Did you hear what happened in Daingerfield, TX, on January 16? The town decided that, for one week, it would drop the "i" from its name, and become Dangerfield -- in honor of comedian Rodney Dangerfield.
Once Dangerfield saw that Daingerfield was affording himself some respect, he decided to drop in. That led to a Key to the City ceremony on a main thoroughfare that was renamed Rodney Dangerfield Boulevard. Not just for the week, by the way, but now-and-forever.
Well, really, what's the harm? Actually, I'd like to see it happen to theater luminaries, too. Drop the "A" from Akron, and the town could honor the marvelous performer known as Lisa Kron. Actually, I don't know how Akron would react when they heard that Kron is one of the Five Lesbian Brothers. Well, yes, I do, actually. But if anyone could win them over, it's Lisa Kron.
How about dropping one letter and adding /another? Then Albany could become Albin, and treat George Hearn as if he were the greatest star of all. Then Wichita could make a big deal of its last five letters, start calling itself "Wi-CHEE-ta," and bring out Ms. Rivera, who deserves a key from each of the many cities she's played. Chita would undoubtedly have a good time at Wayne Bryan's Music Theatre of Wichita, too.
This may be a stretch, but San Diego could hold a day for Tony Randall, who played the Captain St. James -- that is the English translation of San Diego, after all -- in Oh, Captain. As for Denver, I suspect it's already feted Bob Denver for his Gilligan or Maynard G. Krebs. Question -- do you think the Mile High City also noted Denver's one significant Broadway credit: Succeeding Woody Allen in Play It Again, Sam.
But if Paul Wallace is still with us, Tulsa should revere him for his Tulsa, and his marvelous "All I Need Is the Girl" song 'n' dance in Gypsy. How fortunate that the 1962 movie at least preserved his original Broadway cast performance.
Alas, it's too late for Nashville to venerate Ogden Nash, but there's still time for Austin to have a day for Austin Pendleton. Boston should starts making plans now for Greta Boston, so it can tie it into the Show Boat that will soon be sailing into town.
Too much time has passed for Grand Rapids to become Murray Grand Rapids, in homage to the New Faces of 1956 composer-lyricist who wrote "April in Fairbanks" and "I'd Rather Cha-Cha" than Eat." Yes, Grand Rapids lost out, but Great Falls could still celebrate Robert Falls, the artistic director of Chicago's Goodman Theatre.
And though it's too late for Hartford to make it up to Lorenz Hart, it still has time to dedicate a day for composer Nancy Ford. Okay, so Ford is only half of Hart-ford. So the town can give her half a day. Can't you see it now? "We are here to celebrate Nancy Ford Morning..."
Yes, such days could involve some expense. But if either Louisville or St. Louis found they couldn't afford to celebrate Louis St. Louis, they could enter into a co-production agreement.
The honors could even be extended to critics. Richmond could celebrate Frank Rich, who once owned la monde, theatrically speaking. (Be honest, now: Don't you wish he still did? Wouldn't you love to have learned his opinions on most of the shows that have opened since he stepped down?)
In the spirit of Rodney Dangerfield Boulevard, Detroit should have brought out Nathan Lane after he revived Nathan Detroit, and renamed one the city's lanes "Lane Lane." I don't know if you could ask people to live on Lane Lane for more than a day, though.
If a city can drop a letter, it can add one, too, right? Miami could host Roger Minami, fondly remembered as the dancer who was "Arthur in the Afternoon" for Liza Minnelli (well, Michelle Craig, really, but who remembers that?) in The Act.
An aside: Aren't you a little surprised that no one in 20 years has revived The Act, if for no other reason than it's a small show? And it is Kander and Ebb, which automatically means a number of nice songs. Oh, do you know a dropped one called "Hollywood, California" that tells of all the city's eccentricities? Sample lyric: "My dear, the wedding was a joke. Miranda lit a joint under Rocco's needlepoint, and the tent went up in smoke."
Let's put it this way: it wouldn't motivate Hollywood to give Kander and Ebb any keys to the city, But it would expect New York, New York to dispense one to each anyway, wouldn't it?
-- Peter Filichia is the New Jersey drama critic for the Star-Ledger. His column appears each Wednesday on Playbill On-Line. You can e-mail him at PFilichia@aol.com.