Sunday, June 15, 2008

Back from there

It's Fathers' Day.
It's Open Sunday.
It's Celtics Day. Maybe.
It's Tony Night.

Which of these brought me back to this blog?

I don't know. None of them. All of them. (But probably none of them. But I love you Dad, go, Tigeroccolee, Celtics yay! I guess!, and so far [at 39 past the hour] the Tonys look wide open, on the musical side, at least. August: Osage County looks like it may roll like a Mack Truck.)

Since my last post down there, which was tongue-in-ass for Mitt Romney losing his birthright, a lot of life has gone by. First and foremost, this computer fucking hit a wall. So I got it fixed. Hi there.

Show, bitches! Fiorello! is back in the house. Very pleased, very proud, very tiring. That's the biz.

Barack Obama. I've said it all along, you read it here: Whichever Democrat won the primaries, he or she was going to mop the floor with John McCain. God bless Maverick Man. He was the pre-sump when my computer died, right? How the hell did that happen again? And every day, he makes right-wing radio/blogosphere's job that much harder by sucking more and more and more. Getcha popcorn. And get the hell out of Barack Obama's way.

Oh shit. Lin-Manuel Miranda is thanking everyone in rhyme. Man.

No, I don't want to liveblog the Tonys. It's just interesting that the League seems to want to pimp the musicals this year when it's clear that the plays (well, play, Mack Truck) are the focal point. The musicals are obviously more TV-friendly, and the League clearly wants to give the most Family-Fucking-Friendly product the best face time, but I don't think I'm going out on a limb in suggesting that August is clearly going to be the standard-bearer from this season long into the future.

And a good friend of mine died.

I don't think I can adequately explain on a stupid blog like this what it was really like to know, work with, and appreciate the friendship and the gifts of Page Hearn. The first time I met him was in late 1996. He was the Managing Director of City Lit Theatre, and was hard at work in their office. Trimming down a styrofoam softball bat to resemble a broadsword. The show ws The King, and it was a crashing bore, an unadaptable novel with which the great director Steve Scott could do little, despite a great non-Equity cast. (I was pretty damn good, thanks.) Page wasn't in it, though. He was at the Wellington, doing his role. Jeeves. The echt-valet (not a butler, god damn it. Jeeves was a valet. Period.) Partnered perfectly with the great Mark Richard as Bertie Wooster, the first one of the hilarious Wodehouse novels I saw him do was Thank You, Jeeves, which I was actually able to step into for one performance after The King was mercifully euthanized. And so began my professional relationship with City Lit and Page Hearn.

Page and I did five shows together, in various stages of professional relationship, at City Lit. In 2002, he brought me back in after the company had been basically resuscitated by him two years prior, by moving out of expensive Michigan Avenue offices up to Edgewater, and taking all office duties on his own shoulders. The show was She Stoops to Conquer, the greatest comedy ever written in the English language, and it's still the best non-Eq show I've ever done. (I love Fiorello! though, so come see it. Now.) There follwed another Wodehouse, a show called Cocktail Time, which gave me the best part I've ever done, a maybe-dotty-maybe-not 176-year-old publisher (not really, but still, ooooold) named Saxby. Page adapted that one, and was present throughout rehearsals, as director Kevin Theis brought all the funny out of a script that was funny as hell (and probably funnier than the book it's based on). That part got me two things I'll never forget: My first exit applause in a scene, and the greatest pull-quote ever, in which the Reader's Lawrence Bommer called me "Chicago's Nathan Lane". Schwing! He loved Broadway musicals almost as mush as I do, and when I'd fire off some obscure bullshit fact, he'd often look at me and say "Are you sure you're not gay?" Which leads me to my favorite Page story, and one that only I could ever claim to have seen. Downstairas at Jeeves in the Morning, in late 97 or early 98, Page was in his Jeeves livery, sitting on a sofa and doing some mild fix-work on a cape for Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream for Arts/Lanes, a short-Shakespeare company he also ran for a while. I was sitting there watching as Page, in Jeeves cutaway coat, had this cape spread out in front of him like a silvery-glittery skirt, when Marc Silvia, the director of another show in the Wellington complex at the same time, walked in, spied him, and after maybe a beat, squealed "Oh my god, you are such a queen!" Again, the written blog can't adequately relay Silvia's delivery of the line, which I'll never forget, but it almost makes me wish I'd seen that Oberon.

Still, Jeeves was the thing, and when his partner Steve got a job in NYC, Jeeves skipped town. I wasn;t happy about it, but he obviously was thrilled to be following the man he loved to the best place to be to do the thing he loved. Page was one of the very few theatre-pro friends I've had with whom I actually kept in touch after they fled for New York City. He was always inquisitive of the local scene, of the sales of my book, and seemed slightly frustrated at what he called the "closed club" of Broadway. Prior to the (motherfucking) heart attack that felled him, he had just completed a role on Law & Order:SVU, and he was giddy (as giddy as you can be in an email, anyway) about it. The L&O franchise is a brand which has a way of opening doors in New York. But that won't happen for Page. I miss him every day. And just as I wished he hadn't had to go to NYC, I wish there was some way I could bring him back from there.


At 2:50 PM, Blogger Stuart Shea said...

Tom, thanks for that post on Page Hearn. I wish I'd known him; he was a terrific actor and sounds like he was a good friend.


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