Curtain Call: The Best Quotes That Didn’t Make the Column

See what Angela Lansbury, Richard Dreyfuss, Alfred Molina, and Shirley MacLaine had to say about the world of theater and performance

2014 was an amazing year in the world of performing arts. Here are choice tidbits from Curtain Call-interviews that didn’t make it into the column.

Angela Lansbury on Elaine Stritch:
“Every one [of Sondheim’s roles] that I’ve played: Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music, the first musical Anyone Can Whistle, Gypsy, I’ve worked a great deal. I’ve played a great many of his roles. I did not play in any of the shows Elaine did. The only time was when she replaced me in A Little Night Music. We were always friendly actress acquaintances. We hugged each other, we liked each other and I loved her one-woman show I saw in Los Angeles. She was a unique, totally original actress. Quite marvelous. She had her problems, but pulled her finger out.”

Harvey Fierstein on La Cage Aux Follies
“I was not allowed to watch the movie when I did La Cage because of contractual issues. It was a French play bought by an Italian company that was bought by [producer] Alan Carr. RIP, but what an asshole. ‘I bought the rights to La Cage and I saved $5,000 by not buying the movie rights,’ he said. ‘You saved $5,000, you asshole?’ Which is how Mike Nichols got to make The Birdcage.”

Maureen O’Hara on the Ups and Downs of Her Career
“I can’t blame anybody for anything not working out perfectly except me. You know, you’re given a gift from birth and then it’s up to you how you use that gift and what that gift brings to you and what you do with it.”

Shirley MacLaine on Bob Fosse
“Bobby was not a good dancer. We used to get him to get up and do classic ballet positions and laugh because he couldn’t do it. He was really awkward. He was known to be hard on dancers. Brilliant. He wanted to do it all including lyrics and music. How should I say, very original and yet you knew that some of this stuff he took [from other choreographers.]

Cheyenne Jackson on being defined by his looks
“It used to be kind of weird. Listen, it always feels good to have compliments and be called handsome and hunky. At first it’s wonderful and then you get to the point you say, ‘Hey, I’m glad you like what I look like, but can you look past that and see what I’m doing as an actor?’”

Elaine Stritch on Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance
“It’s one of the best acting jobs I’ve ever done in my life. I love Albee and I think he’s trying to get out of his chest what he should get off of his chest. How you can grab a hold of all the problems of the world and write a play about it that is entertaining and makes some sense. Oh my God. It’s glorious.”

Eva Marie Saint on the idea of an autobiography
“I’ve never written a book. Walter Mirisch, he’s a friend and he said ‘you should do an oral history for the Academy [of Motion Picture Art & Sciences.’] Karl Malden did one. I just finished it this past year and it’s on the shelf in a beautiful Amish blue cover and it’s at the Academy library. Somebody said they thought it was the last one in book form. They do the rest on film. I did it and I got three copies; one for my daughter, my son and us.”

Richard Dreyfuss on appearing in The Normal Heart in Los Angeles in 1985
“I never had anyone walk up to me and say you fruit, you fag, you gay shit. Nothing like that ever happened. During the Vietnam War people would stop at stoplights and try to beat me up because I had an American flag on my car. There was a civil war during Vietnam, but there wasn’t during The Normal Heart. People were starting to understand gay people.”

Alfred Molina on theatre in Los Angeles
“Theater in Los Angeles is maligned. It’s not really anyone’s fault. It’s not that theater isn’t doing a good enough job to make people aware of what’s going on. It’s not the audience’s fault for not spending more time in the theater. Economically it can’t compete with the big studios and the television networks. We’re bound to be perceived as the poor relation, but that has nothing to do with the standard of the work.”

Bettye LaVette on singing The Moody Blues song “Nights in White Satin”
“When I did [my album] Interpretations, I had to have them mean something to me. “Nights in White Satin,” I had to make it mean something to me. Justin Hayward did this interview on NPR and [he said] his wife walked into the room and he was in tears. ‘I just heard ‘Nights in White Satin’ by this woman Bettye LaVette. I wrote this song when I was 19 and I never knew what it meant until now.’ I’m sure I had something different in my mind than a 19-year-old did, but maybe he had it in his heart even if he didn’t know it.”