Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Tribute to June Havoc

In the mid-1990s, I had the privilege of working with June Havoc on an off-Broadway show called "The Old Lady's Guide to Survival." Havoc and Shirl Bernheim did an amazing job of bringing the characters and the story to life. Alas, it wasn't the best-received show and closed rather early, but the show -- and the experience of working with Havoc, truly one of the most gifted, generous and amazing people in the world -- has stayed with me ever since.

One brief story that makes me smile every time I think of it.

The premise of the show was that Havoc and Shirl are two old ladies (hence the "Old Lady's" part of the title) who meet at a bus stop, become friends, and help each other through various life crises (hence the "Survival" part of the title) . They're at the zoo, eating ice cream. Shirl's character is beginning to show signs of Alzheimer's, and Havoc has a monologue trying to decide what to do. At the end of the monologue, she says,"One way leads to disaster --" at which point she looks down, sadly -- "and the other, to catastrophe." A very touching moment.

But what people didn't know is, she's looking at the cup, because this was inside:
She could never remember the word "catastrophe," and that was her solution to the problem.
Havoc was an astounding lady, in more ways than I can recount. I treasure the time I spent with her. It was a highlight of my theatrical career.
God bless.

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