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Episode 42

AND THEN A LOT OF BORING STUFF HAPPENED - UNTIL WEEKS LATER . . .

Monday, November 16
Breakfast at the Polish Tea Room

Good morning. Sorry I'm late.

"No problem. I haven't ordered yet. I've been listening to those German tourists trashing Parade; it's not solemn enough for ‘em. But they think Martin Short ranks right up there with Olivier and Footloose is the best thing they've seen since Boulevard."

Never trust the theatrical opinions of any group wearing that much leather this early in the morning. Where is Ivor? I need coffee.

"Did you bring the insurance forms?"

No. You were supposed to pick them up.

"No, you were. I picked up the final audit at the accountant's office."

Did you get the final settlement statement for Equity?

"I forgot to ask."

Damn, it's already six weeks overdue. They'll have a hissyfit.

"It's just three people, Leigon and the standbys. And they've already been paid in full."

For a cast of twenty, you can get an extension. For only three actors, it should be in on time.

"Jeez. Do you ever wonder why you're in this business?"

No. It's all part of producing. Why? Are you having second thoughts?

"We've been working together for - what? - ten months, now. My head still hasn't stopped spinning."

I warned you at the start it wasn't as simple as "My pop has an empty barn, let's put on a show!"

"But I feel like I've been running around like a chicken with its head cut off ever since the fire."

You have. We both have.

"Is it ever going to stop? When can we get back to working on Neverland?"

I think we've taken care of pretty much everything.

"Are you sure?"

Let's go over it. Oh, Ivor, I'll have a bagel and two poached eggs. And a pot of coffee.

"Scrambled eggs and bacon. And a Danish. Coffee, too. And rye toast."

Okay, insurance first. What's going on with the building?

"The fire investigation should be closed in a couple of more weeks. The insurance company is ready to pay off for loss of the building. The City is paying half the cost to clear the lot. My family is thinking about leasing it out as a parking lot for a couple of years. All in all, they made money on the fire. They're happy. How about the business?"

The check came in last Friday. It covers all the losses, but not one penny extra. We've still got a couple of thousand in the bank, so I guess you could say we're still solvent.

"All that work for nothing."

Wilbur and I have struck a few good deals with the play. With the reviews it got, we've already leased it to 15 regionals for production. We'll have a few bucks coming in from that. J.B., Clara, George, and Mildred are going to be working for the next two years re-creating the original production as part of the deal. They're set. Leigon's signed to do it in Chicago and LA.

"How about the production insurance?"

As you say, as soon as the fire investigation closes, they're ready to pay. But, I only carried the minimum on everything, so we'll only clear maybe fifty-thousand. Hey, it's front money for Neverland.

"Well, at least nobody died in the fire. Any word on the sound guy?"

Actually, I got a call from the police yesterday. He turned up in San Francisco. The police have cleared him from any involvement in the fire.

"So, why has he been missing for seven and a half weeks?"

It seems he owed quite a bit of money to a couple of loan sharks. When he realized the theatre was going to burn to the ground, he seized the opportunity and headed for the Port Authority bus terminal. He apparently figured they would think he was dead. He's been living in some park, guzzling Thunderbird and communing with the squirrels for the last six weeks.

"So Robin is the only one still missing."

They don't want to close the investigation until she turns up. They're adamant she didn't die in the fire.

"Any ideas where she could be?"

Nary a one. Millicent's distraught.

"You've talked to her?"

On the phone. We had to agree what to do about Robin's inheritance. Drema left both of them rather sizeable bequests. We've decided to put Robin's in a trust until she shows up. That's what I'm going to be doing today. That, and meeting with the museums.

"Museums?"

You know that warehouse Drema owned, down in the village?

"The one she lived over?"

That's it. Well, it's packed to the rafters with every single thing Drema ever bought to use in a production. She never threw away anything. Drema left it all to the Billy Rose Collection and to the Museum of the City of New York. I'm going to be spending weeks with representatives from both museums trying to divvy it up.

"Why would they want all that junk?"

The conservative estimate they place on the value of all that junk, as you put it, is something in excess of 40 million dollars. And it could ultimately be three times that amount.

"Jeez."

Jeez, indeed. And I have a certain interest in expediting its removal from the warehouse. Drema left the warehouse, the building itself, to me. I also get a small ranch in New Mexico, but I haven't found any details about that in her papers yet.

"You get the building?"

Yes.

"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

Yes. It's the perfect site to rebuild the Drema Paige Theatre.

"How soon can you empty it out? When can I see it?"

Hold on. The museums are going to be battling over who gets what from the Drema Paige Collection for weeks. I've specified that nothing's leaving the warehouse until they decide on everything. That's the only way I could think to speed the process up. It looks like I can handle all the details from now on. I want you to concentrate on Neverland. What good is a theatre without a show to put in it?

"This is turning into a really great day. I want to bring Jonathan Franks in for a week or two. Can we afford the expense right now?"

As long as you don't go overboard on the hotel. You're sure you want to tailor Billy Finn and Neverland to this guy?

"Wait ‘till you see him."

Okay. Work with him for a week and then show me what you've got.

"Two weeks."

One week. If he's as good as you claim, one week should be enough to show it. Deal?

"Deal."

The exploits of Lola Montez (1820 - 1861) - onstage as a dancer and an actress and in politics as a power behind the throne - made her one of the best-known women of the Victorian era. She was beautiful, outrageous, fearless, and a magnet for scandal. Yet her true story has always been obscured by the web of lies she constructed about herself. Undaunted by this maze of lies, Bruce Seymour has, in Lola Montez: A Life, succeeded in chronicling her extraordinary and endlessly fascinating life story, one that puts fiction to shame, with great verve. Montez was born Eliza Gilbert, raised in India, and educated in England. To escape from her mother, she made an impulsive, ill-advised first marriage and then, casting all propriety aside, conducted a very public adulterous affair. Shrewd and intrepid if thoroughly besmirched, Montez realized that the stage was her only possible refuge, so she transformed herself into an actress and Spanish dancer and hit the road, performing in Warsaw, Berlin, Paris, and Munich, where she embarked on the most notorious chapter of her defiant life by becoming the mistress of King Ludwig I. Their contentious affair earned Montez the title of countess, but it literally caused riots and led to Ludwig's abdication of the throne. Forced into exile, she never lacked for lovers or nerve and eventually worked her way across the U.S. and Australia. Montez takes our breath away with her audacity, unbridled passion, and capacity for intrigue and seduction.

Lola Montez: A Life
by Bruce Seymour
List Price $40.00
Yale University Press
ISBN 0300063474


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