Thursday, June 12, 2008

Noel Coward -- The Ultimate Escape

June 12, 2008

In my last post I mentioned having a date for Noel Coward 101, a tribute to "The Master" held at the Oak Room of the Algonquin a few nights ago.

To my mind, there is nothing cooler than the elegant old songs and epigrams of Sir Noel Coward, so I didn't think twice about going out in that sweltering night to hear renditions of his work from the cool and elegant actor named Morrow Wilson. I called it a date, which I'm sure sent the antennae of my readers from Lower Alabama a-quivering. But it was a date with my nephew Will Friedwald and his wife Pamela Luss, who I hadn't seen in months. He is something of a figure in show business himself, the jazz critic for the New York Sun and the author of several books on popular music including one definitive volume on Hoboken's own Frank Sinatra. Pamela is a singer with her own combo and a new CD that came out yesterday, but that night she was as star-struck as a teenager.

Morrow Wilson is fortunate in his choice of director for his cabaret show -- actress Rue McClanahan, who happens to be his wife. The little show showed a near-perfect selection of Noel Coward songs, and Wilson's panache and charm were a nice match to the material. Had it not been such a miserably hot night, I would have wished to see him in a tux, but all things considered, I don't think that touch was missed. McClanahan was working the room, talking at length to us, and luminaries in the intimate audience, including Jerry Stiller.

We were tickled to have a chance to talk with Stiller and McClanahan and even Morrow Wilson himself, who came out into the audience after the show. Then when the show was over we went to a nearby coffee shop and caught up on family stories. Pamela kept pulling out her cell phone, wanting to tell her parents that she had just seen Rue McClanahan and Jerry Stiller, but I thought 10 P.M. was a little late to wake them up for that. I'm not convinced that she didn't make the call as soon as she got into a cab 45 minutes later.

I was exhilarated that Times Square is clean and safe these days, and wasn't daunted by the sultry walk through the visual cacophony to the bus station where I grabbed the bus home to Hoboken, only about 15 minutes away.

Everybody, including Jerry Stiller, seemed very impressed that I live in Hoboken. I'm sure with a little prodding they could all tell me some Hoboken stories.

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