Monday, March 9, 2009

Brodway Shows

Fire Fox asked me if I had ever seen a Broadway Show. That's a fun comment to respond to. Some of this will be repeated stories.
When I arrived in NY in 1938 I was disappointed at the level of Democracy. It didn't take long to learn about the treatment of blacks in the South. And the treatment of Jewish people in NYC one didn't have to read about, it was evident on the sidewalks of the city. Everything was open for someone like me. A dumb Swede. How unfair. I was eager to immigrate, childishly because I had learned that people received Easter gifts. But later in school, when we learned about the fact that anything was possible in America. Of course, we felt that what that meant, was that everything was possible for all people. That was a rude awakening.

I read NATIVE SON and when it became a play on Broadway I was elated when a male aquanintance asked me to go to see the play. When the play was over, and everything emotional had been wrung out of us, we went backstage for my friend to interview Canada Lee, the star of the show. When we met Canada he kissed my hand and I thrilled to the gesture. It was noisy in his dressing room and so he asked us to come up to Harlem to his restaurant called THE CHICKEN COOP. When we arrived we joined the group around Canada. There were writers and dancers and an occasional Policeman who came in off the street to share the congratulations that were heaped on the Star. It was a fun evening.

Later I saw LILIUM with Ingrid Bergman and since I had been backstage before, I went back there and told her what a great job she was doing. I spoke to her in Swedish and she uttered a few canned words in exchange. The house where I worked sent the whole domestic staff into NYC for a play or some big offering at the Garden and once to the Opera. These were monthly affairs. I do not remember which opera we heard. It might have been MADAMA BUTTERFLY, for when many year later when Sam and I were invited to hear madam Butterfly in Stockholm I knew I had heard it before. Bt this time it was sung in Swedish.
Sam and I tried to get tickets to OKLAHOMA when we spent our honeymoon in NYC in 1943. We were unsuccessful. We did see LES MISERABLE one day much later, when our daughter number three and her husband gave us air tickets and theatre tickets for our fiftieth anniversary.


Laura said...

My first broadway show was Les Miserables in London, and although it is not my favorite broadway show it was very memorable, being my first. You'll have to tell us more about how you always manage to get backstage and meet all of these famous stars as I could not imagine how to get myself into those situations! I love hearing about all the adventures you've had. Thanks again.

Haphazardkat said...

I have never been to a Broadway show. Sounds wonderful! NY is definetly on my list of places to visit--mainly because my passion is photography and the lines of the great city call to me :)

Vancouver, WA

educatedeclectic said...

My first B'way show was 42nd Street when I was a teenager. My first as an adult was Sunset Boulevard - around 1995 or so.

YTT said...

Oh my goodness, I loved this post - you were part of Broadway history. I think it is so cool you went up to the restaurant in Harlem. But I'm sorry Ingrid Bergman didn't respond to you more warmly. She's always been one of my favorite actresses. Please keep telling your wonderful stories.