The farewell party for Bill Raymond lasted way past midnight!
What a fantastic evening, what a historical evening!!
The Hartford Stage Theater- every seat filled. The emotions over flowing- – nay no “Elixir of Life” from the cup of “Christmas Present” needed- as past cast members from far and away, 17 years of Tiny Tims, celebrities, friends, were all here for our cherished friend Bill Raymond!!
This evening was not to be missed – the final performance of Bill Raymond’s phenomenal characterization of “Scrooge’ at the Hartford Stage – so so very sentimental, intimate and yet as always, it pulled at the heartstrings of all those who attended!
This performance and the afterglow- Oh to be there to see Robert Davis almost break up laughing during Bill’s final jingle jangle of the “keys” Scene- or Stage mom Katherine Fitzpatrick’s youth choral presentation of her ode to “OZ” – a diploma, a heart, and a medal for courage- plus to hear tributes from producer Michael Wilson, Artistic Director, Darko Tresnjak and Michael Stotts Managing Director and so many others- I imagine the cheering and thunderous clapping is still ringing throughout the Hartford Stage!
Bill received a myriad of “gifts”- from his own set of “keys”, his on set slippers, his Top Hat, stacks of goodbye wishes written by audience members, cast and crew- but the most “ooohs” received came when the extraordinary Johanna Morrison presented a “first edition” book of Dickens- A Christmas Carol” to a now teary-eyed himself Bill Raymond- I’m still a bit “Verklempt” – just reliving that moment!!!
The Who’s- who of the theater world attended this “celebration” including past cast Scrooge mates- along with my two friends; Broadway and movie legend, Bill Kux, who had previously portrayed Mrs. Dilber for 11 years at Hartford Stage, and most currently portrayed “Scrooge” at the Northern Stage in White River Junction, Vermont and famed actress and lead singer of CIRCULINE, Natalie Brown, herself a 15 year alum, who portrayed several roles including Mrs. Fezziwig, an Apparition, Fred’s Sister in law, and Ole’ Josie. BTW- the most enchanting words spoken by Miss Brown during the evening, “Howard- I feel that I have known you my entire life”! Oy yoy yoy- My second “Verklempt”!!!!
And lastly – as we exchange one year for the next may I take this opportunity to sincerely thank the Hartford Stage for their many gifts of “theater” to our community and for their countless kindnesses to this writer. Sincere and grateful gratitude to Darko Tresnjak, Michael Stotts, David Henderson and a “big hug” to the phenomenal Theresa MacNaughton!! Wishing you all a Happy Turning of the Calendar!