The New Year is a Time for Reflection


A CHORUS LINE: Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, A Chorus Line tells the story of the struggles and triumphs of life on Broadway, presented by Theatre Tulsa, Jan. 15-24.

Courtesy Tulsa PAC

Happy New Year to everyone!
This month I celebrate 23 years at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. As my career at the begins to wind down, I think about some of the experiences I’ve had while working first in the Trust programming area and then in marketing. During my first week on the job in 1993, I was asked to pick up actor Hal Holbrook from the airport.  I had never met someone so famous, and he had just completed filming  “The Firm” with Tom Cruise. Holbrook was extremely nice, as have been most of the “stars” I’ve met, like Victor Borge. Mr. Borge wasn’t seeing well when he last performed in Chapman Music Hall, so after his show, I walked him from the theatre back to his hotel, holding his arm while guiding him. He was immensely kind and was so appreciative of my help. On stage he seemed larger than life. And so funny. Who is like Victor Borge these days? What a talent he was.

Once when the Trust had booked Kevin McCarthy in the one-man show, “Truman,” I was charged with making sure he got to the theatre on time for rehearsals and performances. Once the show was over, he took me to dinner to thank me. A star from old Hollywood, his biggest claim to fame was his role as the paranoid-with-cause doctor in the 1956 sci-fi film “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” Over dinner he told me several Hollywood stories, like when he was the only witness to a crash that seriously injured Montgomery Clift, just after Clift had left a party at the home of their close friend Liz Taylor.

Not everyone was always happy with my help, however. I was once deservedly reprimanded by Ramsey Lewis. I had young kids at home then and was trying to juggle their dinner and ice hockey practice with picking Ramsey up at his hotel and driving him to the theater. I was probably five minutes late, but he was standing outside and his gloved hands were getting cold. That’s a big no-no for a pianist who is about to perform. Later, as we were standing in the wings of the theatre and he was about to go on, he said, “I guess you are going to introduce me.” I’d never done that before nor had plans to do so, and the thought of making an extemporaneous speech in front of a couple thousand people made me weak in the knees. I probably looked like I was about to faint. He winked at me and walked on stage, without introduction.

Working with actress Lynn Redgrave and her daughter was one of the most personally rewarding experiences of my career. Lynn was appearing on our big stage in a one-woman play, “Nightingale,” while her daughter was showing a photography exhibit in the Gallery that documented Lynn’s diagnosis and eventual recovery from breast cancer. Lynn and her daughter, Annabel Clark, appreciated that I had been down their same path with my own mother. Sadly, years later, breast cancer came back and claimed both Lynn and my mother’s lives.

In my writing life, I’ve done many interviews with celebrities, and perhaps none was more famous than Mia Farrow, who I interviewed a couple of years ago when her relationship with Woody Allen, and that of their daughter’s, were suddenly a top news story. I could hear a flurry of activity in the background when I called her at her New England home. She could have easily cancelled our interview, but we carried on, and she was open and engaging. I didn’t have the nerve, or think it was appropriate, to ask her about the controversy, so we didn’t speak about that elephant in the room. I learned that I wasn’t cut out for that kind of journalism.

I loved interviewing “Reading Lolita in Tehran” author Azar Nafisi, as well as newsman Ted Koppel, poet laureate Billy Collins, historian and biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin, and “Kite Runner” author Khaled Hosseini. I wrote a feature story on travel guru Rick Steves and then ran into him by chance in a small town in France’s Loire valley. My favorite interview of all time, however, was the man who discovered the remains of the Titanic, oceanographer Dr. Robert Ballard. I was in awe of his intelligence and his dedication to work. Truly an amazing human being.
Reminiscing aside, it’s back to the present and making new memories. I hope you have plans to take in a show at the this month. David Boren speaks to a capacity crowd at Tulsa Town Hall Jan. 15. Perhaps you’ll get tickets to Theatre Tulsa’s “A Chorus Line” (Jan. 15-24) or Tulsa Children’s Museum’s Ragtime Family Concert with Donald Ryan (Jan. 17). The state’s finest high school students perform for the OKMEA Music Festival, Jan. 22-23. One event I am so much anticipating is Tulsa Symphony’s “Dreams and Revolution,” Jan. 16. I want to hear Debussy’s “Prelude to an Afternoon of a Faun,” along with some Shostakovich and TSO’s Principal Clarinet David Carter performing Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major.
I’m wishing you a healthy and happy 2016 and hope to see you many times over the upcoming year at Tulsa’s home to the arts.

Nancy Hermann is Director of Marketing at the Tulsa

Updated 12-21-2015

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