Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Last week I went to the Paper Mill Playhouse and saw a wonderful production of Peter Pan. My husband, Adolph Green was one of the writers of the original show which starred Mary Martin. It has become a classic and is constantly playing all over this and other countries.
After the show Margaret Styne (isn’t there another word for widow? – I hate it!) who was married to the marvelous composer Jule Styne, and I went backstage to congratulate the talented company.

Standing (L to R) Glory Crampton, Douglas Sills, me, Margaret Styne.
Kneeling (L to R) Hayley Podschun, Nancy Anderson.
As I stepped into that narrow narrow hall with its uncovered light bulbs and the cell-like row of small small dressing rooms, a tsunami of joyful memories washed over me. (A trifle overwritten – but it’s a blog for God’s sake). Suddenly I was back in 1975 playing ‘Annie’ in (no, not Annie) – mais Annie Get Your Gun.

All of the photos below were taken in that same place – another heady time – nothing here is a result of photoshopping – it’s just name photo dropping.

Leonard Bernstein; Tony Walton and Sidney Lumet; Lauren Bacall
(Click on the image to view larger photos.)
I honestly don’t know how to describe the feeling when you play a great character whose songs go beyond what you think anyone is capable of expressing. Here you are surrounded by talented professionals – and in front of you is a superb conductor and musicians. You work hard and then you let go and trust the instincts and talent of Irving Berlin and his colleagues – Okay, now I can use the hyperbolic tsunami image.

Another major Paper Mill moment was a glamorous – marvelously cast (please look them up) production of that Goldman and Sondheim stunner Follies. In my not at all humble opinion (and that of The New York Times) – we should have gone right to Broadway.

Well I could write about that experience until they find another word for blog.  My roomie in that teeny tiny dressing room – was the other divine Miss M. – Ann Miller and her wigs. Yes, all the stories about her are true, and she was a terrific dame.

In the Dressing Room
Ann Miller, Alexandra Schlesinger, and me
On Stage
Ann had her five or six jet-black wigs in her signature hair style on the ledge above our hanging costumes and clothes.

We never exchanged an unpleasant word – honestly. She named all of her wigs with a childish euphemistic variation of the word (and place) ‘vagina’. When I moved in she proudly pointed to each one and in her inimitable trumpet voice declared – “She’s ‘Twat’ – she’s ‘Pussy’ ....” And well you get it, and lest there are any kiddies out there I go no further. I had my pitiful short “natural-like” red wig trying to hold its own. She asked, “Phyl – what’s yours named?” I shrugged – where do you go from there? I laughed mirthlessly.

About an hour later I turned to her and said, “Cunterella, that’s her name – Cunterella – but for short we call her.....”

Right after the show closed I gave a swell party for the cast at our apartment, which is really lovely and has a beautiful big terrace overlooking Central Park West, and a cinemascopic view of the city that is spectacular.

Ann walked in, looked around and said to me, “Well, kiddo – you sure dipped your ass in a honey pot!”

And now the final piece in the puzzle. I went to see Alan Cumming perform at Feinstein’s Thursday night. He is original, talented, political, funny and fierce. I’m a huge fan needless to say. One of the stories he told was about performing with Ann Miller at the Hollywood Bowl. She sang ‘I’m Still Here’ from Follies. He mentioned something she said which included the word “pussy”. Afterwards I told him my Ann stories and he told me his.

And so – I realize what a lucky, beautifully maturing woman I am – those ‘good old days’ blend in and out of these goods new days.

I’m stimulated by all of it and having a damn good time!


  1. Great stories!! I love the soundtrack for your Follies! So glad to have it to listen too- wish I had seen the show with you in it.

  2. "If I do this number, we ALL do this number!!
    Brava Phyllis!

  3. You have been one of my favorites since I watched you on the Tonight Show all those many years ago. Hilarious!!

    I heard about this blog today while listening to XM radio. I am supposed to knock on your door and ask to see the piano with all the photos. So when should I get there?!?!? GREAT BLOG!!

  4. Phyllis... the thing I like best about your blog is that your memories all seem to be degrees of separation from my memories. Yours are from a much loftier perspective, but I relive my memories thru yours nonetheless. :)