The Birthday Party In Action
When we started The Pat Dwyer Show, I put our camcorder on the tripod and opened the camera as wide as it would go and hit play. I hoped it would get the entire evening but I wasn’t there to man it. Fingers crossed, it was ready, set, go!
The next day, Pat uploaded everything onto the computer and we discovered that a couple of people got cut off, here and there. Poor Laurelle tap dances so beautifully and most of her performance is missed. Jane stayed seated for her performance and never appears on camera at all. My heart broke when I discovered these things; had I known, I would have gotten a cameraman.
Nevertheless, here are the videos from The Pat Dwyer Show.
First up is a simple intro by myself and a mash-up of theme songs from two TV shows that DOMINATED Pat’s youth. The singer of these songs is the immensely talented Lindsey Holloway, known not only for her versatility as a performer but by her incomparable beauty.
Next on the running order for the party was the (heavily) requested TAP. DANCING. When Pat asked for this birthday show he said he really wanted tap dancing. Tapping always makes him happy (especially when the tapper is Miss Sutton Foster – who I don’t know, so that was not going to happen) and I wanted, so much, to make this happen for him. Happily, Marci Reid and Brady Schwind tap dance and were in for this, from the start. We went through a couple other tappers for awhile but, one by one, the performers changed. Finally, I was lucky to include Vince Gatton and the astonishing Laurelle Rethke (what a dancer!) in the number. Sadly, though, three days before the party, Brady booked work – something one can NEVER argue with..an artist with a job is a beautiful thing. So, at the last minute, with NO replacement for Brady, I had these three teach me some steps and TA DA! I’m a tap dancer.
After his request for tapping, Pat stated, specifically, that he wanted some stand up at his party. He is an ENORMOUS fan of stand up comedy and, fortunately, one of the funniest and most topical stand ups is a friend of ours: that septugenarian lesbian for Jesus, Leola Ladyland! Leola did NOT have to be asked twice to make the appearance in The Pat Dwyer Show.
My husband is a big time movie buff. He spends time at the picture show and in front of the television, enjoying the work of his fellow artisans and the journeys that they take us on. For the 27 years we have been together, we have enjoyed this pastime together, enjoying, especially, the songs from the movies we love. For some reason, years ago, we both latched onto the song that brings the audience in and out again in the film Daddy’s Dyin’ Who’s Got the Will? It is a song that always moves us. As it happens, about 15 years ago, I told Faye Lane that she should sing this song. She is one of our favourite people, favourite performers and favourite storytellers. Pat and I have always supported her work. So I reached out to the composer, David McHugh, through ASCAP, and he sent me a handwritten lead sheet! Faye has never, actually, sung the song. I thought this was the PERFECT occasion for that to happen!
Among the movie songs that my husband loves, so, are these two numbers that I, especially, asked our longtime friend, Gene Connor to mash up. Gene has been one of our best friends for a quarter century. We knew him before Amy, after their marriage, during the pregnancy that brought us all Sarah and during the pregnancy that brought us all William and James. This is one of the greatest families we have ever known and when these kids call us Uncle Pat and Uncle Stephen, we have such pride. YEARS ago, while visiting the Connors, I noticed Gene strumming his guitar and knew the song. It had to be in The Pat Dwyer Show. So I asked him to mash up THE RAINBOW CONNECTION with the classic IF YOU WANT TO SING OUT, SING OUT (from Pat’s beloved HAROLD AND MAUDE). To make sure that the entire room was emotionally charged, he brought the kids.. and props.
Long before there was a PatNSte, there was a boy named Pat Dwyer. He worked, from time to time, at a little theater in Dallas called Dallas Repertoy Theater. The friends he made there are still a MAJOR part of our lives. When I met Pat and he introduced me to these friends, I was starstruck. So starstruck that it took me over 20 years to get up the nerve to be friends with Ms Dowd – that would be Valerie. In recent years, their friendship has become our friendship. I really do adore this lady; and, yes, I am still a little starstruck by her. I knew, the moment I began planning this show, what I wanted Ms Dowd to sing. Onstage, Valerie is a diva. And there is a diva she never played (and she ain’t out of time) – the diva that got Pat into show business.
Back in Texas one of our dearest friends was Leslie Alexander. When she moved to New York, we were so excited to have her near us once more that we made her an immediate member of the Two-A family. We have been lucky enough to have her be one of our peeps all these years and even luckier to basque in her beauty and delicious humour, as well as the talents she displays on stages around the country and on Broadway. I must say, when I asked her to sing this song from Pat’s alltime favourite musical, she did not hesitiate. The night of the party, she did not disappoint. When she rises to the stage and Pat realizes that La Leslie is about to perform, you can hear him utter “oh!”
Before there was a PatNSte there was a Will and Grace. Only they were called Marci and Stephen. We have known each other longer than just about anyone I know – I think Ricky Pope may have gotten there first. Of the family that I brought to Two-A, they have seen the entire history. Pat and I have been lucky enough to see the history of Marci Reid, the actress. We have watched her grow and thrive (and, like all actors, at times, not thrive – and that’s when the family comes in really handy). One of the great thrills of the Two-A history was getting to see Marci, in one summer, play Fraulein Schneider in CABARET, Dorothy Brock in 42ND STREET and the titular role in THE DROWSY CHAPERONE. To say that, each time, she hit one out of the park would be a vast understatement. I asked my Grace Adler to mash up Pat’s two favourite tunes from 42ND and DROWSY and the result was magical. After, Pat paid Marci a compliment which moved her, greatly – “when we met Marci, she was a good actress. Now, though, she has star quality.”
My husband is an actor. He loves the words. Words. Words. Words. I gathered together some of the finest actors I have ever known and created this medley of lines, dialogue, monologues from his favourite movies and plays. It took two months to find all the quotes and put them together in just the right order and, then, to find the right passages for the right actors. In some instances, the actors paid homage to the original, famous quotes by performing them as they were, originally, performed. In others, the actors took their given text and put their own spin on it. That is what I love about actors – the creative process and resulting artistry. I will admit that it was intention to keep my participation minimal. It was, indeed, to just be a speech from AMADEUS, one from THE STORY OF US and a few lines from DESIGNING WOMEN. However, an actor called in sick the day of the party and we all split his lines. The beautiful performers seen here are Caroline deFauw (doing, among other things, the switchboard monologue from AUNTIE MAME), Vince Gatton (featured, heavily, in a monologue from THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, Elizabeth Meadows Rouse (inviting someone to sit on her face in dialogue from GARBO TALKS), Stephen Kaplan (doing a spot on impersonation of Edna from THE INCREDIBLES), Jonna McElrath (doing absolute justice to Marisa Tomei in MY COUSIN VINNY), Dan Tracy (embodying HENRY V’s St Crispin’s Day speech), Hunter Gilmore (breaking hearts with his HARVEY monologue), Jane Titus (heartbreakingly, heard off camera but not seen, lampooning Nancy Kwan’s DishWashA speech from DRAGON) and Patrick Cronen (breaking up everyone with his Jimmy Stewart impersonation from THE PHILADELPHIA STORY). This montage of spoken words tells you everything you need to know about my husband and his theatrical and cinematic loves.
In the Two-A family, Jennifer is rather an icon. She is beloved by all for her personality, her performances, her baking, her songwriting, her profanity, her passion, her frankness and her inability to love less than 174 percent. She made the cake for the party AND THEN broke our hearts. She is irreplaceable, she is essential.
Pat and I have two sons. Not by birth – by spirit. Deno was an actor (and we hope to see him go back to it) and can be seen in some of these videos, watching with great love. Patrick is still an actor and, when he heard about this party, announced he would be there, hell or high water. So I asked him to be in the Words Medley; his reply was yes – and what can I sing? So I told him nobody was singing his dad’s favourite song by his favourite girl singer, Cass Elliott. From that point, it was a done deal. Patrick arrived at the venue 20 minutes before the party, having just deplaned at LaGuardia, changed into his party outfit, ran through the song with Joe and we were ready to go. I tell you, between Deno and Patrick, no father could be more proud – be he father by birth, adoption, surrogacy or spirit. Pat and I: we know we are blessed.
When I planned this show, I intended to participate, as performer, once – and only once. Acting as emcee is what I do at my job, every day. I am not a performer. Saying a few lines in the Words medley would be easy for me. The only reason I did the dancing was because Brady could not. I would never sing in public, thanks to a crippling stagefright bestowed upon me by my Aunt, Rhonda Simpson, a college teacher named Ed DeLatte, and numerous comments made, my entire life, about what a bad singer I am (I am always amazed by the things people will say to your face, like you don’t have any feelings, at all). The entirety of our marriage, though, my husband has always claimed to love it when I sing. Marci and Jennifer, Ricky and Joe, Lindsey, Brady … my mother .. these people have always urged me to sing, as it brings me pleasure. What really brings me pleasure, though, is bringing Pat pleasure. So, in order to do that, I would have to go out on a limb. This was the night to do it. Thankfully, I was in a safe place: the arms of my family.
When Allan Piper married Jennifer Houston, Pat was his Best Man and I was her Man of Honour. Pat delivered the Best Man toast to end all toasts. It was only fair that Allan get a chance to reciprocate. The director of our film MARRIED AND COUNTING is nothing, if not eloquent.. and terribly, terrilbly, witty.
And, finally, that cake for my beloved, courtesy of This Chick Bakes Dot com, handmade by Jennifer Houston, delivered to him by she, Deno and Patrick. With all the love in the world. A few words from my husband and, finally, I breathe, once more.