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The Year in Review...1999

It's time to look back at 1999 as we do each year. However, this year I thought we'd do it differently. Rather than me tell it the way it was, I've invited the Talkin' Broadway family to give us the highlights of their theatre experience for the year.

One of the by-products of creating this Web-zine was All That Chat and the effect it has had on theatre-fans. In January of 1997 when we debuted on the Web I had no idea that our forum would become so popular throughout the world. And the by-product is that those who post on this messageboard have become friends and many have met on Broadway, in London, and really, all over the world. They're all crazy, of course...crazy for theater, that is. But, what they have done is create the Talkin' Broadway family. There are more than a thousand of us, and we all know eachother through our daily messages and commentary on the world of theatre. So, here they are, using their forum names, to tell us about the best of 1999, The Year in Review.

  • Devin: CHICAGO was the center of my theatrical universe this year. I've seen it close to 20 times now here in Vegas. Many times have been with VJ, Bob and Vegas - which has always been fun. Great to meet Richard and Eddy, also. It was also wonderful to meet and make friendships with various members of the cast. They are all CLASS actS. And it was a THRILL to attend the opening night cast party and finally meet my darling Ute Lemper, as well as "mingle" (I love that word) with the likes of Chita Rivera, Barry Weissler, Ben Vereen, Marcia Lewis and the many other beautiful people at the party.

  • sparky: Elizabeth Franz in Salesman...STUNNING!

  • rodneyra: Well, I like to try new things and going new places theatrewise. This year's new adventure was going up to Ashland to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Saw 4 excellently produced plays and decided to make this an annual pilgramage. I'm already preparing the trip up in 2000.

  • Larry: My week in Chicago -- discovered a great city and saw Ragtime, Titanic and Floyd Collins and those theater companies I'd only read about -- the Goodman, Steppenwolf. Also driving "over the hill" (the Sierra Nevadas) to the Sacramento Music Circus with a carload of friends to see Most Happy Fella, then home again in the middle of the night.

  • LoLo: South Pacific at the Dallas Theater Center!!! Absolutely transcendent, especially Tsidii De Loka, Kevin Ligon, Michele Ragusa, Sean McDermott, John Wilkerson and all the supporting cast, including students from SMU. The most moving, theatrically and dramatically immediate experience imaginable--not just a period piece. This is one case where y'all in New York City missed out (but I'm campaigning to get this production mounted in New York).

  • Treehorn: 1999 was the best year of my life, in no small part due to Talkin' Broadway. The friends I've made all over the country (and even world) have been so supportive of me, and it's been wonderful meeting so many of them this year as I've been performing around the country. Also writing the Cabaret column has opened some doors and connections (and gotten me some songs!)

    The best night of my life was in April...after performing my best show at The Duplex (thank God it was the night reviewers were there) four of us decided to go see Barbara Cook at the Carlyle. Two of my friends were worried, since they were in jeans and plaid shirts (hardly Carlyle-wear), but since there were only ten people total that night, the Management didn't care.

    Barbara gave an incredible show; after her first number, she had Wally refocus a light and performed directly in front of my table! It was cabaret at its finest...intimate and personal. After the show, she stuck around and chatted with everybody.

    Leaving the Carlyle on a cloud, I see a familiar figure leaving the bar...I ask "Andrea?" She replies "Jonathan?" It was Andrea Marcovicci, who I had only met a few times, and only very briefly (we were recording our CDs in the same studio at the same time). I was amazed she remembered me, and was astounded when she raved about me and my voice (when your goddess worships you, it's a very odd but thrilling thing), and made me sing with her mother in the lobby of the Carlyle!

  • Kaoru: there are three shows come to my mind: Sweeney Todd concert in LA (although it wasn't perfect, I still got chill seeing the great musical), Nova Bosa Nova (performed by all female theatre company, Takarazuka, in Japan. It was a very exciting show), and Violet at TheatreWorks. Of course the final SF POTO performance in the beginning of the year still have a special meaning to me too.

    I saw many regional theatre productions this year, which made me realize that you can see a good quality show with a decent price without trekking to NYC, London, or LA.

  • Antonio: Chita Rivera's opening night in CHICAGO (in Toronto) and meeting director Walter Bobbie. The Canadian Premiere of CABARET. Backstage tour on the set of CABARET (got to peek at the theatre through the Emcee's door) and ransacking Joely Fisher's dressing room, as well as Norbert Leo Butz's. The North American Premiere of OLIVER!, meeting Ma-Anne Dionisio, and greeting Colm Wilkinson yet again.

  • MikeR: This is really more a collection of memories, but my trip to New York in November was everything I hoped it would be, and more. On top of all the great shows I saw, the wonderful Talkin' Broadway folks I met (or got to see again), I also got to meet Audra (sigh), Stokes (in his dressing room, no less), Kristin Chenoweth, and Stephen Bienskie. I also had fleeting encounters with Marin Mazzie (with Jason Daniely) and Amy Spanger. Every person I met (the famous and the not-so-famous) was wonderful, sweet, gracious, warm, friendly, etc... The trip was a dream come true and a collecton of memories I will cherish forever.

  • Raghead: Experiencing the flood of tears with my mother--a devoted teacher of Salesman in the O'Neill Theatre during two and half hours of the most incredible B'way experience of my life. There wasn't a dry eye in the house. I almost had to be hospitalized. That's my kind of theatre.

    (And) how could I forget my dinner with Harper (HS) and his mother and our getting to meet E.L. Doctorow, my literary idol and the guy who started all the madness.

  • trishanyc: Loving the Scarlet Pimpernel-version two- and reading Nancy's interview with Douglas Sills. That interview helped me to gain a talented mentor, who by all accounts handled all the accolades and fans with absolute grace. I can't wait for the tour to stop in New Haven in 2000!

  • NYcatMT: One of the biggest things was getting to finally meet and see perform in person Carolee Carmello. Also, finally getting to see Audra perform. Meeting Judy Dench and Stephen Sondheim if only for a brief moment. Getting to live in such a great city that allows me the ability to be able to go to the theatre at any time I can afford to go and getting to meet some of the TBers. I hope this year is just as great and enjoyable.

  • Uthink01: 1) Titanic's closing show on March 28th. 2) Seeing Floyd Collins in Philadelphia. 3) Spending 4 months in London seeing many shows and learning a lot more about theatre.

  • Ronnik: 1999 was a long and almost endless year for me, and so in thinking back over the theater I experienced, I inadvertently forgot WIT, not only the best thing I saw last year, but the best thing I have seen ever. Period.

  • Nydiva: Taking one of my favorite actors out to dinner for his birthday. I never thought he'd say yes! (Dinner was between shows and lasted nearly 3 hours; heaven!!)

    I confess - I hang out at stage doors; been doing it for ages. I simply *like* talking to performers about various aspects of the shows they're in. From time to time, I feel that maybe this is a little foolish, and does it really matter that I repeat shows and follow the careers of certain (too many!) "favorites".

    Well, maybe sometimes it *does* matter. I've long been a fan of Barry Nelson. (For those younger members, look him up - he did several shows from the mid 70's through the 80's.) The last time I saw Barry was 10 years ago in a tour of Lend Me a Tenor (when I drove to see him New Haven). We've exchanged Christmas cards in the interim (his coming in April or so!), but I hadn't heard from him for over 5 years.

    Imagine my shock when the phone rang a few weeks ago and it was Barry! And he was calling for a reason. It's a little known fact that Barry was the first actor to portray James Bond. This was done for live television in 1954. Recently, an "unauthorized" (musn't say the "b" word!) 16 mm film of the broadcast surfaced at a Chicago flea market. Somehow it made its way to the Museum of Television and Radio and was in good enough shape to "digitize" for showing.

    Barry was asked to say a few words at the initial showing and thought I might enjoy coming along. How he managed to unearth my phone number after all these years is nothing short of astonishing! Needless to say, I accepted the invitation in a heartbeat.

    It was fabulous seeing him (and his lovely wife) after all that time and even lovelier being asked out to dinner afterwards with Barry and a few other guests. Sheer show biz talk for four hours (till almost midnight) and thank goodness the next day was a planned vacation day.

  • SP2: For me, the most emotional performance of this year was the closing of SP2 on 5/30/99. That day will be etched forever in my mind and heart! We (the Pimpies ~ the Leaguers ~ whatever you want to call us), had shared so much with this wonderful show! What drew us all back over and over until we knew every word and each note? The incredible cast, the music and the story had touched our lives in a unique way that no show had ever done! That last bittersweet day was filled with so much laughter and so many tears! It took me many weeks to realize that it was really over and I couldn't just go to the Minskoff anymore to be swept away from the cares of my everyday life! The magic was gone and it is still sorely missed!!

  • Mister Quay: I'll go along with that. That was some day for sure. Followed closely by Cooch and Christiane's last day in Jekyll back in Jan., and getting to attend both the taping of Linda's PBS special and Opening Night of The Civil War. It was a good year.

  • AudraPhan: Without a doubt the most memorable moment in theater this year has to be that first glimpse of the beautiful and talented Audra McDonald on the stage of the Vivian Beaumont. And then, when you hear that voice.

  • Faith: My most treasured evening of theatre would probably be the 5/28/99 performance of Les Miserables in NY. Yeah, I know it may be rather lame to choose a show that's been around for ages and which I've seen many, many times- especially when I have seen so many varied and interesting productions... but as I said, it's so hard to decide among the riches of the shows I've seen. My reasons for choosing this performance are mainly personal, but they include the fact that I was able to share the evening with three truly wonderful friends. (though one of them could only attend the actual performance in spirit) It was a special evening, and the show itself lived up to the months of anticipation.

  • bpbdwy: My favorite personal memory is becoming friends with Jeff McCarthy, creating his website, and seeing him perform in several shows this year. However, my favorite memory related to a specific show was ushering the run of Floyd Collins here in Philly. I was so excited to finally see it staged, and it was captivating each time I saw it. Equally impressive was the kindness of the cast. I'll never forget the opening night party in particular. I was a little shy and timid, which some of them picked up on, and they helped me feel very much at ease. I even made a few new friendships. I'll always look back fondly on those two weeks.

  • Richard Connema: The fun Tony Party at Barrymore's with members of the Forum trying to see the show on one TV set and the other on a set with terrible reception. It was like you were in Kansas trying to pick up a Chicago station. But fun.

    Seeing Eddy and Elizabeth Franz carrying on a conversation after the Tony Award Show outside the theatre.

    Interviewing Patti LuPone here in San Francisco.

    Seeing one of the greatest performances of the Century with Elizabeth Franz and Brian Dennehy in Death of a Salseman

    Seeing Chita in Chicago and meeting John, Caroyln, Bob and Devin briefly even though I at the wrong meeting place prior to the performance.

    Being completely blown over with The Last Session in Los Angeles.

  • Sandy: Best theater memory was dragging myself across the continental USA to see a Broadway show I had very negative feelings about and then finding myself loving it! Kiss Me, Kate bowled me over. And the fact that Stokes was in it had absolutely no bearing on it. ;-)

    Everything connected with this trip was special; finally seeing Audra and seeing and loving The Dead. But the most special thing was spending so much time with WendyG, finally meeting Page and MikeR and Treehorn and Wayman and numerous others not known on this forum. Yes, it's a trip that's down in MY memory book.

    Holding hands with Stokes on the corner after Cole Porter way was renamed wasn't bad either. :-) I'm still smiling...

  • Kat: Crying my eyes out after Death of a Salesman with the brilliant cast... A Streetcar Named Desire with the genius of Elizabeth Marvel...Watching J. Smith-Cameron in Tartuffe in the park from the front row.

  • Lady Sadie: In the summer I toured just locally doing children's theatre, which was great because of the people I worked with and you get such an.. interesting reaction from some kids. I also worked at the theatre during pantomime season with some of my friends which was so much fun just because we could get so ridiculous in front of the actors, and after the last show we were invited to have champagne with them all, which is something I'll never forget. That or maybe seeing Paul Stanley play the Phantom of the Opera, just because I walked in there with doubts and was proven wrong.

  • JSY: The night that I saw and met Joanna Ampil for the first time after all these years of waiting and anticipation (and then got subsequently invited to the MS closing party) - I'll never forget that nor will I ever forget how much of a wonderful person she is. Alas, it won't be the last time I see her. :)

  • HS: Walking across the stage of the O'Neill Theatre and entering the world of Willy Loman; then proceeding to meet the sublime Elizabeth Franz. She was unbelievably kind and gracious, and she even took me aside to see a special signed then/now photo set of Arthur Miller from the opening 50 years ago and the opening in 1999.

    Sitting on the front row for CHICAGO in Vegas. Seeing the amazing duo of Ute & Chita up close was a mind-blowing experience for this CHICAGO fanatic. Also, sharing the second act with a fellow Skidoo by the name of John Gillespie was an absolute treat :-)

  • Vegas: Probably the press night at Chicago in Las Vegas for me. Meeting cast members some old friends and making new friends. It was a fun night.

  • pagedreher: I would have to say my recent trip to New York City in November would have to be my favorite theatre memory of 1999, and I've got several memories to choose from. Getting to see three Broadway shows and meeting more folks from Talkin' Broadway, all during the same time frame, was wonderful. I'm still talking about my trip. I can only hope that 2000 will be just as great, not only in the shows I will get to see, but getting to meet more folks from Talkin' Broadway. I can't wait for next June, and the big Tony Awards weekend in New York City!

  • NYNance: Creating my Center Stage Interview feature on the SP website. I started the year with the first ones, and just ended it with the last. If it has to be a theatrical event, then the May 30th SP2 closing performance has to be it.

  • Sarah Chagal: It all started at the beginning. January 3rd...Phantom closing night. Something I'll never forget! Then David Campbell in June and November. Yup, yup, that wraps it up. :-)

  • aisleseat: I saw a terrific performance of ONCE UPON A MATTRESS at The Wheelock Family Theater in Boston in January '99.... where not only did ASL interpreters sign the story for the hearing impaired, but also, individual interpreters sat next to folks who are deaf and blind, and signed the story for each of them into the palms of their hands. Toward the end of the musical, one of the ASL interpreters was given a brief role in one scene on stage.... and the bonding of the total audience with the characters/ actors was complete.It was an amazing experience for everyone.....including those of us who are sighted and can hear.

  • Melinda: Seeing Bernadette Peters on Broadway for the first time in me life. She was the reason I became interested in theatre and seeing her do a show rather than a concert was definitely the highlight of my year!

  • jeanmd: Ditto for me!

Well, I told you the Talkin' Broadway family was crazy! And I gotta admit...I'm a little crazy about them.

See you next Millenium!

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