An Unusual Assembly
Pam Stang and Beverly Scott, chairmen of the Class of 1959 assembly committee, were pleased with themselves. "We reached for a star, and we got four," they told The New York Post (May 20, 1959). Seated on the tiny stage in the old second floor multi-purpose room were (left to right in photo): Geraldine Page (then starring on Broadway with Paul Newman in "Sweet Bird of Youth"), "First Lady of the American Stage" Helen Hayes, Kenneth Tynan (smoking), George Grizzard (who'd just been Tony nominated for his performance in "The Disenchanted") and Herminone Gingold ( appearing in "First Impressions" on Broadway at the time).
Sitting between them all, and serving as moderator, was The New Yorker theatre critic Kenneth Tynan. When Tynan asked the panel, "How do you feel about Commissioner [Robert] Moses' move to abolish free Shakespeare in Central Park," Helen Hayes (photo, left) replied, "Abolish Mr. Moses!"
When asked what was "wrongest" in the American theatre today, Herminone Gingold answered, "the prices are much too high. I'm appalled to see how few young people can afford to see everything." Miss Hayes was saddened that her producers on "Touch of the Poet" were forced to charge $7.50 for a ticket. Asked by Mr. Tynan if "critics have too much power," all of the panelists loudly responded, "Yes!"
"Our teachers and classmates asked how on earth we did it." Pam and Beverly told the paper. "There's no secret, we just asked!"
Incidentally, Shakespeare in the Park celebrated its 52nd season of providing free performances at the Delacorte Theater during the summer of 2014.
- John Tucker