Saturday, September 29, 2007
spoon river

Forty-four years ago today, "Spoon River Anthology" opened on Broadway. Why do we all remember and hold this date so high? Well, because of the amazing journey that this show took. It is a very rare thing for a show, (in this case a play with music, based on a book of poetry,) to start it's life in a little 40 seat Actors Workshop Theatre in Los Angeles, (Theatre West), and to then find it's way to the Booth Theatre on 45th street receiving seven rave reviews....But that is exactly what happened....And one of those reviews---The New York Times---the most important of the seven New York City newspaper reviews for a show---said, among other things, "Let no one say that California only takes and does not give..."....Believe me, that was the highest compliment a show could receive from a reviewer in New York, and coming from Howard Taubman the NY Times critic back then, it meant the world. We had gone to New York as a special "concert" type piece for a four week limited run....And we played for 14 weeks, surviving a move from The Booth Theatre to The Belasco Theatre...a notoriously difficult thing to have happen to a show....And then there was the assassination of John F. Kennedy----a terrible terrible tragedy and in certain ways, one that took it's toll on almost everything happening in the city at that time, as well as the whole country....and in my opinion, our country was never the same after that....All of us that were involved in this beautiful little gem of a theatre piece, always remember this date each year....Why? Well, because our journey was such a completely personal one and the commitment each of us had was so deeply heartfelt.....and as I said, this journey was such a rare and fabulous thing to have happen....So, Happy Anniversary, dear Betty and Joyce....we are just about the only ones who still survive, and were all a part of the journey from that little theatre on Roberston Blvd., to Broadway. This picture above was taken backstage, I believe in Betty's Dressing room...Betty Garrett and Me, standing, and seated in front of us, Joyce Van Patten.

Charles Aidman, who adapted the Edgar Lee Masters book of poetry and who also Directed the piece as well as acting in it too, is gone now, as are Robert Elston and Hal Lynch....the six of us appearing on the stage in the show when we opened at The Booth Theatre.As some of you already know, I wrote 'Original Music' for the evening and Chuck put lyrics to my music....The memories are lovely and warm and so very special---that rehearsal process before opening at UCLA, (The second stop on the way to Broadway) was magical and creative in ways that one dreams about but rarely gets to 'live out'....I think it was the most exciting thing that any of us were ever involved with...and everyone has done a lot of things---particularly Joyce and Betty....But "Spoon River" remains the benchmark for the true theatrical 'highlight' of all of our lives....and September 29th, the most exciting Broadway Opening, ever.

More To Come.....

Note: The top picture is of the Original Cast Album put out by Columbia Records---the very last Original Cast Album that the great Goddard Lieberson was involved with. The next picture is of the songbook from "Spoon River", published by Music Publisher's Hold, Warner's Music..((((OOOPS, I FORGOT TO POST THIS.....WELL, IT IS RIGHT BELOW THIS NOTE......)))).....And be sure to click on that review and see what Howard Taubman said about our dear little receive a review like this....well, it was more than wonderful.

Links to this post:


had this to say:

Wow, what must it feel like to be a part of something so special and so historic. My partner M is familiar with this play and when I told her you were involved with it and that I thought you wrote some of the music, she didn't believe me! Well I'm going to show her your post right now! Thanks for sharing.

Saturday, September 29, 2007 at 1:50:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Thank you for your kind words, I am worried as her Mother, it is a horrible situation to be in. I just hope that things go for the better.

I have heard you mention your work in so many posts, I wish that I could have seen it, what a brilliant event to have been involved in. Very inspiring

Saturday, September 29, 2007 at 2:58:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Hey Naomi, what a marvellous anniversary and a lovely post to celebrate it!

I enjoyed reading Taubman's review. He obviously really enjoyed the show and so did all the people who have seen it over the years.

You all must have been so proud to have all been involved in such a wonderful production.


Saturday, September 29, 2007 at 3:14:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Michele sent me to help you commemorate this landmark in your life. My Grandmother had seen your show- I remember her talking about it & others she had seen with my Grandfather after their kids were all in college & they could travel.

Saturday, September 29, 2007 at 3:20:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What a wonderful memory this is for you! I have always loved Masters' poetry and wish that I could have joined you to see you bring it to life! What a thrill it must have been for you!

Saturday, September 29, 2007 at 4:51:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Whoops.... I think I posted before I was ready!

Anyway, I *am* honored to know you, for this and so many other reasons. You are a fabulously interesting person!!!

Here by way of michele today...

Saturday, September 29, 2007 at 5:14:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What a wonderful celebration for you. The review was marvelous...I can't even begin to imagine how that must have felt...I wish I could have seen it! I'll just bet is was great!!!

Saturday, September 29, 2007 at 5:58:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I'm not surprised by this because your writing and photography skills are a true indication of the talents you possess. I'm sure you'll post many more hidden gems in the future.

Reading your blog is like opening up a storybook, and I love looking at all the old photographs. What an honor and a joy you must feel, even today and especially on this date, to have been a part of such a special and memorable experience.

Saturday, September 29, 2007 at 7:29:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I wish I had seen the original but I'm so glad I saw the Theatre West revival a few years ago. What a magnificent production. I first became aware of the great Joyce Van Patten from her work on "The Danny Kaye Show"--wasn't that around the same time? Did she go into that right after "Spoon River?"

Saturday, September 29, 2007 at 9:43:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What an awesome story - thanks for sharing it!

Saturday, September 29, 2007 at 10:15:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Wow! Fabulous! Happy Anniversary!
I am glad you have these treasured memories to share with us. To be a part of the inspirational history is awesome! I am proud of you!
Thank you for sharing with us.
Huggles and Love,

Saturday, September 29, 2007 at 10:23:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

congratulations to you wonderful ladies.

Man, I bet that was quite a show. I wish I could see "Spoon River."

Saturday, September 29, 2007 at 11:40:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What a fabulous history you have, Naomi! And how wonderful to have been part of the theatre in such an integral way, amongst such brilliant and talented people - and to have such talent yourself!!

A great anniversay, yes - and thank you for sharing it with us!!

Sunday, September 30, 2007 at 12:07:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Anyone who has been in any sort of production knows a certain thrill, but to have been on Broadway must have been, well, breathtaking. You have experienced something that only a small percentage of people will ever know.

By the way, are you ever going to tell us about your dealing with the band "The Byrds?" I'm dying to know all about it.

Sunday, September 30, 2007 at 12:52:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Dear Naomi, you brought wonderful insights to me about America, history and much much more..I truly appreciate it.

You are so instrumental and your wealth of knowledge is truly gifted. I love coming by and enjoy all your old collection of photographs.

Thank you for sharing :D

Sunday, September 30, 2007 at 1:04:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

You makes so many memories come true.
This show must have been a blast for all of you in the group.

I also remember THAT day. Had been to a movie (forgotten which), and when we went out in the dark night, we heard the rumours: Kennedy have been shot. It was a silence we could not believe. People only whispered. No,no. And that was in Oslo, Norway.

PS. We are still in Amsterdam

Sunday, September 30, 2007 at 1:20:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I find that, at times, as I look at old photo's and such that it's amazing how it seems like only yesterday when the photo was taken.. when that happens it's nice to feel what we felt then and see in our minds eye what we saw then... time really does fly by.

Sunday, September 30, 2007 at 5:47:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Congratulations my dear Naomi! What a wonderful Anniversary and a lovely post to celebrate that event! Love all photos, too!

I am very proud and grateful to have here in my hands that wonderful and rare "Spoon River Anthology" in vinyl and in CD! That great "Spoon River Anthology" was a wonderful gift from you to me! I have the pleasure and the privilege to hear always your beautiful voice and beautiful compositions. Thank you so much my dear Naomi!

Sunday, September 30, 2007 at 6:13:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I'm so glad I found you and now I know more than I did.

Just spent about 30 minutes clicking on links to your name and the musical.

What wonderful memories you must have.

Sunday, September 30, 2007 at 7:50:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Michele sent me here this morning, to read about you and Spoon River (OMG I loved the book - and I didn't know there WAS a play - how very cool).

We should all be so lucky to have lives as full, rich, and meaningful as yours.

You inspire me.

Sunday, September 30, 2007 at 10:23:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

That must have been wonderful to see! I love plays, as you know.

Sunday, September 30, 2007 at 11:48:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I am so happy that you wrote about this.

I read every word of the review. I imagine that was some whooping and dancing around when that was read!

Thanks for continuing to share your amazing memories.

Sunday, September 30, 2007 at 4:28:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Naomi, I remember hearing about Spoon River when it opened on Broadway. I never imagined I would "know" someone so close to it! I sure do wish I had been able to see the show, but I do think that I remember seeing an excerpt from it on TV (maybe on Ed Sullivan?) Am I crazy? or did that happen?

Sunday, September 30, 2007 at 4:54:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

You are my famous friend! What a great post. And the one about Robin was so sweet. What a nice tribute.

Sunday, September 30, 2007 at 5:56:00 PM PDT 

Anonymous Nancy
had this to say:

Hello Naomi,

I enjoyed reading about your production of "Spoon River Anthology".

The first time I ever read the book of poems I loved it so much I couldn't wait to find out more about the author.

I got a biography of Edgar Lee Masters and the biggest surprise about his life was that he was Clarence Darrow's law partner.

You must have many happy memories of your time on Broadway.

Sunday, September 30, 2007 at 6:29:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Oh wow. You seriously are a super star! How wonderful for you to have been involved in such a way... And it's great you have blogged about it to share it with us. Thank you.

Sunday, September 30, 2007 at 6:45:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Congrats on the anniversary of your amazing show!

The collaboration of a variety of talents must have come together perfectly for that show.

I am so glad you three ladies have those marvelous memories of such a wonderful, shared experience.
It is too bad that the men you mentioned have passed away.

I'm certain your origial music was DIVINE!!

Sunday, September 30, 2007 at 7:11:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Hi Naomi! A wonderful post remembering the past fondly. Thank you. You've given me something worth knowing and remembering. Three cheers.

Sunday, September 30, 2007 at 7:13:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Bravo Aunty Em !! I wish I had been able to see the show but I was only three days old at the time LOL
What a huge highlight in your life and so wonderful you have friends that can remember it with you.

Sunday, September 30, 2007 at 8:28:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

hey... is that YOU there on the top left of that album? it is isnt it? i would never get used to seeing my name like that.

what a great thing ot be a part of.

Monday, October 1, 2007 at 12:43:00 AM PDT 

Blogger PI
had this to say:

Oh Naomi - I wish I wish I WISH I could have seen Spoon River and heard you sing. I know I haven't the right but I feel so proud of you. You clever clever girl!

Monday, October 1, 2007 at 2:36:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Many of us never achieve that bright, shining, moment of success. (and it's always so fleeting, isn't it?) But YOU did, Naomi! Bravo to you and the entire cast. I know how much this production meant to you and rightly so.
You're an inspiration to me...for this to move to Broadway is the epitome of success in my book.
And as you know....I've heard the music and the play...and I'm captivated and enthralled with it. Very poignant and such a joy.
Thanks so much for sharing this with us.
Oh...and that review....the frosting on the cake. It was brilliant!

Monday, October 1, 2007 at 6:01:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Dear Naomi, thank you so much for your kind words about me and my blog! I am also glad I found you and would be great if we could meet someday! I have much pleasure visiting you and you enrich my world too! (((Many hugs)))

Monday, October 1, 2007 at 7:10:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Hi again, Naomi. I forgot to answer your question about the statistics. As I have the counter
Site Meter, it provides to costumers those statistics. Really it's great to know that! Many hugs!

Monday, October 1, 2007 at 7:48:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Happy anniversary! what a lovely post to celebrate this beautiful memory! lovely pictures as well and I loved the final words of the review: ."It is like a brooding and loving American folk poem brought to life on a stage".

Monday, October 1, 2007 at 9:23:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

i feel silly for getting my left and right mixed up, i saw your first name in the small print and for some reason confused left and right, which i never do, but this time i did...

i wouldnt have though of it as second class billing had you not put it that way, but now i notice a few of my old vinyl album covers and see that indeed they are all that way, actonrs front and center, singers on the side, smaller letters, et al. i never really noticed that before. i guess that makes me not as much of a snob as my friends all claim i am, or perhaps it proves their point.

Monday, October 1, 2007 at 10:02:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Wonderful memories~ I love the style of the illustration on the sheet music cover, and the whole "feel" of the show....a great little morsel in time! :)

Monday, October 1, 2007 at 10:23:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

WOW what a revue!! I really enjoyed reading it and your post. I am not surprised u were part of this..your writting is so engaging and your photos are those of pure vision.
What memories you must have...I know everyone above me have said the same thing...I guess we are all so greatful that u are willing to share many of them with us. So...THANKYOU... it's always such a pleasure to read about them all.

Monday, October 1, 2007 at 1:21:00 PM PDT 

Anonymous Lyn Masterman
had this to say:

Of all the grand memories in your life and career, The Spoon River Anthology is the most proud for all the reasons described. I was unable to read the N.Y. Times Revue even though I enlarged it...perhaps you could print a large copy of it sometime

Monday, October 1, 2007 at 1:32:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I can only imagine your excitement Naomi, being a part of something like this! It's so amazing and shows the talents of all involved.

I read the review and it obviously was a huge success and I know when the group read that, that there was much joy and celebrating!

Your stories are so interesting! I'm so glad you share them with us!!

Monday, October 1, 2007 at 6:44:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I just love your stories from the theatre. Having worked in the business myself I surely know what a momentous thing this would have been adn can understand why you would all makr the occassion. How wonderful to ahve been involved in something so significant and wonderful.

I can just imagine how great working on this show, with these people that become like family, must have been. There is no other job that I know of that can evoke this absolute feeling of connection with a group of people for a period of time. When a show like this finishes it is like losing something. But what a magnificent achievement! It may be a little late but I am adding my own virtual standing ovation for you all. Bravo!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007 at 2:35:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

It sounds like such a wonderful time...You have such great memories to remind you of those days. I love music from those days, Rogers and Hart, Rogers and Hamerstein, Gershwin and others. I love reading your stories....

Tuesday, October 2, 2007 at 3:18:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

You have a memory like a sharp knife. It's thrilling to read about this periode in entertainment and how it really was.

PS. I tagged you - nothing serious to do - only you remarked once my letters were hard to read.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007 at 1:09:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Wow, that's quite a review... crafted with very carefully respectful and adoring words. Not many reviews like that for most shows, that's for sure!

Enjoyed this, Naomi.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007 at 1:28:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

That is a tremendous accomplishment to take it all the way to Broadway AND a great review by the New York Times. You can always look back in your life and say "I did it!" That is such a great memory to have.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007 at 11:32:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

What a wonderful, wonderful tale - it must have been such a magical time for you, and there's no question the memories have been wonderful.

Sometimes I think certain events in our lives have a truly timeless quality about them. No matter how many years pass, the events still "live", vibrant and life-giving. Not many people have the kind of experience you have had - I'm so, so glad I happened to find you from dear jeanie's blog, and discovered your wonderful history.

Now, I'm off to prowl the archives some more - the tile house, of course, but who knows what other wonders are hidden around in here?

It's been ages since I've read Spoon River, too. I think I'm going to have to do that!

Sunday, September 29, 2013 at 11:39:00 AM PDT 

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Name: OldOldLady Of The Hills
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