The Adventure Continues

TT in the Blue Mountains and Sheldy in New York.

Culture Shock.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Players Club

The beautiful Natalie Mosco participated in a play reading this evening and invited us to be her guest.

Apart from the entertainment, the divine Miss M wanted to give us a guided tour of the rather special venue...the famous Players Club!

 The Players is a social club for actors founded by the 19th century actor Edwin Booth (brother of John Wilkes) who bought this 1847 mansion at Gramercy Park South. The building was completely redesigned (by architect Stanford White), furnished, equipped and decorated with Booth's personal possessions. When ready, a series of meetings was held and a small group of founders including Mark Twain invited members in a grand ceremony on December 31, 1888.
 This is the Sargent Room, with portaraits by John Singer Sargent.

In the title papers, it was stated that Edwin Booth should retain a furnished apartment on the third floor for his own use. It was in that room that he died in 1893, at the age of 59.
Nothing in his room has been refurbished since his death.

The Players membership numbers around 1,000. The clubhouse itself is open seven days a week, and serves meals every day of the week except Saturday. It is also home to the Naked Angels Theatre Company which may be why we saw Johnny Galecki chatting in the bar with some other actor types! 

Members of the Players included the local pillars of society of the day, prominent bankers, lawyers and businessmen, as well as those identified with other arts - writers, journalists, sculptors, architects and painters.
Presidents of the club have included Walter Hampden (a famous Cyrano, but probably best remembered now as the old actor who gives Eve Harrington her award at the beginning of ALL ABOUT EVE)...

Alfred Drake....
Jose Ferrer...
Dennis King, Robert Lansing, Lynn Redgrave and Timothy Hutton. The chap below has never been president of anything.

Some past and present notable members include John Barrymore..

Lord Olivier (who travelled with props)...

Hal Prince...
Carol Burnett, Hal Holbrook, Al Hirschfield, Christopher Plummer, Angela Lansbury, Julie Harris..

 Tommy Lee Jones, Walter Cronkite, Bert Lahr...
Jason Robards...
George S Kauffman, Rosemary Harris and Joshua Logan

Peter O'Toole..
Interestingly, women (even stars like Beatrice Lillie and Helen Hayes) were not allowed to be members until 1989 but were allowed to visit on Shakespeare's birthday

so even though Ellen Terry could come for lunch once a year while she was alive...

she couldn't sleep over until after she was dead.

The play reading itself took place in the Dining Room which has played host to countless testimonial dinners and "Pipe Nights". There was once a garden complete with fountain and live tortoises where the stage now stands.

This was a contemporary news article detailing the refurbishment of the house when the Players opened.

It still looks exactly the same. 
Thank you, Mr. Booth for your beautiful house. We hope that one day we may return as more than audience members! Until then...back into the chilly Manhattan night.....

Pete's Tavern, Irving St.

This past Christmas the Clifton Waters Variety Group in Bairnsdale Victoria presented an Old Tyme Music Hall entertainment which deliberately eschewed the tedious glut of Christmas choons and went more for the Knees Up Daisy  stuff.  One nod to the season was a semi dramatised reading of the O.Henry story,  "The Gift of the Magi". I (tt) adapted it and, with the spirit of the author's permission, moved the locale to Melbourne. I was knocked out this week to pass the oldest working tavern in New York - the very place where Mr O. wrote that story.

 It was freezing coming back from The Players and the place glowed with copper and glass and gold lettering slightly chipped with age and buffing.

And not only Mr O was inspired but Ludwig Bemelmans wrote the famous childrens' book "Madeline" here as well in 1939. What were they putting in the absinthe??

We have decided to go back to eat.
It looks cosy and maybe we'll knock out a novel before dessert.