Our under 16 year old son got a major part in TTG's "Fiorello." Since he couldn't drive himself to rehearsals, and they needed men (how unusual!), he suggested that Len try out for a part, too. Len was cast as a poker player. With 2 of my men on stage, I was at all rehearsals and performers. We were both "hooked."
First Play: (saw)
Len: -"Hell's a'Poppin(?) starring Olson & Johnson @ The Winter GardenTheatre
(Cooky - He's much older than I!)
Cooky: T.S.Eliot's "The Cocktail Party" (on a date with Len)
First Play: (performed in)
Len:- I played Henry Aldrich, the lead in "What A Life"; my senior high school play.
Cooky:- I was Mrs. Santa Claus in Kindergarten; Cinderella in Junior High; but my first part as a "grown-up" was General Cartwright in TTG's "Guys & Dolls."
We were both fortunate, and got parts in the first show we auditioned for ("Fiorello", and "Guys & Dolls").
For many years we were both involved only with TTG. Then we expanded our horizons, and auditioned at the Suffolk Y. Finally, when we realized how much we enjoyed performing, we would audition wherever we thought there was a part that we would enjoy doing. At our age, we are fairly limited in appropriate parts. Len originally thought he was best suited for comedic roles, until he was cast in a more dramatic role, which broadened his feelings about his capability, and roles that might be available for him.
This is wonderful if it is me that is pre-cast. Otherwise, it 's a mistake. You never know who might show up at an audition, loaded with talent!
We are fortunate enough to be able to discuss a character, and get ideas and feedback from each other.
Len- Mr. Green - no contest!
Cooky - Yente (Fiddler), and Sister (Damn Yankees)
Len- Mr. Green; Norman Thayer; & J.B.Biggley
Cooky- Yente, Sister, and Ensemble (which I really enjoy!)
What role would you want to get a second chance at?
Len- Benny Van Buren
Len - Mr. Green- A 2 person play in which I was directed to perform in ways I didn't normally perform. I loved every minute, and suppose I met the challenge, from the reaction of the audience.
Len - I'd love to have the opportunity to do similar types of roles i.e. "I'm Not Rappaport"; "Horowitz & Mrs. Washington".
Cooky - Mothers and or Grandmothers in plays such as "Beau Jeste"; "Over the River & Through the Woods"; "Tale of the Allergist's Wife".
We think it's better than marijuana, but it is possibly more addictive.
Favorite Theatre Story
(Len) I was playing Mr. Babcock in "Mame". I had a scene with Gooch. I said my opening line. Then I was supposed to walk away, turn around, and say my next line. I did walk away, but when I turned around I was totally blank...didn't know where I was, or what I was doing there. Happily, neither Gooch nor I went up. We just talked to each other until I got back the lines. I don't think the audience even noticed.
(Cooky) I was fortunate enough to be cast as a Pick-a-Little lady in "Music Man" at the Y. It was a very strong cast, but one person stood out-Jeffrey Stern, who played Winthrop. He was about 8 years old, but he knew almost everyone's lines and blocking. He was a delight to work with, and he made me cry every night in his scene at the end of the show. A short time after our show closed, he went to an open audition for a part in "Will Rogers Follies" on Broadway. He got the part, and when we drove him in to the city one night, after we saw him in the show he gave Len & I a tour of the Palace Theatre stage, backstage, dressing rooms, etc.
We perform at the theatres we do because we enjoy working with the people involved, and feel that the quality of the productions is extremely good!
Actors who are rewarding to work with
Len & Cooky both love to work with Rick Grossman, Debbie Starker, Joe Morris, and Carol Carota. Len, having done more theatre, adds Joe Mantello, Sonya Tanenbaum, Denis Murphy, and Joe Dobson (his "Sunshine Boys" co-star) to the list.
We had a lengthy discussion about this one, and finally agreed on Jack Lemmon.
Favorite Long Island performer
Sue Ann Dennehy
It was so difficult to maintain our careers and do theatre, that we retired so we could concentrate on the latter. We spend so much time toiling in LI Theatre because we haven't found anything worthwhile to watch on TV. Our children and grandchildren are extremely supportive. As a matter of fact, if they all come to the same performance, we can almost fill up all the seats in the house! Also, theatre is providing us with the inheritance for our grandchildren - they are going to get the videos of all our shows!
Performing has enriched our lives by providing us with the opportunity to meet so many wonderful, talented, and interesting people!
What brings us our greatest joy...
An easy question. Our children & grandchildren.
What really irks us is...
People who don't accept responsibility.
If we won LOTTO tomorrow, we would...
Pay off our debts, give some to our kids, take more trips, and buy a theatre so we could do all the shows WE want to do!
Is it true we'd rather be rich than good-looking?
Since we agreed we're already good-looking, we figure it would be nice to be rich, too.
When we get to heaven...
We want to hear that there is a perfect script waiting for both of us!
When we are in residence in a senior facility, we would love to be cast as the Devil and Lola in "Damn Yankees."