A is for the Actress who portrays this magnificent former Governor
N is for the Nomination Holland Taylor should receive from the Tony Board
N is for the Noble woman Ann Richards was and the legacy she leaves behind
I am sitting here agonizing over how it all started. I know I read something but was there a picture or a video too? Or was it a show I caught late at night randomly? I know that I did not seek it out; I know this story found me and once it did it only took mere seconds for me to realize I would follow it day and night until it came my way. For there was no way it was going to come to New York on the Broadway stage and I would not be a part of one of the first very few audiences to see it. I knew that I had to meet Holland Taylor and my first course of action was to immediately find her on Twitter. Did I say find? Well it went like this: find, follow, fan for life.
A major draw at first was that it was based on a real life, the real life of Ann Richards. But Ann Richards wasn’t just any random woman; she was a force of nature. I knew this much about her: she was a former Democratic Governor of Texas, close to The Clinton’s, a major political player, had founded a school to educate young girls to become women that made a difference in the world. I knew she had passed away in the last few years. But I did not know much detail about her personal life. I might not have even dared to read anything about her until I saw the video of Holland portraying her. It was this combination of women, so to speak, that was the real draw.
Now to be fair prior to this I too knew little of Holland Taylor. That is not to say I wasn’t a fan. I had seen in her movies and watched her on television for years. But this show would bring my fan worship to a whole other level.
It was in the instant I learned she had written the entire show by herself AND would be portraying our leading lady in a one woman show that intrigued me. What clinched the deal for me was how she was inspired to write the show, how one night in a span of about fifteen minutes the idea just came to her. Without the exact words, she never the less knew what needed to be done. It was all internal for Holland. That overwhelming sense of purpose on a subject matter and drive to convey it in her art is something that is remarkable to me. That before any research or writing was done her soul knew what had to be done. It wasn’t even if she could do it. With this level of commitment and reason it would be incredible, just how incredible no one could have predicted. All of this and she only met Ann briefly on one occasion.
I am a sucker for a good theme that is carried out meticulously in every aspect of an event. That kind of attention to detail takes careful planning and shows right away what the kind of experience audience is in for. It always pumps me up.
When I walked into the Vivian Beaumont Theater there was store merchandise and I always want to get that right away. I never want to have to handle this at intermission and after you know I am headed to the stage door. (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2011/03/for-those-who-want-to-learn-to-stalk.html)
After purchasing a much needed pin and t-shirt, I walked down the stairs to the theater. This setting was so nice, the area it’s in makes you feel like you are in for a treat, which of course I was. There were specialty drinks at the bar appropriately named for the characters and location. As the sun was setting and I was sitting waiting to get into the theater itself I noticed the cactus plants at the bar. It made me laugh. Now I know what I am in for.
If you have never seen a show at Lincoln Center you really should. I know this will confuse a few people so I will clarify. Yes this is still a Broadway play. It is still on Broadway- the avenue. It is just about twenty blocks higher up than Times Square and the usually play locations. This is actually better. There aren’t too many tourist crowds despite the ballet, opera, and the theater are all in that center. The fountain and the lights appear like magic. It creates an environment unlike any other. Even the theater is nicer. Like I mentioned there are several seats indoor to wait for the doors to open before the show begins. It is a wonderful place to see a show. The last play I saw here was quite a while ago, back in college, it was called Contact and was only a dance musical- no words. I enjoyed myself then but this time I had MUCH better seats!
As we settled down the theater was becoming increasing packed. I knew this would be a sold out show. Each performance was. I loved where I was, on the side- stage right, and about three rows in.
I am eager to tell you how it started and how brilliant the intermission was. I want to tell you how it ended and why the setting is so important. But I feel that any information will ruin it for you. When I read the N.Y. Times review that only left me wanting more. I want the same for my readers. At every turn the creative genius will surprise you and keep you at the edge of your seat. You will want to be caught off guard by the colorful jokes and commentary that was so classically Ann Richards, and so timelessly pulled off by Holland Taylor. The fact that Holland Taylor was the creator and medium still blows my mind. Hopefully this lack of details will keep you wanting more too and send you off to buy your tickets right away. You REALLY need to.
After the show the only thing on my mind was: get to Holland before anyone else! I was so determined. In fact I was so determined that I had done the legwork before I went into the show. Since this was an unusual setting finding the stage door wasn’t obvious and I didn’t want to waste the precious moments after the show looking around for it. I asked a few people working there for it and I am glad I did. It was down a hallway, on the way out to a side exit. It will be hard for someone that isn’t looking for it to find so please ask for it if you are going to wait to meet Holland, and you should.
Now comes my tangent on my favorite part of the evening, which was meeting this delightful woman in person, getting her autograph, and photograph with her. To my surprise there was only one other person waiting for her along with my brother and me. That particular evening she had several visitors backstage so she took longer than usual. But her staff was so warm and friendly and kept coming out to give us updates. When she finally came out, boy was she worth the wait!! She is everything you would want her to be and more. She is so gracious and wonderful. That she is a celebrity never even crosses her mind. She wasn’t rushing us out, it was like she had all the time in the world and hadn’t just been performing for the last two hours. I wanted to secretly hang out with her every day although I guess it isn’t a secret anymore. After that I was done. I couldn’t have been any happier with my night. It was the stuff of Broadway dreams. It is the reason I go to the theater and the reason theater should exist.
As I type this, the only thing that is in my head are these words over and over again: “the stars are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas”. I have NO idea where I got that from. I actually had to Google the words and learn that the song is “Deep in the heart of Texas”. Naturally I bought it from Itunes. I feel like a bit of a Texan now and some pride is slipping into my Yankee blood. This is a hard admission for a diehard New Yorker like me but when I think of Texas now I think of the Ewings ala Southfork on “Dallas” and Ann Richards. The Bush Family no longer taints the image of that state for me and I am very pleased about that. I know if I ever make it to Texas, especially Austin, I will be looking to visit some of the Ann Richards sites that are all listed in the links below. There is so much she is still teaching us and that we have yet to learn. Holland Taylor says she would have been a “hoot” on Twitter and I have to agree. But trust following Holland Taylor is just if not more fun, so you have to do that right after you finishing reading this. Not a second sooner, no one would want that.
When I talk, write, or think about these women I have a tendency to combine and/or invert their names. I have almost written Ann Taylor more times than I can count and that’s not because I shop in that store. The reason is deeper than appears on the surface. It has to do more with how they are connected and maybe with why Holland felt the need to bring Ann to us? They are similar in as many ways as they are different. But both are strong, smart, driven, and funny. I cannot think of any one I would rather spend time with, even if they don’t know I am there.
I am drawn to strong willed and minded women who made a difference in the world and dramatically changed the course of their lives from what they were born into. This resonates with me deeply I suppose because I am at this crossroads in my life. I am trying to venture into the unknown and work more as a writer and photographer as my heart strongly desires. After all Ann Richards was a housewife who became the Governor of Texas and Holland Taylor is now a Tony nominated actress after writing the role of a lifetime.
I felt compelled to write this blog the moment I sat in the theater. I knew I would write it eventually because that is what I do but I too felt the compulsion to share my art and tell others of the AMAZING art I had just witnessed. It was like being mowed over by a truck of talent and you now have to describe what happened to you to your friends. In some sense it can’t be done. You are blown way. You are speechless. My mouth still drops open in silence when I think about it. It was like being close to a shooting star. You know what you are witnessing is a phenomenon.
This show is easily one of the top two shows I have seen in my life. I knew right then she would be nominated for a Tony Award. Of course she was. If here is some chance in H E Double Hockey Sticks she loses I swear on my life I am never going to the theater again!! That ought to put some people out of work. Please join me on June 9th for the live broadcast. I will be tweeting all night long.
This show was originally scheduled for a limited run. It has since been extended until September 1, 2013, appropriately enough the day of Ann’s birthday. I happen to think that is her way of giving her approval to Holland.
Just as the memorabilia that was sold says, both Ann Richards and Holland Taylor are, “Tough as nails, funny as hell.” That sums up everything perfectly.
But feeling compelled to spell out what else Ms. Taylor means to me I will go even further and say:
H is for the Hysterically funny lines I can’t get over
O is for the Outrageous commentary on every aspect of our society
L is for Living our lives to the fullest and following our dreams
L is for Lincoln Center the performing arts Mecca where the show is staged
A is for the Absolutely amazing experience I witnessed
N is for Never having been so impressed or more drawn to a real life story
D is for the Desire I have to see this show over and over again!
For Ann Richards and Holland Taylor:
Q & A with Christine Quinn/Speaker of NYC Council
Interview with Cecile Richards
For Those Exploring Texas:
The School She Founded
You Won’t Believe This, So Check It Out
Her Burial Spot