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BWW Review: HEDY! THE LIFE & INVENTIONS OF HEDY LAMARR at BB's Stage Door Canteen At The National WWII Museum

Encouraging women to make the world a better place!

BWW Review: HEDY! THE LIFE & INVENTIONS OF HEDY LAMARR at BB's Stage Door Canteen At The National WWII Museum

It's been quite a while since I've had the pleasure of sitting in a theatre experiencing a live production. The past year the world stopped, and it was difficult enough for us as theatre-goers to miss one of our favorite sources of entertainment and joy; but, imagine the stage not only being your joy, but also your livelihood. Our artists are hurting. Sure, we have the technology these days to support live streams and what have you; however, you and I both know it's just not the same. It's not the same for us watching, and it's not the same especially in regards to revenue for artists. They've had a hard year. We've all had a hard year.

You can probably guess that I was beyond thrilled when I learned that my friend Heather Massie was finally able to bring her one-woman-show HEDY! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr to BB's Stage Door Canteen at the National WWII Museum here in New Orleans. I was not only thrilled that I would be able to sit in a theatre again after over a year, but thrilled that she, as an artist, is able to get back to work as we ease our way into some sort of normalcy in this COVID world we're now living in.

BWW Review: HEDY! THE LIFE & INVENTIONS OF HEDY LAMARR at BB's Stage Door Canteen At The National WWII Museum
Heather Massie as Hedy Lamarr
(photo by Al Foote III)

To say that BB's Stage Door Canteen was a excellent venue of choice for this particular show is an understatement. I only learned who Hedy Lamarr was through Heather, but now that I know her story, being at the canteen at the WWII museum for this production just seems so perfect. Hedy was an Austrian girl with a curious mind who became a Hollywood movie star in the 1930s and 1940s. She used her curiosity and scientifically inclined brain to invent a frequency hopping torpedo guidance system - technology that would eventually be used in modern cell phones, GPS, bluetooth, Wifi, and more - all in the name of doing her part for the war effort. Hedy also used her talents and big heart to entertain and care for soldiers at the Hollywood canteen. She's a pretty remarkable lady! Certainly look her up if you're interested in WWII history, women in science, and the Golden Age of Hollywood. In her talk back after the performance, Heather mentioned a documentary called Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story executive produced by Susan Sarandon, that is a must-watch for anyone itching to learn more!

BWW Review: HEDY! THE LIFE & INVENTIONS OF HEDY LAMARR at BB's Stage Door Canteen At The National WWII Museum
Heather Massie with Susan Sarandon
(Executive Producer of documentary Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story)

Also remarkable is Heather Massie herself who not only stars in this production, but wrote it as well! Heather is much like Hedy in that she is a lady of the stage and a lady of science. Prior to becoming an actress, Heather studied astrophysics with the hopes of becoming an astronaut. Heather later went on to study Theatre Arts and now presents Hedy Lamarr's story in an effort to inspire young women to pursue the field of science and technology, and to encourage all of us to do what we can to make the world better. A scientifically inclined actress presenting the story of a scientifically inclined actress... it's quite serendipitous! And while we're talking about remarkable women, I'm going to take a moment to say slide on over Jefferson Mays (who notably played 8 characters throughout the course of A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER)... Heather not only plays Hedy Lamarr in her show, but 34 other characters who make an appearance in the story including Jimmy Stewart, Bette Davis, and more! What a feat!

When you experience HEDY! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, you are treated to an intimate hour and a half of Hedy talking you through her life, and introducing you to all of the important people she met along the way that helped to shape her and the different directions in which she ventured. She introduces you to her father who encouraged her to think, her mother who taught her the importance of discipline, her first husband Fritz Mandl from whom she learned the ins and outs of munitions simply by being a fly on the wall in their own home, George Antheil who was a composer and her partner in the invention of The Secret Communication System, and many more. It's rare that I get to see a piece of theatre that not only holds me captive because I am interested in the life of the character, but that also teaches me an important and widely unknown piece of history, all while inspiring me to be the most badass woman I can be. I can't recommend this production enough!

BWW Review: HEDY! THE LIFE & INVENTIONS OF HEDY LAMARR at BB's Stage Door Canteen At The National WWII Museum
Heather Massie as Hedy at Inspirefest in Dublin, Ireland
(photo courtesy of Inspirefest)

If you weren't able to catch HEDY! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr this go round at the WWII museum, but this has struck a chord with you, please visit www.heathermassie.com/HEDY to learn about upcoming performances and engagements. Especially for you educators out there, be aware that Heather can adapt this production to fit a timeframe that would allow her to present Hedy in schools. There's never a better time than the present to encourage our young women to pursue STEM fields and the arts all at the same time! I fully intend to lean into this inspiration and do every little thing I can to make the world better, just like Hedy. Are you with me?


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