Friday, July 30, 2010
memories october 1, 1963

This picture above, is not cropped---it is just how it was sent to me....This was the day we recorded "Spoon River" for Columbia Records, having opened at The Booth Theatre on Broadway, just two days before, on September 29th, 1963, The gentleman speaking to all of us, is Leonard Burkat, who Produced the 'Original Cast Recording', under the over all supervision of Goddard Lieberson, who was THE 'King' of Original Cast Recordings for Columbia Records at that time and had been in that position for many many years before---in fact, I believe "Spoon River" was the very last OCA that he oversaw before he retired. Leonard Burkat's daughter, Susan, who lives in Portugal, found my blog when searching out 'Spoon River', because I had written about the show and the Album. As I told her in an email, I did not remember her father, or what his involvement was in the recording. So, I did some digging and got out my Album, and there in the credits it said: Album Produced By LEONARD BURKAT. I've never seen this picture--in fact, I have no memory of ever seeing any pictures from that recording day....So, for me, this is a true treasure. And the whole cast is in the picture. All six of us. What a miracle that was....! Over on the far left is Joyce Van Patten, who's face is barely in the picture---but I know it is her, (I have no idea who the man right behind her head is, but he obviously had something to do with the recording).....And there is Mr. Burkat, of course, giving us notes on something...... Then, right after Mr. Burkat, facing the camera holding his guitar, is Hal Lynch, my fellow 'Folk Singer'....That is Betty Garrett's back, (unfortunately we don't see her face) and then I'm next, facing the camera though slightly hidden by Betty......My, how serious I look---well, we all look serious. Then that's Chuck Aidman, after me. Chuck adapted the poems and Conceived and Directed the show, as well as Acting in it and writing lyrics to my music for the show. Chuck loved "Spoon River" passionately....He had fallen in love with this Edgar Lee Masters classic, in College and what he did to make this into a truly theatrical evening was pretty phenomenal...I remember Mrs. Masters and her son actually said...."We never thought this could possibly be done, and you did it..."..... They were thrilled with this truly wonderful evening of Theatre. And below, last, but not least, that's Bob Elston next to Chuck, rounding out our cast of six.Whatever Mr. Burkat was saying must have been pretty important---you can see we are all listening intently. It was a very exciting day for all of us---our little show having started in a 40 seat Theatre Workshop in Los Angeles, (Theatre West) in January of 1963---then playing a six week run at The Theatre Group at UCLA, that May, and then coming to Broadway at the end of September. An Amazing Amazing thing to have happened, believe me.......Of course the recording day was a hard day for all of us. We had not had a day off in quite a while, and this was our very first day off from doing the show at The Booth after Previews and 'opening'.....So, it was the only day the show could possibly be recorded, and it had to be done in that one day and night---no matter how long it took. And it was a long long day and night. (Yeah, that's me above, playing the Violin in the show)....And then, with no real time off, we went back to work at the Booth Theatre the next night, resuming our eight shows a week schedule....Tuesday through Sunday.....Matinees on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. (We actually would have Sunday night off and then all of Monday, too)....In fact, we were the very first Broadway show to establish the Tuesday through Sunday schedule. I know that may not mean anything to anyone, but it was a BIG chancy thing back then, and in fact, it was so popular with audiences that it became the standard performance schedule for most Broadway shows, there after, and still is, by the way. It was a truly ground breaking schedule at the time, just like everything else about "Spoon River".So, we were all pretty tired, but very excited and thrilled, too. It was most unusual for any record company to record a 'spoken word' play, but, because we had so much music in the show, Goddard Lieberson made the decision to do this cast recording. It was a slightly edited version---back in those days they rarely did a two 'record' (33rpm) Broadway cast album---and we were lucky that they were even recording our show at all. That is the Published Songbook, above.....One lucky thing for me, all the 'original' songs were included on the Album, and there were two others that I sang in the play that were particular solo favorites of mine, that were included, too. So, the end result was really quite wonderful even though a number of poems and some music had to be left out.....So......Thank you Internet and thank you Susan Burkat Tobey for contacting me and sending me this wonderful picture of a very very special day in my life......We were all so young and dedicated and so filled with the wonder of what had happened to our little group of actors. It was unusual back then, and we knew it. We truly did know it. And we were so incredibly grateful---you will never know. And, truthfully, it would still be unbelievably unusual today----actually, it probably could never even happen today because of the costs of producing on Broadway....We came into New York for a Subway No kidding, we truly did. Even then, this was no money to bring a show to BROADWAY! $35,000.

Ahhhhh yes, those were the days.

More To Come.......

Links to this post:


had this to say:

It's great when the Internet is used for such a good purpose. I'm glad she found you and shared the pictures. What a nice surprise.

Friday, July 30, 2010 at 5:10:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

How marvellous for you to receive this historic photograph from someone who lives the other side of the world, and have all those happy memories come flooding back. Thank you for sharing this story. You must have been so thrilled when Susan contacted you with her "blast from the past"!

Friday, July 30, 2010 at 5:41:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I'm leaving this comment and I'm off to Amazon to see if Spoon River is on a CD or download. You've mentioned it before, of course, and I've meant to seek it out, but it's always slipped my mind.

No more!


Friday, July 30, 2010 at 6:08:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

That's really great! What a special gift.

Friday, July 30, 2010 at 7:15:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I tried to comment earlier on but it wouldn't work. How wonderful to discover all these great photos, and bring back such wonderful memories for you!

Recording in a studio must have been very different then. I ran a fan club for Bobby Vee, and when he recorded all his hits like Rubber Ball, Take Good Care Of My Baby and the Night Has A Thousand Eyes they were all recorded live with the orchestra etc all in different booths in the studio, and the vocals were live as well. Just amazing.

Friday, July 30, 2010 at 7:48:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

What a life you've led! How great that you have so mant concrete mementos, plus of course the memories. I just reading about your life.

Friday, July 30, 2010 at 9:47:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

oh my! this is such a treasure! i loved seeing all of these photos and reading about your memories of that day! you've *literally* made a little imprint of history right here for all of us to see and read-- THANK YOU! and i seriously (seriously!) can't wait for the "more to come!"

Friday, July 30, 2010 at 12:36:00 PM PDT 

Anonymous Kevin Raftery
had this to say:

I just realized that Charles Aidman is the actor from two of my favorite "Twilight Zone" episodes: "And When the Sky Was opened" and "Little Girl Lost."
I have always enjoyed his performances.
My good friend, Bruce, use to work for an actor's union and had to visit many a Broadway recording session. He told me just what you have written; The session is always recorded on a day the cast has off, and it is done in one day.
"Spoon River" must have been a great experience for you.

Friday, July 30, 2010 at 1:10:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

How exciting. I've seen many plays at the Booth but I wish I could've seen that one. To think JFK was still President when you opened. I have the cast album...and love it. And I'm glad I got to see the revival several years ago at Theatre West.

P.S. to Kevin: Don't forget Charles Aidman's great guest spot on "The Dick Van Dyke Show!"

Friday, July 30, 2010 at 1:52:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I'm Susan Burkat Trubey's sister, the one who provided the picture! I am so thrilled to have been able to read your entry blog about Spoon River Anthology and the history around the recording. I had the picture framed and on the wall in my house, but wasn't sure exactly what I was looking at, beyond that it was my father (Leonard Burkat) pointing at people during the recording of the show. I didn't know what my father's role in the recording of it was, as I had just turned 9 then and, quite frankly, didn't care at the time, lol! But now I do! I'm planning to print out your entry of the blog to pass on to my sons so they know.
Thanks again for this information. It has been as invaluable reading your blog as it has been for you, I am guessing, looking at the picture!!
Caroline Burkat Hall
Danbury, CT

Friday, July 30, 2010 at 4:41:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What a glorious gift!! I'm going to look for it -- the English major in me loved Masters' poetry!

Friday, July 30, 2010 at 8:36:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Naomi, isn't it wonderful what the internet has done for us all? Yours is the 2nd blogI've read tonight where someone from the past contacted a blogger because of something they wrote about. It's just wonderful!!

Friday, July 30, 2010 at 9:28:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

A gift that brought back memories... the best kind of gift. :)

So nice of you to share them and your memories with us.

Friday, July 30, 2010 at 9:50:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

The internet has really made this a small world. Wonderful find with those pictures and a new friend made.
You have led such an interesting life filled with talented people that mostly have remained in your life.

Saturday, July 31, 2010 at 5:45:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

WOW that is so neat! You must be thrilled to have received that photo. Paired with you memories it makes for a great post Naomi. Have you sent this to Joyce too?

Saturday, July 31, 2010 at 8:07:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Oh Naomi, I love reading your stories... I need to get my act together and start reading blogs

Sunday, August 1, 2010 at 8:20:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

This was a fascinating post! Thank you for sharing part of your life.

Nancy in Iowa

Sunday, August 1, 2010 at 12:24:00 PM PDT 

Blogger Ily
had this to say:

This post is an example of why I treasure old photos. Just one photograph can bring back wonderful memories and take us back to the day it was taken.

I'm so glad you were able to relive and share the day with us. Your theater stories are always so fascinating. I would love to hear more.

Sunday, August 1, 2010 at 4:58:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

what a lovely memory. So glad she found you!!! The internet can be pretty amazing.

Sunday, August 1, 2010 at 7:35:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Such a long time ago and I bet it brought back fond memories to you Noami. You are a classic beauty I must say :D

Monday, August 2, 2010 at 1:32:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

What an amazing post. It is full of memories, information and love. Your posts are always so interesting. I love to come to your blog. Thanks again – you are quite a lady.

Monday, August 2, 2010 at 6:45:00 AM PDT 

Blogger Pat
had this to say:

What a lovely bolt from the blue. That must have evoked so many memories. You mean you can play the violin too? It's just not fair;) Too much talent for one person.
Wouldn't it be great if someone decide to revive Spoon Rive?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 at 1:56:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

My gosh Naomi, you have really had a life - you really have. May you have many more years ahead full of stories to share with us....

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 at 10:19:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

hy. thanks for your article. its nice

Saturday, August 14, 2010 at 12:45:00 AM PDT 

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