Thursday, October 23, 2014

RIP Geoffrey Holder

Rest in peace, Geoffrey Holder.  I worked as his wife Carmen De Lavallade's dresser at the American Repertory Theater in 1980, where she was appearing as Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream.  He arrived for the opening night party in a tuxedo, a black cape lined with red satin, and a silver-topped cane.  We were all agog at his elegance and style.  An actor, a painter, and a dancer -- I heard that night that he designed many of Ms. De Lavallade's clothes.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Goodreads Giveaway Winners!

Congrats to the winners of the Chanel Bonfire Goodreads end of summer giveaway!  Over 500 people entered -- copies are winging their way to Virginia and Michigan.  

And thanks again to everyone who has take the time to review Chanel on Amazon and Goodreads.  I truly appreciate your support.


Friday, August 29, 2014


The end of the long hot American summer is in sight.  The children are headed back to school and you should treat yourself to a few hours at the Chanel Bonfire!  You have until September 10th to enter the Chanel Bonfire Goodreads Giveaway!  Enter today!

And remember, if your Book Group is planning to read Chanel, I'd be happy to schedule a Skype Book Chat with you all.  I've answered questions and talked Chanel and moms and crazy moms and surviving difficult childhoods with groups from Bermuda to Bangor and Boston to Barstow and countless places in between.  You can contact me at to set up a time. 

Happy Fall!

Back To School Goodreads Giveaway

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

And One For Mahler! -- Elaine Stritch on Chanel

RIP Elaine Stritch

In the early 90s I played Ermengarde in  Thornton Wilder's "The Matchmaker" at The Roundabout Theater in New York.  Broadway diva, Dorothy Loudon (Annie), played Dolly Levi but the production was plagued (maybe cursed) by problems -- the death of the director's mother, violent outbursts by Kenneth Mars (The Producers, Young Frankenstein, What's Up Doc?) who had to be replaced, and a brief, ill-fated reunion with my mother.  

Interestingly, it had been Tyrone Guthrie (founder of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis where Mother met my stepfather Oliver Rea and ran away with him) who saved the play from a premature death after a diasterous Broadway production by Max Reinhardt.  Then, the play was called The Merchant of Yonkers.  It ran thirty-nine performances would never have never have been seen again if Guthrie hadn't picked it up fifteen years later and convinced Wilder to rewrite it and take the then minor character of Dolly Levi and move her to the center of the piece.  It ran in the Edinburgh festival and then the West End in London at the Drury Lane Theatre and came back to Broadway in triumph in 1955.  It was made into a film and then of course adapted as the musical Hello Dolly!.

Anyway, in addition to working with some wonderful actors and some crazy ones (Dorothy Loudon used to push me off stage as soon as or before I finished delivering my lines), the highlight of our ill-fated run of The Matchmaker for me was a phone call from Elaine Stritch -- the Elaine Stritch or as Noel Coward called her, Stritchey.  It was either a late morning or early afternoon.  My fiancee was at work.  It was summer and very hot and we didn't have air conditioning so I was vacuuming naked when the phone rang.  I picked it up and it was the unmistakable voice of Miss Stritch...

"Hello.   Is Wendy Lawless there?  It's Elaine Stritch calling.  I went down to the Roundabout last night to see my dear friend Dorothy Loudon in that horrible production of The Matchmaker.  That Joe Bova is about as funny as a dead baby's open grave.  But I wanted to tell you that you were great, kid.  That thing you're doing up there is hard.  Making people laugh in a turkey like that isn't easy.   I would have told you last night but I couldn't stay.  I'm diabetic you, know and I had to run home and stick myself in the arm.  You've got it, kid.  Just keep doin' what you're doin'."

The brief conversation remains what I consider to be one of my greatest reviews as an actress.  

Thanks, Stritchey!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Wendy Wasserstein and the Chanel Bonfire Sequel

In 1989 I got my first job on Broadway, understudying in The Heidi chronicles.  I went on in January of 1990 and then took over my roles in February and began a wonderful nine months with the play.

Researching the sequel to Chanel, "Heart of Glass", (and trying to remember what happened!) it's been marvelous to revisit the play I did on Broadway, and learn more about Wendy Wasserstein. I fondly recall her kindness to me, her marvelous laugh, and all those times she took the cast to Sardi's and Orso. The Heidi Chronicles really stands up - rereading it twenty-five years later. Keep the faith!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Hancock, New Hampshire Reading Today!

Today's the day, New Englanders and New England Vacationers!  I'll be reading from Chanel Bonfire, talking about crazy moms and surviving crazy moms and the saving grace of humor at the Hancock Town Library on Main Street in Hancock, NH 03449.  Stop by, I'd love to meet you and be happy to sign a book.  If you or a friend need a new copy, The Toadstool Bookshop of Peterborough will be on hand with fresh copies.  And afterwards we may stroll down the street to the historic Hancock Inn for a drink!  Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

It's Not You

Sara Eckel @ Book Soup on the Sunset Strip

Went to a wonderful reading and then out for drinks with my old friend Sara Eckel.  An extradordinarily funny and observant writer of essays about us pitiful human beings and our struggles to live and love.  It's always a treat to see her.

Her new book "It's Not You: 27 Wrong Reasons You're Single" is a must read filled with hilarious and poignant stories of our struggles with being single, looking for Mr. and Ms. Right, and our attitudes toward those who are single and happy, unhappy, the whole gambit.  Go buy it from your local bookstore today!