Monday, October 29, 2012

In-Between - A Letter

Studying for a Theatre Arts degree at Los Angeles City College, we had the choice of learning how to build sets or make costumes. I chose the costuming class and was not sorry for it.
 I had begun classes the second week of September. By October 6th, a week before my first visit to The Julie Andrews Hour, I had completed work on several costumes. On October 6th I wrote:

I have neglected saying that I enjoy sewing costumes. I am working on “The Man Who Came to Dinner.” Already, I have sewn a lavender satin lining in a fur coat. That took me four hours with help. I also sewed sequins on the front bodice of a blue satin gown. Today I put the hem in. That was hard.

June 1972 - High School Graduation

October 15th – I returned to Hollywood from West Covina. Got in late. My roommate Lynn had changed the room slightly. Now it has ghastly incense burning and horrid music.

October 16th – I began helping with dress rehearsal at the college for The Man Who Came to Dinner by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. (Incidentally, Moss Hart was the director of My Fair Lady who worked with Julie Andrews on the role, turning into a great Eliza.) Many of the costumes I’m working with are the ones I made. I was so tired at school today, I almost fell asleep.

After class (I had a three hour break), I went downtown Hollywood and met my best friend from high school, Alice. She’s taking business classes there and travels every day from West Covina. We talked about things and I showed her my post card from Liza. I’m still on top of the world from attending The Julie Andrews Hour. I can’t wait to go back to ABC!

Tonight was the first dress rehearsal for the show. I have never seen so many naked girls in my life. They just don’t care. The main person I take care of is Janeen. She plays one of the leads, Maggie, Mr. Whiteside’s secretary. I have often watched her at T4 and thought how brightly she makes announcements. She is different in-person. She calls everyone “Babe” or “Baby.”  My job is to make sure all her costumes are in top shape and that she is dressed perfectly in time to make her calls onstage.

October 17 – Previews. The performance was better tonight. I like Janeen. She is very nice to me. as is the girl who plays Mrs. Stanley. Last night I got a ride home, but tonight I had to wait for the bus.

I am reading Guthrie McClinic’s book “Kit and Me” about Katherine Cornell. I was surprised to find how much we are alike. He describes his feelings about actors:

“I watched them as they went their separate ways with a positive ache. They were going away and my life would be emptier. Not one of them did I know and yet somehow they had come close to me… Blindly, somehow I felt that world, their world, was where I belonged.”

October 18th – Watching The Julie Andrews Show on television tonight did not seem nearly so good as seeing it in-person.

Every night now I like to sit by Janeen and watch her put her make-up on. She is the same, yet she changes as she puts her make-up on, and when she puts her wig on, the change is complete. Tonight, she remarked on how conscientious I am about her costumes, and she always says “thank you.” I have nothing else to do, but besides that I like taking care of her. I can’t act right now and I’m so lazy, I don’t want to. It takes a lot of one’s soul to act. I like to sit back and admire her. I really don’t like to admire myself. I’ve done it and it’s not that fun.

In the dressing room with my mother and Gypsy
Rose Lee when I was one. My mother was one of the
chorus girls who opened Gypsy Rose Lee's show.
In 1972, my mother was certainly not old. She'd just
had two babies, but, of course, being young I was
longing for glamour!
October 19 - Tonight was opening night. The girl who plays Lorraine got a huge basket of roses from one of her old boy friends. Others got flowers too.

I’m going to be sorry when the play is over. Tonight Janeen made me sit down with her while she put her makeup on and talked to me. Later she hugged me so hard and took my hand and thanked me for my help. I suppose all this reminds me of when I was little and watched Mommy making up for a show. How young and beautiful she was then. Remembering that tonight, I was in another time and place, one that is gone, and the memory brought tears to my eyes.

                                                ***

During this time I missed seeing Julie’s show. I was disappointed when I got back to the residence too late to watch it. But school had me constantly busy.  Even when I went home on the weekends, there were school projects to do, piano practice and working on my voice. I tried to sing from my diaphragm, as they say you should, but I had taken ballet lessons all my life and been taught to hold everything in (physically and emotionally). It was difficult for me to expand anything in the area of my ribs or diaphram.

October 23rd  - When I came back to the dorm from West Covina I found some tickets for The Julie Andrews Hour waiting for me! The only thing is, since I was working backstage on The Man Who Came to Dinner there is no way I can go, so I gave the tickets to another girl in my residence. She was thrilled.
                                                         ***
October 24th – 26
The second week of the show, I had to usher a few nights. Later, I heard that the girl who was taking care of Janeen left the dressing room during the show, and wasn’t there when Janeen needed her. I heard Janeen ended up getting very nervous and screaming!

One of the guys who works with the costumes keeps flirting with me. A couple of nights he tried to grab my hand. Tonight I learned that he’d put some marijuana in the  cookies he made for a party. Well, that is the end of that!

October 27 – Today I got up early, got dressed and put on my makeup with plans to go to ABC, but it wasn’t my day.

First, I missed the bus, and had to walk all the way there. I was a little nervous as the area surrounding the studio didn’t look great to me. Arriving at the studio, I walked right through the gate, acting like I knew where I was going. I walked over to Stage E where The Julie Andrews Hour is taped. When I got there, there was a big sign on the door saying, “CLOSED SET – Absolutely No One but Crew Allowed,” so I turned around and left sadly.

On my way out, I stopped at the ticket office. The lady at the window said, “Julie Andrews will be going on a one week vacation next week.” I cried inside as I walked back to my dorm. I had been longing so much to be there.

When I got back to my room at International House, I sat down and wrote a letter to Julie Andrews. I asked her if I could be allowed to come to the tapings of the show during the daytime as I am afraid to walk back to my dorm at night. I could barely get those words down on the paper, they just seemed too bold. I told her how much I had learned from her and how I had been there eight hours.  Then, while I was at it, I wrote to the studio and asked for more tickets. After that, I wrote a letter to my old acting teacher, whom I have a terrible crush on. I mailed all three letters that afternoon. Then, I went to bed. It had been too much for me.

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