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Broadway Bound

Episode 49


A VIP Table at The Lighthouse
A Little Before 11:00 P.M.
Friday, January 1

"Here you are! Mind if I join you?"

Des! Of course not.

"What the devil happened to you and that young partner of yours last night? Our boy was crushed that you two didn't show up at his opening."

It's a long story. But, the kid was supposed to be here. Didn't he pick you up in the limo?

"Yes, he did. Didn't he tell you?"

No. I haven't had a chance to talk to him all day. I was hoping he would be here tonight.

"So was I. I imagine he's off somewhere, making up with his boyfriend."

Boyfriend? Did you say boyfriend?

"Well, yes. He's gay, isn't he?"

Not to my knowledge.

"Odd. I thought he said . . . "


"When he picked me up last night, he was nervous, jumpy, not paying attention to what I was saying. When the limo got here, he said I was to come on in and that he would be back as soon as he could make it. I asked him why. He blurted out that he had to go back for Rob. I, of course, asked who Rob was. He wouldn't say anything else, just that he would be back as soon as possible. I assumed he'd just had some sort of lover's spat with this Rob, and was anxious to make up. At least, that's what it looked like to me. If he's not gay, then who is this Rob?"

I have no idea. And, he didn't come back?



"I beg your pardon. What's wrong?"

Sorry. Nothing. He must have gone back for Robin. She was supposed to be waiting for me back at my apartment. She wasn't there when I got home. I wondered where she'd got off to.

"Whatever. So, where were you last night?"

I had to attend to a personal emergency.

"You're all right, aren't you?"

Oh, yes. Everything has been taken care of.

"Where did you pick up that bruise on your forehead . . . and that cut on your cheek? Really, what have you been up to? "

This? Oh, it's nothing. I was making coffee last night when I got home. Wasn't paying attention to what I was doing. Turned around too fast and almost knocked myself out on the door of a kitchen cabinet I'd left open. It's nothing, really.

"You've got to learn to pay attention to what you're doing. Like right now; I know you have that beautiful Irish wool dinner jacket, that's warmer and softer than pure cashmere. Why aren't you wearing it tonight instead of that light, summer weight? It must be minus twenty degrees outside."

I wore it last night and . . . it's at the cleaners.

"I was with you Wednesday when you got it back from the cleaners!"

Something . . . somebody threw up on it.

"I see. And, they couldn't get it back to you in time for this evening?"

It's a long story. Tell me, how was Jonathan's show last night?

"Just look around you. What do you see?"

Hummm. Busy. The place is packed. They're bringing in extra tables.

"The word is out. Jonathan Frank is the hot new singer. This place has extended his run for another two weeks; three shows a night starting Monday. Just look over there, a table full of scouts from CBS. I was talking with them briefly about doing a sitcom with our boy, something like Seinfeld but different. A young singer and his three odd-ball friends living in the Village and doing . . . well . . . something funny. And the lady at the next table over who looks like a dentist; she's from Disney. Why look, there's what's his name with that dreary new musical up at Lincoln Center."

Hal? Do the two of you still have that feud going on? And, it's not dreary, it's brilliant.

"Have it your way, then. It's brilliantly dreary. Honestly, I don't understand how that project ever developed. If that's the sort of show people want these days, I'm going to put together a musical about that guy who was murdered in Times Square last night."

Murder? In Times Square? What are you talking about?

"Haven't you been reading the papers or watching the news on the telly?"

No. Not today.

"It's all over the place. They're calling it the Peter Pan Murder, which would be a hell of a good title for a musical, don't you think? The police are being closed-mouthed about it, but the papers say that some guy dressed like Peter Pan was murdered on top of one of those tall buildings on Times Square sometime around midnight. His body was frozen stiff when the police found it this morning, hanging from a cable behind one of those giant neon signs, so they can't be sure about the time. They speculate that he was going to do some sort of publicity stunt at midnight, since the guy was rigged on a cable to look like he was flying from the top of one building to another. But, before it got that far, he slipped - or was pushed - off the building and got entangled in the cable and hung himself by the neck, in between the building and that giant sign. The papers are claiming he was pushed, because there were definite signs of a struggle or a fight."

Do . . . do they know who he is - was?

"He was supposedly wearing a security badge, but that was stolen from one of the TV crews. He didn't have any other identification, so the police are trying to trace the costume and where the cable rigging came from. The telly reported that his little green hat was lined with aluminum foil. Oh, and it looked like he was going to be dropping something on the crowd, because he had this big bag, but it was empty."

Did they say anything else?

"I think Channel One said that the police had hauled Cathy Rigby and the producers of Peter Pan in for questioning, but they released them fairly quickly."

And the body was frozen stiff?

"Yes. But he died from getting that cable wrapped around his neck and hanging himself. Come to think of it, the Times did say something about the police finding traces of black fiber under the guys finger nails. They're being analyzed for possible leads. With all the resources the police have at their beck and call these days, I suppose it's just a matter of time until they arrest someone for the murder. So, what do you think? Wouldn't that make a much better musical than Parade?"

Yes, it's just a matter of time . . .

He was Russia's greatest playwright. She was the leading actress in the Moscow Art Theater. But they were more than artistic collaborators. From 1899 until his death in 1904, Anton Chekhov and Olga Kipper were friends, lovers and, finally, husband and wife. But her work and his health caused them long separations. Revealed through their letters in Dear Writer, Dear Actress: The Love Letters of Anton Chekhov and Olga Knipper, edited by Jean Benedetti, this was one of the most extraordinary love stories in the history of theater, remarkable not only for their sublime, often poetic expressions of yearning, but also for a breadth of topic that ranges from the domestic banalities of dental appointments to the artistic immensities of mounting a new play.

A moving and intimate epistolary record of the complex relationship between the great Russian playwright and the actress who eventually became his wife. Chekhov already had an advanced case of tuberculosis when he met Knipper in the fall of 1898. She was rehearsing the role of Arkadina in his revised version of The Seagull for the newly formed Moscow Art Theatre; the production's success - and her personal triumph in it - meant that she spent the theater season in Moscow while he, under doctor's orders, spent the long Russian winter in the warmer climate of Yalta. These separations, which continued after their marriage in 1901, made letters their primary form of communication for months at a time.

The couple's very different personalities stand in sharp relief: Knipper's lively epistles, which feature evocative descriptions of the Russian landscape and some astute analysis of her lover's personality, reveal an affectionate, frank, impulsive woman who wrote what she thought and frequently expressed frustration with Chekhov's elusiveness. The playwright's missives are witty, charming, and infuriatingly oblique about his feelings, although his post-wedding correspondence is noticeably warmer. Interesting though the couple's emotional ups and downs are, more material on their shared professional life - he wrote Masha in Three Sisters and Ranevskaya in The Cherry Orchard for her - would have made this even better. Nonetheless, this correspondence gives us wonderfully vivid self-portraits of two important Russian artists and a poignant chronicle of love struggling against the handicap of distance and the ravages of terminal illness.

Dear Writer, Dear Actress: The Love Letters of Anton Chekhov and Olga Knipper
by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, Jean Benedetti (Editor), Olga L. Knipper
List Price $24.00
Ecco Press ISBN 0880015500


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