Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Stage Door reminiscing

A couple weeks ago, I started thinking about New York movies we could watch on the way down to the city, and suddenly Stage Door popped into my head, something I hadn't thought about in ages.  As a sophomore (?  I think?) I played the part of the whorish Linda Shaw in the stage version of a show (the original iteration, by playwrights Edna Ferber and George Kaufman).  There's a movie of the same name based on the play, but despite it being a lot of fun (Katherine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers!) ---it's nothing like the play. 

from my New York City trip this past weekend; this deli is at 33rd Street and 8th Avenue

I don't necessarily think of my former high school life as an actress with tremendous fondness, though it was always a learning experience.  I'm an awful actress, only good at being myself.   Frankly, the best part of the whole thing was that the care I took with costumes meant that Barb, our costumer, trusted me with period costumes---and I got some doozies.  Next time I get home, I'll try to track some of them down. 

The original Linda Shaw was Jane Buchanan, quite a looker despite the dearth of photos online---the only one I could find was a soap advertisement (middle bottom).

It's funny, rereading the script, the names stick out---Judith, Bernice, Susan, Kaye, Pat, Louise, Kendall Adams (daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Roger Winthrop Adams, of Boston and the Lucky Strike ads), Terry, Jean, Lou.  And the word swell, absolutely under-utilized these days.  Stage Door takes place in a boarding house for aspiring actresses in New York City in the 1930s:

Milhauser:  What'd you say this place was?  A Home for Girls?
Powell:  Yeah, all actresses.  A whole bunch of 'em live here.
Milhauser:  Kind of a handy place to know about.

And Linda was a young lady dating a very married man, oops: 

Big Mary:  Oh girls, look!  There's the Cadillac again for Linda Shaw.
Little Mary:  Is he in it?
Big Mary:  No, just the chauffeur, same as always.
Pat:  Who's the guy, anyhow?  Anybody know?
Little Mary:  He doesn't ever come.  Just sends the car.
Pat:  Well, nice work if you can get it.
Ann:  (righteously)  I think it's disgraceful.  A nice girl wouldn't want a man to send for her that way.  And if you ask me, it gives the club a bad name.

(A warning gesture and a "Pss-s-st!" from Little Mary as Linda descends the stairs.  Linda is beautifully dressed for the evening.  She is wearing the dress whose pressing had annoyed her; her evening cape is handsomely furred.  Enormous orchids.)

Big Mary:  Oh Linda!  How gorgeous!
Linda:  (pausing reluctantly)  Oh, hello.
Little Mary:  Come on in, let's see you.
Big Mary:  What a marvelous coat, Linda!
Pat:  Yes, and a very nifty bit of jack rabbit, if I may say so.  (Her finger outlines a collar in the air)
Linda:  Oh that!  Mother sent it to me.  It used to be on a coat of hers.
Little Mary:  It's lovely.
Pat:  (mildly)  Oh--Mother has a nice taste in orchids, too.
Linda:  (baring her fangs)  Yes.  Don't you wish you had a mother like mine?  (she sweeps out)

(the two Marys dart to the window)

Pat:  What would you two do without that window?  Why don't you pull up a rocking chair!
Ann:  Linda Shaw's comings and goings don't interest me.  Girls make such fools of themselves about men!

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