Friday, July 15, 2005

"A Night of Philadelphia in London"

Thanks to Kimiko, a long-time EhleNews member, for allowing me to post this report by her and her niece. Because of its length, it's in plain text rather than the usual block quote format.

My niece and I saw TPS twice in June. This London trip was my first trip out of the States since 9/11. Our London visit preceded the 7/7 tragedy by only a few weeks. I'm still emotionally numb. I asked my niece, who is a Yale- and UCLA-educated young filmmaker living in Los Angeles, to write down a few of her thoughts on our experience. The following was what she contributed.

Kimiko, Los Angeles

A Night of Philadelphia in London

"For years I always felt the odd one in my family. I bled art, and I'm sure others in their utter annoyance probably wanted to bleed me. However, that all changed when my Aunt K fell in love with Jennifer Ehle. All of a sudden I had an ally who enjoyed doing the same crazy things I always yearned to do--see one movie, get in the car and then decide to see another, drive 80-90 miles in a night to hear Neil LaBute talk about Possession or run off to London for 4 1/2 days in order to see four plays. ("The Philadelphia Story" twice!) Sigh, all dreams come true.

Really, there's nothing like flying 10 hours, arriving in Heathrow at 3pm, checking into a hotel, and running off to the Old Vic without dinner in order to catch the 7:30pm showing of "Philadelphia" with, of course, Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Ehle.

Although the story's class and morality issues feel dated and rather unexamined, the play itself is a wonderful vehicle for both Spacey and Ehle. Spacey showed off his fantastic stage energy and humorous mannerisms, and Ehle her intelligence and elegance.

The two intermissions were a whirlwind of fun. We met up with two other wonderful members of the Ehle fan club. As I watched all the ladies bubble with talk, I was instantly amazed at the ability of the internet to connect people with common interests.

Euphoric about seeing such a well done stage production and having traveled across the world, I was delighted at my Aunt's suggestion that we hurry to the backstage entrance; I truly did not want this journey to end just yet. For myself, I would have been too shy to ask for autographs. For my Aunt? I could be Super Woman fighting Lex Luthor!

By the time we made it around the corner, the crowd had already gathered in a loose group. With my Aunt's program in hand, I quickly strategized where to place myself. Then I noticed Ehle--already at the curb signing a few autographs. I hurried over. As the driver waited with the engine running, I placed myself between her and the road. I was determined to get this autograph.

Her hair was short, and either stylishly gelled straight up at differing angles or naturally styled from wearing a wig all evening. It didn't matter. She was, as everyone of her fans know, lovely.

Quiet. No one spoke. No questioning or bantering. I simply handed her the program and my pen the moment her hands were free. She took it without eye contact. Still I had to slip in a, "Thank you Jennifer." She paused, looked up at me and warmly smiled. Perhaps my American accent caught her attention? Who knows. I stepped aside. She signed a couple more and hurried into her waiting car.

A short while later Mr. Spacey appeared, standing with the door ajar and wearing a blue sweater and black hat. Again, I was surprised by the silence of it all as he signed whatever people handed him. Finally, someone said, "Thank you Mr. Spacey for taking the time to do this." Most nodded, or mumbled another thank you. I was actually worried about obtaining his autograph. The crowd was larger, and Mr. Spacey was angled in a way where escape was easy. So I began pushing forward. Shockingly, I succeeded. If a space opened up, I simply stepped into the void--always unchallenged. Before I knew it, I was handing Mr. Spacey my program. No eye contact, only a quick thank you. Although I guiltily never felt more like the pushy American than I did in those few minutes, I noticed that Mr. Spacey signed only a handful more before disappearing again inside. No one protested or whined. All quite polite.

I was excited about seeing the play a second time. Although I thought the actor playing the Jimmy Stewart role was particularly boring on a subsequent viewing, Space and Ehle were consummate professionals, keeping the mood and fun alive. Yet I must admit, it was Kevin Spacey's show. He somehow ignited the energy of the stage whenever he took his entrance.

He knew it too. But in deference to his leading lady, he staged the curtain call in a way that gave Jennifer Ehle the final bow, front and center alone. It was sweet, understood by us all, and the gentlemanly thing to do.

Of course I owe this amazing excursion all to my dear, extraordinarily generous, kind hearted Aunt K. (She has somehow become my patron saint, and I take this benevolence very seriously. I now have to make my film career happen in order to cast Ehle in something!) I also have to give a little thank you to Jennifer Ehle for deciding to come back to theater and inspiring my Aunt who in turn inspires me. Given Jennifer's beauty and talent, may she forever take that graceful bow under the stage lights and may we be forever in the seats cheering her on."

[editorial aside: it's Harry Potter 6 Hiatus time. Back in 672 pages or on Sunday evening, whichever comes first]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a great story. Thank you kimiko for sharing with us.