Seen by Helene

thOooh lovelies, you’ll be dismayed and disturbed by what was distilled this week, and I ain’t talking about the gin they pour in Reno. Get a load of what a couple of our ingenues are into:

Detained by Interpol? Car confiscated? Not a problem for our savvy traveler. Seems she ran into just this dicey sitch when crossing the Germany/Czech border in a rental ride too luxurious for mere toursits. Miss “Moi?” escaped an international incident by claiming the shmoe at the rental place gave her the wrong model. Make no bones about it, this traveler has a smooth line when the heat’s on.

Ladies, don’t let your man around this sylvan seductress; she’ll steal him as you turn to sneeze. One lovelorn lady told this reporter she and her beau were solid as Standard Oil at cocktail hour, only to find their relationship ran out of gas by dinner. By that time the tall temptress got to lovelorn’s man, smoking the competition.

There’s more darlings, much, much more. Until we meet again, take a tip from Countess DeLage and embrace l’amour in all its strange splendor.

Seen by Helene


Hello all you guys, gals, and Masquers pals, and welcome to Seen by Helene. Your darling little playhouse hired me, Helene Herrick, to find out exactly what kind of actresses they’ve let onto their stage for the upcoming production of “The Women.” Lamb chops, it didn’t take much digging to find the dish on this naughty bunch of ingenues. To wit:

  • The stockboys at the A&P asked for overtime when the news broke that a certain someone shops for Triscuits wearing just her trench coat. She may act a peach at rehearsals, but we’ve got her pegged.
  • Don’t hand this lady a drink and expect her nurse it. Our spies in Sonoma revealed this actress was not only up to her neck in a wine vat, she wouldn’t come out for lack of a proper suit—or any suit, for that matter. Can anybody teach her a lesson in restraint?
  • Which actress was seen cooling her Louboutined heels in a Nevada hoosegow? She says it’s not what you think, but file this information under “someone’s act could use a little more polish.”

The identities will be revealed later, but stay tuned for more scandalous shenanigans as Seen by Helene. Until then darlings, the next round’s on me.

“Because her life was overacting”

Polly Bergen wasn’t a fan of Judy Garland’s—that’s her quote in the title bar, talking about Judy’s concerts:

It was devastating to watch her. The exhilaration of the high times, and the devastation of the low times, was just mind-blowing. If anyone else did what she did, you would call it extreme overacting. But when she did it, it was true and honest and real. Because her life was overacting.

images-2Geez, Polly, snippy much? “Operatic” would have been a more tactful adjective than “overacting.” Snark aside, it’s an interesting quote about Judy Garland’s style; how she channeled all that pain into art. It also opens up the age-old discussion about what defines “genius”—what’s the ratio of talent to determination, how far outside the status quo can an innovation travel before it’s just too weird to be taken seriously?

It’s fodder for a conversation over a couple drinks at the Mac some night. In the meantime, here’s some Judy Judy Judy:

Vanity Fair ran a dishy article about the road Judy traveled from near-death to her Carnegie Hall triumph in 1961.10_comeback_garland_mar2011

Bootlegged home movie footage from that night starts at 1:30 in this video.

If you’re not snuffling into a kleenex by now, this may be the capper: Barbara and Judy singing a C’mon Get Happy duet on Judy’s short-lived TV series.


Dynamite Dance Party Friday

I really didn’t get this movie the first time I saw it. Everybody else seemed to love it, and being a joiner by nature, I wanted in on the fun.

“Watch it baked,” a friend advised. I’m not a big fan of cannabis (I know, I’m the only person in the entire world not into pot) but she gave me some perspective on the flick.


Yup, got it. Oh wow.

Between Shows

With “Sweet Charity” in the can and the opening of “Berlin to Broadway” a few weeks away yet, I’ve been thinking about the between-show limbo. After the laundry is caught up and amends for our absence have been made to cats and non-actor friends, what do we do? Like those sheepherding dogs that chew coffee tables when they feel a twinge of idleness, many actors aren’t good at down time. We spin. We procrastinate. We think, “the last five shows were a fluke. I’ll never get cast again.”

Before posting another photo of Fluffy or your happy hour martini on Facebook, here is a helpful list of diversions until you’re safely inside the theater again:

  • When the Game Stands Tall is a movie about Concord’s De La Salle football team – you know, the one that won twenty six thousand games in a row? Looks like a great flick about sports and life, plus it’s set in our neighborhood. Score. (see what I did there? I can make a sorta relevant sports joke.)
  • A couple Masquers have taken classes at Freight and Salvage in Berkeley. The acoustic music mainstay has a new home at 2020 Addison, right across the street from Berkeley Rep. In addition to their fabulous concert schedule (October features Del McCoury and Dave Grisman, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Marty Stuart), they offer classes in bluegrass harmony, banjo, ukulele, and surf guitar, among many others. Those kinds of skills come in handy for the next “Foxfire” audition.
  • Y? Because you can’t help yourself . . . the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco’s Presidio is showing “Mickey Mouse Club Early Episodes” as their feature movie this August. Exhibits right now are “Mary Blair, Imagineer”, and “Leading Ladies and Femme Fatales, the Art of Marc Davis.” It’s a fun museum in a destination setting, so give yourself lots of time and visit. (I so hope “Spin and Marty” was in those early episodes. The Triple R Ranch really impressed me when I was four years old.)

Time for me to get out of this apartment. But first, have I shown you this latest picture of my cat?


Dance Party Friday, 4th of July

Yeah yeah, he’s doing a dance to explosives. He’s grace with a side of elegance. He performs a combination like he’s brushing his teeth.

But here’s the thing about this: the man is wearing a necktie as a belt—and pulling it off!


Mother of gunpowder, there’s nothing he can’t do.

Charity Work

Bob Fosse loved the tough gals—convicts, hookers, women who had to deal with spouses who are directors. He made them scary and sexy, armed them with switchblade dance moves before putting them on rainy streets to fend for themselves. “Here’s a smokin’ hot hip thrust and a bowler hat, kid. Now deal with that bastard boyfriend.”

In the same way, Fellini’s women were also wounded fatales with coping mechanisms that defined European pain . . . lolling in fountains while wearing black dresses; riding a Vespa wearing a man’s shirt buttoned loosely, smoking a Gitane. God, they made angst look cool.

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I always thought “Sweet Charity” was a funny musical with Shirley MacLaine doing her plucky thing. By doing a little homework, I discovered “Sweet Charity” is Bob Fosse’s adaptation of Il Maestro’s “Nights of Cabiria” (on Roger Ebert’s list of Great Movies.) Charity is a study of resilience and dreams and optimism, and the Italian view of the grittier aspects of life gives the show a feel for what it means to be simultaneously hurt and hopeful, especially its outcome.