THE REHEARSAL CLUB, INC. Incorporated 2019; Founded 2006 www.rehearsalclubnyc.com
Mission: Dedicated to telling the story of the Rehearsal Club, to preserving its legacy
and to inspire and support future generations of aspiring artists.
A small but mighty group of former Rehearsal Club residents came together in 2006 when Kathy Conry was directing the Kaufman/Ferber play, Stage Door, and reached out to former RC residents via the Equity Newsletter. Stage Door immortalized The RC and its unique group of aspiring young artists (think Glee after graduation). I met Kathy in 2006 when I produced Circle of Friends and the rest is history.
SUBSIDIZED HOUSING IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE WEBSTER APARTMENT
Who knew that informal gathering of like-minded peers would produce the above creative projects and lead our fledgling group into official incorporation? Kathleen Conry, a director and former Broadway dancer, is now known for mentoring young talents and for bringing her talented network of friends (like me) together! I've cut my producer teeth by leading many of our creative projects as Vice Chair (2007-2013), Chair (2014-2018) and Board of Directors (2019-2020): see our Musical Project Page to follow the steps leading to the production of a final script, Good Girls Only, by my friend, Charles Leipart.
I was responsible for bringing 30 of our women together to write their early memoirs. Our first version was hit and miss, however, my outreach to start a Writer's Committee, brought forth the better writers who then collaborated with each and every writer to pull together a more cohesive manuscript tentatively titled "Cinderellas of West 53rd Street." Blythe Danner is set to write our Foreward and, although we did have a literary agent at one time, we're now on the lookout for another. This is one day serve as the basis for a series.
Moving foward on our documentary has been stalled while we organized into an officially incorporated organization. I'll finally be stepping down from the meetings & minutes aspect of everything to concentrate on being hands on making something happen. Currently: Heading up my Business of the Buzz social media workshop; and, the new Shakespeare Workshop.Join our "Friend" mailing list to receive the latest information. Our fundraising campaign will launch September, 2020 and help us to subsidize housing for the next generation thru partnership with The Webster Apartments.
Our condensed 50-minute "teaser" staged reading was presented at the Professional Children's School in March, 2013. This was a fortuitous circle in that classes for PCS began in the basement of the Rehearsal Club in 1914.
Two weeks after W@W performed at The York, John Kroner unexpectedly passed away. By now, my friend and writer was passionate to finish the project. After fielding a few composers, much of the music written for this staged reading came from Larry Spivack. Our talented Broadway cast were more close friends George Lee Andrews, Mary Lou Barber, Randy Graff, Jamey Grisham, Ernestine Jackson, Victoria Mallory and Jane Summerhayes.
Kathleen Conry again challenged the cast with entrances & exits while holding book in hand (ala Encores style) and, don't ya know, they ALL rose to the challenge.
Now? We hear the full book has been written, Jamey Grisham has taken over as composer and . . . we're all waiting for the next chapter.
WANNA BE A PRODUCER?
GOOD GIRLS ONLY
The Rehearsal Club Musical
Curious what it takes to create something from the ground up? Well, this little baby began with me asking my musical writer friend, Charles Leipart, if he would write a song for the women of The Rehearsal Club. Please? I fed him a few anecdotes and violá! Instant anthem! Good Girls Only, music by the late John Kroner, is sung by all our Rehearsal Club women (including moi) and is being used in the trailer for the documentary.
In 2010, when I was co-President for Women in Arts & Media Coalition, I had the opportunity to produce their VinTAGE event and, with the brilliant suggestion from board member, Holli Harms, we celebrated the plays of Edna Ferber which allowed me to showcase our Rehearsal Club "anthem" together with a scene from Stage Door. Rehearsal Club women pictured left to right are Rise Clemmer, Diane Finley, Terry Baughan, Melinda Tanner and Kathleen Conry (who also directed both pieces).
This inspired the writers to option two more songs: Jimmy, based on the late James Dean who used to hang out at the RC when dating "Dizzy" Sheridan (Liz Sheridan, most recently, Seinfeld's mother); and,One Dress, based on Carol Burnett's dress that got passed around for auditions & special dates. Now we had three songs -- how to showcase with no $$$?
Our Actor's Equity Union to the rescue. As a member of Equity's Equal Employment Opportunity Committee, I submitted a proposal for Women's History Month: Celebrate the women of 1913 -- when Equity was created; when the Rehearsal Club came into being; when Bernard Shaw wrote Pygmalion and, when the Ziegfeld Follies opened on Broadway at The New Amsterdam. It's ironic that I performed in the original Follies and Ron Raines, "Ben" in the recent revival, was our MC.
Quite an undertaking, but with the help of everyone from The Rehearsal Club and Kathleen Conry leading the charge, The York Theater showcased quite a smash event!
Taina Elg (Oscar nominee for Les Girls opposite Gene Kelley) was crowned 2012 Ziegfeld Queen and played "Mrs. Higgins" in Pygmalion for us. Those are original Ziegfeld costumes worn by our (mostly) RC women cast. Joanne Dorian, Alan Altschuler, Grace Kiley, Tom Galantich & Paula Nance rounded out the Pygmalion cast pictured below. Sebastiani Romagnol (pictured below) played James Dean, dancing with Maddy Apple, both members of choreographer Lori Lescher's Dance Company. Laurie Sanderson, pictured in the ostrich feather finale, is the President of the Ziegfeld Club. And that's me in the middle dancing One Dress with Leslie E. Hughes, Martina Vidmar, Dottie Belle, me, Rise Clemmer, Emily King Brown & Maddy Apple. Great concept - thank you, Kathy!