Annie Gaybis Actress, Singer, Dancer

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First off, one of my fave B&W movies of all times is the 1939 movie THE WOMEN by CLARE BOOTHE LUCE. If you have never seen it, it's a must! So clever...so sexy...so double entendre. And then their was the original Broadway run in 1936—they had to tone it down somewhat from the original play for the movie version to get it past censors. 

Well, we did "the original" and the whole cast agreed it was w-a-y ahead of its time. With a cast of 35, we didn't have George Cukor but we did have the artistic director of City Repertory Theater John Sbordone, and he had his work laid out for him. He had to triple cast some of the actors because their was so many roles and in doing so we did it as an, "on your feet fully staged reading" with—excuse us Ms. Luce—a male onstage as a narrator.

In the movie Joan Crawford—so absolutely beautiful and strong—in the role of Crystal Allen the perfume counter girl that is a man-eater at a place like Saks, She is looking to sell more than perfume to get her from behind the counter and succeeds with luring the husband of the dedicated wife ( in this case perfectly portrayed by Julio Truilo) away and actually ends up becoming legit and marrying him. 

During Rehearsal

This is such a great part to play. I was dressed in Bob Mackie and gave it my all. In fact this was such a perfectly cast cast—all women and of course our narrator—and everyone got along. It was heaven even though it being that time for flu season one of our actors came in from New Hampshire so congested she had to have a steroid shot and went through two sets of anti-biotics and couldn't hear any of us very well. Another actor came off a Cruise Ship and was on Day-Quill AND Night-Quill, and even after the run was finished they were still hacking away. But unbelievable troopers, the audience never knew. At the suggestion of the director I was popping Zicam and I really think it saved me from getting what they had.
Now you think doing a staged reading is an easy thing, well think again. As I said we were on our feet moving more like running thru a maze. Everything so perfectly timed with lights and musical interludes of Cole Porter and Gershwin as we switched scenes. And as Crystal, I brought the first act to a close with our one and only male Earl Levine singing "Making Whoopee," without breaking the 4th wall....

Earl Levine and Moi

We were sold-out three weeks ahead of time which I was told was a first for that theater to sell out so early.  Everyone brought their character or characters to life and at the end of my bio I always include my website address and I got a couple of e-mails I want to share. An e-mail from a former radio host who told me, "I liked this better than the 1939 movie and I love that movie." And another from a patron who traveled hours to see this because it was one of her favorite movies, "You and the entire cast were incredible. I saw the whole play in my head thru your voices and still am smiling."

From left: Anne Kraft, Joanna van Zyl, Julia Truilo, Earl Levine, Me and Evelyn Lynam
  

So who could ask for more than a legendary play, a part that was originally played by a legend, and a wonderful cast full of adventure. Well, this really was one—a great experience from behind the stage lights to the audience that gave us standing ovations. Brava! to us and Bravo! to CRT!

 


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