I have to admit that since I started TalkinBroadway.com a little over four years ago that I have met some strange and fascinating people. No matter where you are in the world, if the subject of Broadway comes up, and that person is familiar with the scene, you'll share a common bond, or a memory or two.
I've met Broadway stars, Broadway composers, even castmembers from 1948's Kiss Me Kate, but none were as interesting as Ronald, who I met over the weekend. I had been invited over to his house in the Seven Hills section of Henderson, Nevada to discuss a project I am working on. Arriving at his home, in time for dinner, I couldn't believe my eyes, this palatial residence was easily in the multi-million dollar estate territory. The foyer was 40 feet high and the place was dripping with elegance.
Ron greeted me like an old friend. His wife was equally as charming as well. Ron had worked on Broadway back in the 1970's so we had much fun discussing the old days and dishing the dirt. After dinner he showed me around the house. What impressed me most was his home theater, yes, a real theater! I couldn't believe it, it was like a miniature movie palace, with a balcony no less. It has a movie screen, curtains and surround sound. Amazing.
On one wall was a bookshelf of videos and I perused the titles.
"Where in God's name did you get this? I mean, this was before VCR's."
"Oh, I worked on that, so it's pretty much a studio tape."
"My God, I'd kill for a copy of that, but I'm not into bootlegging, still, I'd love to see it sometime."
"How about right now?"
The house lights dimmed, the picture came on and the announcer said: "Revlon presents the 1976 Tony Awards."
And then "a five-six-seven-eight" and it began with the complete opening number from A Chorus Line, "I Hope I Get it" which lasted about 8 minutes. I was thrilled. George C. Scott and Richard Burton were co-hosting, but others like Marlo Thomas, Julie Andrews, Mary Martin and a zillion other Broadway stars participated. Ron noticed me gasp during one segment.
Of course A Chorus Line swept the awards that year, leaving Chicago in the dust. Jerry Ohrbach sang "All I Care About" from Chicago and it was so interesting to see that number again, with Jerry doing the strip routine, finally losing his pants behind the feathers. And to see those chorus gals singing the intro in those wild costumes was a wonderful trip down memory lane.
Acceptance speeches were wonderful. Michael Bennett was most gracious claiming he was really Bob Avian, both one and the same. Donna McKechnie looked ravishing and was certainly thrilled. Sammy Williams gave a short and sincere speech from the heart.
Additional musical numbers were from Pacific Overtures, and Vivian Reed performed a rousing "Sweet Georgia Brown" from Bubbling Brown Sugar. Hal Linden, Donna McKechnie, and Leslie Uggams did a wonderful medley of Broadway tunes from past shows as well.
It was interesting to see Hal Prince, Stephen Sondheim and many other familiar faces from back then. After it was over I was just thrilled to have witnessed that again after 25 years. Why did I gasp earlier, asked Ron. "The camera panned the front mezzanine, and I saw myself sitting there with Rosalie Joseph. It was the first year we attended the Tony Awards."
I thanked my host. It was getting late. Ron is nearly 80 now, so I knew it was probably past his bedtime. "Good luck on your show, I'll be there" says he.
"Oh, and here, take this, what am I going to do with it? I've had my memories, now you can have yours."
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