BWW Book Club: Read an Excerpt from UNTOLD STORIES OF BROADWAY: The August Wilson Theatre
BroadwayWorld Book Club is officially off and running! Or should we say, reading!
Join the Discussion:
Author Jennifer Tepper will be hosting a Facebook Live Q&A today at 12pm ET so be sure to tune in! You can post questions for Tepper on our Message Board HERE and on all BroadwayWorld social media!
Recap of Chapter Six: The August Wilson Theatre
If you would like to join the discussion, you can find a round-up of excerpts and fun facts from the first chapter of the book below:
Did you know:
Telly Leung, Actor
During my senior year of college at Carnegie Mellon, Billy Porter came to direct the senior musical, Company, and he cast me as Bobby. When we were working on the show, he said to me, "Telly, do you know about this Broadway revival of Flower Drum Song?
Billy's first Broadway show after he graduated was Miss Saigon, so he knew the tight network that is the Asian Broadway community, and because of that, he had seen Flower Drum Song during their tryout at the Mark Taper. I didn't know anything about it. Billy called Mark Oka, his dance captain from Miss Saigon, who was also the dance captain on Flower Drum Song, and he said, "Listen, I have three Asian kids in my cast of Company. I'm sending them all down on a Greyhound bus to audition for you. When can I send them?
... I distinctly remember saying, "If I really get this show, I know I'll only get 25 words in my first Playbill as 'Dancing Bonsai #5 On The Side,' but 'Thank You, Billy Porter' will be four of them. And that happened. I made my Broadway debut in Flower Drum Song, and those words were in my Playbill bio.
Did you know:
The Conductor and Music Arranger of Smokey Joe's Cafe, Louis St. Louis, got arrested on his way to the first preview of the show?
Louis St. Louis, Writer/Arranger
On my way to my first preview of Smokey Joe's Cafe, I got arrested.
We had rehearsal at 3pm that day, and then the first preview was that night. I was driving into the city and redoing the intro into the song, "I Keep Forgettin'" in my head, because I didn't like the way it was yet. I passed a toll, and I rolled my window down with the money in my hand, but I never paid it. I kept driving and then I suddenly looked down and realized: I forgot to pay the toll.
I was flagged down by a cop. I said, "I've never done this before. Look, the money was in my hand." He told me he couldn't take it. He asked me to pull over, and I did. Ten minutes later, he said, "Step out of the car. You're under arrest."
... They took me to the prison inside of Port Authority. They took the shoelaces out of my shoes. They took everything from me and put me in a cell.
They let me call my partner, Roberto, and he and my Company Manger, Laura Green Came down to the precinct... When I came out of the courtroom at 7am, Roberto and Laura were there. They had stayed up all night. I said, "Well, I'm going to do the matinee. We need to do the matinee! It's our second show."
I got to the theater, the old Virginia, and the props man had made a bloody glove and put it on the piano as a joke for me. Pattie Darcy Jones did an arrangement of the Cat Ballou theme, the old western about the gunman. They all dogged me for weeks. I got sent to jail instead of our first preview!
Did you know:
Susan Blackwell, Actor
The first time I ever performed on a Broadway stage was as part of a benefit concert of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas that Seth Rudetsky put together for the Actors Fund. It played the August Wilson.
We were brought backstage for the rehearsal, and Jersey Boys was playing there, so their set pieces and props were backstage. I came to all of this a bit later in life; I was in my 30s when the concert happened. I was an adult, not fresh off the bus- and still I was just knocked sideways by the privilege of getting to be backstage and then onstage at that theater.
Even though I only had a small part in the benefit, I remember getting a laugh and thinking: This is the first laugh I ever got in a Broadway house! This is my first time on Broadway! Getting to have that whole privilege was kind of mind-rocking.
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