Wednesday, October 08, 2014

A perfect symmetry: Marian and Noah

On Monday night, after experiencing one of the most thrilling nights of live performance, I returned home to learn that Marian Seldes had passed away.   My first thought was:  perfect symmetry.  

The thrilling night of theatre was Andrew Lippa's I AM HARVEY MILK at Avery Fisher Hall.   I was transported to so many nights of thrilling theatre and live performance and the fact that my friend Noah Himmelstein had much to do with so many of them - either sitting at my side, recommending a show to me, or in this case, directing the piece.   

Dear Marian Seldes.  She lived, breathed, and fairly exuded theatre - either on the stage since the 1940s or in seats, almost every day.   She officially taught acting at Julliard and at other theatre programs, but also by her actions and her enthusiasm.   Any day with a theatre ticket was a good day for her.  She was kind, beautiful and always wore purple, possibly a subconscious choice to reflect her inner regalness.

In the summer of 2007, I finally had the great pleasure of seeing her perform on the Broadway stage in DEUCE, starring opposite Angela Lansbury.   It was a dream to see these two actresses and I went many, many times.  From memorizing their lines - their delivery even - to greeting them at the stage door, it was my perfect Broadway summer.  

On July 4, 2007, Noah Himmelstein accompanied me to see  Marian and Angela in DEUCE.   He was already an associate theatre producer but he was working toward his goal of directing.  I know he was taking in more than just the performances of those two theatre legends.  We naturally gravitated to the stage door after in hopes of greeting them. 

It was one of those perfect serendipitous moments of being in the right place at the right time when I made Noah's photo with Ms. Seldes.   To me, the photo captures all of the volumes of love and knowledge passing from the great actress to the next generation of theatre professional.  

Later that fall, I had the photo enlarged and asked Ms. Seldes to autograph it for Noah.  She agreed to do so only if I would, in turn, provide her of a copy autographed by Noah.   Via associations, Noah went on to occasionally accompany Ms. Seldes to various theatre productions.  The learning between master and student continued.

We would occasionally run in to Ms. Seldes around the city - usually at the theatre - after the run of DEUCE finished.   One special occasion was after Barbara Cook's birthday concert in November, 2007 at Avery Fisher Hall.  Before we entered the hall, we saw our dear Ms. Seldes who said "Aren't we lucky to be here? I'm so excited. Barbara's so wonderful and I think she's such a great actress."

Ms. Seldes caught up with Noah and me as we were leaving. I said, "Marian, well, what did you think? Wasn't it perfect?" She replied, "Oh yes, it was perfect. Now we know there is a Heaven and she is an angel."

On Monday night, seven years later, I was celebrating after another glorious night involving my dear Noah Himmselstin at Avery Fisher Hall.  I couldn't help reflecting that certainly our Marian Seldes was there, this time as an angel, in that Heaven of live performance.

Noah Himmelstein & Marian Seldes, July 2007

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