HR Strange But True!
December 15, 2011

To get a construction crew to make an accommodation in its work schedule, a polite request may not get too far. But super negotiation skills—and star power—might get you just what you wanted.

In an interview with actor/director Jerry Adler in The Hartford Courant, the “Rescue Me” star tells a tale about just such an occurrence.

In 1970, Adler was stage manager for the production of the mega musical “Coco,” based on the life of designer Coco Chanel, with music by Andre Previn, lyrics by Alan Lerner, and direction by Cecil Beaton.

The star, a Hollywood legend, had appeared on Broadway, but only in straight plays. As she was a bit older, and the musical numbers were quite physical, including running up and down ramps, dancing, and even performing a cartwheel, Wikipedia says the star insisted that the backstage doors to the Broadway theater be open to keep the temperature cool.

Unfortunately, according to Jerry Adler, a construction crew was building a theater directly across the street. With the doors open, the banging was quite audible, drowning out the star’s crucial song during matinees.

According to the article, the star asked Adler to go over and tell the crew that they must stop working each day when she sings that song. He says he went over to the boss, “who thought I was “a [expletive] lunatic,” he tells the Courant, so he went back to tell the star her request would be impossible.

But the star—being Miss Katherine Hepburn—took matters upon herself, walked across the street, took the construction elevator up to the workers, and told them that at every matinee, she would come out of the stage door right before her entrance for the song and give them a sign to stop, and then she would come to the door after the song so that they could start work again. “They did it every matinee for her,” Adler reports.


Hartford Courant

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