Once upon a time two little girls whose mothers were best friends, and hadn’t seen one another in several years, got together – and realized they both loved musical theater. In particular, we were both into the musical ANNIE.
I was one of the little girls, and the other was my amazing friend, Catherine Ard. The second we realized we had ANNIE in common, I remember, we ran right up to Catherine’s room to listen to the record. When we saw ANNIE several months later, we went together, along with our parents and one of my other best friends, Claudia Bell.
Naturally, I told Catherine all about GYPSY, my first Broadway show that I’d seen a few years earlier with Angela Lansbury. When Angela returned to Broadway a few years later, Catherine, my cousin Ellen Clutter who turned out to be one of Catherine’s schoolmates, and I went to see her on Broadway. The musical was SWEENEY TODD. Angela Lansbury played the comic accomplice to Sweeney, who was a madman…or was he? The character of Sweeney had been pushed way too far by a judge who framed him and sent him from England to Australia just for a chance to seduce his wife…
This wasn’t ANNIE or GYPSY by a long shot, but it was fascinating. Angela Lansbury outdid herself as the wacky Mrs. Lovett, alternating between hysterically funny and chilling, since that character is a sociopath underneath all the smiles and laughter. None of us ever forgot that day. We even got to meet Angela Lansbury at the stage door afterwards!
I remember sitting with Catherine in the backseat of my father’s car as he drove us somewhere-or-other and discussing the SWEENEY TODD characters of the perfidious Judge and the Beadle and how horrific they were, abusing their power to a fare-the-well. I remember saying I could understand how Sweeney wanted to get even with them, that he wouldn’t have been so enraged if he hadn’t been framed, and how their absolute power had corrupted them both absolutely. Catherine and I were having quite a philosophical discussion back there, for a couple of teenagers. I think we were driving my father half bonkers with it.
Catherine and I also were known to burst into song on other occasions, singing “The Worst Pies in London” – with Cockney accents picked up from playing the cast recording so many times.
Catherine lives in Pennsylvania now and has done professional theater work for years.
So imagine my joy at hearing, a few months ago, that Catherine was trying out for Angela Lansbury’s role of “Mrs. Lovett” at Candlelight Theatre in Delaware. I promised I’d cross my fingers, eyes and toes for her and said over email that she had to let me know when she heard if she got the part or not.
She got it!
“Then I’m going to be there and see it!” I promised.
Last week, I did! I had a wonderful time, too – Catherine was just amazing! She blew me away.
Take a look at this video and you’ll get a hint of how fabulously Catherine – and the entire phenomenal ensemble cast – played their parts in this show. If you live in Delaware or anywhere near it, the show is going to be playing from now through November 1st, 2015.
Here’s the website of the theater. Go for it!