We are happy to welcome guest celebrity blogger Phyllis Newman, the famed singing actress who won a Tony Award for her performance in Subways Are for Sleeping as well as the special 2009 Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award. Newman, who was married to the late lyricist-librettist Adolph Green, will blog for Playbill.com all week; her final entry follows:
Yesterday, the wonderful director Carl Andress came up to my apartment, and we started planning our 16th annual Nothing Like A Dame show. He has directed so many shows and, of course, the brilliant Charles Busch oeuvre. (I like throwing in a word like that from time to time.)
This year we're doing a very special A Party for Comden and Green.....with many of the original players from their shows and revivals, etc. re-creating their songs and talking about their experiences. We'll mix media....and have an evening full of surprises and entertainment.
In the late fifties C&G did their show A Party with Comden and Green at the Golden Theatre, and it was a smash...it was in the years of "Nichols and May" and Beyond the Fringe. It was a very rich theatrical time, all of these originals...performing their own material....that was smart and funny...and played up to the intelligence of their audiences. We thought it would be fun to do a revue in that style, mixing all eras......and all ages of talent.
As we talked of the future, I also was thinking of some of the amazing moments from past Dames. In the very first one in 1996 at the Virginia Theatre..the beautiful, very popular singer Laurie Beechman came out...sang, rocked the house and during the applause whipped off her wig.... revealing her bald head.....she was in the middle of chemotherapy. She then laughed and told us in the most non self-pitying way......how free and comfortable she felt.....in the middle of so many people who were there to support the numerous women on, off, backstage, in the audience...well, anywhere, who were going through difficult medical issues. That moment synthesized our cause, raising money to help all women in the entertainment industry.
Thanks to the Actors Fund and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS....the word “women” appeared for the first time in helping to define a cause.
That first one was an experiment.....and here are just a few of the performers who appeared that night: Lauren Bacall, Betty Buckley, Carol Burnett, Carol Channing, Glenn Close, Uta Hagen, Bebe Neuwirth, Lynn Redgrave, Kathleen Turner, Lillias White and on and on......and, well, you certainly get the point.
We have helped countless women, The Actors Fund is our safe haven and Broadway Cares our biggest financial supporter.
So, put it in your datebook: June 21 at the Gerald W. Lynch Theatre, John Jay College. For information contact Suzanne Tobak at The Actors Fund (212) 221-7300, ext. 206.
This is my last blog..I've loved doing it.....thank you for all your wonderful responses...but I have to run......Hugh Jackman is on the phone again...he just won't take no for an answer.
(Go to phyllisnewman.com and facebook.com/phyllisnewmangreen to see Phyllis Newman’s brand-new website and fan page.)