Jim Watterson and George Martin have opened their magnificent 1927 George Washington Smith hacienda in Pasadena for countless bashes, but never one that included an impromptu graveside ceremony. Not until last Sunday night, anyway, when they hosted the post-performance party after the opening of "Do I Hear a Waltz?" at the Pasadena Playhouse.
Alyson Reed, who portrays the love-starved Leona in the revival of the 1965 Broadway musical adaptation of Arthur Laurents' play "The Time of the Cuckoo," changed from her "Shirley Booth retro" style in the show to groovy black velvet and stiletto heels for the party. Armed with her own bubbly and paper cups, Reed asked the hosts where she could find the nearest cemetery. She told Watterson she wanted to carry out her opening-night ritual, sipping champagne and making a wish in a graveyard. "Actors are so superstitious," Watterson said. " "I was about to suggest Mountain View, but then I remembered Sebastian. He's buried in our rose garden."
The cocker spaniel's ashes are interred in the garden at the back of the home under a statue of the archangel Michael. His dog tags dangle from one wing. Reed decided Sebastian's grave would do just fine. So after most of the guests had departed, cast members gathered in the moonlight to make their wishes. "We never reveal them," Reed said. "But I've been doing this for 22 years all over the country, and people tell me that their wishes have come true." One invocation might have been for better foot karma for the rest of the run. During rehearsals Reed cut her foot; Carol Lawrence, who plays the Venetian seductress, Fioria, suffered a stress fracture; Annie Wersching, the ingenue, fell down the stairs; and the soundman is still limping with torn ligaments. "Never say 'break a leg' to this cast," Reed said.
The unflappable Watterson looked bemused as he surveyed the crowd of more than 200. "I saw Carol Lawrence in "'West Side Story"' in New York in 1957," he said., "I can't believe that, 43 years later, she's standing here in my garden and lovelier than ever!"
Also in the crowd: Lawrence's sons, Chris and Michael Goulet, Nancy McKeon, Kerry McCluggage, Susan Clines and Charles Dillingham and Playhouse stalwarts Holly and Dave Davis, Ted Behr, Peggy Ebright, Margaret and Charles Sedenquist, Katherine and Paul Johnson, Jane Messler, Lyn Spector, Debby and D. Paul Thomas, Alyce Williamson, and Nick Winslow and Jack Manning, who appeared in the original Broadway production.
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