning. (Flying combat missions, it's irrational not to be scared.) Yet theater is full of life-and-death metaphors: "The act died on stage." "Go out there and kill ‘em!"
May 28, 07. The reality of auditions is rejection. If you can't take it, find another line of work. I used to say to myself: "I won't work for any choreographer dumb enough to reject me." When in Once Upon A Mattress I mentioned it to Carroll Burnett who said: "I look out front and say to myself, ‘They're all sitting on the toilet!'" For more, click AUDITIONS, read,"Thank You! (Now Get Lost)"
May 26, 2007. Have you ever heard of Broadway Alley? For its exact location and a color photo of the Alley in all its grandeur, click my email link and head it, "Broadway Alley." Stuart.
May 25, 07. Larry Ross played in Fiddler on the Roof for five years. I reached him by telephone today and said I wanted stories for Chorus Gypsy.
May 24, 07. "It was about the love for this bridge, the experiences the characters have involving the bridge." Ron Stratton's moving piece reveals the spirit of every show gypsy. Click over and read it now! "A Show Called Kelly"
May 23, 07. "...the theater was used for a lecture by none other than Agnes DeMille whose subject was the cultural role of theater. In an angry voice she said, and I quote, "A theater is not a piece of real estate!" Find out why DeMille was mad. Click OFFSTAGE, scroll to Malled
May 21, 07. Yesterday, Sunday, an exciting meeting of Dancers Over 40, Broadway veterans, some still on the boards, who told stories, munched goodies, watched John Marcy do a song-and-dance medley, and shmoozed. I was promised stories for Chorus Gypsy! Terry Violino, mentioned in today's new post, was there. The post is about Café Crown, a 3-day wonder with fascinating blood lines. To read, click FLOPS
May 20, 07. My LINKS page is not ready yet, but I recently came across www.tinfoil.com, where you can hear voices recorded on wax cylinders as early as 1888. I listened to Sophie Tucker singing The Reuben Rag recorded in 1910. I recall seeing that same lady on television—wax recordings to TV! Try the link and then let me know if i should add it by clicking: Stuart.
May 19, 07. "When Paul Taylor auditioned for Peter Pan, Jerome Robbins announced, "Warm up your backs, you're doing back hand springs." Paul asked someone what a back handspring was, managed to do one for Robbins. In his first performance he crashed into the set and broke his nose." For other daring Auditions, click, No, "No"
May 18, 07. When the 1956 edition of Ziegfeld Follies was in Philadelphia struggling to become a show, I wrote a list of shows in eyebrow pencil on my dressing room mirror; Sandhog, Hayride, Butrio Square, Borsht Capades, Carnival in Flanders, Almost Crazy, Catch A Star, Hear! Hear! and at the end, Ziegfeld Follies.
May 17, 07 I have wondered why I am so drawn to stories about flops, other than because I was in so many. A story from Ron Stratton helps me understand, a touching tale from Kelly, which played exactly one performance at the Broadhurst Theater. Ron and I correspond by snail mail, a fine medium, although it means a few days more until his story appears. It's worth the wait!
May 16, 07. "My lack of eagerness to become an actor was encouraged by my dislike of learning lines and reinforced by a knack for forgetting them onstage." For the unvarnished story, click ONSTAGE "Silence Not Golden."
May 14, 07. When I think back to shows gone by, I mourn all that has been lost. Will it ever occur to some farseeing theater entity to put a "Production Historian," on board, a scholar who can historicize the show from start to finish?
May 13, 07. "Farley Granger, in his newly-published autobiography, Include Me Out (St. Martin's Press, 2007), devotes eight pages to First Impressions. I'm fascinated by his take on the barrel debacle." (Click FLOPS, scroll to "Who's Next In the Barrel?")
May 12, 07. Surprised and delighted to receive an email from Dawn Nickerson Fox, now living in North Palm Beach, Florida, she and her husband busy with projects and keeping up with the doings of their children, including son, director, Richard L. Fox, now in China making a film with John Woo titled, The Battle of Red Cliff. She mentioned that he had seen her name in Chorus Gypsy. The reach of this mad medium, the Internet, never ceases to astound!
May 11, 07. "Paint Your Wagon (1951-52) opened, ran, and closed while HUAC, the House Un-American Activities Committee, was blacklisting film folk. Biographies and memoirs describe those troubled days, like Arthur Laurents' Original Story By. Laurents, who spent years on the blacklist, acknowledged the talents of Jerome Robbins while deeply resenting that he'd "named names" to HUAC, saving his own career at the expense of others." Click OFFSTAGE, then see John Randolph
May 10, 07. "He was my approximate size with a high forehead, receding hairline, tired eyes, and casual kinetics, not what I expected a "Jack Cole dancer" to be. Yet moves slid out of him exactly how and when they should." from "Meeting Ronald Field" Click REHEARSALS.
May 9, 07. "For his L'il Abner audition, Michael Kidd began with an eccentric move all pumping knees and jerking torso, easy to learn, not so easy to do. I tore into it, once across the long diagonal only to get a 'Thank you,' which meant 'No thank you.'" From "Body and Mind Games," Click AUDITIONS.
May 8, 07. "One night, singer, Dawn Nickerson, arrived and mentioned that she'd asked David Merrick if the show was improving. All eyes turned to Dawn, who hesitated but finally came out with it." For David Merrick's immortal words, click Backstage
May 7, 07. Do Re Mi. 1961 NYC. "The recording studio and night club scenes called for onstage orchestras. Director, Garson Kanin, wanted them to be real and asked which chorus singers and dancers played instruments, adding that they'd join the Musicians Union, play onstage, and be paid extra." When producer, David merrick, nixed the extra pay, we got sweet revenge. Click Onstage
May 5, 07. "Well, if you know any ballet companies looking for a six foot tall black ballerina, you can tell them about me." If you can't guess who said that, or even if you can, click Stars.
May 4, 07. "I was crossing Eighth Avenue in the 50s, and in the middle of the avenue met Carroll Burnett accompanied by half a dozen men in dinner jackets." Click Stars
May 3, 07. Strike! "Mattress co-producers, William and Jean Eckhart, were waiting outside of the locked stage door and told us that they loved us before we trooped off to the strike meeting at the Astor Hotel." For the rest, click Offstage.
May 2, 07. "I flattened myself against the wall until the King of Siam Express charged by." See Yul Brynner in Stars
April 29, 07. "We Take the Town opened in New Haven and closed in Philadelphia, that special breed of flop that never makes it to Broadway. But it went to its doom still bearing a potential for greatness, adding a sting of tragedy." For the rest, click Flops
April 27, 2007. From today's post: " ... the show set out to capture the mannered world of 19th century upper class England. Director, Abe Burrows, although a Guys and Dolls kind of guy, had produced a debonair script and might have made it happen with any producer but Jule Styne." For the full article, click Flops then scroll down to First Impressions.
April 26, 2007. From Forrest Bonshire, Look Ma, I'm Dancin! "In the Philadelphia try-outs, Jerome Robbins began complaining about pain in his lower abdomen, but it did not stop him from giving us hell in rehearsals." Find out what the dancers did about it. Click Backstage
April 25, 2007. For many years The Rehearsal Club, located in the heart of Manhattan, was a subsidized residence and safe haven for young women pursuing dreams of a life in the unstable world of theater. It inspired the movie Stage Door and its alumnae include Sandy Duncan, Blythe Danner and Carroll Burnett. Now over 50 alumnae are collaborating to share experiences, perhaps create a documentary on what life was like in that lively home-away-from-home. At a recent meeting, the planning group asked Chorus Gypsy to help them launch a Rehearsal Club web page. The first phase will be their own page right here in Chorus Gypsy.
Apr 24, 07. On Farley Granger: "Director, Abe Burrows, called him "Farfel," yet Farley Granger seemed born to play the aristocratic Fitzwilliam Darcy in the musical version of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. For the rest, click Stars.
April 22, ‘07. Today's post starts: "Would-be producers, Len Bedsoe and Hal Grossman, were convinced that a musical based on the life of Sophie Tucker, the original Red Hot Mama, was a good idea. And it was. But no idea is so good it can fly without talent." For the rest, click Flops
Apr 19, 07. Today's posting: "A modern opera based on The Mulatto, a play by Langston Hughes, The Barrier told of a white plantation owner, his black mistress, and their son in the Deep South. With promising tryouts at Columbia University and in Washington DC, it must have seemed logical to pump it up with stars and put it on Broadway." For the rest, click Flops and scroll down to The Barrier.
Apr 18, 07 I'm waiting for stories from gypsies and post-gypsys while tinkering with links so you can click directly from story to story. So until I'm an expert webmaster, just click around! Warm regards, Stuart Hodes