“SO LONG DEARIE”
Ladies and gents,
What can a hack gossip monger like yours truly say about Carol Channing that hasn’t already been said far more eloquently by someone far more credible? Well, let me start by quoting someone more eloquent and credible! Said American Theatre Wing president Heather Hitchens, “She possessed a quality so unique and so special that she became her own archetype. Though her loss will be felt deeply by fans and professionals alike, her indomitable spirit lives on in the countless leading ladies who have been — and continue to be – influenced by her greatness.”
Her own archetype, indeed. We throw around terms like “one-off,” “unique,” and “one-of-akind” so liberally, it often takes the presence of someone as outrageously herself as Carol to remind us the true meaning of those expressions. There has been, perhaps, only one other leading lady I’ve encountered in all my years who could rival Carol in her full, unabashed, eccentric singularity, and that was Elaine Stritch. Carol, in my estimation, was the sugar to Elaine’s salt. And now they are both gone. Perhaps that’s why I take such comfort in Heather’s final words. The great sorrow of the theater is its fleetingness. Nothing preserved. Only memories and lore and – if you’re lucky – a cast recording. But wait! These greats do live on, long after the final curtain has come down. Because they inspire others, who inspire others, who inspire still more. Well, as Elaine might have said once or twice, “I’d like to propose a toast.” Here’s to the ladies who teach us how to the fullest, rarest, most special version of ourselves.
In other news of theatrical ephemeralness, the remarkable Broadway run of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock – The Musical comes to its conclusion this Sunday. It will be its 1,340th performance at the Winter Garden, and this won’t be just any performance. I’m told: they are inviting back dozens of past cast members to create the largest kid band jam session in the show’s history. Puberty be damned! (Just think: some of the folks shouting “Stick It to the Man” will be, at this point, men themselves!) Of course, even if you can’t score seats to one of the remaining shows on Broadway, it’s still rocking London, Melbourne, and all of North America on tour. And it’s about to open in China, Sydney, and Brisbane, and embark on an Asian tour later this year. Apologies to both Robert Frost and Ponyboy, but this show is pure gold and it’s here to stay.
Tidbits from around town…
Spotted Ryan Murphy and husband David Miller walking inconspicuously down West 44th Street.
Witnessed Cillian Murphy pose for a selfie with a fan at Saks Fifth Avenue.
Overheard Martha Plimpton ordering a round of drinks for friends at Murphy’s Tavern.
As always, a toast of something sparkling to you and yours!