Thursday, December 9, 2010

Elizabeth Taylor Sat Right In Front Of Me At Tennessee Williams Clothes For A Summer Hotel 1980 At The Kennedy Center In Washington D.C.

Elizabeth Taylor was not in this play but she was in the opening night audience at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

In March of 1980 my wife Rachel gave me a ticket to go see Clothes For A Summer Hotel by Tennessee Williams at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. where it was having a tryout before going on to open in New York.

It was opening night and my seat in the third or fourth row was directly behind Elizabeth Taylor and Senator John Warner. Before the lights went down I sat staring at Elizabeth Taylor's ears and the largest diamond earings I had ever seen or have ever seen. Several gay young men ran down the aisle before the play started to say hello to her.

  I enjoyed the play very much and since I knew the story of Scott and Zelda very well I had no trouble following all the action. It was sort of a memory play about their life and included an actor playing a young Ernest Hemingway who was very good I thought.

    At intermission between acts I went out in the foyer to smoke my pipe.

 There was a drink cart sitting out in the foyer for those that wanted some liquid refresment. I did not get anything to drink. I just stood there smoking my pipe and watching the people come and go.
I heard some bell ring or some notice that the next act was about to begin. By this time I was the only person still standing outside. The hall was empty except for the drink cart. As I was about to start in a man came running out to get a drink. It was Tennessee Williams. I looked at him and he glanced at me. I did not say anything to him because he looked very worried and very hurried. He got his drink and ran back inside. I went back to my seat.

When the play ended he stood up and acknowledged the applause when they asked for him to stand up.
   I thought it was a good play but when it went to New York it closed after 14 performances. See above wikipedia entry about the play for details.

    Back in the late summer of 1972 I had met Tennessee Williams briefly on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. It was in August. A very hot day. There had just been one of those frequent rain storms that come and go in late summer in New Orleans. I had sought shelter under the Cabildo across from Jackson Square just a few minutes earlier. After the rain stopped I wandered over to Bourbon Street. I was standing on Bourbon Street watching the people when I was surprised to see Tennessee Williams coming down the street. He was not alone. There were three people with him. I crossed the street and called out to him. Even though they were in a hurry(it was near noon and I feel sure they were on the way to Galatoires his favorite restaurant) he kindly stopped and spoke with me for a minute or two. The people with him did not seem to like this but he did. He held my hand between his two hands much like a grandmother or mother would.
   Then they took off. I had finally met one of my most favorite authors.

  But eight years later I did not bother speaking to him since it was clear he was worried about his new play.
  And as it turned out he was right. He had much reason to worry about Clothes For A Summer Hotel. It was the last play he opened on Broadway. After that it was off Broadway for him. The critics had it in for him and that was all there was to it.