1966 FORT WORTH PRODUCTION

Richard France (left), who had understudied Steve Lawrence on Broadway and performed the role of Sammy Glick more than 30 times, starred in and directed the 1966 Casa Manana production of What Makes Sammy Run?  France had appeared in the Broadway production as movie star Tracy Clark, partnering Graciela Daniele in several ballets.  Judith Hastings, who had performed in the singing ensemble on Broadway and understudied Sally Ann Howes, co-starred with France at Casa Manana.  Hastings had subbed for Howes when she had minor surgery and again when she took time off for her step-father's funeral.  When Howes left the show early, Hastings played Kit until Bernice Massi took over the role.

France recalls the first time he played Sammy Glick:  We were out of town in Philadelphia and the show was having trouble with the second act.  Being Steve's stand-by, they had given me the first act, but not the second, being that they were changing it every night and never thought Steve would be out.  Well, it was a Friday night and Steve said he wouldn't be able to play the Saturday matinee and evening performance.  They came to me and said, "You're on tomorrow."  Mind you, I had never learned Act II because they were changing it all the time.  So, with what they had, I took the script and Mace Barrett, Bob Alda's stand-by, Judy Hastings, Sally Ann Howes' stand-by, and I went back to the hotel and worked until 5:00 am.  I went to bed and Abe Burrows called that morning and said, "What do you think, kid?" and I said, "I'm scared!" and off to the theatre I went.  Before the curtain went up, Abe went out front to tell the audience that Steve would not be going on, but that I would be playing the role and might be a little nervous.  Off in the wings I said, "You bet your ass," and little did I know, it shot out over the audience.  They laughed and that broke the ice.  He brought me out in front of the curtain and had me take a bow and the show started.  The first act went fine.  When it came to Act II, it started off fine but by the middle of the act, I was in deep trouble.  I went off stage, got the script, and did the last Act holding the script in hand.  I even remember saying, "Boy, what I wouldn't give for a chorus of 'Tea For Two.'"  Between shows, I studied the second act and all went fine for the evening show.  I must say, Bob Alda and Sally Ann Howes couldn't have been more helpful.

Opening night at Casa Manana may have been even more eventful, according to critic Elston Brooks.  Click here for his review.

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