The Last Time I Looked: (Stories, Real and Unreal) - PARTNERS Chapter Five
March 25, 2013


There wasn’t much show for him to stop. Rather, he got it moving, going, cooking when he sang the perfectly fine, bland textbook like songs with their new horrendously expensive arrangements.

At first, he was in awe of the “legitimate theatre“ and this group of men and their impressive Broadway credits. He listened to every word of advice without saying anything. They talked good. The director talked even better with his English accent, and the “dear boy” of it all. Howie smelled twelfth rate Noël Coward all over him.

He also smelled body odor and stale smoke. He figured anybody with such a consistently dirty, stringy head of hair had to be some kind of genius.

The musical was based on a hit play of the depression. Its author was the wunderkind of the theatre in the thirties. He wasn’t that thrilled about turning it into a musical, even though, by now he could certainly use the option money. He was articulate but sour and so slow with the rewrites. Howie was afraid to challenge him…too…until…after the out-of-town opening. They were in Philadelphia. They were almost completely sold out before they opened on the strength of Howie’s name and, to be fair, the idea of him in this play and part…it was a sexy concept.

They decided to have the opening night party right on the stage. The last set of the show was a night club. After the curtain came down, and the last well wishers…the select many stayed to “have a blast” as it said on the faux-Tiffany style invitations.

Howie had really landed with that highly charged audience. Most of the book scenes played tepidly, the laughs were scattered and insincere…relative and backer’s laughs. But when he sang, they paid real attention, and by the end when he was in the middle of that night club set, even their facockta songs and speeches couldn’t stop him. He was that character…it wasn’t originally written for him, but it could have been about him. A talented, focused, driven, vulgar charmer who would do anything to be a success.

Bea didn’t look bad for Bea that night. She was only moderately overdressed, and there was even an occasional sliver of her red satin long dress and jacket that didn’t have a sequin or bead on it. She was insanely over excited and the pitch of her laugh was higher than ever. She was proud of him, and she was glad that he was so good and showed those “old farts”.

In his dressing room, after the opening, Bea was hostessing, giving out drinks, especially to herself, and wet kissing anyone within reach. The production stage manager Rob was from a very rich, old respected top of the top family. His manners were impeccable and his enthusiasm for and knowledge of the theatre was impressive and sincere. His wife, Lally, was a most original young woman of fashion. She did the costumes for the show. God knows, they didn’t need the money. But their strong bond…their partnership was based on their mutual appreciation…nay...WORSHIP of big time talent, and all that came with it.

Their guest was Katherine…the most beautiful, much married, well dressed, written about heiress and café society figure in the world, well maybe much of the world.

Rob walked into the dressing room first, followed by Katherine and Lally. He pushed through the crowd with the smile and manners of a well brought up boy bringing his wounded cat from the scene of an accident. He didn’t have to work too hard, because Katherine’s imposing radiant beauty and stunning costume silenced much of the prattle, and people made way, as if for royalty. In the room of show biz glitz and glamour, of agents and their wives…all done up…this constantly perfect smiling trio seemed to be from another planet.

Click here to read chapter six.
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