Another opening, another show . . .

By Tim Smith

Where A r [ts] Thou?

A Ghost Light dilemma. Where to find extra bulbs is now the concern. Stay with me on this one: I sit and wonder what Irving Berlin, composer and lyricist, (the column title is a lyric from his musical, “Annie Get Your Gun” which opened on May 16, 1946), would think about his beloved Broadway today.

I am fairly certain that he would not be pleased when a leading conduit for generating support of live theatre would feature a story that the entire summer theatrical season has been cancelled. The referenced work on the Playbill.com website for May 12th does not even offer a glimmer of hope for a re-start, unless you consider a tepid September 6th notation as that carrot.

The ongoing loss of our nation’s theater railhead economically certainly impacts a city, yet the repercussions of new works being either derailed or shuttered completely will be felt for years to come all across the nation.

Surely, with the talent and creativity behind those lowered stage curtains, some type of stair step measures for softening that message could be employed. Dealing with communal art regulated to confined art is hard enough without some encouragement of another opening, somewhere, along the Streets of Dreams.

A final curtain call: My longtime friend and colleague, John Lynd, passed away on May 3rd and while reading thoughts from his many admirers, I was taken with one that focused on John’s amazing connection with the biggest names in film, television and theater.

He was a ‘super fan‘, but not by any definition used today. He knew the work, the career ebbs and flows of the professional that he approached for an autograph, photo – discussion.

The celebrated performer was always amazed that someone so young, he started connecting early in life, was more than just a ‘kid with pad and pen’, he was a journalist, armed with detailed questions and facts about their work – making contact.

John took that commitment seriously and retained that approach over his entire life. One of the major personalities that had alluded him for years was Peter O’ Toole.

His story of finally meeting the aging actor is one that I will never forget. A man with a pad and pen could not have gotten that autograph. The picture of John reflecting over Mr. O’Toole’s cement captured hand prints at the (former Grauman’s and Mann’s and currently,) TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood says it all. Gentle spirit, gentle rest.

That’s My Will (Rogers) For May 20, 1933: Once again, today’s dates aren’t lining up, and so, on May 19th, Will is in Washington, D.C. assessing the new president’s handling of the bonus army and their recent parade.

Closer to home. Former mayor of Rogers, Arkansas, and long-time friend, John Sampier, shared the following: “As mayor I laid a wreath at Betty’s grave (Will’s wife; her grave is located at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum) as a representative of The City of Rogers, her hometown and during a ceremony of her . . . birthday. Jim Rogers, (Will and Betty’s son) later visited Rogers . . . (where) we had a ground level granite monument placed at the site of Betty’s folk’s home, (where Will and Betty were married.) Thanks Mayor.”

Arts In Action. The Tony Awards: It is amazing what you find out from just talking with friends around the “zoom-table” of late, and such was the case with Steve Flynn, a leader of our Men’s Bible Study team when he informed me that he had attended the Tony Awards. (Note: Due to the VIRUS2020, this year’s ceremony has been postponed.)

I jumped right in and asked what it was like and he graciously shared that it was quite the experience, especially watching the lower profile awards being presented during commercial breaks on smaller (or) off stages. Next week, a few more reflections. Thanks Steve.

Look for the following: “The long-promised, long-awaited 'Hamilton' film of the original Broadway production will actually be released to the Disney+ streaming service 15 months earlier than its original theater release date October 15, 2021. It will start streaming to Disney+ subscribers on July 3, just in time for Independence Day.”

Hamilton: An American Musical opened in 2015 and would win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Lin-Manual Miranda, its creator, also won Tony Awards for best original score, best book of a musical and best musical of the year.

Our town: A shout out to Raymond Burns, President/CEO of the Rogers-Lowell Area (Arkansas) Chamber of Commerce. He was featured on the chamber’s most recent podcast and eloquently reiterated (in summary) that the values and commitments that had brought their communities to excellence before the virus hit are still in place, and would propel them forward in the new post virus economy.

That simple thought is not being heard anywhere, and it must be shouted from the rooftops.

Welcoming you into the room and provoking conversation, since 1/06.

See you in the paper.

t A s

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