Annie Gaybis Actress, Singer, Dancer

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Annie Gaybis



I was and still am so excited to have had the chance to perform again. I have never been involved with anything of a "streaming" format. It's the new buzz word of the industry and so, with "almost" all and sometimes "all" production work closed down in LA, I had this geat opportunity in Florida to rehearse and perform the most wonderful play - William Gibsons' Two For The Seesaw. What a way to close 2020, and what a wonderful opportunity for such a wide base of people to be able to see this in 2021.

Two For The Seesaw has the most interesting backstage story .. Its just two characters and Gittel is the most wonderful off-beat character....a dancer born and raised in Brooklyn whose between shows and meets up with a lawyer from Nebraska . When they say the words "opposites attract" it was never more true than in this play......

When it opened in the mi-1950"s it starred....are you ready for this? None other than "the" Henry Fonda and Anne Bancroft....Fonda was an established star ...Bancroft had never been on Broadway....It ran 750 performances, even though Fonda (for some reason) got clobbered by the critics and Bancroft, who the producers were nervous about since she had never set foot on the Broadway Stage and was a complete unknown...won The Tony For Best Actress that year. Now, the interesting thing to me is that Fonda fell in love with the Gittel character and they had not cast the role, but his maquee value is what got them the financial backing to do it. Then a few years later, it was made into a movie with Shirley Maclaine and Robert Mitchem...all in bxw....and since it was a movie they had more than just the two characters....but they kept the essence of the play....since he playwright got to adapt the script.

So you may think....was this updated for this 2021 production? NOPE!! We did it under the direction of Anne Kraft, just the way the script was written...and the underlying story.....the passion...the fireworks....the dialogue all work just as well now as they did then! People are in the song that's in Casabalnca:

I got to work with an actor that I have been cast opposite many times (and we don"t even have the same agent) Peter Gutierrez is my co-star.....and I was so excited to be working with him and our director.....with Covid going on, we rehearsed in Anne's home where she had the rehearsal space. She was right down the street from Eclipse Recording Studio who, under the direction of Angie Bailey, did a three camera shoot.

We met....we did a read through....Peter went back to his home...I stayed here. I think it was a Thursday. We were to begin rehearsals on that Monday. Welllllllll: not so fast Annie Gaybis.....over that weekend, upon Peter returning home...his daughter...her three children and Peters' wife all tested positive for you-know- what.

Peter tested negative.

I told him, "Probably because you're so tall."

So for the next two weeks ....we zoomed with our director......we talked character...we talked motivation.....actually it was pretty great for not being there. Sooooooooooooooo, now it's two weeks later...all of the family members on Peter's side were now off we go back to Anne Krafts. We rehearse that week. Anne had just recovered from a major hip replacment and was mentioning to us she still felt out of sorts.

Welll! The following Monday.....we had been rehearsing for just a week with us all in the same room and, when we got there...she told us right out...they found something not so good ....the size of a golf ball that matazised on her brain. She was to be operated on at the end of the week. You know when you go to the dictionary and look up the word "trooper"? There will not be anything written down. It will just be a picture of Anne Kraft because, right up to the night before she went in for surgery, we rehearsed until 10:30pm.

Now because of covid..there was no assistant to the director ....or prop people...or set designer. It was just the three of us....doing this for The Palm Coast Arts Foundation who like most arts institutes, had fallen on lean times. The City Repertory Theatre was a co-sponsor and it was underwritten by a patron of the arts Sam Perkovich. But no theaters were open....hence the rehearsal space in Anne's home.

Anne literally left us the key to her home so we could continue working there. So all the props and wardrobe pieces...everything was there...just not our director. So, with her specific directions, we continued to work together. Both of us had never experienced this, but there was no pont to calling in a new director because she had directed us in all our stage movements and thought processing.

Our director had the operation, but needed rehab due to some physical movement that didn't come back. She sounded terrific on the phone, and Peter and I didn"t kill each other while we rehearsed, so it was all workable under the circumstances.

The following week or so, she was back with us. We were delighted beyond words to see her back again but...after only one hour (and I am telling you, this woman has extreme stamina) she couldn"t continue. So Peter and I got into the car I had and continued reading through the scenes. Tuesday....the same problem: extreme fatigue, but she didn't wish to let the Foundation (or us) down.

Wednesday morning, I get a text from her daughter, Linda, who flew in to be there for her. It read: "Mom was feeling very bad this morning. I took her to emergency and they admitted her into the hospital. She tested positive for Covid."

I almost fell to my knees.

Luckily, Peter and I (at the suggestion of her daughter) wore masks after Anne returned back to work with us. We were about ten feet away from her, at the most...maybe nine. Since Peter and I were shoulder-to-shoulder, Peter went right in and got tested. I kept getting texts from the daughter urging me to test as well. Her daughter went and got tested too.

You see what I mean about "Two For The Seesaw": our version was like "Too Many For The Pandemic". well, to say I was a bit frazzled and numbed by all this, since I thought "How wonderful this is....just the three of us working intently together ....what could go wrong??""

It turns out: everything!

So, for those of you who don"t believe in masks being preventive and protective.....I hope this story changes your mind. Peter was negative. Anne's daughter was negative.......and, lucky beyond lucky for me, I was negative too. As I said to Peter, when we finished the last day of shoot: "In a million years...would you have ever thought....that title of the play became our reality?"

....and the beat goes on....

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