Friday, April 23, 2004

Name Dropping

Here at the William Inge Theatre Festival it’s kind of fun to go to a gathering and be greeted by people you’ve seen on TV or the films for as long as you can remember. Last night as I was standing in the buffet line at the Independence Museum, I happened to notice I was standing next to Paul Dooley, one of the best character actors out there. He’s been in everything from film to practically every sitcom on TV, usually playing the grumpy dad or father-in-law. He’s also an accomplished vaudevillian. And then as I was crossing the room I was introduced to Elizabeth Wilson. Both are here to put on acting workshops and participate in Saturday night’s tribute to Arthur Laurents.

There are also a lot of new faces, including playwrights, directors, and actors, including John Lloyd Young, who just finished a run playing Danny Saunders in the stage version of Chaim Potok’s The Chosen at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami and the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey. And the Inge Festival also brings in the second generation. One of our stellar guests in years past was the late Eileen Heckart. Her son, Luke Yankee, has become a regular now, carrying on his mother’s tradition of sharing his knowledge and skills with the aspiring actors in his workshops.

Also here is Robert Ellenstein, whom you might remember as the Federation Council president in Star Trek IV – The Voyage Home. It just so happens that his son Peter is the artistic director of the Inge Festival. See, I told you this was like a family reunion.

This morning we’ll have a Conversation with Arthur Laurents followed by workshops and the scholar’s conference. Tonight we’ll have the gala dinner at the Independence Country Club including a tribute to my friend Jo Ann Kirchmaier (yours truly will contribute to a small portion of the program). So much to see and do!