50th anniversary for ‘West Side Story’

Montecito resident and Objects storeowner Arlyn Goldsby was in North Carolina in May to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the production of ‘West Side Story’. Gerald Freedman, a childhood friend of Arlyn’s since the age of five and the current Dean of the North Carolina School of the Arts, was part of the original Broadway team that helped bring the musical to life. Arlyn recalls fondly how Freedman took an interest in the arts early on in his life. “Gerald’s parents couldn’t afford to pay for him to take dancing lessons, but at the time his cousin and I were taking them, so he would follow us around picking up on the steps,” Arlyn recalls.

The 50th anniversary of the production was performed by students from the North Carolina School of Arts and was followed by a five-hour symposium with most of the original production’s cast members. The symposium explored the history and behind-the-scenes antics that went on during the original production. It was quickly revealed to attendees that the late Jerome Robbins, who conceived the story and choreography, was an absolute tyrant. “Cast members described him as a controlling genius who made them work sixteen to eighteen hours a day,” says Arlyn. “Carol Lawrence, an original cast member, gave a classic example. In the scene where her boyfriend is stabbed and dies, she was told by Robbins to go up to the character Riff (played by Michael “Mickey” Callan) and beat passionately on his chest in anger. Carol said each time she pounded, Robbins would shout, ‘Beat harder!’ Carol finally pounded the actor so hard she cracked his ribs and he had to go to the hospital.” The abuse for Michael Callan didn’t stop there, as he told how he was berated for 45 minutes straight by Robbins because he didn’t sit down quickly enough during a break in rehearsals.

Arlyn also said that the children of the late Leonard Bernstein were in attendance and were able to share some of the conductor’s thoughts on ‘West Side Story’. “Bernstein’s children were not allowed to watch the movie because Leonard felt Natalie Wood was miscast,” Arlyn explains.

Since she was the guest of Gerald Freeman, Arlyn said the two danced after the gala dinner until three o’clock in the morning. It sounds like those dance lessons in childhood finally paid off. “We rocked on the dance floor,” Arlyn said with a smile.

Independence Day Dinner for 600 at MCC

What started as a member’s only golf tournament has turned into one of the biggest celebrations in town. On July 4, 1978 the Montecito Country Club (MCC) began a “Firecracker” golf tournament with a fireworks viewing in the bar afterwards. This year, the Independence Day dinner (sans golf tournament), has grown to 600 attendees. Members and guests alike were kept entertained by a well-synchronized movement of bartenders, servers, kitchen crew, and a lively Dixieland band. Six hundred people are double what MCC services for a typical wedding.

Justin Allen, Membership Activities Director for the country club, described the growth of the event: “What was centered solely around the Firecracker Golf Tournament slowly and over the years transformed itself by first adding a Tennis Tournament followed by a BBQ dinner, then settling down with live music. As the popularity of the event grew with its prime fireworks viewing location situated on the Bistro Patio overlooking the city, the club began to run out of space for its tournament participants and non participants alike to sit, eat and be merry in anticipation of the approaching fireworks display.”

The removal of the grass tennis courts situated above the club created an ideal area for the Independence Day celebration. As the sunlight faded and the June bugs came out in full force, people jockeyed for a prime fireworks viewing spot, sometimes blocking the view of others who were comfortably sitting at their table. Although some inconvenienced people exchanged a few words, the night appeared to be a great success. Stephanie Stokes, a member at MCC and mother of two, said the hard work performed by the staff of about 45 personnel paid off for a great evening. “I felt as though the atmosphere was classy, yet relaxed – a great combination for a family with kids. The music and ambiance made it feel as though it was an evening in the Great Gatsby era”

While the Dixieland band entertained the adults, the event also kept the kids occupied with face painting, tug of war, balloon animals, and a special appearance by Uncle Sam. MCC employees weren’t the only ones in need of a rest after the celebration. “The snow cone maker was exhausted at the end of the night with the never-ending line of hot kids clamoring for more,” Justin says.

SCTA Hall of Famers

Tennis legends Charles Pasarell, Pam Shriver, Dennis Ralston, Darlene Hard, Gussy Moran, and the late Ted Schroeder were inducted into the Southern California Tennis Association Hall of Fame on July 13th at a gala held in Beverly Hills.

Pasarell, who was joined at his table by brother-in-law and Montecito resident Dr. Donald Fareed, is best known for his 1969 Wimbledon match against Pancho Gonzalez. Their two-day match, which lasted for 112 games and 5 hours 12 minutes, is the longest match in The Championship’s history. These days Pasarell is heavily involved with the Pacific Life Open, the Indian Wells tournament held in March each year. Inductee Pam Shriver was looking fit at the gala after giving birth to three children in the past three years. Although she never won a singles Grand Slam title, she did very well in doubles with Martina Navratilova, forming what many consider to be the best women’s doubles team of all time. The duo captured 21 Grand Slam doubles titles and won all four Grand Slam events in 1984.

Shriver’s husband is George Lazenby, the second man to officially play James Bond in the 1969 movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. She is currently a tennis television analyst and may soon move to Australia, her husband’s native country. Inductee Dennis Ralston perhaps had the most humorous speech, denying rumors that he had broken several strings on a solid silver racquet trophy taken from a private collection at the Los Angeles Tennis Center Clubhouse. Ralston is best known as a great doubles player, winning five Grand Slam titles, and as a Davis Cup coach.