Past Articles

What's New on the RialtoPast Columns


Talent Unlimited

I got off the train at Penn Station and thought I would walk the 33 blocks uptown to Talent Unlimited High School where Talkin' Broadway's very own Melinda Hesbacher was graduating, as valedictorian no less!

Walking in Manhattan is always amazing to me. I simply love observing the city. At first, I was very polite, even waiting for the "walk" sign at the intersections. The weather on this day was simply a day from hell. It was hot and humid. After 10 blocks off came the jacket and then I started jaywalking like every New Yorker. I passed Grand Central and the sidewalks were filled with people. I heard the trains below, and then more people.

And another hundred people just got off of the train!

I didn't know what to get Melinda for her graduation present but it came about that I got her an airline ticket for a trip. Still, I wanted to give her something, so I found an old Playbill that I kind of liked and treasured and figured she would like it. I clutched it in an envelope as I walked and my deodorant began to die.

At 67th Street I met Karen, Melinda's mom, and we went into the auditorium awaiting the ceremony. I sat there thinking of the phone call I had with Melinda yesterday.

"Well, you know valedictorians usually speak about how great school was, the faculty, your hopes, your dreams and how much your Alma Mater means to you and your future. You know, yada, yada, yada." Melinda said, "I can't say that." "Then fake it", says I. "Or talk about the help you received from the faculty and staff." Wrong thing to say. "Here I am valedictorian with four scholarships and my guidance counselor didn't even advise me on deadlines for applying to schools, and I'm out in the cold because of her ineptness." "Oh!" says I. Maybe the staff should be called "Talent Limited"?

Talent Unlimited is like the high school that was portrayed in the film Fame. The students major in theater, music, or film related curriculums. During the ceremony the undergrads performed, and I have to admit the orchestra and chorus were quite good.

"Karen, any idea about her speech?" "Nope, I don't have a clue."

In the hallway 5 minutes before beginning, I see Melinda shouting at an elderly man who I later learned was the prinicipal. One thing I've learned is that Melinda is very bright and you don't tell her what to do. Poor guy.

It came time for the valedictorian's speech and she took the podium.

"Before coming to Talent Unlimited I attended other schools and the students made fun of me, ridiculed me, and were very cruel."

Oh Jesus, I sunk in my seat. Oh God no, not the Carrie White speech!

And then she spoke eloquently about the friendships she had made during her four years at Talent Unlimited, friends she would treasure throughout her life and how they made a difference to her. The faculty meant little as it was the student body who were the heart and soul of the school.

The prinicipal cringed as her classmates cheered her on. It was the kind of speech that takes real guts and it came from the heart. I would have gone the "future and dreams" route, but not her. Toward the end, I started to giggle and shake my head. 'Only Melinda!' It was the best valedictorian speech I've ever heard.

Later, at her party, I gave her the envelope which held her little gift.. She opened it and thanked me profusely. Inside was an opening night Playbill from what else but Carrie.

Rumors: Too good not to be passed on even though I hate rumors. The word on the street is that Barnum is in serious talks for a revival. Names like Martin Short and Bernadette Peters are being mentioned. (Bernadette is mentioned for everything). "Barnum?", says I.

Run for the hills where you might find the sound of music because if they bring Barnum back, someone should be run into Bellevue!

Kit Kat & Kaboodle!

The Kit Kat Klub opens at 7:30 and patrons enter and sit at the tables and enjoy cocktails before the environmental performance of Cabaret. It almost didn't happen last night as they were about thisclose to being shut down.

At 7:15, the fire trucks pulled up in front of the W. 43rd Street Theater and the building underwent an inspection and failed. Meanwhile, 500 theatergoers were gathering on the street. Unless the violations could be corrected, no performance, period, was the proclamation from the Fire Marshall.

Backstage people scurried as theater fans watched them dumping raw lumber out on the sidewalk. Out come three iron railings, a podium and some table and chairs. I joked with one theater goer as I looked at the table, "What was your seat number?"

After 20 minutes, a huge dumpster appeared out of nowhere on the back of a flatbed truck and parked itself in font of the theater. Obviously, all this junk was just laying around backstage and I was told it was just a routine checkup by a fire department spokesman.

Yeah, right. 15 minutes before curtain? You know what it reeks of, don't you? It's New York. What would you do if you had a sold out show and 500 patrons standing in the sweltering heat, and paying $75.00 a pop? Give them back $37,500.00? My, my, my! Timing is everything in life. Get it? Got it? Good.

"Hey V.J. Is that you? Are you seeing the show?"

"Rick, what are you doing here, I thought you were doing summer stock again? And no, it's sold out, I was just passing by just in case."

"I gave up summer stock when I got the job at Roundabout. Let's meet after the show. I'll tell you all about it."

"But, I don't have a ticket."

"Let me see what's available."

Life is a Cabaret ol' chum...and timing is everything!

See you Sunday!


Wanna' talk to others about this column or anything else theatre related? Check out All That Chat


Past Rialto Columns

Search What's New on the Rialto


Privacy Policy