Years ago, I played a Waitress on the TV comedy/drama Tattingers. Posing as an upscale Manhattan restaurant, Tattingers hosted a delightful array of NYC celebrity guest stars.

I best remember the week when 100-year-old theatre director George Abbott and 76-year-old playwright Garson Kanin both made cameo appearances. Most of us actors were also singer/dancers, and terribly excited to be on set with these two theatrical giants.

Someone shouted, “Mr. Abbott’s here!” Everyone froze. Silently, actors and crew moved back and held our breath. Two strong attendants carefully guided the very tall, thin, elegantly dressed gentleman to a booth at the back of the restaurant set. Once planted, Mr. Abbott sat ramrod straight and perfectly still. Only his eyes moved, back and forth, like a great cat assessing his quarry.  

Mr. Kanin trotted in jovially, and we all relaxed. The two men greeted each other, briefly rehearsed their eight-line scene, and “Places!” were called.

I stood at a table, taking a lunch order. When the director called, “Take One! Action!” I took my order pad and walked off-screen, passing Mr. Kanin on his way to Mr. Abbott. I turned back in time to see Mr. Kanin reach Mr. Abbott and freeze.

“Cut! Back to One!” I walked back to the table, passing Mr. Kanin, shaking his head.

“Take Two! Action!” This time, Mr. Kanin walked passed me, reached Mr. Abbott, and said his first line. Mr. Abbott answered. Mr. Kanin forgot his second line.

“Cut! Back to One!” Mr. Kanin and I passed each other again.

“Take Three! Action!” Mr. Kanin reached Mr. Abbott and began flubbing his lines. With a twinkle in his eye, Mr. Abbott loudly proclaimed all eight lines. Everyone, especially Mr. Kanin, exploded in laughter.

“Cut! Back to One!” This time, Mr. Kanin stopped me, before I could pass him. He looked me in the eye, asking, “Are you sure you want to do this acting thing? It’s Hard?” 


(Originally published in Backstage)